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The female superior of an abbey.


Church, monastery, or convent used by a large monastic community governed by an abbot or abbess. See also priory.


A male superior of an abbey.

Active or Apostolic Communities

Members of active communities are called to ministry primarily outside their communities, often in education, health care, and pastoral work. Members of active communities may or may not live together.

Active / Contemplative Communities

Members of communities that are both active and contemplative give priority to living and praying together every day but also pursue outside ministries.


Spending time in private prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.


A woman who has made an official connection to a particular monastery while she and the community discern her call to that community.


A group of faithful gathered for worship/prayer.

Associate (Benedictine Associate)

A woman who lives and volunteers in the ministries of St. Scholastica Monastery, sharing the Sisters’ rhythm of work and prayer.

Benedicta Riepp
(1825-1862) Came from Bavaria and was leader of first Benedictine women religious in the U.S.

Benedict, St.

(c.480-c.550) Italian monastic leader who lived at Monte Casino and developed the influential Rule of St. Benedict. Founder of the Benedictine Order. Feast days are celebrated on March 21 and July 11.


Communities of monastic women and men who follow the Rule of St. Benedict. They can be contemplative and cloistered—not working outside the monastery—or they can be active—pursuing outside ministries. The balanced rhythm of their lives includes the communal prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours at least three times daily, and gathering for meals and leisure time.

Benedictine Associate

A woman who lives and volunteers in the ministries of St. Scholastica Monastery, sharing the Sisters’ rhythm of work and prayer.

Benedictine Medal

A medal honoring St. Benedict.

Benedictine Values

Guiding principles flowing from the Rule of St. Benedict.

Canon Law
Body of universal and fundamental laws that govern the Catholic Church.


A person who voluntarily abstains from sexual relations.

Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer is an ancient, silent prayer in which the intellect is quieted in order for one’s spirit to rest in God.


The monastic chapter is the collegial, consenting, and consultative body of the Benedictine community. All who have made perpetual profession are members of the Chapter.


A particular gift of God that identifies or is characteristic of a religious community.


The obligation of living a celibate lifestyle within community.


The enclosed living quarters of the monastery.

Cloister walk

A covered walkway surrounding an open courtyard. It connects the various domestic areas within a monastic building.

Cloistered / Contemplative communities

Particular monastic communities that willingly separate themselves from the world.


A generic term used to describe the members of a religious group or the group itself.


A term similar in meaning/connotation to “community” and “order.”

Consecrated Life

The state of life lived as  means of attaining Christian perfection. Traditionally,  characterized by the public profession of chastity, poverty, and obedience.


A building in which a religious community lives.


Governing body of the community comprised of the Prioress and other Sisters elected at Chapter.


The monastic promise which means fidelity to the monastic way of life.

A name or designation for a group of churches sharing a common identity and profession of belief.


Territorial division of the Church according to geographic region. A diocese is under the care/authority of a Bishop.


The process of prayer and reflection that seeks to understand what God wills in particular circumstances.

Divine Office

The official, public, daily liturgical prayer of the Church. Also called Liturgy of the Hours.


Members of the religious order founded by St. Dominic in 1199.

“Thanksgiving,” the sacramental meal of the Body and Blood of Christ truly present under the appearance of bread and wine.

Fidelity to the Monastic Life
One of the professions. It is our promise to work through life – and life’s changes – with God at the center of our lives. We seek to be faithful to this way of life, and this life transforms us when we are faithful to it. It transforms us so that we turn to God in the midst of everything that happens in our lives – in joy, in pain, in everyday events. It transforms us during communal and private prayer, so that we can deal with the everyday stuff of life.

It is our commitment to personal growth and change, to an awareness of the rough edges of our lives, and to a willingness to transform them.  Our promise of fidelity to the monastic life, which includes poverty and celibacy, is our commitment to ongoing growth in our relationship with God and with our Sisters in Community, our promise to become whom we are called to be by Christ.

Final Vows
Life-long monastic profession.

First Monastic Profession
Temporary monastic profession for at least three years.

The process that each community designs to incorporate new members and provide for the lifelong spiritual and human development of its members.

Formation Director
A trusted and experienced monastic who guides the women in preparation for full membership in the community.

Members of the religious order founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1210 AD.

Gregorian Chant
Traditional music in plainsong of the Latin rite of worship attributed to Pope St. Gregory the Great about 600 A.D.

Distinctive clothing worn by members of some religious communities.

A distinctive form of religious art.

Initial formation

See “formation.”

The anniversary celebration of years of commitment to religious life.

Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a canonically approved organization of Sisters who are leaders of their communities/congregations in the U.S.

Lectio Divina

A meditative approach to reading scripture, Lectio Divina literally means “holy reading.”


The public, prescribed worship rituals of the Church, including the Eucharist and Divine Office.

Liturgy of the Hours
The official, public, daily liturgical prayer of the Church. Also called the Divine Office.

Devout reflection, usually on the Word of God.


The work done to serve the Church and society, that “in all things God may be glorified.”  RB


A community of men or women dedicated to prayer and work. Also used to describe their home.

Monastic Profession

The threefold promise of stability, fidelity to the monastic life, and obedience.
Obedience is the promise to be faithful listeners. Stability is our promise to live the Benedictine life together. Fidelity to the Monastic Way of Life is our promise to work through life – and life’s changes – with God at the center of our lives.

Benedictine men or women who choose to seek God together in community.

Monastic Congregation of St. Benedict
A group of autonomous Benedictine monasteries of women bonding for support and governance as a pontifical association. St. Scholastica Monastery is a member.


American Roman Catholic monasticism usually applies to Benedictine women and men who have chosen to live together to seek and serve God following the Rule of St. Benedict under the direction of a Prioress (women’s communities) or Abbot (men’s communities).


A man who belongs to a monastic order.

Name Day
Annual observance of the saint whose name one bears.


A person who has completed the postulancy and now enters the novitiate.


A sacred time of deeper immersion into the monastic community.


A member of a cloistered religious order.

A layperson who offers himself or herself to God, affiliates with a monastery, and follows the spirit of the Rule of St. Benedict.


Obedience calls us to listen attentively and to respond eagerly to the will of God as revealed through our Prioress and the community, in Scripture, in the Rule of St. Benedict, in the needs of the Church and society, and in the ongoing challenges of human history.

Opus Dei

The term St. Benedict used to describe Benedictine common prayer. Opus Dei literally means the “Work of God.”


Used interchangeably with “community” and “congregation.”

Perpetual Monastic Profession
Life-long monastic profession.


A person asking for admission into a monastery. Postulancy refers to the period of time preceding her admission into the Novitiate.


For Benedictines, sharing all things in common.


Any monastery or convent led by a Prior or Prioress.


The spiritual leader of the monastic community and president of the religious community corporation.

Profession (monastic)

The threefold promise of stability, fidelity to the monastic life, and obedience. See Monastic Profession.

A period of time observed in prayer, meditation, and worship of God.


Prayer using a series of beads to meditate on the life of Jesus and Mary. It is composed of joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries.

Rule of St. Benedict (also: RB)

A guide to living in community written by St. Benedict in the late 500s. The Rule celebrates the values of love, prayer, service, hospitality, stewardship, and humility.

St. Benedict
Italian monastic leader who lived (c.480-c.550) at Monte Casino and developed the influential Rule of St. Benedict. Founder of the Benedictine Order. Feast days are celebrated on March 21 and July 11.

St. Scholastica

St. Scholastica, believed to be the twin sister of St. Benedict, founded a monastery for women near Monte Casino. She is the patroness of the Duluth, MN Benedictines. The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Scholastica on February 10.


Choir used in worship.


A building or place (from an entire church to a small plaque) dedicated to a particular type of devotion commemorating an event or person.


Women who live in active, uncloistered religious communities are usually referred to as Sisters. Most American Benedictine women are referred to as Sisters, while cloistered European Benedictines are referred to as Nuns.


Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery have moved from owning and operating health-care facilities and The College of St. Scholastica to sponsoring them.  Sponsorship involves both leadership and support of the institution’s Benedictine values.


Stability is uniquely Benedictine and calls one to live with others for a lifetime in the monastery of one’s profession. Stability challenges us to be an ecclesial community, a sacrament of Christ’s presence, as we respond to the transforming presence of the living God. Stability promises that regardless where our individual ministries might take us, we will always return to this Monastery. In our hearts and in our lives as Benedictines, we are always on our way home.


A procession in which Community members reverence Christ’s presence in one another and in the Living God.


“Receive me, O Lord, according to your Word and I shall live, and do not fail me in my hope.” This special prayer is sung at a Sister’s Final Monastic Profession, renewal of promises, and funeral.

A call from God. A religious vocation is usually a call to consecrated life in Community, the permanent diaconate, or the priesthood.

Vocation Director

The vocation director receives all inquiries about membership in a community and assists women in discerning their call to monastic life in our Community.


Solumn public promises made by members of communities to God. Most frequently the vows are poverty, chastity, and obedience, but some communities take additional vows. Benedictines make the three-fold promise of obedience, stability, and fidelity to the monastic way of life.

Women religious
Members of a religious community. Used as an alternative term for Sisters.

“Our humanity comes to its fullest bloom in giving. We become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life...all of our life.”
–Henri Nouwen