SOUTH OGDEN — The sisters of Mount Benedict Monastery took one more step last week toward leaving their home and moving to Minnesota.
They have announced they will be leaving as soon as they have sold their monastery.
On Valentine’s Day at the monastery, the sisters showed their love by presenting $1 million of the principal of their St. Benedict’s Foundation to charitable organizations they had chosen to receive the gifts.
It was the first of five such award presentations, to each be a year apart and expected to be $1 million each, depending on the state of the economy and how the sisters’ investments pay off between now and the final payout.
At the presentation, Sister Danile Knight, who has served as prioress before the monastery combined with a similar order in Minneapolis, outlined the Benedictine values by which the sisters and others in similar orders around the world live.
But the message she shared at the ceremony was especially about stewardship.
“In the Rule of Benedict, we find Benedict encouraging care and reverence of material things, asking his followers to ‘treat goods as if they were sacred vessels of the altar.’
“All created things are given to us by God, and a common-sense approach to resources should prevail,” Knight said. “Taking care of all things has become a virtue of surpassing value in a Benedictine monastery.”
She acknowledged that the sisters were giving each of the programs they had supported since their foundation was formed a check of some magnitude. According to their website, St. Benedict’s Foundation was founded by the Sisters of St. Benedict in Ogden in 1976. Before 1994, the Foundation was primarily supportive of health care through St. Benedict’s Hospital. After the sale of the hospital, additional concerns were addressed that related to women, children, and families in crisis; increasing support of education; and expanding spiritual and pastoral services, thus taking a more holistic approach to the needs of people in Northern Utah.
Regarding the current monetary gifts, Knight said:
“As we do this, we ask each director, along with their board, to use that money with care and reverence. Also that you will be resourceful in the use of this money. Use it for what is was intended — care of the welfare of women and children in Northern Utah.”
In an interview, Yvonne Coiner, executive director of St. Benedict’s Foundation, said a selection committee was very careful in overseeing the transfer of funds.
“We had the different organizations write five-year budgets using the amounts they’d be getting,” she said.
“The committee went over the budgets. We said it was OK for them to put a little aside because this was going to be temporary.”
Coiner said Valentine’s Day was an appropriate time for the event.
“It was a day truly filled with love,” she said.
“People who were used to giving to the community were able to receive, so they could continue to give,” Knight said.
Among those receiving funds for 2013 was the Lantern House, which will be the new name for St. Anne’s Center when it opens in its new location.
This is the first time the sisters have supported this charity.
Funds going to that organization will be used for self-sufficiency programs and services for women and children.
“We were absolutely overwhelmed,” said Jenny Canter, executive director of St. Anne’s Center. “We were honored to be chosen as one of the organizations that was significant enough in the community to deserve funding. The stewardship that the sisters have represented in this community is overwhelming.”
Canter recalled being almost speechless because she was so overcome with emotion as she received the funds for her organization.
“It says a lot that they would consider us for funding,” she said. “They are such good stewards of their foundation. They are very selective on who they give money to.”
A longtime-funded program receiving a donation was A Center for Grieving Children.
“The St. Benedict’s Foundation has supported A Center For Grieving Children for 18 years,” said Barbara Norris, executive director. “They have made it possible for us to help thousands of children, teens and their family members that have grieved the loss of a loved one because of a death, divorce or separation. Their continued support ensures our presence in the community for years to come.”
Norris said her organization is extremely grateful to the Sisters of St. Benedict.
Also receiving donations last week:
• Boys & Girls Club of Weber/Davis, a 17-year partner with the sisters. Those funds will be used for an after-school peer-mentoring program.
• Catholic Community Services, which has been a 14-year partner with the foundation, received funds for St. Martha’s Baby Layette distribution to infants born into poverty, the Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank and Ogden School Adult Transition program.
• Children’s Justice Center, an eight-year partner, received funds for child-abuse intervention.
• Family Counseling Services, a 17-year partner, will fund therapy for women, children and families with its award.
• Midtown Community Health Center, a 12-year partner, will provide women and children’s health services.
• Ogden School Foundation, a 17-year partner, will fund a gang-prevention program.
• Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College, a six-year partner, will provide scholarships and fund an adult literacy center.
• Prevent Child Abuse Utah, a 17-year partner, received funds designated for home-based healthy families training.
• Seager Memorial Clinic, a 12-year partner, received pending funds for a free health clinic.
• St. Joseph’s Catholic Schools, a 15-year partner, will grant scholarships for elementary and high school students with its funds.
• The Road Home, a three-year partner, will support children in a homeless shelter.
• Weber State University Upward Bound, a four-year partner, will help first-generation students complete high school and college.
• Your Community Connection, a three-year partner, will fund a domestic violence day care center with its funds.