Benedictine Postulant answers your questions

And what does the Spirit say? Come and listen to me...  Rule of Benedict

When Jackie Walsh (shown at right with Sister Mary Jean Feeney) entered our Benedictine Sisters' community, she became the third member in initial formation. Calling herself the "Rookie Benedictine," Jackie - at 50, 12 years older than our youngest member - said she enjoyed getting to know the Sisters, the rhythm, the traditions and the personality of the community. In August, 2014 she will make her Final Monastic Profession. This story came from her postulancy.

Q. What has struck you most, so far, about life here with the Benedictines?

A. Shortly after my entrance ceremony, we learned my nephew had died unexpectedly. I went home to be with my family and help out. When I returned, everyone was so loving and supportive to me. I was really moved by that. I thought, "This is how my new family pulls together to help one another during a tragedy!"

Sister Phyllis (the prioress) had welcomed my entire family after the ceremony, saying, "You are part of our family now." That gives me so much comfort.

I have to say, I felt at home the first time I came here. The unconditional love and support from the Sisters has touched me more than I can say.

Q. How has it been to live with 50 other women?

A. I was used to living on my own and making my own decisions. Now everything's a conversation! (laughs) But it's like family life. You have other people to consider. You let one another know where you're going and when you'll be back. You share property.

Q. What do you do during the day?

A. I work part time as an administrative assistant for our retreat center, and let me tell you, it keeps me busy! Between prayers, meetings, set-up and tear-down for a recent program, I ran from 5 am to 9 pm one day. People who think all Sisters ever do is pray are mistaken. They go to work every day, whether here at the monastery or out at hospitals, parishes, colleges.

I will study Benedictinism, theology and other topics as assigned by Sr. Mary Core, my formation director. As a Postulant, I will spend this year studying with her while I continue working. Next year - the Canonical Novice year - will be spent in study only, with no outside work.

Q. How is this life different from your single life?

A. It feels balanced, despite the busyness. It all works because God is here, and we are all here to seek God. I had wondered what it would be like to go to Lauds, Noon Prayer, Vespers and Eucharist every day, but I love it.

Q. Do you think you're Benedictine at heart?

A. Well, I'm naturally quiet, which works well in Benedictine community life. I have always walked softly, closed doors quietly, put dishes on the counter gently. I've always been cognizant of those around me, and not wanted to disturb them.

Although I'm an introvert, I never intended to spend my life alone. I am happy being among my Sisters, praying, sharing and working. There's always someone to talk with, or watch a movie or work a puzzle with. I'm also happy that I have my own room, where I can go to be alone. It's the kind of balance I need.

Q. What's been hardest for you?

A. Being away from my friends has been hard. They can visit, but we can't hang out the way we used to, in each other's homes. This is my new life, and I love it. It will take some adjustment, but it's worth it to me. I have the family I was called to have.