Meet the Sisters
Thank you for taking time to learn about our community. As Benedictine women, we changed the membership boundaries of our “Catholics only” community to include Christian women of any denomination as full members.
Our community seeks God through a life following the Gospel and Rule of Benedict. We weave prayer, hospitality, justice and care for the earth into our daily life and ministry.
Sister Mary David Walgenbach, OSB
“Our ecumenical community
is a daily reminder that in Christ
we are one.”
Sister Mary David Walgenbach joined the Sisters of Saint Benedict following a call to religious life that grew steadily after high school graduation. Early on she took an active part in the community life and ecumenical ministries. She co-founded the Community of Benedict and the monastery’s oblate community, setting a path toward the dream of an ecumenical sisters’ community that became reality in 2006. Sister Mary David has a lifetime involvement in interreligious gatherings, including the Bossey Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland and the World Council of Churches “Ecumenical Decade of the Churches’ Solidarity with Women” in Harare, Zimbabwe. She is currently prioress, guided daily by the desire to make the monastery an inclusive place for people of all faith traditions.
“I love life in a monastic community
and share it with whomever I can.”
Fifty years ago, Sister Joanne Kollasch put down roots for a community of Benedictine Sisters in a beautiful place overlooking Lake Mendota and the city of Madison. A strong call to spiritual life led her to join an order as a young woman and work with other sisters to form Saint Benedict Center (now Holy Wisdom Monastery). Her life-giving relationship with the community continued to evolve as she served for over a decade as prioress. A lifelong goal to provide a home for spiritual seekers of all kinds led Sister Joanne to co-found the ecumenical communities Benedictine Women of Madison and the Community of Benedict. She now serves as a retreat leader and spiritual guide for guests who visit the monastery. Joanne helps to maintain a home that welcomes people from around the world for spiritual and personal growth, promotes caring for the land and preserves space for people to reflect on God’s presence in their lives.
“My favorite community activity
is cooking Sunday night dinner together.”
In 2000, she made her profession to the community as the first Protestant member. She is active at the monastery and at events around the country. She currently works as director of membership, playing a vital role in helping women recognize and explore their own vocational callings.
For more information, contact Mary David Walgenbach, OSB, prioress at (608) 831-9300; Joanne Kollasch, OSB, first councilor at (608) 831-9302 or Lynne Smith, OSB, director of membership and monastic formation at (608) 831-9305.