Women of the Rule aid ministries

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The annual awards luncheon of the Women of the Rule is a fulfilling day, as the 96-member group gets the satisfaction of seeing how their donated dollars help the Sisters of St. Benedict and their varied ministries.

Jenny Schmitt, a four-year member from Evansville, Indiana, aptly articulated the feeling in her closing remarks at the recent gathering.

“I feel safe saying we are all here because we already belong to a monastery – a monastery of the heart. (We share) the common life in a monastery of a heart that is our heart because we all are part of this mission together thanks to the invitation of this community. This community of Benedictine women have inspired us and called us forth by their witness, the witness of service and hospitality, community life, and Gospel values. They witness for us the charism of St. Benedict. Each of you here has been stirred to action by the life of these women. We, too, want to make a difference in the lives of others by the gift of our lives.

“Our hearts have been changed thanks to each other. We as Women of the Rule have affected each other, touched each other, and made our lives deeper because of our interaction with each other, and also with the community, who has opened their hearts and homes to us.”

The Women of the Rule’s generosity continues to grow impressively. Since 2010, the group has funded 50 projects to the tune of over $365,000. For a $1,000 annual membership, women can vote on yearly award proposals, and enjoy various programs and activities. Twenty percent of the annual dues are also placed into a Women of the Rule Endowment, which has grown to nearly $87,000.

The group chose seven projects to fund this year. The initial five were selected in the first round of voting, completed before the awards luncheon.

Included was a $14,000 grant to support the sisters’ continuing development of their Family Scholar House ministry, which empowers single parents and their families to succeed in education and achieve life-long self-sufficiency.

Women of the Rule member Jenny Schmitt talks to the group about Joan Chittister’s book, Monastery of the Heart, saying it’s “a powerful guide for all of us seeking to live a more meaningful life, a more purposeful life. It builds on the Rule of Benedict to show us new ways of meaning.”

The Monastery Bakery received $12,000 to buy a new sheeter, which will allow for improved efficiency and help meet increased demand for the sisters’ cookies.

The monastery’s Hildegard Health Center, which serves senior sisters, was awarded $5,200 for safety improvements and life enrichment.

The Monastery Gift Shop was given $1,840 in an effort to increase online sales and shipping efficiency. The shop will be able to use a software plug-in to connect with the Google Shopping network.

A grant of $1,800 went to purchase two lavalier and two hand-held microphones for use in the monastery church, so sisters and guests can better hear prayers.

One project selected at the luncheon was $25,000 to go towards the establishment of a new Benedictine Hospitality Center in the original monastery building. The center is targeted to advance the sisters’ outreach to people looking for a spiritual path on their journey, to those who are searching for Benedictine ideals and ways of life.

The sisters’ Immigration Services and Latino Outreach Ministry was also awarded $6,582 to aid in offering much-needed services to low income, at-risk immigrant families in the area.

For more information about Women of the Rule, or if you are interesting in joining the group, contact Sister Barbara C. Schmitz at bcschmitz@thedome.org or at 812-367-1411.

Photo at top: Sister Joan Scheller thanks the Women of the Rule for awarding a grant to the sisters’ Immigrations Services and Latino Outreach Ministry: “It really does serve people in great need in our area.” At left is Jessica Bergman, the luncheon’s master of ceremonies.