Cistercian Sisters seek prayers and support to build new monastery Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 -- 12:00 AM
cistercians pray and work

PRAIRIE DU SAC -- In 1957, six Cistercian Sisters from Switzerland came to Wisconsin at the request of Bishop William P. O’Connor, bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Madison.

Since their founding at Valley of Our Lady Monastery in Prairie du Sac, this community of cloistered Cistercian Sisters has grown. Their community currently consists of 22 Sisters, ranging in age from 23 to 89.

Contemplative monastic life

The Sisters live a contemplative monastic life with a rhythm of prayer and work. They are perhaps best known for making of altar breads, supplying about 13 million breads each year to churches around the country.

About 10 years ago, the community received an unprecedented influx of vocations within a short span of time. This growth spurt brought the community nearly to capacity in their current buildings.

It should be noted that the current buildings in which the Sisters live were never intended to be a permanent monastery. The condition of the buildings has deteriorated.

Plan for new monastery

Therefore, the nuns have drawn up a master plan for a new, lasting Cistercian monastery. It will be built on a secluded 229-acre farm in Iowa County.

The goal is to raise a total of $18 million for the project, which will be accomplished in phases. The Sisters have already raised about half of their phase I goal of $10 to $12 million.

Phase I will provide sufficient living quarters with room for growth; an altar bread workshop where the Sisters can continue to work to support themselves; and a temporary chapel and guest quarters.

Phase II will complete the building with a beautiful church and guesthouse.

Asking for prayers and support

“It is difficult for us to ask for anything, since we have already received so much in our vocations, and have in a sense God Himself,” said Sister Mary Bede, O.Cist., the Sister assigned to the fundraising aspect of the project. “But we realize how important this project is, for ourselves, certainly, but also for the Diocese and the entire Church.

“So we are now humbly but earnestly asking everyone to consider offering their prayers and their financial help and support, at the most meaningful levels they can, to help us build this beautiful new monastery, where we can continue to live our tradition quietly and peacefully, for many generations to come, and for God’s glory.”

With a team of professional consultants and advisors, the Sisters have completed a master plan for a simple but beautiful monastery that will embody in a unique way the principles of their Cistercian tradition: beauty, simplicity, balance, and austerity.

They continue their research of materials that will be the most sustainable, durable, and maintainable, within their limited budget and with a careful eye to their ability to pay for ongoing operational expenses.

Although the Sisters work to support themselves through altar bread making, they do not accumulate wealth. So in order to build a new monastery, they must pray for and trust in the help of those who are able to participate in this work by providing the material means necessary.

For more information

To find out more about the plans, including a video about the Sisters’ life of prayer and work, visit

For information about gift opportunities, or for more information about this project and the capital campaign, contact: Sister Bede, Valley of Our Lady, E11096 Yanke Dr., Prairie du Sac, WI 53578, phone 608-643-3520, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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