Amidst the vibrant pulse of the many programs at the Monastery is the persistent and undeniable call of vocations. Responding to the call begins with a prayer for vocations the community prays together once a week. There are currently two women in formation: Postulant Danielle Walsh and Novice Karen Martin.
A whole team is engaged in building up the next generation of sisters who will continue our legacy of ministries in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The team consists of all former vocation directors: Sister Bernadette Stang (lead) and Sisters Teresa Jackson, Janet Barnard, and Corinne Forsman. “Once a vocation director, always a vocation director,” they say.
With memberships in the National Vocation Conference and Benedictine Vocation Directors, the community works with other vocation directors and regularly receives inquiries from women discerning religious life. “Our new buzz words for women entering are ‘happy, holy, and healthy,’” says Sister Janet Barnard. “They must also feel called to our core values: Healing Hospitality, Grateful Simplicity, and Creative Peacemaking.”
Year-round volunteer opportunities and the Monastic Immersion Experience give women the opportunity to live monastic life and get to know the community. Sister Katie Cooper was an oblate (lay member) before becoming a sister. New cohort retreat programs also give women an opportunity to specifically learn about Benedictine spirituality and regularly visit the Monastery.
Sisters are on the road attending events such as the Idaho Catholic Youth Conference and Vocare in Spokane that brings together vocation directors and young women discerning religious life. Sisters also present programs at busy student retreats at campus ministries, providing spiritual direction and guidance on praying with scripture. Sisters have helped lead retreats at Gonzaga University, University of Idaho, Boise State University, Washington State University, Northwest Nazarene University, and the College of Idaho.
Sister Maria Elena visits Catholic schools to talk specifically about her years as a missionary in Colombia. Sister Bernadette leads a musical program called “The Hills are Alive” and a musical group, the Von Gertrude Ensemble, that performs at vocation and Monastery events, and parishes. Both Postulant Danielle and Novice Karen are in the ensemble.
The St. Gertrude’s website was recently updated to be more prominent in search results for those looking for more information on religious life. It also includes more information on vocations. There are planning discussions underway for a Monastery app.
A robust media program regularly shares call stories and ways to become more involved with ministries. Programs such as concerts, retreats, and the Historical Museum are frequently bringing young people of all ages to the Monastery. “With each of our ministries,” says Sister Teresa, “we are looking for all the ways that we can introduce people to the vitality of religious life.”