Spring Happenings

The blizzard that came upon us brought with it about 3 inches of precipitation. In 2020 we only received 10 inches over the course of the whole year, so this snow was a huge blessing.

Our Sister Maria renewed her vows for another year on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. It was a grace-filled day for her and the whole community.

The Guest Wing of our Abbey is now open again! Click here for more information.

Our Newly Professed: Sister Maria-Benedicta, O.S.B.

Sister Maria-Benedicta (previously our “Sister Molly”) made her simple vows on February 10, the Solemnity of St. Scholastica,  It was a joyful occasion that her whole family was able to join us for her profession—including so many adorable nieces and nephews! 

Sister Maria-Benedicta was born and raised in Denver, went to college at Thomas Aquinas in California, and then came back to Colorado for nursing school in Boulder.  After nursing school, while she was in Denver working at Children’s Hospital, she had many experiences that gave her a foretaste of her future life as a Benedictine nun, though she did not know it at the time.  Here she describes one such instance for us:

I was finishing up a day’s work at Children’s Hospital when the word was passed around the nurse’s station: “Rachel is going to go home on hospice this week.”  The news wasn’t surprising; Rachel, one of our dear patients in her late teens, had spent a lot of time on our floor over the last couple of years, and her medical condition had gotten much worse recently.  After I completed my shift, I walked down the hall and knocked on Rachel’s door.  I wasn’t in such a peppy mood myself that autumn.  The gentleman I had been dating had unexpectedly broken up with me a few months before, and I found myself unable to leave behind the deep sadness I was still feeling.  But that night I knew I had to say goodbye to Rachel and thank her for the gift she had been to me.  As I sat on her bed, she told me how sad she was to be dying.  I was sad with her.

As I drove home from work that night, I realized with a sudden insight that I was ALIVE, and I was filled with awe and gratitude at this awareness.  By the time I stepped inside my house, I was so overwhelmed with joy at being alive that I began to write down all the things that made me grateful for my life.  Memories and desires poured out almost faster that I could write them down.  I was so overcome with joy for the gift of my own life that the sadness that had been oppressing me for the last few months was suddenly insignificant.  I was alive!!!

My vocational call didn’t come until several years later, but the grace I received from Rachel that night was a foreshadowing of the grace I receive now in my vocation as a Benedictine nun.  The immense gratitude for the gift of my life demands a response, and my response is the complete gift of my life back to my Creator in a sacrifice of praise!  In fact, for me personally, this is not only one way, but the fullest way possible I can express my gratitude to God for creating me.

St. Benedict’s only goal is to seek God, so that we might begin now what will be brought to completion in heaven.  Using the words of St. John, he urges his monks to “run while you have the light of life that the darkness of death may not overtake you” (Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue.13).  No wonder St. Benedict directs even the most ordinary aspects of daily life so carefully.  All those short moments together make up this great gift we have called LIFE, and there is no time to waste in complacency.  I believe that the profound reverence and intentionality with which St. Benedict treats of those smallest choices reveals his deeply grateful heart.

The final verse of Psalm 150, which we sing at Lauds every Saturday and Feast day concludes, “Let everything that breathes, praise the Lord,” and I often note with gratitude that I am indeed still breathing, and I remember Rachel as we sing it.  Thank you, Rachel, for bringing me into such a full life by your death!  I pray that when I follow you into eternity someday, together in the heavenly kingdom we will praise the Lord forever.

Winter/Christmas Photos

Merry Christmas!

Artwork by one of our Sisters

“In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through him,

and without him nothing came to be.

What came to be

through him was life,

and this life was the light of the human race;

the light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness has not overcome it…

He was in the world,

and the world came to be through him,

but the world did not know him.

He came to what was his own,

but his own people did not accept him…

And the Word became flesh

and made his dwelling among us…”

–John 1:1-5, 10-11, 14

We rejoice with you on this glorious day as we celebrate the day on which God gave us the greatest gift—His very self. May you receive Him with great joy! Many blessings on you this Christmas and always.

Farm Manager’s Coronavirus Perspective

March 22, 2020, was a normal Sunday at the Abbey of St. Walburga. The only difference was that we weren’t able to allow guests to come to Mass that morning, because there happened to be a global pandemic going on and everyone in the entire world (so it seems) was in “lockdown”…but for cloistered nuns, it was business as usual. After all, we have been practicing social distancing for centuries. It’s already our practice to leave our monastery as infrequently as possible, limiting our contact with the outside world; so you could say we’re experts! All joking aside, what an experience this has been. It’s as if everyone is going through a big collective “novitiate.” Like a monastic novitiate, it’s a time of trial and testing and pain; it’s a time of growth and self-discovery that can lead to deep joy. I like to think that our Abbey’s role in all of this is to witness to that possibility of joy and hope. Maybe just knowing that there are nuns out there crazy enough to freely choose this lifestyle can give others courage to get through it.    

We have a number of elderly sisters in our community, so we have had to be very cautious not to expose them. For six weeks we made do with what we had on site, never visiting a grocery store (but gratefully assisted by donations of food and paper goods from kind supporters). During that time, the role of our humble milk cow suddenly became much more important; and as one of the milkers, I experienced the satisfaction of being able to provide something we couldn’t have had otherwise. 

In the Rule, St. Benedict recommends that monks have as many necessities as possible available within the cloister “so that there is no necessity for the monks to go about outside of it” (RB 66). Making cheese has not been possible at the Abbey since we sold the modular buildings; a re-model of one of our outbuildings into a “cheese hut” seemed to meet innumerable delays. However, come March of 2020, motivation spiked to make the “cheese hut” a reality—speedily! This project was finally completed in July, and we were able to produce our first hard cheese in two years…just in time, we hope and pray, for everything to return to normal. (We regret, though, that we are not currently able to make our cheese available for sale.)

On Sunday, May 10, 2020, we were happily able to allow guests in our Church again on a limited basis, with masks and distancing in place. Without them, we were missing a part of ourselves. We hope that you, wherever you are, are finding light along your pandemic journey; know that some nuns in the middle of nowhere are praying that you do.

A practical note: if you live nearby and want to come to Sunday Mass, please call ahead as we have to reserve seating to make distancing possible.

Fall Foliage

The blowing wind, the mild, moist air, the exquisite greening of trees and grasses – In their beginning, in their ending, they give God their praise.

–Saint Hildegarde of Bingen (1098-1179)
Despite looming smoke from the nearby fires, it is still a beautiful fall at the Abbey of St. Walburga

Renewal of Vows

On this day, the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, two of our Sisters renewed their monastic vows for another year. Join us in praying for them in their final year of the Juniorate as they continue to prepare for their solemn vows.

Visit our website to learn more about the stages of monastic formation in our community: Becoming a Nun

After the renewal of vows, the Sisters’ handwritten profession cards are placed on the altar for the remainder of the day

2021 Calendar for Sale

Wall calendar features photos from our Abbey to accompany you throughout the seasons, and it lists feast days and other liturgical celebrations kept by our community.

For each month, we share a phrase or two from the Liturgy of the Hours—for us Benedictines—the Opus Dei, the Work of God, the Divine Office.

Price: $14.95 each

To order your calendar, visit our website at walburga.org or contact the Abbey: 970-472-0612, giftshop@walburga.org

Honey Bees

Thanks to our friend Martin, we now have two thriving hives of bees again. Since this coming winter will be their first one here, we likely won’t harvest any honey this year to make sure they have enough for themselves. Needless to say, we look forward to enjoying the fruit of their labors in years to come, so long as they can survive the cold weather and the bears!

A Tribute to Our Pilot

A reflection by our Prioress, Sister Maria Josepha, OSB on the 17th anniversary of Mother Maria-Michael’s Abbatial Election

I think the book Strangers to the City by Michael Casey is a great title for her life, because Mother truly is such a stranger to the city.  She would rather be here, living the monastic life with us, and especially praising God in the Divine Office, than anywhere in the world.  She always admonishes us to “prefer nothing to the love of Christ” (using the words of St. Benedict), and her life is a visible testament to this fidelity to the monastic life, seeking God above all else.  If Mother was not in the monastery, I think she may have been a pilot.  But the Lord has made her into a different kind of pilot, nonetheless.  Just as He made His apostle fishermen into fishers of men, so He has done for Mother Maria-Michael.  As her passengers, we know that we are headed for eternal life.  The flight may have turbulence, but I do believe that with her as the pilot of our community we will all be brought together into everlasting life. 

On July 17, the anniversary of Mother Maria-Michael’s Abbatial Election, we celebrated with a picnic supper. Mother enjoyed an ATV ride to our picnic site.
As Prioress, Sister Maria Josepha was in charge of planning the celebration. Here she drives the Mule loaded with folding chairs to bring home after the picnic.