Missing the Rosaries but Benedictine Habit Otherwise a Good Fit

Let clothing be given to the brethren according to the circumstances of the place and the nature of the climate in which they live…  Rule of Benedict

An early morning visitor to the monastery might well be greeted by Sister Martina Brinkschroeder any day of the week as she steps out to bring in the newspapers. It’s one of her daily duties now, along with unlocking the doors, putting on the coffee and, of course, a faithful prayer ministry. It’s a quiet life, she admits, but one she relishes … especially after nearly 50 years in the classroom.

Sr. Martina entered the Benedictine community almost 70 years ago, at the age of 18. It wasn’t her first or even her second choice. She had admired the long rosaries swinging from the waists of her early teachers, the Notre Dame Sisters, enough to want to join their community … at least as a first grader. Later, nearing young adulthood, she considered becoming a Carmelite Sister. That, too, went by the wayside when her dad suggested she reconsider: her “outdoor” nature, he intimated, might not be a good fit for a cloistered community.

By the time Sr. Martina was old enough to join somewhere, she had noticed the Benedictine Sisters at Mass. They looked perfect.

“I’d see the Sisters walking to Mass and could just tell something about them,” she says. “They seemed like a happy group. My dad liked them a lot. He used to do carpentry for them. And my mother was thrilled. Not only was I becoming a Sister, I was becoming a Benedictine Sister. She had been raised, after her own mother had died, by the mother of one of the Benedictine Sisters.”

Sr. Martina entered in 1940 and never looked back.

“I loved the prayer life from the start,” she says. “It has always meant a lot to me. The Sisters were kind and understanding, which was a reflection of their hospitality. And their hospitality was a reflection of their prayer life. I have been very satisfied with my choice.”

Although things have changed over the years – the community is about half the size it once was, the corporate ministry is no longer education but retreats, and home is now in Rock Island – some things have never changed.

“In all my years here, we’re just as happy as ever,” Sr. Martina says. “We’re here to help each other stay on the path to God. My goal has always been to seek God, to be with God. That can only be achieved for me through this journey in Benedictine life. The support of my Sisters is a big thing. I’m very grateful for this community and this life.”