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Jubilee Reflection for Sister Nancy Miller - June 18, 2016
(Pictured is Sister Nancy Miller with her parents, Paul and Joyce, who happen to be celebrating their 57th Anniversary!)
For the first time in many years, Sister Nancy, you get to stay in the church pew and let someone else give the jubilee reflection. Giving my first reflection about my predecessor and good friend is a bit daunting, but you left the reflections from past years on the computer in the prioress’ office, so you may recognize some parts of this.
Sister Nancy, you came to the monastery knowing something about how to live in community since you have five sisters and two brothers. You learned how to work together, play together, and share with each other. Family, friends, and relationships are important to you. Our monastic community has appreciated getting to know your parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. Former colleagues from Target and the University of Mary, associates from CHI St. Alexius, and friends of our community enjoy visiting with you and seeing that warm smile you offer. You have a quiet, unassuming way of doing things. Your quick wit and teasing is appreciated. You never want the attention, but as prioress you accepted it because that is what you had to do.
You have spent the last eight years playing a significant role in the life of our monastery, serving as prioress. However, we need to remember that it is only a small part, about one third, of your time in community. You served at the University of Mary as bookstore manager and director of campus ministry. You did two stints as the administrative assistant at the monastery, a good title for the one who does the stuff the prioress, subprioress, treasurer and secretary don’t do. I don’t know whether your love for heating, cooling and ventilation systems came before or after your service on the monastery building committee, but we are grateful for your knowledge and interest. You know more about the monastery building than anyone else. You also serve as the monastery snake picker-upper. You are the first person we call when there is a snake sighting in the house.
In today’s gospel reading, we heard Jesus say there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. I have been prioress for almost a month and I am learning the sacrifices the prioress must make on behalf of the community. Nancy, you did that for eight years. I can’t imagine what that was like. As your friend, I knew some of it but I now have a whole new perspective and understanding. You were present for each and every sister, regardless of the circumstances – illness, death, hardship, celebration. On behalf of the community, I thank you for everything you gave to serving us.
A quote from Sister Janet Zander in our latest community newsletter, Tidings, does a marvelous job of summarizing the gospel’s message to love one another and how you shared that with us sisters: “In the blessing which the prioress prays at the conclusion of morning and evening prayer, you have consistently kept before us the reminder of God’s abiding love and the call to be open to and extend that love to one another.” Thank you for your example.
I’ve shared a lot about what you’ve done, but I believe we sisters are most grateful for who you are – a woman faithful to her monastic commitment, generous with her time and talents, who extends a listening heart to each person she encounters.
In a few moments, we will hear Sister Nancy renew her commitment of monastic profession. Twenty-five years ago, she promised to God stability, fidelity to the monastic way of life, and obedience.
When we sisters of Annunciation Monastery profess stability, we promise to persevere in our search for God, and to bind ourselves to this particular group of women. We put down deep roots into God, each other and the people of North Dakota. This is home for us. This is where our love becomes fruitful as we carry on the mission of Jesus.
By fidelity to the monastic way of life, we commit ourselves to keep on growing in the Benedictine way. Relying on God and being open to change and conversion, we experience inner transformation and become ever more Jesus-centered.
Obedience means to listen intently – to listen and become aware of God’s direction for our lives. We pay attention to God’s word in the Scriptures, the Rule of Benedict, in the prioress and in one another. We listen to those we serve; we listen to the call of the Church and the world. And then we respond in obedience to what we hear.
Sister Nancy, as you renew your monastic profession, we pray for you. We pray that you will continue to remain in Jesus’ love. And as St. Benedict says, as you progress in this way of life and in faith, may you run on the path of God’s commandments, your heart overflowing with the inexpressible delights of love.
~ Sister Nicole Kunze, OSB
Prioress of Annunciation Monastery
June 18, 2016