Questions and Answers About the Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis
Describe the Sisters’ ministry.
The Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis live a traditional Catholic monastic lifestyle with a new twist – they are present, not far away from their neighbors, offering hospitality in the form of presence, prayer and ways to affirm their best selves. They are not present to mold their neighbors in their image or convert them to their faith. They focus on providing friendship and spiritual support to those who come to their door. Their mission is to simply be there, present and readily available. Although they do offer some resources, they are not a social service agency.
How does the Sisters’ lifestyle differ from a traditional monastic lifestyle?
Historically, women who have entered a monastery have separated themselves from the world. The Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis are present on Minneapolis’ North Side to fulfill their motto to “Live Jesus” by being part of their multicultural community, while intentionally maintaining a monastic lifestyle.
What is the significance of the crosses worn by the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary?
Visitation Sisters around the world wear a silver cross designed for them by St. Francis de Sales. Although smaller, the cross is copied from Bishop de Sale’s cross that he wore in 1610. It is their one identifying factor, whether the Sister wears a traditional habit from the 17th century or just simple clothing of the present time and era. There are inscriptions on the cross and although interpretations vary, generally the symbols are described as follows:
- The two crosses at the top represent Jesus and Mary
- IHS–the first, middle and last letters of the Greek name for Jesus
- The flames represent the Holy Spirit
- The three nails used to hang Jesus to the cross represent the vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience each sister professes
- The plant growing up from the bottom–St. Francis de Sales instructed the Sisters to be like violets at the foot of the cross; simple and lowly.
The knob at the bottom is actually a screw that secures the hollow cross together. Inside the cross are relics of the Founders and a passage of scripture from the Gospel of John.
The Sisters exchange their crosses with one another each New Year. When a Visitation Sister dies, the cross is removed as the casket is closed and she is buried with a wooden cross. The cross is then later worn by other Sisters. The crosses can be one hundred years old or more. So, as worn as the cross may be, it has a history. If it could speak, it would tell of these strong, prayerful women who have done God’s work year after year for many generations.
What do the Sisters do on a daily basis?
The Sisters pray and chant the Liturgy of the Hours fours times daily. They combine that prayer with being present to support and extend friendship to their neighbors on Minneapolis’ North Side. They participate in peace marches, social justice activities and block parties, and organize young adult activities and children’s play hours.
Why would women want to consider becoming a Visitation Sister of Minneapolis?
The Sisters offer a way of life that isn’t readily found in modern life. For young women who seek a deeply spiritual way of life, lived in community with other sisters who share a vision of outreach, the Sister’s lifestyle may provide the fulfillment they are looking for. To many young women, the sense of community provided by the Sisters is important– they are a family who loves, supports and is present for each other.
Who should consider becoming a sister at Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis?
Young women who are seeking a deeply spiritual life, true to the teachings of the Catholic church, who are committed to being present for those who are disenfranchised. Women who also wish to use their unique gifts for the good of the community and their fellow Sisters.