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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

122217 conventPhoto by Giuliana Polinari RileyRUTHERFORDTON — The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Peace have a new home. They are settling into their Queen of Peace Monastery, a home which sits on seven acres on a hilltop near some of North Carolina’s well-known sites like Mt. Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain.

The Benedictine community was founded in 2003 by Sister Gertrude Gillette and the late Sister Teresa Scheuren. It includes Sister Scholastica Auguste, originally from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, and a postulant, Jennifer Walker, who joined them in October.

They are known for living out the monastic schedule of praying the Divine Office, attending Mass, practicing Lectio Divina and spending time in Eucharistic Adoration. Benedictines devote themselves to community prayer and private prayer (such as the rosary) and observing monastic silence, speaking only when necessary during the day. Informal conversation is reserved for recreation after dinner.

“Our name shows our deep ties to both the Benedictine tradition and to Our Lady,” Sister Gertrude says. “Most visitors to Benedictine monasteries are immediately struck by the deep peace which embraces them when they arrive. And indeed, peace (‘pax’) has always been one of the trademarks of monasteries down the centuries.”

Sister Gertrude notes that the past few centuries have seen an increasing number of apparitions of Our Lady where she has been concerned for peace, continually asking her children to pray for peace in the world.

“This call for peace is very needed in our world today. So we dedicate our way of life to Our Lady and St. Benedict so that as patrons and promoters of peace, they might intercede to bring about peace in our hearts, our families and communities, our country and our world.”

“There is so much peace here!” she adds, referring to the monastery’s remote location and beautiful vistas from its porches. Sister Gertrude says the monastery will have guest rooms available in the future for retreatants, as they continue to update their facility. Their property is fully fenced with five enclosures for animals, a chicken coop and a new barn. They hope to raise poultry and livestock.

Right now, one of their greatest needs is for a heating system in their chapel, which can only be accessed via an exterior door on the lower level of the monastery.

1222174 convent31222174 convent31222174 convent3“We’re bundling up in coats, but it is getting colder now,” Sister Gertrude says. They hope a space heater helps a bit during the winter months until they can afford a proper heating system for the lower level of the monastery.

In the meantime, they have just broken ground for a new chapel adjacent to the monastery.

They are members of Immaculate Conception Church in Forest City. Father Herbert Burke, pastor, has welcomed them and parishioners have come out to help them with projects on the property. Many have also come out for the First Saturday Devotions at the monastery.

“We are blessed to have this monastery. Blessed to be here in this community. The people at Immaculate Conception Parish have been wonderful to us,” Sister Gertrude says.

— SueAnn Howell, senior reporter

For more information

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Peace welcome visitors, retreatants and others who would like to join them for prayer.

For details about the community and scheduled prayer times, or to make a tax-deductible donation to the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Peace, go to www.qopbenedictines.com. Donations may also be mailed to: 687 Moss Road, Rutherfordton, NC 28139.
Questions? Call Sister Gertrude Gillette at 704-827-2490.

1222174 convent3Photo by Giuliana Polinari Riley1222174 convent3Photo by Giuliana Polinari Riley