Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., the Archbishop of Newark, will deliver a special Lenten reflection at the Saint Walburga Monastery of the Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth on Sunday, February 25, as part of the celebration of the community’s 150 years of service to and among the people of Elizabeth.
The Cardinal’s reflection on the meaning of Lent will begin at 2 p.m. at the Saint Walburga Monastery, 851 North Broad Street, Elizabeth. The Benedictine Sisters are encouraging the public to attend this special moment in their history within the city. The year-long celebration of the community 150th anniversary, which began in November 2017, is centered on the theme of “Reverencing the Sacredness of the Past, Recognizing the Grace of the Present, and Responding to God’s Call into the Future.”
The first Benedictine Sisters in America arrived in the United States in 1852 from St. Walburg’s Convent in Eichstatt, Bavaria and settled in Saint Mary’s, Pennsylvania. In 1857, a group of Sisters moved to a house in Newark and began ministering within the recently established Diocese of Newark. Their first ministry was that of educating the children of German-speaking Catholics in Newark and eventually, Elizabeth.
In 1868, the Sisters in Elizabeth became an independent community with Sister Walburga Hock as their first prioress, and in 1869 moved to a convent on Magnolia Avenue. In 1923, the growing community moved to its present site on North Broad Street, the Saint Walburga Monastery.
Over the past 150 years, the mission of the Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth has changed and expanded from that of educating Germany-speaking Catholic children to providing quality, affordable Catholic education to urban children in two area schools – Benedictine Academy and Benedictine Preschool – as well as other Catholic schools in the area. Yet, throughout the years, the Sisters have remained committed to the charism of the Order of St. Benedict and the grace of Benedictine life that centers on seeking God in community and responding in prayer and work to foster a spirit of peace and service that extends beyond community to the larger society.