By Marie Rioux
Atchison now has three new Benedictine postulants, with two at St. Benedict’s Abbey and one at Mount St. Scholastica.
Emily Bauer, Benedictine College class of 2015, has now spent slightly over a week as a postulant, but she has been involved with the community ever since she became a prayer partner while in college.
While Bauer was seriously considering religious life in high school, it was as she sat in a chapel at the Mount that she realized how much like a home the St. Scholastica community had become to her.
At a social gathering after a vocations fair, Bauer announced her decision to join the community to Sr. Barbara Smith, O.S.B.
“She said, ‘I’ve made a decision’. And she had this big smile on her face,” Smith said.
On the advice of the former prioress, Sr. Anne Shepard, O.S.B., it wasn’t until after getting a master’s degree in gerontology that she returned to enter the community.
Bauer is not the only postulant to have encountered a monastic community while a student at Benedictine.
Born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Marty Anderson majored in International Business and Spanish, minored in Philosophy, and never imagined himself joining the community of St. Benedict’s Abbey during his time as a student.
“I graduated, and in my first year as a FOCUS missionary, I remember having this moment in prayer where I became eminently desirous of pursuing, for the sake of investigation, a celibate vocation,” Anderson said.
Charles Atkinson, the other new postulant, it was a longer journey but a similar sentiment that drew him to the community at St. Benedict’s Abbey.
Originally from New Brunswick, Canada, Atkinson grew up in Washington D.C., and studied Literature and Latin at Ave Maria University in Florida.
“I’ve been visiting monasteries for about the past, probably at least eight years,” Atkinson said. “At a certain point I got kinda burnt out with all that.”
Through some mutual friends with Fr. Meinrad, a monk at St. Benedict’s Abbey, Atkinson was convinced to climb onto his motorcycle and drive down to Kansas.
“Every time I kept coming back, after that initial trip, I wanted to stay. So, I put in an application,” Atkinson said.
Daily life at both monastic communities weaves periods of prayer and work throughout the day.
Bauer explained that one of her classes in particular was beneficial since it required a project that included a two hour interview focused on an elderly individual’s life story and asked questions about life and death.
Bauer hopes to begin a similar project with the elderly members of Mount St. Scholastica, but according to her formation director, Sr. Patricia Seipel, O.S.B., the practical details are still under discussion.
Atkinson recounted a similar experience with the connection between younger and older members of St. Benedict’s Abbey.
“One thing that struck me when I was here was how the younger monks take care of the older monks, and how it’s intentional here to have the infirmary on the ground floor,” Atkinson said. “The older monks can participate in the choir with everybody – so there’s one community, not two.”
All three postulants will go through a period of discernment, spending time in prayer and with their community, before they advance to the next step in the process.