Yankton Benedictines 2014-4
Volume XLV, No. 1
We are Benedictine women of
our gift of seeking God through
our prayer, work,
study and community life.
Rooted in our
and growing in
God and one another in monastic
live a life of prayer, work and lectio by which we
serve God and
God’s people in
our time and
Christians follow Christ by
bringing to life
the values of the
Gospel. We have
of these values
into these three:
Sisters’ Outreach Ministry Extends Behind Bars
While much of monastic ministry consists
in hospitality and providing for people’s
needs at the monastery, there is one needy
population that can’t come here. They are
the men and women incarcerated in the prisons of South Dakota, and at the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton. Besides the Federal
Prison Camp, there is a Minimum Unit located in Yankton, and the Mike Durfee State
Prison in Springfield and the State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls are both about an hour
Attending directly to the spiritual needs of
the men at the prison camp, Ss. Penny BingOn May 8th, Chaplain Doug Upton of the Federal Prison
ham, Aidan Bourke, Kate Crowley, and CarCamp presented S. Carol Baumert (above, right) with the
ol Baumert alternate in attending the Sunday
Volunteer of the Year award, as Assistant Warden Georgiafternoon Mass. There they serve as Minisna Macias–Carson looked on.
ter of the Cup and even lead a Liturgy of
Below, one of the carloads of Sisters who sang at Mass at
Word and Communion Service if a priest is
the Federal Prison Camp last Christmas pose in front of the
sign. They are Ss. Sarah Schulz, Patricia Ann Toscano,
unavailable. S. Penny shares that, “It amazAndree Mechtenberg, and Novice Peggy Venteicher.
es me that such a simple act of being with
these men means so much to them. We also
make a positive impact on the staff; they are
glad to interact with us as Sisters.”
S. Carol goes to the prison camp on Saturday afternoon and leads a Scripture group
based on the Sunday readings. She stresses
that they are united with the whole Church
through these readings, and reminds them to
listen for the Sunday morning bells from the
Monastery and the two Catholic parishes in
S. Patricia Ann Toscano contributes to the
prison ministry with her gift of music. For
eleven years she volunteered in the chapel
area, organizing a choir and hand bell choir from among the residents. Each Christmas since 1987, a
dozen Sisters joined the men for Mass, and S. Patricia Ann rehearses with some men who add the
festive touch of hand bells to the carols and Gloria. Another group of Sisters travels to the prisons in
Sioux Falls and Springfield annually to pray and sing at the inmates’ Mass. (Continued on page 2)
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed
me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” (Matt.25:35-36)
Reflections from the Prioress — S. Penny Bingham OSB
The delights of the greening of Spring and the new life of Easter remind
me of our inter-connectedness in this wondrous web of life, both earthly
and divine. The scripture stories of this Easter season tell us repeatedly
that Jesus remains faithfully, intimately connected to us.
An important part of our interconnectedness as followers of Jesus is our
power to pray for one another. As a praying community the Sisters of our
monastery pray daily for the needs of our world, our Church, and those
people who have asked for remembrance of their particular needs. Among
the world needs included in my prayer these days are the kidnapped school
girls of Nigeria; though distant from them in many ways, I feel a bond to
these young women as I hold them up to God in my prayer. At times we
receive a note telling us how a prayer was answered or how a person felt the support of prayer during a tough time. When facing difficult situations myself, I have felt deeply the support of others’
prayer for me asking for God’s needed grace.
As you read the stories in this issue, know that it is life grounded in prayer that empowers us and
allows us to connect with others. Please be assured of our prayers for you, as we also ask your prayers for us Benedictine Sisters of Yankton. Thank you.
(Continued from page 1)
The Department of Corrections allows volunteers to
bring inmates pieces of homemade fudge at Christmas.
A number of Sisters make fudge for this project and Ss.
Denette Leifeld and Eileen O’Connor spend Christmas
Day delivering it. “It is a powerful experience for me to
look into an inmate’s eyes, smile, say ‘Merry Christmas,’
shake their hand and give them the Christmas Sack,”
says S. Denette. “For some this is the only ‘present’ they
will receive for Christmas.”
Ss. Eileen, Denette, and Erin Colgan recently served
as team members for Residents Encounter Christ retreats
(REC) at both the men’s state prisons and the women’s Below, Ss. Eileen and Denette and Father Gary Ternes
prison in Pierre. The three-day retreat gives them an op- are assisted by monastery maintenance crew Jim
portunity for faith sharing. “The wisdom and insights Wieseler and Kevin Siverton in packing fudge to take
they have sometimes just amaze me. We see them as to the prisoners.
‘Children of God,’ not as their crime,” remarks S. Erin.
S. Cynthia Binder and other Sisters have taught classes at the Federal Prison Camp through Mount
Marty College. Mount Marty has had a presence at the Prison Camp for over 25 years and has graduated
over 250 prisoners with an A. A. degree. One resident verbalized that the liberal arts courses required in
that degree touched him and his fellow inmates at their deepest level. These courses, says S. Cynthia,
“rebuild something deep within them that had been crushed and defeated. They all speak or write about the
restoration of what was once good within them. They rediscover a confidence and courage that assure them
of that future job, those reestablished relationships, the strength of good choices.” Rebuilding character
and reminding residents of God’s love and forgiveness is what all prison ministry is about.
Grateful for the Gifts of our Jubilarians
Jubilees at SHM are usually celebrated in the summer, yet our mood better fits the season of harvest and Thanksgiving. This year’s “crop” of jubilarians present a wide and diverse outlay of gifts and ministries throughout their years of
service. The Church is blessed by their gifts, and Sacred Heart Monastery is blessed by the beauty and generosity of
these wonderful women. In this issue we feature our 50, 70, and 75 year Jubilarians. In our August issue, we will feature the “bumper crop” of our 60 year Jubilarians: Sisters Anna Dangel, Cynthia Binder, Dorothy Olinger, Patricia
Heirigs, Rosemary Weber, Valerie Cheney and Victorine Stoltz.
Celebrating 75 Years — SISTER WILMA LYLE begins her autobiography
by stating “My life has been an interesting and exciting one.” Like many of her generation, S. Wilma grew up on a homesteaded farm where her parents, William Michael and
Lillian (Ruddel) Lyle, raised their seven children. During her years at Mount Marty
High School, S. Wilma felt called to be a Benedictine Sister and began convent life on
August 24, 1937. After first profession in 1939, her teaching career started with elementary and junior high schools in Glen Ulin, Richardton, and Selfridge, ND, and Hoven,
Aberdeen and Yankton, SD, with many summers spent teaching in vacation schools.
Sr. Wilma loved teaching and served Mount Marty College as professor in the religion
department and as academic dean. In 1964, she along with five other Sisters, spent seven years setting up and teaching in their mission school in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.
She found this to be the most enriching experience of her life. In 1973 S. Wilma was
elected prioress and served two terms which she found both challenging and exhilarating. After her terms in office she resumed teaching and taking on various ministries.
Looking back on her years as a Benedictine, S. Wilma states: “I’ve been blessed and
enriched in so many ways and am so grateful for the gifts of life, health, intelligence, education and experiences, especially experiences undreamed of in 1939 when I was professed.”
Celebrating 70 Years — SISTER YVONNE DUPPONG came to Yankton
from Lefor, ND, where her parents, Anton and Anna Wert Duppong made their home
after moving to this country from Hungary. She says that she was surrounded by Benedictine Sisters and monks all her life. The second oldest of eleven children, S. Yvonne
was engaged in domestic work thinking at 18 years of age she was past the age for acceptance to a convent. She was set right when she became more informed and so became
a postulant on December 8, 1942. During her years as a Benedictine Sister S. Yvonne
was engaged primarily in the Ecclesiastical Vestment Department and domestic work at
the Bishop’s House in Sioux Falls and at the chaplain’s residence at the Monastery. S.
Yvonne’s work with the aged began when assigned to St. Thomas More in Canon City,
CO. in 1972. She received her degree in Social Work from Mount Marty College and her
ministry with the aged continued on several mission assignments. She especially enjoyed
her five years at Albion, NE where she was engaged in parish visiting and assisted with
religious education. Of her 70 years in Benedictine living, Sr. Yvonne says, “What I
treasure most is the Sisters learning to live together, seeing how they do so much for one
another. Monastic life just grows on a person when you see what is being done.”
If the stories of our jubilarians inspire you,
consider being a Yankton Benedictine! Or
encourage a young woman to come to one
of our discernment retreats! God has
called women to the Benedictine monastic
way of life for over 1500 years. Come, be
one heart, one soul, rooted in Christ, receiving and giving His love with your sisters and the world.
Visit us at www.yanktonbenedictines.org/vocation
Contact us at phyllis.hunhoff.mtmc.edu
1005 W. 8th St.. Yankton, SD 57078 — 605-668-6092
Celebrating 70 Years — SISTER JANE FRANCES GARCIA was born in
Farisita, CO, into a very religious family—three older half sisters were vowed religious.
Her faith was nurtured by her home parish in Gardner, CO. It was the influence of the
Sisters who taught vacation school in Gardner that brought S. Jane Frances to Yankton in
1941. After first profession in 1944 she was sent to work at Sacred Heart Hospital which
paved the way for her mission in nursing, a profession she learned “on the job.” She was a
founding member of the Watertown community in 1959. Her heart’s desire was to serve
the poor and underprivileged Spanish and Mexican people, so S. Jane Frances volunteered
as a missionary to Guatemala for two years. On her return, she continued her education
and graduated with degrees leading to nursing registration. In June 1977 she transferred
her stability back to Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton and resumed serving the Hispanic people in Colorado, including religious education and pastoral care in parishes, nursing
homes, and jails. Of special memory was the summer of 1995 when she was privileged to
spend a month in Rome for a Benedictine Monastic experience. She writes, “Life as a
Yankton Benedictine has been a tremendous fulfillment in my ministries as a health provider, serving the poor, the incarcerated, and preparing young people for confirmation and Holy Eucharist. How can I
begin to thank God for the graces afforded me to carry out His Holy will.”
Celebrating 70 Years — SISTER MARIE HELENE WERDEL was the second of seven children having an older brother and five sisters. Her parents, John and
Elizabeth (Kusser) Werdel built their home on prairie lands east of Stephan, SD. It was
there the family experienced the hardships of life during the depression, especially after
the death of her father. S. Marie Helene left the wide ranch lands of western South Dakota in response to what she felt was a call to be a Sister in 1942. After first profession as a
Benedictine Sister on June 24, 1944, S. Marie Helene began what she expected to be a
long teaching career. She taught in schools at Dimock, SD, Yankton, SD, Pueblo, CO,
Albion, NE and Richardton, ND. Her appointment as community procurator and business manager at Mount Marty College in 1957 led to 37 years of work, including director
of maintenance at the college, director of plant operations, manager of the MMC
Bookstore, and Buildings and Grounds supervisor. At the Monastery she served as sacristan for eight years. She currently helps in the Gift Shop and mail room, tutors, and enjoys keeping the birds, turkeys and squirrels from going hungry. Of her Jubilee, S. Marie Helene says, “My years as a Benedictine have been wonderful. I am forever grateful
for God’s blessing and generosity and for my community these many years. It has been more rewarding than I ever
dreamed. I pray my life has been of help to others.”
Celebrating 70 Years — SISTER EVANGELINE ANDERSON grew up
on a farm near Harrold, SD with her parents William and Catherine (Sullivan) Anderson and six siblings. After graduation she worked a year hoping to save for college.
Little did she know then what role college was to play in her future life. She entered
Sacred Heart Convent in 1942 and found out college was included in the formation program. After a few years teaching on the elementary and high school level she earned a
doctorate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America. She states her superior’s request for philosophy “had never occurred to her, but in retrospect, philosophy
brought me into contact with a world of study that has made so much difference to my
life.” She then served at Mount Marty College, teaching philosophy and serving as
dean of women, director of development and of financial aid, vice president of financial
affairs, and a 17-year term as president. In 1989, she was appointed sub-prioress. It
was a an exciting time as she became involved in future planning and development in
the monastic way of life. The February 1997 fire remains a memorable mark on her
term as sub-prioress. S. Evangeline writes: “My Benedictine life has been 70 years of
fulfillment in ways I never could have imagined or hoped for. To be a part of a loving community that has supported me,
challenged me and given me countless opportunities for growth has been pure gift, for which I am extremely grateful.”
was born in Luverne,
MN, the fourth child of
Mildred (Kennedy) and
joined three brothers and
three sisters growing up
on a farm northwest of
Luverne. St. Rose of
Lima parish in Garretson, SD was an anchor
in her family’s faith life
as her father became the first layman to lector and serve
as communion minister in their church following the
reforms of Vatican II. S. Mildred graduated from Garretson High School in 1961. She attended Mount
Marty College for one year before she entered Sacred
Heart Convent in 1962. In 1967 she received her BA in
history from Mount Marty and MA in education from
the University of Nebraska in 1981. For 33 years S.
Mildred taught in elementary and high school levels in
parish schools of Tabor and Yankton, SD; and Hartington and Lincoln, NE. She was principal for 20 of those
years and she states her years in education have brought
great joy and satisfaction for the privilege of being involved in the lives of hundreds of children and young
people. Throughout her years in religious life, S. Mildred was involved in community administrative areas,
serving terms on the Council and numerous committee
and task forces. In 1999 she entered a new phase of
ministry by serving on the task force for co-sponsorship
of our Benedictine health system with the Aberdeen
Presentation Sisters health system now known as
Avera. She continued to serve the health system as a
member of several Avera Hospital Board of Directors
and has been a System Member Chair for Avera Health.
In 2005 S. Mildred was appointed Community Procurator. She loved these years of serving the community
very directly, adding that “the learning curve was huge,
but the challenge was enjoyable.” Currently S. Mildred is Pastoral Administrative Assistant at St.
Michael’s Parish in Lincoln, NE. Her newest venture
has been writing and sharing Guided Visualizations on
Gospel passages, stories and events. In closing S. Mildred says, “On my Jubilee, I celebrate with everlasting
gratitude my call to the Monastery and thank God for
grew up on a farm near
Tyndall, SD, second in
a family of four children. She is the daughter of the late John J.
Ranek and Louise
(Osborn) Ranek. After
graduating from Tyndall High School, S.
Jeanne attended Mount
Marty College. graduating in 1962 with a BA in Social Science. She says attending Mount Marty opened for her worlds academically and spiritually. That fall she entered Sacred Heart
Convent. After first profession, S. Jeanne taught at
Mount Marty High School until its closure in
1969. This was followed by graduate studies at the
University of Notre Dame where she earned a Masters
and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. S. Jeanne’s ministries have included teaching at the college and graduate
levels, counseling, serving as consultant and facilitator
for numerous religious communities and leadership
roles in the American Benedictine Academy, Association of Benedictine Retreat Centers and Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. Since 1990, S. Jeanne has been
engaged in full-time retreat ministry and continues to
serve as Director of the ecumenical Spiritual Direction
Ministry Formation Program. In 2000, S. Jeanne
earned a Doctor of Ministry degree in Spiritual Direction through the Graduate Theological Foundation including a summer attending Oxford University in England. S. Jeanne continues as Director of the Benedictine Peace Center established in 2001 with the completion of a new wing of the monastery. S. Jeanne
writes: “Fifty years have passed quickly, filled with
experiences and opportunities I hadn’t dreamed would
be mine. Whatever the years before me hold, my hope
is that I will be ever more attentive and responsive to
the profound and amazing gift of God’s loving Presence among us. I am deeply grateful to my family, my
sisters and all those whom I have been privileged to
serve in a variety of ministries. With a long way to go
yet, my hope is to attain what St. Benedict promises to
a disciple after long years of fidelity in our monastic
way of life, that is: “to run with heart enlarged on the
way of God’s commandments.”
Photo by Jerry’s
A note to our readers: If you will be gone for the summer or are moving, please consider getting your copy of
Yankton Benedictines by e-mail, or send us your change of address. That way, we’ll stay in contact, and no one
will have to pay for mail forwarding. Just let us know by e-mailing [email protected]
S. Bonita Gacnik, OSB, and a Mount Marty College student, Rachel Shippy, from Colome, SD
(pictured below), were among the more than 100
women who attended the launch event (March 7-9)
for National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW) at the
University of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN. NCSW
has introduced the
second week of
March as part of National Women’s History Month to shine a
national spotlight on
the good works and
good will of Catholic
sisters. Reflecting on
this experience, Ms.
Shippy said, “I loved hearing the sisters’ stories and
how society’s view and opinion of them and their life
is definitely not as accurate as it should be.”
Fourteen men and women received certificates of
completion from the two-year Spiritual Direction
Ministry Formation program offered by the Benedictine Peace Center. Pictured are staff and graduates, front row, left to right, S. Eileen Brick, OSB,
Watertown; Pastor Judy Fitzgerald, Lincoln, NE; S.
Juli Caron, CSJ, Fargo, ND; S. Jeanne Ranek, Peace
Center Director; S. Doris Oberembt, staff; (back
row, left to right) S. Mary Jo Polak, staff; Br. Tobi-
Eight Oblate novices were also received at the same
ceremony. They are N. Lois Lemkuhl, N. Kirsti Skuza, N. Angela M. Hejl, N. Krista Radke, N. Marge
Stoebner, N. Mary Ellen Kreber, N. Marie Manas and
N. Delores Winckler. Pictured above, S. Penny Bingham, Prioress, witnesses the oblation of Ms. Jamie
Thelen and Dr. Terry Lafferty of the Mount Marty
College chapter. S. Joelle Bauer is the Oblate Director, S. Eileen O’Connor directs the Mount Marty
College Chapter, S. Bonita Gacnik is the On-line
Director, and S. Phyllis Hunhoff assists the Nebraska
Oblates. For more information about Oblates visit
S. Kathryn Burt was honored at Mount Marty
College with the Distinguished Teacher of the Year
award. She is an Assistant Professor in the Nursing
Department. Also honored at the Faculty and Staff
Recognition event were S. Bonita Gacnik for 25
years and S. Sharon Ann Haas for 20 years on faculty at Mount Marty College.
Good Shepherd Sunday, May 11, was designated
World Day of Prayer for Vocations by Pope Francis. Through April and May, many Sisters were involved in welcoming many students from St. Mary’s,
O’Gorman, and Christ the King in Sioux Falls and St.
Mary’s in Salem, reports S. Phyllis Hunhoff, Coordinator of Vocation Ministries. Other Sisters attended
events in Brookings, Vermillion and Schuyler. Vocation Retreats and Monastic Experiences are underway
for young women discerning their call to religious life
and Sacred Heart Monastery.
as Dammert, OSB, Schuyler, NE; Ms. Jeanette
Nordhues, Grand Island, NE; Rev. Dr. Scott Taylor,
Grand Island, NE; S. Theresa Hoffman, OSB, Watertown; Mr. Dan Johnson, Marengo, IL; S. Nancy
Zemcuznikov, OSB, Watertown; Pastor Bill Gran,
Sioux Falls; Ms. Mary Kay Daniels, Sioux City; The
Rev. Dr. Larry Ort, Brookings; Ms. Kristi Gullickson, Sioux Falls; and Ms. Carol Larson, Huron.
On April 27st at Mid-day Prayer in Bishop Marty
Memorial Chapel, two women made final Oblation.
A Coming Attraction
Over the summer, Sacred Heart Monastery will
be going on–line with a new website. So don’t be surprised
to see some changes. The new site will be user-friendly to
your mobile app, will be easier for us to update to keep
YOU informed, and will have improved search and navigation features, plus all the information on our current site.
So be sure and check us out in several weeks at
Into Eternal Peace
S. Flavia Binder
OSB, 90, died in the
Sacred Heart Monastery Care Center on
Saturday, March 8,
2014. A wake service
was held at 7:00 p.m.
on Tuesday, March
11, and the Funeral
Mass was celebrated
on Wednesday, March
12, at 10:30 a.m., both
in Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel. Burial
was in the monastery cemetery.
Blanche May Binder was born in Yankton on
December 21, 1923, the fourth of five children of
Fred and Bertha (Ferdinand) Binder. She attended
Sacred Heart School and Mount Marty High School
in Yankton, South Dakota. In the eighth grade, she
began working at her father’s ice cream and carbonated beverage factory, and enjoyed every minute of work there. She also attended Mount Marty
College part-time before entering the Monastery.
Blanche entered Sacred Heart Monastery on
August 31, 1942. She became a novice in 1943 and
received the name Flavia. After making profession
on June 24, 1944, S. Flavia worked at St. Mary’s
Hospital in Pierre, South Dakota. She also ministered as a prefect in Tabor, South Dakota and
worked in the altar bread department in Yankton
before making perpetual vows in 1948. After perpetual vows, she served as a nurse’s aide at St. Benedict’s Hospital in Parkston, South Dakota, Madonna Home in Lincoln, Nebraska, and St. Michael’s
Hospital, Tyndall, South Dakota. Later in life, she
returned to the monastery to work in the print shop,
gift shop and as a receptionist.
S. Flavia enjoyed collecting dolls as a child and
later stamp collecting. She was also very interested
in reading the history of the local area and the state
of South Dakota.
S. Flavia is survived by her Benedictine community, her sister Ruth Binder Quin of Spearfish,
and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded
in death by her parents and her brothers Tom, Cliff
S. Enid Dodge OSB,
89, died on Wednesday,
January 29, 2014 at Sacred
Heart Monastery. A wake
service was held at 7:00
p.m. on Friday, January
31, and the Funeral Mass
was celebrated on Saturday, February 1 at 10:30
a.m., both in Bishop Marty
Memorial Chapel. Burial
was in the monastery cemetery.
Ellen Frances Dodge was born April 16, 1924, a
triplet and youngest of seven children of Charles and
Margaret (Tobin) Dodge of Springfield, Illinois. Ellen
went to several Catholic grade schools in Springfield,
Illinois as her family moved to various parts of the
city, later graduating from Roosevelt High School,
Peoria, Illinois. She worked at St. John’s Hospital in
Springfield, Illinois, where she met some Sisters from
Yankton. After World War II broke out, she worked
for Remington Rand and later enlisted and was accepted into the Navy, but was honorably discharged when
it was discovered she was under age.
Ellen entered Sacred Heart Monastery in 1950. She
was invested as a novice on June 28, 1951 and received the name Enid. She made her first profession
on June 29, 1952 and final profession on June 29,
1955. While working at St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre,
South Dakota, she received her LPN license. She
worked at Maryhouse in Pierre and as a nurse at Sacred Heart Hospital, Yankton, South Dakota. She also
nursed in the monastery infirmary and worked in the
monastery kitchen. Most of her years of ministry were
spent at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Lincoln,
Nebraska, where she was a nurse and later a pastoral
assistant. While in Lincoln, she volunteered at the
Matt Talbot Soup Kitchen for fourteen years. Her heart
held a special place for the poor.
S. Enid had an out-going personality. She met life
with a sparkle in her eye and a green thumb. Laughter
blossomed wherever she went. She considered it an
honor to care for the physically disabled, the dying and
the elderly. In her later years, she prayerfully held people in her heart.
S. Enid is survived by her Benedictine community
and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in
death by her parents and all her siblings: Charles, William, Richard, Leo, James and Mary.
Eternal Rest Grant to Them, O Lord.
June 6 -7 - Chapter Meeting
June 18 - Employee Recognition
Sacred Heart Monastery
1005 West 8th Street
Yankton, SD 57078
Change Service Requested
June 27 - 29 - MMC Alumni Reunion
July 11 - Solemnity of St. Benedict
July 19 - Golden Jubilee celebration
August 1 - 2 - Chapter Meeting
We invite you to join us for:
Monday—Friday @ 7:00 a.m.
Saturday & Sunday @ 8:30 a.m.
Monday—Friday @ 5:15 p.m.
Sunday @ 5:00 p.m.
Monday—Friday @ 7:20 a.m.
Sunday @10:00 a.m.
Eucharistic Adoration, 7- 9 p.m.
First Sunday of each month.
Editor: S. Mary Jo Polak
From Prairie Praise by S. Jane Klimisch
Advisors, Writers, Photographers: Ss. Francine
Streff, Marita Kolbeck, Bonita Gacnik,
Mary Kay Panowicz, Penny Bingham,
Phyllis Hunhoff, Virginia Pieper,
This publication is circulated free of charge three times a year to families, friends and
benefactors of the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton, SD