Saturday we celebrated "Founders' Day" and honored two Benedictine women from our own history. The founder of Benedictine life in the U.S. was Benedicta Riepp, who arrived in central Pennsylvania in 1852 at the age of 27. She died just 10 years later in Minnesota, a member of what was to become, and still is, the largest Benedictine community in the country. The other is the first prioress of this community, Scholastica Burkhard, prioress for 22 years, beginning with her arrival in Erie on June 23, 1856---age 24.
Iconographer Mary Charles McGough of the Benedictine Sisters of Duluth, MN recently wrote contemporary icons of these two young, pioneer leaders. They appear together in our administrative hall outside the office of the present prioress.
Today's U.S. Benedictine women number over 2,500---the vast majority of whom trace their roots back to Benedicta Riepp.