Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Benedictine Sister Meg Sass celebrates 50 years of monastic profession

the Inland Register

(From the August 16, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

Benedictine Sister Meg Sass, who ministered in the Spokane Diocese for 13 years, celebrates her 50th jubilee of Religious profession this year. (IR photo courtesy of the Monastery of St. Gertrude)

A lot can change in the course of 50 years – which is why Sister Meg Sass of the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, Idaho, recently spent a whole month in retreat to understand the ongoing meaning of her call to Religious life.

“Fifty years ago Vatican II had just come on the horizon” said Sister Meg. “We were in habits and I taught in a habit. Life was much more structured – an outer-directed kind of life. Now a lot of externals have changed but not the internals.”

She was raised in Twin Falls. After entering the monastic community she completed her junior and senior year of high school and started college as a novice. Then she finished her Bachelor’s degree at Gonzaga University and University of Idaho. In 1962, she made her First Monastic Profession. She taught school for 13 years before heading to Chicago’s Loyola University for a master’s degree in Pastoral Studies.

While in Chicago, she witnessed the effects of gentrification on immigrant communities, and began a program to give useable items that Loyola students would discard at the end of the year to underprivileged families.

Back in Idaho, at the encouragement of Sister Mary Kay Henry, she responded to an ad from the Spokane Diocese for a Director of Social Ministry.

At first, she was intimidated that the scope of leadership for the position included all of Eastern Washington. She held off applying. But then the focus of the work became two Spokane County parishes and she agreed to serve there.

“It is interesting that the job eventually expanded to include all of Eastern Washington anyway. But I loved it.”

She helped found a family services center called Our Place in 1987 that still serves families.

After 13 years in Spokane, Sister Meg was called home to the monastery to be assistant prioress to Sister Jean Lalande. This term of leadership saw the building of Spirit Center, a retreat facility, along with ambitious Monastery renovations.

Building Spirit Center was a risk for the monastery but it was a call they couldn’t ignore, she said.

“Like everyone else in the world, even the monastery is challenged to walk in uncertainty. But whatever the future brings, God is already there,” she said. “As people move faster and faster, they are going to need places to slow down and ground. As a community, we can offer this beautiful place we’ve been given.”

She has also served at the Boise diocesan center as Regional Coordinator for Parish Life and Faith Formation, working with the northern part of the state from Riggins to Canada.

“Monastic life taught me how to pray,” she said. “I don’t want to drift. Nor do I want to stay because it’s the easiest thing to do. And let’s face it: There’s no retiring in Religious life. But I want a relationship with God and I really believe doing it with a group of people whose emphasis is on prayer is the best way to do that. That’s what struck me in my month-long retreat: I still love the people of Idaho and love serving them as a Benedictine Sister.”

Sister Meg celebrated her 50th Jubilee in the monastery chapel on July 28 at 1:30 p.m. She also celebrated at Sacred Heart Parish in Boise on Aug. 15 at the 7 p.m. Mass.

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