Novices Make Profession at Monastery
Two women will commit to Benedictine spiritual life and to the monastic community at the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, ID, on Tuesday, March 21, 2006. The public is invited to attend the Rite of Temporary Profession at 2 p.m. in the monastery's chapel with a reception following.
Completing three years of study and service, Carla Fontes and Mary Mendez have been committed participants in the monastery's formation program as affiliates, postulants and novices. Surrounded by friends, family and the sisters of St. Gertrude, Fontes and Mendez will promise "fidelity, stability, obedience and to seek God in the Monastery of St. Gertrude until death" during the profession ceremony.
Novice Carla Fontes, 45, began thinking about monastic life years ago after receiving encouragement from her friends at Sacred Heart parish in Boise.
"One Sunday there were cards in the pews at church asking, 'Do you know someone who would make a good sister?' Everyone came up to me and said, 'I put your name down.'"
But it was really a pilgrimage to Rome and Medjugorje that prompted Fontes to seriously consider life as a sister. "I went into the chapel at Medjugorje, and the nuns were there. A feeling came over me. When you walk through the door, you just know."
Novice Mary Mendez, 59, of Dinuba, CA, understands exactly what she means. "It just felt right," said Mendez, a former hospice nurse and mother of three grown children. "I sent my youngest daughter off to college and thought, 'What am I going to do with my life now?' I knew it would involve service."
The answer came to Mendez during a 17-day volunteer experience with a Benedictine monastery in North Dakota in 1999. "I realized I was a mother of three with a Benedictine heart. My kids weren't surprised. They said, 'Gee, Mom, it seems like the poorer you get, the happier you get.'"
Following apprenticeships in many of the monastery's ministries, both women have settled into areas of specialization. Fontes works in maintenance and manages the herb garden. She is studying to be a master herbalist and helps create healing salves, oils and soaps. Mendez, who creates stained glass art, manages the monastery's Book and Gift Shop.
About the Monastery of St. Gertrude Located in Cottonwood, ID, the Monastery of St. Gertrude is a Benedictine
religious community that has served the Northwest and other locations for more than 123 years. This community of more than 60 sisters is committed to following the Rule of Benedict by living out the values of hospitality, simplicity and peace. Active ministries include prayer, care of the land, counseling, education, healthcare, parish ministry, retreats and social
services. For more information about the Monastery of St. Gertrude, please visit our website at www.stgertrudes.org