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Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery receive Vatican approval for sponsorship model change 

By The Northern Cross 

The Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth recently received approval from the Vatican to shift the Catholic sponsorship of their ministries – Benedictine, the College of St. Scholastica, and the Catholic facilities of Essentia Health, St. Francis Regional Medical Center, and St. Mary’s Health – from a Sponsor Council model to a Ministerial Public Juridic Person. This new structure will be called Duluth Benedictine Ministries, and the official change will take place on July 1. 

Aware of the declining availability of Sisters at St. Scholastica Monastery to provide oversight to their sponsored ministries and institutions, the Duluth Benedictine Sisters began exploration and discernment of options that would allow their ministries to continue to grow and thrive when the sisters were no longer available to provide leadership and direction. This effort began in 2010 with discussions and education arriving at the decision to establish a Sponsor Council composed of knowledgeable laypersons and sisters to continue learning and research on appropriate sponsorship model options for religious congregations with multiple ministries. The sisters decided to pursue a petition to the Vatican for a ministerial public juridic person as the most appropriate model for the future. The completed petition was sent to the Vatican for review and consideration on June 2, 2022. 

“We are delighted that our sponsorship petition to the Vatican was approved, because it will ensure our ministries that serve thousands of people each year will adhere to Catholic identity and Benedictine charisms well into the future,” said Benedictine Sister Beverly Raway, prioress of St. Scholastica Monastery. 

Lori Collard, chair of the Sponsor Council, adds, “The approval of this comprehensive document by the Vatican was a result of a thoughtful, planned effort by many individuals dedicated to the mission and ministries of our sisters. This work will have a long-lasting impact on the regional populations our sisters have served for over 125 years.” 

For clarity and understanding in this context, officials say sponsorship means a structured relationship through which the sponsor, in the name of the church, directs and influences a ministry that meets an apostolic need and furthers the mission of Jesus (2021 Guide for Sponsors in Catholic Health Care). Catholic sponsorship of an organization has most often been a function of religious congregations that founded organizations in education, health care, and other services. Because these religious communities were officially recognized by the church, the organizations they sponsored were considered extensions of the work of the church. 

Duluth Benedictine Ministries will be located at St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth at 1001 Kenwood Avenue. In the upcoming months, staff for Duluth Benedictine Ministries will be hired to oversee the work of the MPJP. It is anticipated that this change in sponsorship will not affect the day-to-day operations of the ministries and that there will be a smooth transition in the governance and leadership of the new organization.