St. Benedict's Monastery on the Red


Sr. Mary Coswin, OSB

first profession dayMy Benedictine teachers at St. Benedict’s Academy probably considered me to be “the least likely” to enter the monastery. In the early ‘60’s my back-combed hair, love of all dance especially the twist and smoking did not indicate my suitability for religious life. However, I have been part of the community since 1963 and we can laugh at all that now. My life as a Benedictine sister has been surprise, grace and opportunity to grow into who God created me to be

Born and growing up in central Winnipeg, I attended public schools until Grade 8. At that time the Benedictine Sisters opened a day and boarding school at the north end of the city; I was one of the first students, registering as a resident.  Having been an only child till age 9, I took advantage of the camaraderie of so many friends, right there around me.

I was moved and drawn by the Sisters’ chapel and the daily morning and evening prayers. I especially loved night prayer when we sang and prayed as the setting sun blazed through the gorgeous stained-glass windows. God can use anything to attract us! And it certainly helped to feel, not just loved but liked by the sisters.

Though I was quite young, my mother did not discourage me from entering. Friends & cousins

Mary as teacherdidn’t really understand but then, who could blame them?! One of my friends was worried about me and tried to figure out a way to “rescue“ me.

After entering the Monastery, I completed high school and teachers’ training and then taught academic subjects and religious studies in junior and senior high; later I worked as a school counsellor. I loved being with high school-ers, listening to their questions and sharing their sorrows and joys. Of course the teenagers were curious about my lifestyle, more than once asking if I really didn’t keep my pay check and couldn’t get married and have kids. I enjoyed bringing them to the monastery to let them have a taste of monastic life.

Mary2 copyThe monastic community gave me the opportunity to work in vocation and formation work, as Director of our retreat centre and, most recently, I spent five years in Edmonton offering spiritual direction, retreats and training new spiritual directors.

I am blessed now to work at our retreat centre. Blessed because we have this beautiful home and grounds and spirituality to share with hundreds of people who come through our doors. Seeking God is my life and helping others seek God is my ministry. I love doing both with a community of wise women.