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


December 7, 2014 —

The 2nd Sunday of Advent! The music we sing at the Divine Office during this early part of Advent is so moving. You aren’t in the community long when, on singing the Advent Vespers hymn Conditor Alme Siderum on the first night that you aren’t immediately immersed in this holy season. This is men’s choir singing it: Conditor Alme Siderum.

This coming week we will be celebrating the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th. This has so many associations. First of all, the conception in this world of the mother who would bear Jesus as our Savior. Then, closer to our time, the title of Our Lady that St. Bernadette of Lourdes gave to those who were investigating her visions in 1858. This was astounding to them because this title that is common in our times had not yet been one of Mary’s. And there was no way that Bernadette, living where she did, in the times she did and in such an unlearned climate, could know this title. This is a link to tell you a bit about what happened in 1958: Lourdes Apparition.

And on Friday we will be celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Most of us are familiar with the story. But if you have not heard about it, take a look at this link: Our Lady of Guadalupe. The amazing thing is that the Lord gave us this image, and the image on the tilma is still there is Guadalupe. I was blessed to be able to see it at the shrine in Mexico City. I can’t describe to you how moved I was. That was a surprise to me because I had grown up knowing the story, and seeing that image hanging on walls and on holy cards. She is the perfect image of Mary to have during the Advent time, because if you look you will see a little black ribbon tied in a bow just on her front. That was the sign the Indian women of that region wore to indicate that they were pregnant. Jesus is there in the womb!

Pray for us! We do for you. May this be a great time of grace!

Love and prayers always,

Mother Mary Elizabeth and all