by Cori Hilsgen
Sister Susan Rudolph chose the rainbow as a theme for her installation June 4 as the new prioress of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph.
She views it as symbolic of God’s love refracted into the world.
According to communications director Sister Karen Rose, the installation private service was held in the morning and was attended by other sisters of the monastery, members of the Federation of St. Benedict and Sister Susan’s close family and friends.
Eucharist was celebrated in the afternoon. Bishop Donald Kettler of the Diocese of St. Cloud presided and gave the blessing of the universal church to Sister Susan. About 450 people attended.
Sister Susan, who was born in Sauk Rapids and grew up in St. Cloud, was elected by the sisters in the monastery in February. The election process began in late 2015.
Sister Karen said the sisters pray, discuss and discern in small groups and all together. They identify the qualities needed in a prioress at the time and then gather the names of sisters who possess many of those qualities. A facilitated process of consensus-building takes place, based on prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Eventually, the sisters reach a point where they are in agreement, and the election confirms the agreement. All perpetually professed sisters are able to vote.
Sister Karen said there is no campaigning, and the process is peaceful.
“Everlasting is God’s love” is the scripture-based quote Sister Susan has used to mark the start of her leadership service.
Sister Susan is a graduate of Cathedral High School and the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education; master’s degrees in higher education, gerontology and theology; and is a board-certified chaplain.
Ministries Sister Susan has served include teaching elementary and junior high school, and as housing director and staff resident at the College of St. Benedict. She was also director of pastoral care at St. Benedict’s Senior Community in St. Cloud.
At the monastery, she has been a formation director helping women discern about the monastic life vocation, and has helped at the Spirituality Center and with workplace safety.
The elected prioress can hold the position as prioress for six years. Sister Susan replaces Sister Michaela Hedican, who was installed June 5, 2011.
Sister Michaela and other sisters from St. Bede Monastery in Eau Claire, Wis. and sisters from Mount Benedict Monastery in Ogden, Utah had transferred into St. Benedict’s Monastery in 2010.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.