Extending the Monastic Walls

By Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan

What does an urban monastery look like? What does it look like to extend its walls to include its neighbors, to invite others into their prayerful presence of daily personal and communal prayer? What does it mean to invite others into their playful presence, their joy? In North Minneapolis it looks like an outing of fifty neighbors and sisters going to Valley Fair. Or marking the start of the school year with a back to school party including fifty families. Then there is also a group that will go to visit a farm, as summer winds down. This upcoming week is a full week at the monastery for them and their neighbors!

It seems counter cultural for a monastic nun to have such a far reach, but it is this wisdom that makes the Visitation Nuns of

Exuberant Joy! Valley Fair

Exuberant Joy! Valley Fair

North Minneapolis so effective and the relationship with their neighbors, their communal and personal prayer, and one another so strong and vibrant! Sister Katherine says, “That the trip to Valley Fair is one of the most anticipated events of the year.” Sister Suzanne and Sister Mary Frances organize the trip to Valley Fair. This is an annual event for the past decade, and this year 50 North Side Neighbors who the Sisters know will hop on a bus at 10 am for the fair grounds after each family does an hour worth of neighborhood clean up. The Sisters busily pack lunches the night before to be eaten on the fair grounds just outside of the gate since you can’t bring food inside. They pray each year that there is no rain, and they return back to the neighborhood at 5pm thrilled and exhausted. This year The Convent of the Visitation School donated the red and white water bottles, one for everyone attending the outing.

The Sisters understand that in order for them to hold the hope of a grander vision for themselves and for their neighbors they need to be engaged in the greater world. They’ve positioned themselves to be portals. Portals into the lives of their neighbors and their struggles and joys, and portals that extend the other way into what is possible, what exists outside of North Minneapolis. They know the more that they take the time to walk into events that are community building and fun, the stronger their monastery grows and their community that they live in becomes. When people know one another, they look out for one another. When they look out for one another, everyone is safer, happier, and healthier. Experience monastic life that is truly steeped in tradition and radiates wisdom and joy in how it extends its prayerful walls!

Do you have a joyful story about an experience with a Visitation Sister? With a nun? What and who do your walls extend to provide shelter, friendship, love, and prayer? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section? Please share.

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