Part 3: When the Stranger is You

margaret murphy welcoming children

Sister Margaret welcomes inner-city children to the monastery grounds for some outdoor fun.

Sister Margaret Murphy stood at the edge of a busy thoroughfare, looking at the restaurant on the other side.

She had promised to meet friends there, but the pavement looked icy. Traffic was heavy, too.

“I didn’t know what to do,” she says. “I couldn’t cross the street, but going back wasn’t an option. It was sleeting and the sidewalks were getting icy too.” Continue Reading

Part 2: I will be Me so You can be You

good samaritan stained glass from sacred heart charlotte grandfather cropped for web

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, he spoke with her.

This was remarkable in itself, as men simply did not interact publicly with women – let alone enemy Samaritans – at the time.

But there was more: Jesus accepted her, an adulterer reviled by many, for who she was. And he offered himself. Continue Reading

Part 1: Let All Guests Be Received as Christ


This is Part 1 of a 9-part story on the importance of practicing hospitality in our lives. We need to welcome others … ourselves … God. Join Sisters Catherine, Margaret, Charlotte, Marlene, Mary, Stefanie, Marianne, Helen and Rita as they share their wisdom.

All summer long, guests arrived at the Cleary farm.

Cousins came to ride the ponies. Aunts and uncles to visit with the parents.

Meals were prepared, served and cleaned up after. Beds were changed and floors were swept.

On the first of September Mrs. Cleary said, “This is the first day this summer we have not had guests.” Continue Reading

Radical Hospitality: A 9-Part Love Song

welcome sign smm

Today we begin a 9-part story – it’s a love song, really – about practicing hospitality in our lives.

It’s about how – and why – to welcome ourselves … to welcome one other … to welcome God.

It will change our hearts in more profound ways than we can predict.

Join Sisters Catherine, Margaret, Charlotte, Marlene, Mary, Stefanie, Marianne, Helen and Rita as they share their wisdom.

Part 1: Let All Guests Be Received as Christ

Part 2: I Will Be Me so You Can Be You

Part 3: When the Stranger is You

A True Friend: “Treasure Beyond Price”

hands cropped

By Sister Charlotte Sonneville, OSB

A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; you who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance her worth. (Sirach 6: 16-17)

Recently, I found myself thinking about a Benedictine Sister who became a “sturdy shelter” for me as a schoolgirl in Moline and, later, a Sister myself. Continue Reading

A Benedictine Catholic Sister’s Story of “Yes”


Benedictine Sisters process to Mass in their heavy serge habits.

By Sister Charlotte Sonneville, OSB

It was a hot August afternoon when Sisters Marilyn Hettinger, Sandra Mock and I arrived back at the Catechetical Center in Ladd, Illinois. We had been driving for 4 hours, returning from 2 months at the monastery in Nauvoo.

We had just changed out of our traditional wool habits and into our cotton work habits when the phone rang. Father William, OSB, told us that the local Presbyterian pastor’s wife had died. Could we please represent our Catholic community at her funeral?

Of course we said yes. We had enjoyed some great youth programs with our two Churches and knew that it was important to offer our prayerful support.

But changing back into our hot, heavy serge habits was quite a sacrifice. And the funeral was just an hour from then. Continue Reading