The Benedictine life is both ordinary and human, extraordinary and divine. It is ordinary and human because St. Benedict in his Rule encourages us to get on with the business of monastic life; it is extraordinary and divine because it is a response to a call from God and it is a life lived for others. Welcome to St. Scholastica Priory, a community of sisters located in Petersham, Massachusetts.



Sr. Mary Herbert Walsh, OSB

Sr. Mary Herbert Walsh, OSB

Sr. Mary Herbert Walsh, a nun of St. Scholastica Priory, Petersham, Mass., died July 30 at the priory following a brief illness. She was 98 and in her 80th year of profession.

Born on October 31, 1915 on the family farm in Alpine (Connorsville), Ind. to Herbert and Julia (Tieman) Walsh, she received the name Mary Lucille at baptism. She was from a family of six children, all of whom became Benedictine priests or sisters. Their remarkable story is told in her delightful biographical book God Calls the Walsh Family. After completing the eighth grade, she entered the Academy of the Immaculate Conception, Ferdinand, Ind. in 1929, and on Sept 13, 1931 she was invested as a novice of that Benedictine community, taking the name Sr. Mary Herbert in honor of her parents. She professed her simple vows on Oct. 18, 1933 and made her perpetual vows on June 14, 1936.

Sr. Mary Herbert taught at Catholic grammar and high schools throughout southern Indiana, as well as at St. Benedict College, Ferdinand, Ind. By attending classes at Incarnate Word College, San Antonio, Tex. and Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., she earned her master’s degree in education and her principal’s licenses. She served as principal and superior at St. Meinrad Public School and at the St. Ferdinand Public School. To her great joy in old age, devoted former students remained in touch with their beloved former teacher.

After serving as subprioress for the Ferdinand community from 1971-1974, Sr. Mary Herbert left Indiana and active Benedictine life to join the contemplative monastery her siblings had founded in Durham, N.C. They later moved to Labadieville, La., and finally to Tickfaw, La. where she was superior of their Our Lady Queen Monastery from 1985-2003. The last surviving member of her immediate family, in 2009 Sr. Mary Herbert and the other members of her monastery moved to Petersham, Mass. to form one community with the nuns of St. Scholastica Priory.

Her nearly forty years of teaching were followed by forty years devoted to prayer, but by her deep faith and cheerful courage and joy in the limitations of old age, she never stopped teaching by example those who knew her. Despite loss of sight and hearing, she remained fully engaged with her community, family and friends. A recipient of Worcester Diocese’s 2011 Retired Religious Award, her fidelity to monastic contemplative life is an enduring legacy. A prayer she composed for Pentecost 2014 captures her own spirit: “Dear Beloved Spirit of Divine Love, please inspire my intellect to think, say and do whatever is the most pleasing to the Blessed Trinity.”

She was preceded in death by her parents and her three brothers and two sisters. Surviving are cousins Regina Mitchell, Regina Leising, numerous other much-loved cousins, her community of St. Scholastica Priory and the monks of St. Mary’s Monastery, and a host of friends.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, August 6, in the Church of St. Scholastica Priory and St. Mary’s Monastery. Visitation is from 3:00-8:00 p.m. Tuesday at the monastery and from 8:00 a.m. Wednesday until the time of the funeral. Memorial contributions may be offered to St. Scholastica Priory, 271 N. Main St., Petersham, MA, 01366.


In 2014 St. Scholastica Priory will host two Monastic Experience Weekends for young women interesting in discerning their vocation by living with the community for a few days to see their life at close hand: from August 8-10 and from October 10-12. For information on the weekends please click here.

If you are a single Catholic woman between the age of 18-40, and would like to discuss and discern a monastic vocation, dates can be arranged outside of the Monastic Weekends.


On April 20, 2013, two public conferences for the Year of Faith were hosted by St. Mary’s Monastery and St. Scholastica Priory. To listen to them click here:

Giving a Reason for the Hope that Is in Us

by Fr.  Robert Imbelli

Does What I Believe In Affect My Life?

by Mother Mary Elizabeth Kloss, OSB


November 9, 2014 —

Today is Sunday but, if you haven’t been to Mass yet, you’ll see that it is a bit unusual. We are celebrating the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. The Basilica of St. John Lateran is a beautiful huge church in Rome; of the four major basilicas in Rome it is the oldest and highest ranking. It is the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope, not St. Peter’s Basilica most of us would think. The church is also called the Church of Holy Savior or the Church of St. John Baptist. It the oldest church in the West, built in the time of Constantine, and it was consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324! We all celebrate this feast as a sign of love for and union with the See of Peter. There may be better presentations out there but this is a slideshow of the basilica: St. John Lateran.

Monday November 10 is feast of one of the great Doctors of the Church, Pope St. Leo the Great (400-461). He was so many things but most especially he had a great gift for preaching and has left many wonderful writings. He dealt with Attila the Hun who was demanding the sister of the Emperor Valentinian III along with a dowry as he invaded Rome. It was Leo who is credited with sending Attila on his way without the sister in hand! Here is a link to learn more about this great man: St. Leo the Great.

On the 11th, Veterans Day, we remember St. Martin of Tours (316 –397). He was a soldier in his early life and the story of his dividing his great Roman cloak in two and giving half to a beggar is well known. That night, in his sleep, the “beggar” appeared as Jesus. St. Martin became a great bishop and teacher in the church. Here is a link to his life: St. Martin of Tours.

On Thursday, we celebrate a saint of the United States not by birth but by citizenship: Mother Cabrini (1850-1917). She died very close to where I grew up – Chicago – while she wrapped gifts for the orphans. She kept a wonderful diary of the first crossings over the ocean as she brought sisters back and forth from Italy. This is a place to learn more about her: St. Francis Xavier Cabrini.

Have a blessed week!

Mother Mary Elizabeth and all