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Catholic nuns express sadness in leaving Utah

By Carole Mikita | Posted - Nov 20th, 2012 @ 7:58pm


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OGDEN — After 68 years in Utah, six Catholic nuns are saying farewell to the Ogden community they love.

Inside the Mount Benedict Monastery Tuesday, the sisters said their choice to leave is bittersweet. Their beautiful chapel, with a view of the mountains, brings nature and prayer together for the nuns, who belong to the Order of St. Benedict.

St. Benedict was born in the 5th Century to a wealthy family in Italy. While studying Rome, he rejected the corruption. He and his twin sister, Scholastica, sought lives of faith, and eventually founded monasteries for men and women.

"To live together and to help each other, as it were, on the way to holiness," Sister Mary Zenzen explained, "as well as doing, as Benedict said, things in the community that need to be done."


"When the sisters were going to Rome for classes they would say, 'Wouldn't you like to go to Rome?' And I said, 'No, I'd rather go to Moab.'"

The six nuns — one has left ahead of the others — have been in Ogden since 1948, but their monastery wasn't completed until 1999. All have worked, some for decades, in health care and education.

But fewer women are choosing the monastic life, so the nuns will return to St. Benedict Monastery in St. Joseph, Minn., where they all trained for their vocations.

"I've been here 48 years," said Sister Danile Knicht, prioress at Mount Benedict Monastery. "The people I have come in contact with and become very close to, those are the ones who will be hard to leave for me."

And the women love this state.

"When the sisters were going to Rome for classes they would say, ‘Wouldn't you like to go to Rome?' And I said, ‘No, I'd rather go to Moab,'" said Sister Luke Sochette.

"Minnesota is beautiful, and I like it, but Utah has its own characteristics; and the people here have been so good to the sisters over the years," she said.

The sisters say they now have a Realtor, and they hope for a buyer who will not only maintain the beauty of the property, but work to keep the peaceful feeling that is found at the monastery.

The sisters' St. Benedict's Foundation, which contains 5-million dollars in holdings, will go to the United Way of Northern Utah and the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, with plans to distribute it over 10 years.

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