Duluth Benedictines mark 125th anniversary

October 1, 2017
Sr. Lois Eckes, OSB, and Jan Barrett
Sr. Lois Eckes, OSB, and Jan Barrett mug for the camera at the 125th anniversary celebration for the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery. Sr. Eckes is hospitality coordinator for the congregation's Center for Spirituality and Enrichment and spiritual director at the Duluth, Minn.-based monastery; and Barrett is the monastery's development and public relations director.

The Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery marked their 125th anniversary with an open house and reception Sept. 16. The Duluth, Minn.-based congregation founded and sponsors health care and educational ministries throughout the Midwest, including Benedictine Health System.

The congregation traces its U.S. roots to 1852 when three Benedictine Sisters from Bavaria traveled to Pennsylvania to establish a school for German Catholic immigrants. After setting up the school, the women moved west, founding a convent, school and hospital in Duluth. At the prompting of the local bishop, the Benedictines established a permanent community in Duluth in 1892. Headed by Mother Scholastica Kerst, the community originally had 32 sisters.

Over time the sisters expanded their presence significantly, in the Duluth area and beyond. Their ministries today are in health care, education, spiritual formation, sponsorship, the arts, pastoral care and social justice. While most of their ministries are in the Midwest, they also have a presence elsewhere in the U.S. and globally through individual sisters' work.

The Duluth Benedictines sponsor several Catholic facilities within the 15-hospital Essentia Health system of Duluth. The sisters also sponsor Benedictine Health System, the Duluth-based continuum-of-care organization with more than 40 senior care facilities in six Midwestern states.

The Duluth Benedictine congregation had 520 members at its peak in 1965. Today it has 62.



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