A New Home for the Benedictines

15 September, 2022 | Initiatives and Projects

The Sisters of Order of St. Benedict have signed a lease to officially move from their current location in West St. Paul to 419 Youville Street in St. Boniface. The new monastery began construction in May, 2022, and will managed by Réseau Compassion Network, with the input and cooperation of the Sisters.

An architectural rendering of the new monastery.

“As a community of eleven elderly Sisters, we are anticipating a new chapter in our community’s graced history,” shares Administrator Sister Dorothy Levandosky. “Though we are grieving the departure from a building in which we have lived for 61 years, it is nonetheless time to move on.”

That said, she and the other Sisters will, in many ways, continue to live out their calling and their values in their new home. “We have shared our monastery with so many guests over the years,” continues Sister Levandosky. “We fully plan to continue our monastic life of prayer, service and hospitality in this new building. But we also know that our basic work at the beginning will be to settle, not only physically but into an environment of peace. I’ve moved several times in my life and it’s not something I really enjoy, but for the women who have been in our monastery in West St. Paul for six decades…they’re going to find it even harder.”

All of the Sisters recognize that things will change, and many of those changes will be welcomed new experiences. “For some of the younger sisters, we’ll be looking for the chance to volunteer in the community,” continues Sister Levandosky. “We hope to be able to support Réseau Compassion Network’s organisations, for example. This will also be a chance to do some things we didn’t have time for when we were working full-time. I’ve always wanted to take singing lessons!”

For Daniel Lussier, the CEO of Réseau Compassion Network, it’s been an honour to support the Benedictine Sisters as they plan this next step in their lives. “We have a special relationship with them,” explains Lussier. “They transferred over their organisations in Ste. Rose and Winnipegosis to us, and we’ve often hosted events and programming in their space.”

He sees this new building as a new home so richly deserved for these women religious, but also sees future possibilities. “We’ve had the opportunity to dream with the Sisters about their living requirements, but also for what might be to come,” Lussier continues. “When they no longer need the space one days, there are some beautiful opportunities that will become options. Could it be hospice care? Or long-term care? Palliative care? Who knows, but for now, we want the Sisters to be well surrounded and supported and it’s nice to know that this building will create something in the community in the future.”

Sister Levandosky echoes the importance of community, in the short and long term. “As our Sisters go home to heaven, we’ll be extending our hospitality to Sisters in other communities who are looking to create a common life together,” she explains. “Many Sisters are happy living independently and some are still working. But there are others who are just a little beyond that and maybe they want to come hang out with the Benedictines!”

For now, the Sisters are preparing themselves for all that is to come. “We have so valued the silence and solitude of our rural setting and we hope that we will discover a new silence within the sounds of the city,” concludes Sister Levandosky. “We are blessed to be in partnership with Réseau Compassion Network for their support of our Benedictine charism and our Benedictine community. We’re looking forward to sharing our new space with friends and guests.”