Former Federation President Sister Michaela Hedican Elected 16th Prioress of Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict
Sister Michaela Hedican was elected prioress on Sunday, February 27, by the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict. She will be installed as the religious community's 16th prioress on Sunday, June 5, at Sacred Heart Chapel in St. Joseph, Minn. "I'm filled with humble gratitude to the Sisters for their trust, love and support," said S. Michaela following the election.
S. Michaela served as president of the Federation of St. Benedict from 2003-2009. She left that position a year after being elected prioress of Saint Bede Monastery in Eau Claire, Wis. She served as prioress of Saint Bede Monastery from 2008 until the community joined the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict in August 2010. She was also sub-prioress of that community from 1988-1992. Additionally, she has served as director of the Saint Bede Retreat and Conference Center, novice director, vocation director and liturgy director for the community in Eau Claire over the years.
"I have great confidence in S. Michaela," said Sister Nancy Bauer, current prioress of Saint Benedict's Monastery. "She is a holy woman of prayer, with great abilities to lead this community forward." As part of the discernment process, the community drafted a direction statement. They committed themselves to "deepening our living of the Benedictine monastic way of life" and "extending the fruits of living the Benedictine monastic way of life as women of the church through Gospel ministry fostering collaboration with others."
Born in Virginia, Minn., in 1945, S. Michaela entered Saint Bede Monastery in Eau Claire in 1962. A graduate of the College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., she was a middle school teacher from 1966-1984. S. Michaela has master's degrees in religious education from Seattle University and in theology with an emphasis on monastic studies from Saint John's University School of Theology in Collegeville, Minn.
The canonical election concluded Sunday afternoon after a discernment process that began in October 2010 and culminated in a three-day process that began Friday, February 25. "I'm in awe of this process," said S. Michaela. "At this time when the world is going wild overthrowing leaders, to be able to use this ancient practice for calling forth a leader from our own membership is quite powerful."
The discernment and election process was coordinated by a team of Sisters and directed by two Sisters from other Benedictine communities, Sister Anne Stedman from Benet Hill Monastery in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Sister Kathleen McNany from Emmanuel Monastery in Lutherville, Maryland. The election was observed by federation president Sister Susan Hutchens, OSB, a Sister at St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island, Ill, who was also present throughout the discernment process.
The prioress is the spiritual leader of the community, which currently has 292 Sisters. She is also the chief executive officer of the corporation. She represents the monastery on the board of trustees of the College of Saint Benedict and the corporate board of St. Cloud Hospital, two institutions founded by Saint Benedict's Monastery.
Sister Michaela currently lives in Eau Claire, Wis., where she has been working on the sale of the Saint Bede property and the continuing operation of the monastery facility. In the next few months, she will move to Saint Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph and assemble a leadership team.