Benedictine sisters will close monastery in Tucson within two ye - Tucson News Now

Benedictine sisters will close monastery in Tucson within two years

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A Tucson tradition will be coming to an end in Tucson.

If you've driven down Country Club in midtown, just south of Speedway, you've probably seen the Benedictine Monastery, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.

The nuns who have called this historic building home announced they'll be consolidating their group in Missouri. It means the monastery, as Tucson has known it for 76 years, will be closing.

The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are getting the word out to their friends and supporters as they deal with a very sad time for their group.

"We have connections that go deep. So it is a hard thing," said Monastery Superior Sister Joan Ridley. "Nothing is forever."

The sisters came to Tucson in 1935, at the invitation of the third Roman Catholic Bishop of Tucson, Daniel Gercke.   

Sister Joan said the sisters stayed in the Steinfeld Mansion for a few years while the money was raised for the monastery.

"It was built in 1940 and the architect was the famous Roy Place who designed the Pima County Courthouse, VA hospital," said Sister Joan.

The monastery chapel is open to everyone. However, after more than three-quarters of a century in Tucson, the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are being moved to the motherhouse in Missouri.

The sisters will begin the task of selling the property.

They hope it will be to another religious community or for senior housing.

Sister Joan said the Tucson community has donated and volunteered to help the sisters maintain the monastery over the years, and she hopes for continued support from the community as the sisters work to sell the property.
As in so many other religious orders, the sister are aging.  Their numbers are falling.

"Many many many communities have maybe one-third of the people they had 50 years ago.  So with only one-third of the people you had 50 years ago, you can't maintain all the places you started during those years," Sister Joan said.

Gathering all 61 members of this Benedictine group in one place is a financial and practical decision.

Sister Joan said there will be serious prayer and reflection to see where God leads them as the group tries to find a way to survive.

"Go deep into our tradition and see what God might be asking of us that might be different somewhat, but also the same in today's world that could help us again attract younger members of our culture," she said. "We don't know how that will turn out. It's a risk. It's a hope. It's desire, but we have no guarantee of anything."

For years, some of the sisters have sewn liturgical vestments, religious garments, for Catholics and for other denominations as well. They make the clothing, banners and altar cloths.

As the sisters age, there are fewer to do that now.

In two years, when they leave this place of sanctuary in the middle of a bustling city, the sisters will take with them their talents and their love.

"So many people say it's a place of peace. It's a place of stillness," Sister Joan said.

She hopes the people of Tucson, the city they love, will continue to embrace them these last two years.

"Just for the people to keep doing what they've been doing--which is being part of our lives in various ways. We're very grateful for that."

She also hopes the people remember. 
"We were here for a time. We provided a place of peace and hospitality and if that helped make the world and Tucson better, that's really the only legacy there is," she said.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas had this comment about the sisters leaving Tucson:  

"The Benedictine Sisters have been a blessing and gift in our community since 1935. They have held us in prayer and opened their home to all. As they re-found their community to the Monastery in Clyde, Missouri, we want them to know how grateful all of us are for their presence among us. They cannot imagine the impact they have had on us, not just Catholics but all in our community. Their iconic monastery with its beautiful tower will remain as a continual reminder of this wonderful group of women whose love and compassion we have experienced."

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