Pathways to wisdom

Kate Stel Care for the Earth, Living in Community, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

“Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her. One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for she will be found sitting at the gate. To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding, and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care, because she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought.” (Wisdom 6:12-16).

Kate Stel (second from right) came to Holy Wisdom Monastery for a 9 week internship this summer as part of her Master of Divinity program at the University of Chicago Divinity School. During her time at the monastery she worked in the prairies and gardens and lived with the Benedictine sisters, (left to right) Mary David Walgenbach, Joanne Kollasch, Lynne Smith, Denise West, Paz Vital.

Last week, Sister Mary David Walgenbach asked me some simple questions at lunch: “Why did you want to come here? Why did you choose us?” I was stunned by this very straightforward question. In the moment I put together an answer but admitted I wasn’t exactly sure. (Good thing she didn’t ask me this question when I visited in the spring for an interview!)

Over the last week or so, as I get closer to the end of my time working at the Monastery, I’ve been pondering my answer.

I chose to pursue my internship here at Holy Wisdom because I saw a place for myself here. True, this summer’s work counts towards my Master’s degree at the University of Chicago Divinity School, but my internship was never only about work or requirements. From my first forays into the website to my visit here in the spring and throughout the summer, Holy Wisdom has never asked me to sacrifice any part of myself, any commitment or ideal. I have been able to practice my call to environmental ministry and work towards holistic personal professional development here in a way I didn’t know would be possible before I came.

At Holy Wisdom Monastery I have experienced a community like no other: courageous women leading the charge (and change) towards faithful environmental healing in the Church, intentional space for women’s spiritual growth, care and attention for the marginalized and oppressed, and the embrace of connection rather than division. Rather than define yourself over and against what the Monastery is not, the communities here constantly work to build and grow into what they are and hope to become.

As a young woman floating at the fringes of Catholicism, unanchored yet still bobbing around somewhere within the vast ocean of the Church, my prayer and work at the Monastery has reoriented me on my personal spiritual path and the direction of my ministry alike. For this, I can only say thank you. Thank you to each person, guest, volunteer, and the many plants and animals I have encountered this summer. At the time I’m writing this, tomorrow is my very last day. I’ve sincerely enjoyed my time working with the sisters community, gardening, meeting volunteers and oblates, and my opportunities to write things for the wide online community of Holy Wisdom Monastery. You have revived my spirit, renewed my body and mind, and touched my heart.

So, Sister Mary David, I chose Holy Wisdom because I sensed from afar what I now know to be true. Holy Wisdom Monastery is a place where I and many others have found their spiritual home.

“And thus the paths of those on earth were set right,
and people were taught what pleases you,
and were saved by wisdom.” (Wisdom 9:18)

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