150 Sisters of Saint Benedict live in community in Ferdinand, Indiana. Here are some pictures I took when I went on a silent retreat there.
I hope you are in good shape if you go there. The dormitory is downhill from everything else – dining hall, the chapel…and there are over 70 steps to get there.
There is a way to get where you need to go if the weather is bad. There can be some pretty impressive snowfalls in Indiana, so there are tunnels all over this complex. They can be a bit damp, however.
Here’s one of the places you are headed to – the dining hall. The food is served cafeteria style, and guests and nuns eat the same food. They keep a separate eating area for us so we can be silent. The nuns are quite chatty and amiable, and while that is nice, it is hard if you are trying to have a silent retreat.
Some scenes in the dormitory.
In my room, I made little votive shrine of the saint cards I bought at the gift shop. All churches should have gift shops, in my opinion, and the Catholics do not disappoint in this regard.
In the basement is a lounge area with a lot of recliners. It is quite homey and inspires naps. I wonder if the chairs came from the nuns when they entered and had to give up all their possessions?
There is a statue of a young Mary with Jesus in the basement dining area – I’ve seen the same statue, painted, at a Sisters of Mercy convent.
There are some other interesting things in the dormitory that seem very old.
The various services were quite confusing. We were fortunate that the nuns understood and took the time to set up our prayer books for us so we could follow along without getting lost. They recite the office of the hours several times a day. Note all the different bookmarks – this is for just one service.
The pews were cleverly designed – you could create your own bookstand. This is closed, and then open.
Here is the pew-side view of the service. The nun who helped us at this one is sitting in front of me on the right. They no longer wear their habits. But you can still tell they are nuns by their kindness. They have a sort of inner glow.
More of their impressive chapel – the baptismal font is the first thing you notice (on purpose). Ideally, it is always in line with the table where the Lord’s supper is celebrated. This unites the two sacraments.
Views from outside the chapel, and the grounds.
I was especially enamored of this corner, and took the time to sketch it. It looks a little strange broken up like this, but I didn’t know my phone could do panoramas at this point. While sketching, some nuns noticed me and started to ask me questions. They thought that I should stay with them. I’m not sure how that would work out since I’m married, not a Catholic, and past their age requirement for entry. But it was kind of them to see a calling in me.
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