February 6, 2009

Series to help women at life-changing stage

By John Shaughnessy

The statistic about women stunned Benedictine Sister Mary Luke Jones.

She heard it as she was driving in her car one day and listening to a radio program. An expert was talking about a statistic from the U.S. Census Bureau that noted that the average age of a female becoming a widow in the United States is 55.

“I couldn’t believe it,” recalls Sister Mary Luke, the administrator of the Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center in Beech Grove. “I never thought it would be that young. The woman went on to say that many widows live independently for three to four decades.”

Those startling statistics led Sister Mary Luke to wonder how the Benedict Inn could help women at this important stage of their lives. Before long, she was developing a

five-part series of monthly classes—“For Women, By Women”—that would help women in the areas of law, finances, health, food and spirituality.

The five-part series begins Feb. 10 with a presentation on family law and other legal concerns by Jane Dall, an attorney in the Indianapolis law firm Baker & Daniels.

“Because the Benedict Inn is owned and operated by Our Lady of Grace Monastery, we have a particular interest in women, the education of women and the plight of women,” says Sister Mary Luke. “We want to do something to help women of all ages to care for their families, meet their obligations, and be secure, healthy and spiritually strong.”

On March 10, certified financial planner Nancy Beck will share insights on cash management, investment approaches and retirement issues.

On April 7, Bishop Cate Waynick of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis will focus on the ways that prayer, spiritual reading, contemplation and Scripture can create a closer relationship with God.

“We thought about having one of our sisters do this, but then we thought Bishop Cate would give it a more ecumenical feel,” Sister Mary Luke says. “Regardless of your denomination, the question is, ‘What are you going to do to grow closer to God?’ Bishop Cate is just a very grounded, holy, lovely person.”

On May 5, Indianapolis chef Erin Kem will talk about meal planning. The series ends on June 16 with Dr. Judy Koehler discussing five important health issues for women: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer.

“Each evening, we will meet at 6:30, have dinner together, have a presentation by the speaker and then there will be a question-and-answer session,” Sister Mary Luke says. “You don’t have to attend all five sessions. You can pay as you go.”

Each session is $25 per person, but if someone attends with a friend the cost is $20 each.

“My hope for the series is that women will receive better education in these important areas of their lives,” Sister Mary Luke says. “I also hope they will meet other women who are in a similar situation, develop relationships and get needed answers from the professionals so they can become more independent.”

(For more information about the series and to make reservations, call the Benedict Inn at 317-788-7581 or log on to www.benedictinn.org.)


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