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Groundbreaking for new monastery

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"I know well the plans I have in mind for you." The words from Jeremiah, read by Benedictine Sister Andrea Westkamp, greeted attendees at the groundbreaking for the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia’s new monastery Dec. 5.

Traditional American tunes performed by the Linton Hall School Fife and Drum Corps energized the festivities as friends and supporters from Northern Virginia and Richmond, local officials, clergy, and Benedictine religious women from Emmanuel Monastery in Baltimore attended the ceremony and reception.

“We sisters come to this moment with gratitude and a real spirit of humility,” said Sister Cecilia Dwyer, past prioress of the Benedictines. “It is with this humility that we accept with grateful hearts all the help and effort that has been put into this project, knowing that our compassionate God has plans to give us hope for our future.”

Sister Joanna Burley, prioress, sprinkled the building site with holy water. The sisters and members of the Jubilee Campaign Committees put their ceremonial shovels in the ground, marking the beginning of a new era for St. Benedict Monastery.

The new monastery, designed with Benedictine values in mind, will provide a contemplative monastic living space, adequate rooms for ministries, facilities for the sisters as they age, and be environmentally sustainable.

Sister Cecilia spoke about how the new monastery, envisioned since 2008, came to fruition through the sisters’ strategic plan. Laughing, she said she often told the sisters, “ ‘We have to get a shovel in the ground in this 125th anniversary year.’ And we just made it.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019