Women's History Month and the Stories of the Sisters

March 31, 2021

How have you celebrated women's history month?

Here at MMU, we have seen this as a time to reflect on the ways women have shaped our institution on the hill -- all the way from our founding until today. The Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery have been integral to the Mount Marty experience. So, to honor them and reflect on the ways in which they have made an impact our community and that we have impacted theirs, we asked them to share their stories. Here is what we heard...

S. Penny Bingham

My college community experience here at Mount Marty was largely responsible for my joining Sacred Heart Monastery a few years after I graduated. For me, sharing a dorm with people from backgrounds and with experiences different from my own stretched my view of the world and my understanding of myself and of others. In the dorm and on the campus, we learned to build community as we included people and as we took care of one another and as we reached out into the wider local community. I learned that not only is it enjoyable to be part of a community, but it’s also necessary; the support from others who share similar values -- and their example in living them – were things I needed to help me live those values. In time, my MMU experience led me to seek that same kind of supportive community in my seeking of God.  

Here in Sacred Heart Monastery, our main goal is to seek God together. We try to do that in every aspect of our life – praying, sharing meals, having fun, working, relaxing, learning. We do many things together as a community, and we also have time alone that is important for private prayer and reflection. One of the main lessons I learned at Mount Marty is that life is not all about me; it is about us. That is at the heart of our Benedictine life. In his Rule, St. Benedict reminds us that it is “all together” that we make our way to God, to everlasting life. We help one another on the journey. It’s wonderful to see this same spirit of community as something valued and practiced every day at MMU among students, staff and teachers.

S. Sharon Ann

Ever since I was little, I wanted to help people, and when needed I would help some of the elderly folks in our town. When I came to the Monastery, I had the opportunity to get my BSN in Nursing at Mount Marty. I was able to minister to our Sisters in the Care Center for three years and then spent over 15 years in acute care nursing in Colorado. After that, I received my master's degree in nursing and began my ministry as an educator at Mount Marty. One of the blessings that I have had is to care for the sick and elderly. I believe it is so important to care for the whole person, not just their physical needs. In the Rule of St. Benedict, Ch. 36, it states that "Care of the sick must rank above and before all else, so that they may truly be served as Christ." As I shared this with my students, I asked them, "would your care for the sick and suffering make a difference if you approached your care with this in mind?" It really is a sacred privilege to care for the sick and the needy. 

S. Marielle Frigge, OSB, PhD, Professor Emerita of Religious Studies

When I went to high school in the late 1950s-early 60s, it was quite unusual to see women with a college education, let alone advanced degrees, or women in professional leadership positions. But at Mount Marty High School, all my teachers except two were sisters; the principal and vice-principal were sisters, and we all knew that the CEO of Sacred Heart Hospital was also a sister. So for me, witnessing women in positions requiring professional degrees and leadership skills was a normal occurrence. The view that "Women can't do X" made little sense.

Such experience, repeated at (then-) Mount Marty College, certainly eased my way when I later embarked on graduate school for a master's in theology. In 1976, I was one of three women and the only woman religious among several hundred students at the Washington Theological Union. In my 33 years of teaching at Mount Marty University, I was delighted by female religious studies majors who went on to graduate school in theology; several of them told me "You let me know that women can 'do theology!'"

Thank you to the sisters

For they have done and will do for MMU, we thank the Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery and wish them a happy Women's History Month.

Do you have an MMU story you want to share? Email it to marketing@mountmarty.edu.