Lent Appeal - The Sisters in Seoul
The Schuyler Benedictines, since their coming to Nebraska in 1935, have kept a close relationship to their sister community at Immaculata Monastery in nearby Norfolk. We share the same roots going back to 1884 when Fr. Andreas Amrhein, OSB, founded a Benedictine community with the intent to engage in mission work in Africa. The young community grew fast. Soon women embraced the same ideal of being missionaries. Eventually the two Missionary Benedictine Congregations of St. Ottilien (men) and of Tutzing (women) emerged and were approved by Rome. In many countries the sisters and monks work closely together, often sharing the same campus, yet retaining their independent status.
Many years ago when we planned the construction of our retreat house, St. Benedict Center, we could not find an expert among our missionaries to oversee the project. We learned that the community of sisters in Seoul, South Korea, has an expert in Sr. Michele Lee, O.S.B. For the duration of the construction, Sr. Michele was assigned to Immaculata Monastery. She made her home in one of the guestrooms of Christ the King Priory. Each day Sr. Michele spent hours at the construction site, interacted with workers, general contractor and architect, making sure that all was done according to plan.
In August of 2018, I had an “S.O.S.” letter from the Sisters in Seoul concerning their nursing home on the same campus as the monastery. With an aging community the need to add on to “Benedict Nursing Home” became more urgent. The old wing of 2004 is currently renovated to be suitable as an assisted living facility for the elderly Benedictine Sisters. The new addition will house the nursing home residents of whom 90% are wheelchair bound.
The cost for the new addition, renovation, furniture and equipment will add up to $4,928, 159 according to the estimate provided by the architect and the sisters. The community’s contribution is approx. $899,281 as stated in the latest financial information. Korean benefactors pitched in by contributing $2,248,202. Late last year, in spite of the fund shortage of $1,779,676, the sisters courageously decided to start with construction. Of interest: the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Seoul are very much involved in social work and ministry. The income of the sisters working outside the monastery does not bring in the needed resources for their livelihood and new projects.
At the September 2018 meeting of the Conference of Mission the project was discussed and support from the Schuyler mission office officially approved.
Now I am turning to you, our dear friends and supporters. These days the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. go through my head like a mantra chosen for contemplation. “I have a dream…” Yes, I have a dream that together we can raise a substantial amount to help our sisters in Seoul so that the bills for the assisted living and nursing home facility can be paid without accruing additional charges for late payment.
Can I count on your help? I am stepping out in faith by presenting this project for your prayerful consideration and financial support during the Lenten journey on which we will embark together on March 6th.
Holy Scripture and the Rule of St. Benedict invite us to add to our spiritual practices by spending time in prayer, by reaching out to others, and by bringing sacrifices.
I hesitate suggesting a specific amount for each day of Lent. I am aware that you have personal needs and obligations. However, I am hopeful that you will find a way according to your financial resources to make a contribution during the 2019 Lenten Season helping the elderly Benedictine Sisters and residents of “Benedict Nursing Home”, especially those who otherwise cannot afford nursing care.
Your partnership in this endeavor is greatly appreciated. We in turn include your intentions in our prayers and celebration of Holy Mass.
Together let us look forward to the celebration of the Paschal Mysteries of our Lord’s suffering, death, burial and glorious Resurrection.
Bro. Tobias, O.S.B.
Photos: Sr. Michele Lee, O.S.B. together with Architect and Construction Company Representatives; Architect’s rendering of Benedict Nursing Home; Construction in progress