November 14, 2014

Five Beech Grove Benedictines celebrate jubilees

Benedictine Sisters Mary Gilbert Schipp, left, and Rachel Best renew their vows of profession during a ceremony celebrating their 60th jubilee in this May 18 photo. (Submitted photo)

Benedictine Sisters Mary Gilbert Schipp, left, and Rachel Best renew their vows of profession during a ceremony celebrating their 60th jubilee in this May 18 photo. (Submitted photo)

Criterion staff report

Five Benedictine sisters of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove celebrated milestone jubilees of profession of vows this year.

Benedictine Sister Mary Sylvester Will celebrated her 85th anniversary in June; Benedictine Sisters Rachel Best and Mary Gilbert Schipp celebrated their 60th anniversary in May, and Benedictine Sisters Mary Mark Bartoo and Antoinette Purcell celebrated their 50th anniversary in June.

In separate ceremonies at Our Lady of Grace, the sisters renewed their vows, promising stability in the monastery, fidelity to the monastic way of life and obedience according to the Rule of St. Benedict.

85th anniversary

Benedictine Sister Mary Sylvester Will entered the Benedictine Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Ind. (now in the Diocese of Evansville) in 1927 at the age of 15.

She made her first monastic profession in 1929 and her perpetual monastic profession in 1933.

By 18, Sister Mary Sylvester received her first teaching assignment in a classroom at the former Assumption School in Indianapolis. She eventually earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.

Sister Mary Sylvester served as a teacher, principal and in parish ministry for 58 years before retiring.

Her assignments in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis included St. Paul Parish in Tell City; St. Boniface Parish in Fulda; St. Michael Parish in Cannelton; St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Parish in Floyd County; St. Michael Parish in Bradford; the former St. Columba Parish in Columbus; and St. Mary Parish in Mitchell. She also served at St. Joseph Parish in Evansville in the Diocese of Evansville.

Sister Mary Sylvester continues to serve the community in prayer.

60th anniversary

Benedictine Sisters Rachel Best and Mary Gilbert Schipp entered Benedictine Monastery Immaculate Conception in 1952, professed first vows in 1954 and perpetual vows in 1957.

When the Ferdinand community established a new monastery in Beech Grove, the sisters became founding members.

Benedictine Sister Rachel Best earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She taught in Clarksville and Columbus in the archdiocese, and in Evansville in the Diocese of Evansville. She served as principal at the former St. Columba School in Columbus and at St. Anthony of Padua School in Clarksville.

Sister Rachel also served as director of religious education at the former St. John the Baptist Parish in Dover and the former Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Cedar Grove.

She served as sub-prioress at Our Lady of Grace Monastery from 1977-79, and as prioress from 1993-2001. She also ministered as the social service designee and pastoral associate at St. Paul Hermitage in Beech Grove, and the director of spirituality at the Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center in Beech Grove.

Sister Rachel is retired and resides at the monastery.

Benedictine Sister Mary Gilbert Schipp earned a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s degree in business administration and a certificate in nursing home administration.

Sister Mary Gilbert began teaching in the Evansville Diocese in 1955. She later served at Christ the King and St. Pius X schools, both in Indianapolis.

In 1963, she started teaching business classes at the former Our Lady of Grace Academy in Beech Grove. She became the bookkeeper at St. Paul Hermitage in 1969 and was the administrator there from 1973-86.

Since that time, Sister Mary Gilbert has served her community as the corporation treasurer.

50th anniversary

Benedictine Sisters Mary Mark Bartoo and Antoinette Purcell entered Our Lady of Grace monastery in 1962, professed first vows in 1964 and made their perpetual monastic profession in 1969.

Benedictine Sister Mary Mark Bartoo taught and earned a bachelor’s degree in history and social studies and a master’s degree in physical education before she began teaching at the former Our Lady of Grace Academy in Beech Grove.

In the archdiocese, Sister Mary Mark taught at St. Mary-of-the-Knobs School in Floyd County, the former Our Lady of Grace Academy and the former St. Mary School in New Albany.

She served as the maintenance coordinator for both St. Paul Hermitage and Our Lady of Grace Monastery in the 1970s and 1980’s. She still serves in this role for St. Paul Hermitage.

Benedictine Sister Antoinette Purcell entered the monastery in 1962 as a junior in high school while a student at Our Lady of Grace Academy. After graduating from the academy, she earned a bachelor’s degree in education and theology. She later earned a master’s degree in education, an endorsement in administration and a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University of Chicago.

Her ministry in the archdiocese began in 1967 teaching at St. Joseph School in Corydon. In 1972, she moved to Indianapolis to teach at St. Pius X School and became principal there in 1974.

After time in the classroom, she became the director of religious education at Holy Spirit Parish in Indianapolis.

Sister Antoinette was instrumental as the coordinator of facilities research for the former Our Lady of Grace Academy, which now houses the Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center.

Sister Antoinette began ministry in 1981 at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Bedford as director of religious education. In 1992, she became the coordinator of family/childhood and sacramental development for the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education. She also served as the specialist of family faith development for the Center for Ministry Development until 1995 when she became the director of programs for the Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center.

Since 1993, Sister Antoinette has served as the director of oblates for the community. †

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