By Grace Kilgore – [email protected]

To many on campus it is bittersweet news to hear that Prioress Michaela Hedican is retiring this June.

Hedican—who is fondly known as Sister Michaela by Sisters and Bennies alike—is stepping down from her position as Prioress of the Order of St. Benedict’s Monastery after completing the customary six-year term.

Though an expected retirement due to the obligatory length of the position, the change brings bittersweet sentiments to both the St. Benedict Monastery and the entire CSB community.

The Prioress is an important and honorable position that is highly regarded and looked up to by all members of the community. As a Prioress, one takes on numerous roles of leadership within the Benedictine community.

“The Prioress first and foremost is the spiritual and temporal leader of the monastic community,” Sister Sharon Nohner said. “She is entrusted to the care of each of her sisters as well as oversees, with the help of the leadership team, for the care of the community’s resources.”

In addition to acting as the monastic leader, a Prioress is a public representative of the monastery who works closely with other groups and organizations connected with the monastic community.

“She represents us in the public as a leader by serving on the sponsorship boards of our institutions, such as the St. Benedict Trustee as well as on the Corporate Board of the St. Cloud Hospital,” Sister Noher said.

The Prioress is also responsible for working closely with other religious communities, both local and nation-wide.

Along with these duties, Hedican has had multiple successes and achievements during her six years as Prioress. She has worked with Residential Life to establish a Benedictine values Living and Learning Community, and she has also worked closely with President Mary Dana Hinton in establishing a Benedictine values Task Team on the CSB campus. She was named Catholic of the Year by Order of St. Benedict Newsweekly in 2016 and she is the 2017 recipient of the Doctor of Humane Letters Honorary Degree awarded by Hinton and the Board of Trustees.

“There are few people who exhibit the spirit of a Bennie like Sister Michaela,” Hinton said. “Her ongoing commitment to learning and teaching clearly merits the honorary degree we will award her.”

Hedican will receive the honorary degree during the Commencement Ceremony in May.

However, all of these achievements barely scratch the surface; Hedican’s great servitude for her fellow sisters and passionate commitment for the Benedictine community are far deeper than a mere award can recognize.

“She is a true servant,” Sister Lois Wedl said. “She never wants power; instead, she empowers us. Although we are a large community, each of us is valued and important to her. Nothing we do in this community goes unnoticed.”

The next Prioress will be elected this weekend, Friday through Monday, during a long nomination and election process by all the sisters within the Benedictine Community. Though the process is rather complex, it seeks to consider the opinions of all the sisters. Each nominee presents a list of goals they wish to see completed, then ballots are cast as a final portion of the election process.

The new Prioress will assume her role on June 4th, when Hedican will her pass on the title.

“I would like to thank Sister Michaela for all she’s done for St. Ben’s, the monastery, and our wider community,” Hinton said. “I look forward to the ways our friendship will change and grow as she moves forward to her next adventure.”

Wedl thinks there is no doubt that her compassion and servitude will continue to shine after she steps down from her role as Prioress.

“Sister Michaela is a woman of deep faith and prayer, a woman of compassion and who truly listens with the ear of her heart,” Wedl said. “She is greatly loved.”

Feature image courtesy of Karen Rose.