Sr. Nancy Gunderson
North Dakota seemed so far away, but “instead of isolation, what I found here was warmth, hospitality, and women like me.”
Sister Nancy, who grew up in Brainerd, MN, recalls wanting to be a sister from early childhood. She had been taught by Benedictines, and was drawn to the goodness and kindness she experienced in her relationships with these sisters. “I wanted to be like them,” she explained.
Originally part of a declining religious community in Minnesota, she had been urged unselfishly by the remaining elder members to find another community where she could thrive. Searching on the internet, Sister Nancy found Annunciation Monastery, and was immediately attracted by the sense of life this community exuded. “I was amazed at their ministries,” she said, “and I was attracted to their values of excellence and leadership.”
Still, North Dakota seemed so far away, so Sr. Nancy continued to explore other communities, but finally visited here – “just to shut the door,” she laughed. “But,” she continued, “instead of isolation, what I found here was warmth, hospitality, and women like me.” So, making the move to a totally new environment, Sister Nancy was welcomed as an affiliate, and later as a postulant, into the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery in Bismarck, ND.
Along with her desire to deepen her spirituality and grow in knowledge and experience of the Benedictine way of life, Sister Nancy has also brought to the monastery her artistic and creative gifts. Joyful, colorful, uniquely designed quilts and wall hangings, and a collection of unique and personally meaningful art dolls are among her creations. Many of them are inspired by scriptural themes as well as by her own personal journey. Sister Nancy also plays the zither, and liturgical settings both within the monastery and at special events are beautifully enhanced by her accompaniments.
During her novitiate year, Sister Nancy experienced the sisters of Annunciation Monastery as “handing on the tradition, bringing me closer to God and to the monastic community.” As part of her daily rhythm in the novitiate, “designed to be the most balanced year of my life,” she explains, Sister Nancy especially enjoyed the richness of prayer and community life, as well as coordinating the monastic library, and cataloging a research collection dealing with medieval monastic women. Despite the many projects on her slate, Sister Nancy continues to exude a peaceful, yet energetic enthusiasm as she describes her experience of formation: “It’s about giving yourself to the formation process and letting God form and reform us.”
Sister Nancy, who holds BS degrees in English and Psychology as well as a masters’ degree in Education/Professional Development, teaches at the University of Mary and continues her development of her artistic gifts.