By Tim Lilley
Benedictine Sister Anita Louise Lowe became the 14th Prioress of the Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand during a July 13 Mass at Monastery Immaculate Conception. Benedictine Rt. Rev. Kurt Stasiak, Archabbot of St. Meinrad Archabbey, celebrated the Mass. Benedictine Sister Jeanne Weber, President of the Benedictine Sisters’ Federation of St. Gertrude, installed Sister Anita Louise, who succeeds Benedictine Sister Barbara Lynn Schmitz.
After rising at 6 a.m., she spent time in quiet prayer in the monastery courtyard before joining her sisters in community for morning prayer. She had lunch with family members and other special guests who traveled to Ferdinand for her installation before preparing for the Mass and ceremony. Sister Anita Louise told media covering her installation that she had a lot of nervous energy that morning. After Mass, however, she felt much different. “Right now, I feel a real sense of joy and peace,” she said.
At one point during her installation, Sister Anita Louise lay prostrate before the altar in the monastery church as those in attendance prayed the Litany of Saints. “The Litany of Saints was a real transition point for me,” she said. “As I lay prostrate, I really felt a sense of peace come over me.”
Her installation is the culmination of a discernment process the community began earlier this year. During his homily, Archabbot Kurt suggested that throughout the process, the community of sisters had “practiced the wisdom described in the first reading.” That reading, Wisdom 7:22-27, includes, “For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion, and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity” (Wisdom 7:24). In early June, the community elected Sister Anita Louise to serve a six-year term as prioress. She made brief remarks during Mass after her installation. “Thank you to my sisters for your love, encouragement and support,” she said. “We truly stand on the threshold of a new chapter.”
During the installation ceremony, her community of sisters said, “We believe that you are the spiritual leader of this community, a visible sign of Christ’s presence among us.” Archabbot Kurt agreed, saying, “That is your charism and your cross, to be a visible sign of Christ’s presence. Your sisters believe that God has called you,” he added. “We pray that your sisters will be a visible sign of Christ’s presence to you.”
In an interview with reporter Casey Uebelhor published in the July 11 issue of The Ferdinand News, Sister Anita Louise talked about her discernment of a general overview of her work – and the community’s work – as she begins her term as prioress. She said, “Right now there’s a call to really sink ourselves into what does it mean to be Benedictine women today, and how are we living that? And how are we called to live that and then to share that with the world?”
She also told Uebelhor the sisters will continue to be deeply involved throughout the area. “The sisters are committed to the town of Ferdinand and to the surrounding area – to continue to partner with and be with the people here,” she said. “We invite that collaboration with the community because together I think we can do great things. There’s just a lot going on – good community-building and partnership opportunities, and we want to continue that … having people feel that they can come and partner with us, pray with us and be nourished in life.”
After the installation Mass, Sister Anita Louise acknowledged that some of the monastery buildings need some upkeep. “In addition to that physical foundation, we also will work to shore up the foundation of who we are,” she said. She added that there are two questions that she is really looking forward to exploring: “What does God have in store for us? Where is the Spirit of God going to lead us?”