The Sisters of St. Benedict
You may have seen Sister Marie Baker, dressed in overalls, farm boots and work hat, driving the lawn mower at top speed on the grounds of St. Benedict’s Monastery or pulling a wagon laden with pumpkins attached to the golf cart. S. Marie is a farm girl at heart, having been born and raised on a small grain farm south of Regina.
Marie attended teacher’s college in Moose Jaw and went on to teach at Kirby Schools, a one-room country school with seven grades. Early in her teaching career, Marie heard the call to religious life. Because of her association with the sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, she felt that somewhere down the road she might inquire. The voice persisted and Marie responded: “Why me?” After about four years her response changed to “Why not me?” And so she joined the RNDM Sisters and even served as their Provincial Superior.
Yet there was an inner core of her being that had always been attracted to the monastic way of life. Through much prayer and discernment she decided to try out the monastic path at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Winnipeg. And here she is, a most versatile woman, subprioress, spiritual director, gardener and organist. She loves the garden, classical music and being of help anywhere.
Following a difficult and dangerous early life in Poland during the war, Sister Irene Burzynski’s family eventually settled in north Winnipeg and Irene became a student at Holy Ghost school where she was taught by the Benedictine sisters, followed by high school at St. Mary’s Academy.
Being a determined and eager young woman of 19 she wanted to contribute something unique to the world. After pondering this desire for two years, she took the Greyhound bus to Arborg, MB to join this group of Benedictine women some of whom had been her teachers at Holy Ghost. She made her religious profession, received her teacher’s certificate and was missioned to teach both in Alberta and Winnipeg. At San Francisco State University she obtained a Masters of Arts degree with an emphasis on the blind and visually impaired. Irene spent many years working successfully with blind students. Irene also served the community as Prioress for eight years.
One of Irene’s greatest joys has been the opportunity to return to her home village of Karaczun, now part of Ukraine after the partition of Poland during WWII. She has a good sense of humour.
Sister Angela was born and grew up in the village of Winnipegosis where the Sisters had a hospital. As a teen she began a lifetime of work in health care, first becoming a health care aide and later graduating from St. Boniface School of Nursing as a registered nurse. Most of Angela’s work was in pediatric nursing. She has many delightful and some sad stories to recount of her work with children.
Acquainted with the Sisters from an early age, in her 20’s, she joined the community where her sister - Sister Gabriel - was already a member. Today she may be the voice you hear when you call St. Benedict’s; Angela also trains the young women who are the receptionists you meet or hear when you contact the monastery.
Angela loves nature, delights in the deer that visit us and is especially fond of the sounds of creation and of music.