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SISTER STORY: Sister Benita Coffey


At age 14, I was planning to be a journalist, to marry happily and to raise beautiful, good Catholic children. I had already shown some promise as a writer.  A play I wrote was produced for the Mothers’ Club and I’d won an essay contest. As a child I had been taught that God was the center of life and family was a blessing.


Going on to high school made all the difference. The Sisters there were terrific. In all my classes, my teachers were interesting, the principal knew all 600 or so young women by name after about the first month, and the Sister who served in the cafeteria never skimped on dishing up ice cream cones. Over the next four years in high school, I was involved in baseball, basketball, field hockey, and volleyball, the school paper, Sodality, debate, senior play, and junior and senior pep shows. I learned the great satisfaction of working with others to accomplish things that mattered


I belonged to a Young Christian Student group that met not far from school. We were encouraged to attend daily Mass and challenged to perform some voluntary action every day: to look for opportunities to do something for others without expecting any notice or thanks.  I discovered the joy of service.


As graduation and my 18th birthday approached, it was time for making some choice about what direction my life should take. Actually I don’t remember having to give it much thought. There was no fanfare, no big decision, no fear. Through home and school experiences, I had come to know myself, what I needed, and what made me happy.


God's gift to me was the clear sense that entering this community was the natural thing for me to do. Here the common prayer and simple lifestyle would keep God central. Here I would be working with women to accomplish things that mattered. Here I would be supported in my desire to be of service. Being called to community, this was the right one for me.


At 18, I was probably too young to make such a decision, but somehow I had already sensed that being a Benedictine here was what I was meant to do. Over sixty years of monastic life have proved that to be true. My life continues to be filled with blessings: rich opportunities to grow, happiness in a variety of ministries, and strength for the inevitable challenges and hardships of human life.


By hindsight, I recognize this as God’s “call” for me: unique yet simple, clear but quiet, and unmistakably mine.



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Sister Stories, Sister Benita Coffey

"I had come to know myself, what I needed, and what made me happy."

-Sister Benita

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