L: Sister Madeline Contorno, OSB. Sister Madeline was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and was a teenager at the time of the Civil Rights movement, witnessing the cries for justice in her own city and state. The oldest child in a family of three children, she feels her vocation as a Benedictine Sister grew from the nonviolent witness of those seeking basic human rights and her desire to be a part of the renewal of Vatican II, where she heard the Church embracing “the joys and sorrows, the hope and the anguish of the people of our time.” With graduate degrees in theology and social work, and certification as a grief counselor, she has ministered in many settings: as high school theology teacher, campus minister, hospice chaplain, diocesan RENEW 2000 coordinator, retreat director, and pastoral associate in several parishes. For fun and good health, she has done aerobic dancing for many years. Her greatest joy is praying the Divine Office and teaching Scripture in small faith-sharing groups. She finds the face of God most compellingly in the sick and grieving.
R: Sister Lynn McKenzie, OSB. Growing up in a very faithful Catholic family living in Protestant north Alabama, Lynn McKenzie, OSB, came to appreciate the depth of her Catholic faith. Attending public junior high and high school pushed Sister Lynn to explore deeply her Catholic faith so that she could answer the questions (and sometimes accusations!) of her Protestant classmates. During college, Sister Lynn searched out many different religious communities, particularly in the northeastern United States. In the end, she chose the monastery of the Benedictine Sisters in Cullman, just 60 miles from where she grew up. As a Benedictine, Sister Lynn has practiced law in Cullman, representing children in juvenile court and injured and disabled people in state court and federal hearings. She is now in the ministry of leadership in the Federation of St. Scholastica (monastic congregation of 19 monasteries in the U.S. and Mexico) and in the Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum (international association of all Benedictine women in the world). Her work among Benedictine women takes her to many parts of North America and beyond.
Community Philosophy: We, the Benedictine Sisters of Cullman, Alabama, believe that we are drawn into the mystery of Christ Jesus and are led by the Spirit to praise and glorify God by a cenobitic life according to the Rule of St. Benedict.
We are called to an intense personal relationship with Jesus which demands a total giving of self in profound union with the People of God. Our life, centered on the belief that the Risen Lord is in our midst, is transformed by a continuous affirmation of God's love for us.Through our monastic vows, we profess an openness to the Spirit which leads us to fullness of life in Christ.
This faith life in which we seek God is intensified and enlivened by contemplative living: monastic Liturgy of the Hours, lectio divina, silence, solitude, reverent use of created goods, and supportive love of one another, all culminating in the Eucharist.
In our call and transformation in the mystery of Christ we are formed into this Community. To live out this reality, we support one another in seeking God, in affirming one another, and in giving witness to authentic discipleship. Within this Community we become bonded in a love which reverences the unique gift of each individual and expects from each member corresponding responsibility for the Community.
Our life in the Spirit of Jesus Christ overflows into a life of ministry; we are called to be holy, to witness joyfully to God's presence and love, and to be a prophetic sign against the evils of our day. As Benedictine women we are called to discern and respond to the needs of the Church today, especially those of a local church with which we share our charism: praying, promoting good liturgy, proclaiming God's Word, witnessing community, receiving guests, teaching, healing, and working for peace and justice.
We believe that God is here and can be found, and that a diversity of persons bonded into unity shows Christ to a divided world.