Sr. Claudia makes perpetual profession as Benedictine

ROCK ISLAND — Sister Claudia Scharf, OSB, felt an undeniable connection with the Benedictine Sisters of St. Mary Monastery during a vocations retreat and as it turns out, it was a connection that was made to last.

Surrounded by her Benedictine Sisters, as well as family and friends from New Jersey, Florida, Kentucky, Vermont, Iowa and Long Island, N.Y., Sister Claudia made her perpetual monastic profession on July 10. With these vows, she committed herself to obedience, fidelity to the monastic way of life, and stability for life.

She is the first member of the Benedictine community at St. Mary Monastery to do so since Sister Marianne Burkhard, OSB, now director of the Diocesan Office of the Tribunal, made her perpetual monastic profession in September 1995.

Sister Claudia said she has had this day in sight since she entered the Benedictines on Sept. 5, 2004.

“I knew from the beginning that this was home,” Sister Claudia, 54, explained. “That’s always been the key, finding where I’m supposed to be.
“I searched for a long time to find where home was. God led me here — that’s how I got here,” she said.

Along the way she explored faith from inside and outside the Catholic Church, but never without God as part of her life.

“God had bigger plans for me that I ever dreamed of,” she told The Catholic Post after making her first monastic profession on June 9, 2007.

When she returned to the Catholic Church in 1997, Sister Claudia felt a call to consecrated life right away. Searching the Internet as she searched her heart, she made a series of retreats and visited women from many different religious communities before connecting with Sister Phyllis McMurray, OSB, now prioress of St. Mary Monastery.

The rhythm of prayer, work and leisure appealed to her as did the opportunity to live in community.

“Living in community has allowed me to reconcile things from my past,” Sister Claudia said. “I’ve learned about forgiveness. . . . Each day I am new from the things that happened the day before.”

As for the “work” part of the Benedictine equation, she serves as administrative assistant at St. Ambrose Parish in Milan. In addition to answering the door, helping parishioners, and participating in parish functions, she puts together the weekly bulletin, pays the bills and helps Father Anthony Ego, pastor, maintain the budget.

“This is a dream job for me,” Sister Claudia said. “It’s diversified and it’s busy and it’s with people.”

Despite the hills and valleys that go along with anything that’s worth doing, she said she’s found consecrated life to be a source of “constant joy.”

“That’s because this is my home,” Sister Claudia said. “I think there’s a lot of people out there who are trying to figure out where they’re supposed to sit in the world.”

The Benedictine Sisters at St. Mary Monastery had a second reason to celebrate when Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB, made her first monastic profession during vespers on July 9.

The daughter of Steve and Kathy MacDonald of Dubuque, Iowa, Sister Stefanie holds an associate’s degree from Mount St. Clare College in Clinton (now Ashford University) and a bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education. She worked at schools in Illinois and Iowa, and taught at St. Pius X School in Cedar Rapids for seven years before entering the Benedictines on Sept. 9, 2007.

Sister Stefanie, 40, now serves as the pre-school teacher at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy in East Moline.

The balance of work, prayer and community life has made her a better teacher, she said.

“Before I lived, ate and breathed teaching, like most teachers do,” Sister Stefanie told The Post. “Then I discovered I could have it all — community life, prayer life and teaching. I was complete. I’m finally who I was called to be.”

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