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weaving prayer, hospitality, justice and care for the earth into a shared way of life

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July 2016
Blossoms abound in recent prairie plantings at Holy Wisdom Monastery.
Come, explore our trails or join us for a Wisdom Prairie Workday this summer!
Friends & Supporters 
Nature notes—summer 2016
by Greg Armstrong, director of land management & environmental education

Greg-with-oak-tree 3
Greg Armstrong plants the first of the oak trees for the savanna restoration in the Mendota Prairie. 

A lot has been happening at Holy Wisdom Monastery as we care for the earth this year!
Restoring the land
The monastery has a master land management plan that calls for the restoration of all of the fire communities of southern Wisconsin. This includes Prairie—a grassland, Savanna—a grassland with a few widely spaced oak trees and Forest—an oak-hickory woods. These natural communities will grade one into the other in a continuum of tree density. None, a few and a lot. Preparing for these communities takes a lot of work.
Using the master land management plan as a guide, a list of activities is developed for the coming year each winter. Different activities are scheduled for the different seasons in order to perform the action when it is most appropriate. For example we have to pull garlic mustard plants before they disperse their seeds. ...

New prairie growth
In the first couple of seasons after a prairie is planted, the most dominant vegetation are annual weeds. You can see a few of the little prairie plants just getting started under these towering weeds. Most frequently one has to mow the weeds down a couple times during the growing season to let a little light in for the prairie seedlings. On the 20 acres we planted on November 1, 2014, I mowed down the weeds twice last year. 

This year the prairie plants have been exceptionally successful with very few weeds, and we have decided not to mow at all, which is quite unusual. The area is covered with flowering prairie plants (see photo above) and is amazing to see. I’m thrilled!

In May 2015 we planted another 9 acres of prairie southeast of the old barn. I mowed this twice last year, and will be mowing it in mid-season this year. Although there are a lot of prairie plants on that area, it has not come in as strong as the 2014 planting. I expect that many of the prairie plant seeds have yet to germinate, but will continue to do so over the next several years. These native plants have very complex dormancy requirements in order to germinate. In November 2015 we planted another 4 acres of prairie near the red barn and on the new stormwater detention basin. I have mowed this area this spring and will mow it again later in the season. It looks like a typical first year prairie seed sowing.
oak-treePlanting oak trees
The first of the oak trees for the savanna were planted in June 2016. These were first year bur oak seedlings. The remnants of the acorn were still attached to the side of the little seedling. When it comes to planting oaks, and especially bur oaks, the rule of thumb is the smaller the better. Bur oaks send out a tap root that goes straight down, and they definitely do not like it if that tap root is disturbed. I have learned the hard way that planting more mature bur oaks is a treacherous thing to do and can inflict a lot of heartache. I got these oak seedlings from friends of mine who operate a nursery in Reeseville, WI, where they specialize in producing lining out stock. These are little seedlings that other nurseries buy and grow to larger plants before sale. The acorns for our bur oaks were collected in Waterloo, WI. I have had to put wire cages over the little oaks to protect them from the deer. ... READ MORE

How you can help

• Volunteer at an upcoming Wisdom Prairie Workday

• Donate to support the care for the earth activities 


The arts thrive at Holy Wisdom Monastery
by Janet Neurauter, director of mission advancement

Two special events to celebrate the arts are planned at Holy Wisdom Monastery this summer. “We have always valued artistic expression and are pleased to sponsor events this July and August,” said Sister Mary David Walgenbach.
Poetry Reading

Michael-BelongieLong-time supporter, monastery volunteer and poet Michael Belongie will be reading from his newest book of poetry, Embracing the Moment, on Thursday, July 28, 2016, at 6:30 pm in the Garden Room (113) of the Retreat and Guest House. 
Michael has seven books of poetry published and has served as president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. He remains a board member of the organization and serves in a liaison role with other state writing organizations. A resident of Beaver Dam, Michael had a 34 year career as a secondary school teacher of literature and has promoted the art of poetry through readings and education.
Michael’s book will be available for sale that evening and online. Proceeds from book sales will be given to the Benedictine Life Foundation. Refreshments will be served.
Art Exhibit
Mary Jane Gogan painting
Mary Jane Gogan's painting, The Aqueduct at Vers, France, is an example of the work that will be featured in the "Simple Gifts" art exhibit which opens Sunday, August 14, 2016 at the Monastery.

A new art exhibit featuring the work of Sunday Assembly members, Oblates, and others associated with the monastery, will open on Sunday, August 14, 2016, in the Gathering Area. The theme for the exhibit is “Simple Gifts” and will reflect the Benedictine values of beauty, balance and simplicity. The established Art Jury, which chooses the artists for the spring and fall art exhibits, will choose the work displayed in this show. “This is an opportunity to recognize the artistic talents of our friends who may not have enough work for an entire show, but who still would like to share their artwork,” said Sister Mary David. This Simple Gifts exhibit will run for six weeks. Refreshments will be served when the show opens at 10:00 am after Sunday Assembly worship on August 14, 2016. The gallery is open Monday-Friday, 8:00 am-4:30 pm and when the building is open on weekends.
All are welcome to attend! 

Taking the next step
by Lynne Smith, co-director of formation
Mary David present the Rule to Paz
Above: Novice Paz Vital receives the Rule of Benedict from Prioress Mary David Walgenbach during the entrance rite to the novitiate.

Now we are five in the sisters' community!

Pictured at right, l-r: Sisters Joanne Kollasch, Rosy Kandathil, Lynne Smith, Novice Paz Vital, Sister Mary David Walgenbach.

(photos by Sandy Wojtal-Weber)
On Saturday, July 9, 2016, during evening prayer, Paz Vital entered the novitiate at Holy Wisdom Monastery. Paz has lived with the community nine months as a Benedictine Sojourner, and the sisters are pleased to welcome Paz into this next step of living and learning Benedictine life. 

Paz w sisters 2
IMG_4736 adj 2
Sister Simone Campbell (3rd from left) is surrounded by Sisters Joanne Kollasch, Rosy Kandathil, Mary David Walgenbach, Novice Paz Vital and Sister Lynne Smith (l-r), sending the travelers off with prayers and blessings.

Nuns on the Bus
by Ann Moyer, director of membership

Holy Wisdom Monastery was pleased to provide hospitality to Sister Simone Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus just prior to their 2016 bus tour. Their mission is "to mend the gap—to close the vast and growing economic and social divides that are weakening the fabric of our country." On the current tour, the Nuns on the Bus will be taking their message to upper midwest and eastern U.S. locations including stops at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA. Learn more from their blog series, News from the Road.

How should Christians respond to the death penalty?
by Sue Ellen Zagrabelny, Oblate class of 2010
Sisters Helen Prejean-left and Marya Grathwohl 5
During the Benedictine Retreat, led by Sisters Helen Prejean (left) and Marya Grathwohl, we will explore the twin themes of care for earth and care for people, especially our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.

I'm looking forward to the September retreat because, while I've heard of Sister Helen Prejean's work, I know very little about the state of the death penalty in the U.S.

“You shall not kill” is a pretty clear directive. I look forward to learning how I as a person of faith can influence public policy, whether or not the death penalty should be considered cruel and unusual punishment and how I as a Christian should respond to this issue.

Please consider attending the Benedictine Retreat September 16-18, 2016, to learn more about this very relevant topic.

This retreat is open to the public.

Oblates gather and celebrate
by Ann Moyer, director of membership

Janet Lynch Forde1Nearly 50 Oblates of Holy Wisdom gathered for an oblate retreat, July 8-10, 2016, focused around presentations by Barb Abbott and Sherri Hansen, titled A Pilgrimage Through Celtic Christian Spirituality. The oblates joined the sisters on Saturday at evening prayer in welcoming Paz Vital to the novitiate. At midday prayer on Saturday, oblates and sisters gathered to support Janet Lynch Forde as she made her promises as an Oblate of Holy Wisdom. On Sunday the sisters, oblates and entire Sunday Assembly community celebrated the Feast of Saints Benedict and Scholastica through liturgy and a special potluck gathering.

Janet Lynch Forde, oblate class of 2016
(photo by Bill Rosholt)


Sisters & Sojourners 
Support Denise on her spiritual journey with your prayers
by Sister Lynne Smith, co-director of formation

Denise West, who was a Benedictine Sojourner at Holy Wisdom Monastery from September 2015 – March 2016, is returning to the monastery at the beginning of August. She will live, pray, and work with the sisters for some months as she explores a monastic vocation. 
You can support her during this time of exploration with your prayers. Thank you for extending to Denise with our Benedictine hospitality.

Learn about spirituality and the environment from dawn to dusk
by Car McGinley, director of communications & IT

October 1, 2016
Don't miss this unique day focusing on spirituality and the environment. The day begins with sunrise on the hilltop overlooking Lake Mendota, continues with breakfast and the keynote address, The Spirituality of Place, presented by Margaret Swedish. She will teach us that spirituality begins where we are, in interconnection with all the living communities that envelop us. Through meditation, reflection and sharing, we will root ourselves in the sacredness of “place” to help us find where we are and what of God, or the Divine, is revealed to us there. How then do we partner with Creation to begin to heal the wounds of our precious Earth?

Head outside for a prairie tour and an opportunity to volunteer by collecting or sowing prairie seeds. Or stay inside and tour our LEED-platinum monastery building and learn about incorporating daylighting and geothermal heating and cooling in a cost effective way in commercial and residential buildings. 

After lunch, enjoy additional tours and The Spirituality of Healing and Hope where we will explore the spiritual resources available to us as we confront our social and ecological problems with hope and empowerment. Professor Rebecca Meier-Rao leads this session. We will end with dinner and a closing ritual at dusk. 

We hope you will join us! 

Prayers for healing
by Lynn Lemberger, director of music & worship

Following our Eucharist on Sunday, August 14, 2016, we will offer a special prayer for healing. All are invited to participate in this special liturgy. The prayer that we offer is for all of us seeking God’s help, and for us to pray with and for those in our community who place themselves in God’s loving care. The prayer will be held in the oratory on the lower level of the Monastery. It will last about 20 minutes depending upon the number of people attending. 

New on our website

Follow the links to see what's new on our website.
July phenology (monthly nature happenings) by Sylvia Marek

New books in the library—July 2016 by Nancy Sandleback

Recent blog posts:

Recent Homilies: Scripture commentaries by Arthur H. Cash   

Sunday Worship, 9:00 am
Monastery Assembly Room

Daily Prayer
Monastery Oratory
Morning Prayer, Sunday-Saturday, 8:00 am
Midday Prayer, Monday-Friday, 11:45 am
Evening Prayer, Sunday-Saturday, 4:30 pm

Centering Prayer
Monastery Oratory
Morning Centering Prayer, Tuesday-Saturday, 7:35 am
Evening Centering Prayer, Tuesday-Friday, 4:55 pm

Retreat & Guest House Room 10
Centering Prayer Group, Wednesdays, 7:00 pm

Follow the links below to register for upcoming events at Holy Wisdom Monastery

For the complete calendar visit

July 1-29
Art Exhibit: The Moment is Fleeting – Sandy Wojtal-Weber
Holy Wisdom Monastery is pleased to feature the work of Madison photographer, Sandy Wojtal-Weber, who invites us to see beauty in everyday life and be drawn into the elegance of the ordinary. Exhibit hours: Monday-Friday 8:00, am-4:30 pm.

July 24
Children's Liturgy of the Word, 9:00-10:00 am
Offered twice a month during Sunday Assembly. Students are dismissed from worship after the opening hymn and introduction to leave with the teachers, to hear and learn about the scripture readings at their level. All ages are welcome to participate—little ones with a parent, and older students as readers and helpers with the teachers. For more information, contact Colleen Hartung at 608-825-2032 or

July 27
Wisdom Prairie Workday, 9:00 am-12:00 pm
Join the party! Volunteer with the Friends of Wisdom Prairie and help improve the ecological health of the land. Snacks provided. Register one day before the workday.

July 31
Hospitality and Car Pool Sunday
Hospitality Sunday is the last Sunday of the month. All are encouraged to bring food to share. It is also a time for the Sunday Assembly community to meet and get to know other members and visitors. Carpool Sunday
: gift your neighbors and Mother Earth by sharing a ride.

July 31
Sunday Assembly Childcare Ministry, 9:00-10:00 am
We are happy to announce that we will be offering a childcare ministry twice a month during the Sunday Assembly liturgy. Two adult caretakers and teenage helpers will provide care for infants and toddlers in the hospitality room.

August 7

Sunday Assembly Childcare Ministry, 9:00-10:00 am
See description above

August 7
Social Justice Group, 10:30-11:30 am

Sunday Assembly members on the Middleton Action Team will talk about their work. For more information, contact Dennis Collier at or 608-516-1656.

August 9
Luke House

On the second Tuesday of each month members of Holy Wisdom Monastery participate in preparing, serving and sharing a meal at Luke House. We serve a vegetarian lasagna dinner, complete with salad, bread and cookies.

August 10
Wisdom Prairie Workday
See description above

August 14
Children’s Liturgy of the Word, 9:00-10:00 am
See description above

August 14
Anointing of the Sick, 10:20-11:00 am
Prayers of Blessing and Anointing of the Sick held after worship, in the oratory.

August 14
Sunday Assembly Dialogue Group

The Dialogue Group meets after worship on the second Sunday of the month in the board room.  A variety of topics are addressed according to the interests of those participating.

August 21
Sunday Assembly Childcare Ministry, 9:00-10:00 am
See description above

August 21
Sunday Assembly Council Meeting
10:30-11:45 am

August 24
Wisdom Prairie Workday, 9:00 am-12:00 pm
See description above

August 28
Hospitality Sunday and Car Pool Sunday
See description above

August 28
Children’s Liturgy of the Word, 9:00-10:00 am
See description above

Get social with us!
Holy Wisdom Monastery
4200 County Road M, Middleton, WI 53562 
Phone: 608-836-1631

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Holy Wisdom Monastery
4200 County Road M
Middleton, Wisconsin 53562

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