Three years after arrival, Benedictine sisters break ground for first phase of monastery
By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
GOWER — Like every religious community in the diocese’s history, the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the apostles arrived three years ago with little more than the habits on their backs.
Kevin Kelly/Key photo
Benedictine Sister Therese tosses a shovelful of dirt during the Aug. 13 groundbreaking for the Our Lady of Ephesus Priory, near Gower, as Bishop Robert W. Finn looks on.
On Aug. 15, the community, now 20 strong and growing, broke ground on a $2.2 million, 25,000-square-foot guest house that will serve as the first phase in their plans for a monastery.
Fundraising — and God’s providence — have gone that well, said Sister Therese, mother prioress of the community.
And so has the generosity of people inside the diocese and across the United States who continue to support the sisters.
“You’ve helped us with your prayer, with your money, with your legal expertise, with your financial expertise,” Sister Therese said.
“This is the beginning,” she said.
Before Bishop Robert W. Finn turned the first dirt with a shovel bearing the inscription “Lux in Tenebris” (Light in Darkness), he also gave thanks for the gift of the sisters, who arrived in the diocese at his invitation in March, 2006.
The bishop also noted how appropriate it was to launch a beginning on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven.
“Her first glory was to connect to God’s plan in the incarnation, and Mary fulfilled all her work,” Bishop Finn said.
“As we start in the earth today, we plant our efforts and our hard work, generosity, prayers, investments and talents, and from this, our Lord will cause great things to happen,” he said.
“We can only give our praise that he has given us the opportunity to participate in this great work of salvation,” the bishop said, noting that the Benedictine sisters will also build on a spiritual foundation laid long before them by consecrated men and women, answering the call to religious life.
“The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has been blessed with so many priests, and consecrated men and women, and lay people who have come together to do the work of God,” he said.
“We know that our prayer goes up to God, and we pray that he brings speedy progress to the rest of this work that we have begun today,” he said.
The Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, Priory of Ephesus was established in 1995 in the Diocese of Scranton, Pa., under the guidance of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a fraternity begun by Pope John Paul II that celebrates the Latin Mass.
Bishop Finn invited the sisters to come to the diocese with the special task of praying for priests.
The sisters have lived in the former Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth convent at St. Pius X High School since their arrival.
The sisters soon received a gift of 280 acres of land, northeast and several miles away from Gower, the nearest town.
Through their own hard work of designing and sewing vestments, CD sales of their singing talents (nearly 40,000 copies have been sold and a new Christmas CD will be released soon), and the generosity of donors, the sisters were able to raise about $1 million, which allowed them to secure loans to get the first construction underway.
The “guest house” will serve as the motherhouse until the rest of the plan is finished. It will have room enough for the community to grow to 35 sisters.
Sister Therese said the brand-new guesthouse will be built from history. The relatives of a sister, owners of Minnesota Timber Salvation, have reclaimed and donated building timbers from a 19th century factory built by Thomas Edison to manufacture wooden cases for his newly invented phonographs.
“We have a lot of good friends all over the nation,” Sister Therese said.
Information about the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles can be found at their Web site, www.benedictinesofmary.org.