Mission Statement:We, the Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery of Colorado Springs, CO., are a contemporary Benedictine Monastic Presence. We provide the sacred space of hospitality and the use of our human and material resources in education, spirituality, and other viable ministries. We do this with all God's people and with a special emphasis for women.
The first Benedictine women came to the United States from Germany in 1852 to minister to the educational needs of German immigrants. Benedictine women from Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas continued this tradition and came to Colorado in 1914 as teachers, serving in both public and Catholic schools in southern Colorado and working mainly with poor, Hispanic children. In 1960 the Sisters purchased twenty-three acres in the Austin Bluffs area of Colorado Springs to establish a new community. Led by Sister Liguori Sullivan, Benet Hill Monastery became an independent priory on June 14, 1965 as she and seventy sisters from Mount St. Scholastica transferred their vow of stability to the new foundation. In 1966, the Sisters purchased five acres of land in the Black Forest area of Colorado Springs in order to provide space for a cemetery. By 2003 the Sisters owned forty-four acres in the area.
The Sisters of Benet Hill have provided a broad range of educational and spiritual services over the past 100 years in Colorado, including serving as teachers and administrators in schools from Walsenburg to the San Luis Valley, Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver. In 1963, the sisters founded Benet Hill Academy and for 20 years provided more than 2,000 girls with a college-preparatory academic education. Located on Chelton Road in central Colorado Springs, the property included residences for Sisters and a main school building. A gymnasium and tennis courts were later built as well.
With the closing of Benet Hill Academy in 1982 due to financial constraints, the Sisters looked to grow their ministries by focusing on adult faith formation. Sisters had been offering such programming since the 1970s. In 1980 the community opened the Benet Pines Retreat Center on their property in Black Forest. Sisters offered a spiritual direction certification program called the Benedictine Spiritual Formation Program (BSFP), Scripture study, Contemplative Vision and classes in catechism and liturgy. Sisters offered hospitality and spiritual direction for retreatants, welcoming people of all faith traditions. The Benedictine Spirituality Formation Program is also offered in Denver and the Whitewater Benedictine Community near Grand Junction, Colorado. In recent years this signature program has moved online, offered globally to 26 students in 16 states and countries as far and wide as Australia and Kenya.
By the 1990s, the realities of caring for an aging community and upkeep on aging buildings presented serious financial challenges to the Sisters. Fewer women were entering the community as well, reflecting national trends on the decline in the number of women entering religious communities. The community struggled with these decisions, and in 2001 placed the Chelton Road property on the market. The Colorado Springs Charter Academy initially leased the buildings and eventually purchased the entire property in 2010.
In 2004, in a spirit of trust, the community discerned to build a new monastery on their property in Black Forest, on the site of the Benet Pines Retreat Center. At the time, the Center was comprised of one building at the Chelton Road site, four buildings at the Black Forest site, and one building for classes and administrative offices at each of the sites. A capital campaign was undertaken in 2007 to build the new home of the Sisters, and on October 11, 2009, Benet Hill Monastery re-opened with a dedication ceremony presided over by Bishop Michael Sheridan. Architect Bill Beard explained the design of the new building:
The building is designed with the two anchors of Benedictine life, common prayer and common table, the chapel and the dining room on each end of the structure. Between these two, the building is shaped in a curve, like a cupped hand or better yet an embrace. Everything in the monastery happens between the two anchors. The embrace reaches out to the warmth of the southern sun, the shape of the land and to all elements of life, creating positive space.
Throughout their years of discernment, the Sisters have prayerfully revisited their core values of common prayer, community life and life-giving ministry through hospitality. These values continue to shape their monastic tradition of contemplation and prayer for the world as together they seek God in community.
"You may wonder why the sisters at Benet Hill asked me, a lawyer and deacon, to write a couple of sentences about why I am a member of the Board and support, so strongly, what they do. It is because what is offered there is so needed by all, and so absent "out here". Regardless of one's faith tradition (or even lack thereof), we are in need of rest, meaning and self-fulfillment. That is what is offered there; a refuge from the gale winds of the world where anyone - even a lawyer and a deacon - can find a moment's pause to rediscover who we are and what we are here to do."
David Geislinger, Advisory Board Member
"I became a Benet Hill Monastery Advisory Board member out of gratitude. It is no exaggeration to say that taking their four-year Scripture Studies program was a significant event in my spiritual life. I have benefited from other education programs they have made available, from the excellent speakers they have brought to town and from their hospitality and liturgy. Mass at the Monastery feels like sanctuary for my wife and me. We both treasure our continuing contact with this community."
John D. Wolf, Colonel, US Air Force (retired)
President, COSTA Research Inc.
Advisory Board Member
" I have known the Benet Hill Benedictines most of my life since they were good friends of grandparents and parents. My family and I have continued that friendship. We support the Mission Outreach of the Monastery. We believe that the retreats, seminars and workshops they offer are a blessing for those in search of deepening their faith or finding it. I know that by donating to the Benet Hill Community they can continue to offer their gifts to all who come to them."
Shari & Kevin Silva, Colorado Springs
"The Benedictine Spiritual Formation Program has taught me how to listen more deeply to others, to the Spirit, and to myself. It also has been an opportunity to develop a community with my classmates, teachers, and instructors during the last two years. I am most grateful for the hospitality of Benet Hill."
Rev. Karen Matuska, Colorado Springs
"I found in Centering Prayer a prayer form that works for me! I now find time for daily prayer-something that had always eluded me. Since participating in Centering Prayer sessions at Benet Hill, I keep making new connections through people, books, retreats and ideas-spiritual connections that hadn't existed previously. Most importantly I find myself noticing God in the routine experiences of my life. While these moments of awareness amount to only a tiny fraction of my day, I can tell that they are gradually changing my approach to life/God."
Mike Smith, Class Participant
"It just seems that so many people who are grieving are attracted to Centering Prayer. Having lost a daughter, I too needed a way to go deeper and really KNOW God as tangible and within me and to know that part of me that will not die and to know that GIFT is the same for my daughter. My Centering Prayer practice of eight years has allowed me that deepening closeness to God, a comfort in "knowing" my daughter now and a growing sense of peace. I believe this came about through my consent in the prayer. It has been for me a life-giving practice."
Linda Smith, Class Participant
"My course at Benet Hill was the Book of Revelations. I had been seeking a course in this challenging book of the Bible for several years. The Benet Hill setting is one of peace and tranquility, both inside and outside. The chapel is conducive to centering prayer. The classroom was appropriately sized for the number of students. All in all, it was very informative and I would recommend that anyone who wishes to avail themselves of the study of the Bible, as well as other forms of becoming closer to Our Lord in study and prayer, should seek their education at Benet Hill."
Patricia R. Collins, Class Participant