Rock Island Benedictine elected to lead 12-monastery federation

ROCK ISLAND — When it was time for members of the Federation of St. Benedict, an organization of 12 women’s Benedictine monasteries, to elect a new president they looked to Sister Susan Hutchens, OSB, of St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island. She is the first member of the community to serve in that capacity.

Her term, which is renewable, is for six years.

Because the federation’s office relocates with the president, Sister Susan will remain at St. Mary Monastery. The job is full time, however, so she will not be able to continue as the monastery’s treasurer, which has been her ministry for 21 years.

Even so, she said she is looking forward to working more closely with the 12 monasteries in the federation and getting to know “the wonderful women” in them.

“I have served on the federation’s finance committee for 18 years so I am familiar with the monasteries. I have been to nine of them,” Sister Susan told The Catholic Post. “I do know a lot of the women. This will be a wonderful opportunity to work with them in a new way.”

In addition to St. Mary Monastery, eight of the communities in the Federation of St. Benedict are in the United States or its territories: St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minn.; St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, Minn.; St. Paul’s Monastery in St. Paul, Minn.; Annunciation Monastery in Bismarck, N.D.; St. Benedict Monastery in Ogden, Utah; St. Placid Priory in Lacey, Wash.; St. Bede Monastery in Eau Claire, Wis.; and Monasterio Santa Escolastica in Humacao, Puerto Rico. Member communities also include St. Benedict’s Monastery in Muroran, Hokkaido, Japan; St. Benedict Monastery in Taipei, Taiwan; and St. Martin Monastery in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Sister Susan’s new post will take her to each of the monasteries for visitations, as well as the election and installation of their prioresses. She is also responsible for convoking and presiding at federation chapters, which take place every three years, and serving as a liaison between member monasteries and the apostolic see.

“We’re very happy about it. She’s very capable and will do a fine job,” said Sister Phyllis McMurray, OSB, prioress of St. Mary Monastery. “I think the federation is very fortunate to have her.”

A native of Munster, Ind., Sister Susan made her first profession as a member of the Sisters of St. Benedict of St. Mary Monastery in 1975. She holds a bachelor’s degree in math matics and secondary education from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., and a master’s degree in systematic theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn.

Sister Susan was an educator for 17 years, teaching at St. Thomas More School in Munster, Ind.; Sts. Peter and Paul School and St. Mary’s Academy in Nauvoo; and Bergan High School (a forerunner of Notre Dame High School) in Peoria. She also served as academic dean and interim principal at Bergan.

She has been the organist at St. Mary Monastery since 1976, and treasurer since 1988.

Sister Susan’s ministry outside the monastery includes six years as a financial consultant for the National Association of Treasurers of Religious Institutes and National

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