Benedictine Peace Center Offers Program For Spiritual Growth

Pictured above from left to right are the facilitators for the new Spiritual Growth Program at the Benedictine Peace Center: Sisters Jeanne Ranek, Penny Bingham, Mary Jo Polak and Doris Oberembt.

Part of Sacred Heart Monastery’s Benedictine Peace Center’s mission is to help people. It aims to accomplish this in a different way by offering people the chance to take part in its new Spiritual Growth program.

From September to May 2019, the program is designed for men and women who want to deepen their relationship with God by meeting for two hours one Saturday morning a month, reading selected works of author Ronald Rolheiser, openly discussing that week’s reading and having the opportunity to take part in a silent, two-night retreat.

Meetings will be held at the monastery.

This is the type of program S. Jeanne Ranek has been striving to make a reality for some time.

"We wanted to make it feasible for people who are busy," she said. "We’ll ask questions such as, what do we mean when we say we want to grow spiritually? What is spirituality? How do we live more authentically? How do we find meaning in our life circumstances?"

Ranek will be leading the program along with three other sisters: Mary Jo Polak, Doris Oberembt and Penny Bingham. They will take turns presenting on the topic of the month, which will include Christ, the heart of Christian spirituality, the Paschal mystery and understanding church.

"We will tackle (these topics) not in a dry, systematic theology kind of way, but still faithful to what we know," Ranek said.

"We want to show how (these topics) impact our daily life," Polak elaborated. "One of the topics might be church and community and how we’re on this journey together."

"It’s practical theologizing," Ranek added.

She said that the program is meant to fit with members of all branches of Christianity, and is also a good fit for those that have never made a retreat before.

"For newcomers, it will provide guidance and an opportunity to experience what a retreat is meant for," she said. "For people who are used to making retreats, it’s also an opportunity to take some time for themselves."

Participants can choose when to take the retreat, which is covered in the cost of the program registration.

Ranek hopes those who choose to take part in the program are dedicated to attending each meeting, as frequent participation will strengthen group members’ experience.

"When meeting with the same group several times, the discussion gets better and deeper as the trust builds," she said.

Polak is looking forward to giving her presentations and interacting with the participants.

"I enjoy preparing for presentations and the background research that I do to prepare," she said. "I learn by teaching."

Ranek said she learns by listening to people in these settings reflecting on what they think of the lessons.

"It’s fun to talk about the things that mean so much to us and exploring together to get a deeper handle on what these things mean," she said.

Registrations are due by Aug. 15. To register, call 605-668-6292 or email

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