Sister Jackie

May Christ bring us all together to everlasting life.  Rule of Benedict

Business Analyst Calls St. Mary Monastery "Home"

Benedictine Sister Jackie Walsh, OSB (shown above with Sr. Mary Jean Feeney, OSB) will make her Perpetual Monastic Profession in August of 2014, embracing her permanent commitment to obedience, stability and fidelity to the monastic way of life. How did she get here … and what has she found? Her answers might surprise you!

What has struck you most about life here with the Benedictines?

Sister Jackie: Shortly after my entrance ceremony, we learned my nephew had died in a tragic accident. I had to go home to be with my family and help out with arrangements. 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.

Before you entered the community, you were a business analyst for Country Financial. You had your own home, your own routine. You were active in your parish. How hard was it to give all that up?

Sister Jackie: I was very sad the night before I moved; I remember crying as I scrubbed the kitchen floor of the apartment I leased. After spending some extra time in prayer, I came to realize it was a tremendous gift entrusted to me for a given period of time. That period was up, I was thankful for the time I’d enjoyed the house, but it was time to move on. Then I went to sleep peacefully and the move went very smoothly.   

The most difficult transition for me was being away from the regular time I spent with my church, friend and biological families. Those were the people who really knew and understood me. I was afraid of losing touch with friends and of young nieces and nephews forgetting their Aunt Jackie.  

As usual, when I let go and trust God, things work out as they should. I’m very happy with the path I’ve chosen to enter this community.  My life’s experiences and relationships, with God and my Sisters, continue to blossom and unfold.  My friends keep in touch and come to see me and I visit my family 2 or 3 times each year. Between those visits, my sisters do a great job of making sure their children know who I am. 

How has it been to live with 50 other women?

Sister Jackie: 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. If you want to use a car, you need to make sure it’s available, and tell the others when you’ll have it back for someone else to use.

What do you do for your ministry?

Sister Jackie: I work 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 programs and retreats, I can run all day long. People who think all Sisters ever do is pray are nuts! They go to work every day, whether here at the monastery or out at hospitals, parishes, schools. 

How is this life different from your single life?

Sister Jackie: 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.

How does Benedictine monasticism suit you?

Sister Jackie: 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. The Sisters I’ve gotten to know also need “alone time,” so I would say that balance of social and quiet is Benedictine.