St. Walburg Monastery

We Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery, faithful to our monastic profession, seek God in community, prayer and work.

We celebrate the presence of Jesus Christ and serve him in all God's people, the young and the old, the sick and the poor, the stranger and the guest.


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Sr. Esther O'Hara died, January 31, 2018. Sr. Esther entered St. Walburg Monastery in 1947. She received a BA in Elementary Education from Villa Madonna College (now Thomas More College) in 1957; in 1965 she received a certificate in Library Science from the same college.

Sr. Esther began teaching the first grade at Holy Cross School in 1949. From 1950-56 she worked with cerebral palsy children at St. Benedict School. From 1957-1969 she taught elementary education in many schools--St. Joseph, Crescent Springs; St. James, Brooksville; Mary, Queen of Heaven, St. Therese, St. Anthony, St. Paul and St. Francis, Falmouth. From 1969-74 she was the school librarian at Bishop Howard School.

She was in charge of transportation at St. Walburg Monastery 1974-78. She was part of the staff at Villa Hills Day Care Center from 1981-1984. From 1984-1988 she was librarian at St. Lawrence School in Cincinnati, Ohio
Beginning in 1988 she became a free-lance storyteller, ventriloquist and balloon sculptor. She won an award at the 33rd Appalachian Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio, for storytelling and she was an enthusiastic volunteer at the Cincinnati Zoo.

     Funeral arrangements for Sr. Esther

Tuesday, Feb. 6: Vigil & Visitation:
7 pm--Monastery Chapel

Wednesday, Feb.7- 5 pm
Mass of Christian Burial
Monastery Chapel
Please remember Sr. Esther in your prayers.


Sister Philomena Rarreick died on January 16, 2018. Her Vigil service will be held on Sunday, January 21at 7 PM in the monastery chapel. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 5:00 pm, Monday, January 22 at St. Walburg Monastery. Sr. Philomena will be interred in St. Walburg Monastery Cemetery on Tuesday morning. Memorials may be made to St. Walburg Monastery, 2500 Amsterdam Rd., Villa Hills, KY.


Click here for official obituary.



To read the Winter 2017 issue of LEAVEN, click here.

To read the 2017 issue of the Oblates Newsletter, click here.


Remembrance of Rev. John W. Cahill (1947-2017)

       The funeral liturgy offers the opportunity for some words of remembrance on Fr. Cahill. I offer both mine and those suggested by members of our community.  

       In the early ‘70s I was assigned to work in the first diocesan Office of Religious Education under the direction of Fr. Fleming who took staff members on a tour of several parishes in southeastern Kentucky. One of our last stops was a memorable lunch with John’s gracious mother in Drift, KY.  

       In 2005 I was working in the marriage tribunal, housed then in the former St. Pius X seminary building.  Sr. Rita Brink, our prioress at the time, remarked one day that our chaplain was going to be transferred. Never having met Fr. Cahill, I mentioned to Rita that there was no weekday Eucharist celebrated at Cristo Rey, the Hispanic parish where John was pastor. John became our chaplain on July 1, 2005 while remaining pastor of Cristo Rey. 

       John would often join us for holiday or feast day celebrations and occasionally, in his healthier years, fill in as a needed fourth player for a euchre or pinochle game. We, however, really got to know him through his role as priest and celebrant.  

       John always came to Eucharist prepared. It was common for him to draw on his academic background in philosophy and theology. Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and various scripture scholars were obvious. After a few years, he would include teaching from the Rule of Benedict. And I’ve been told that God’s providence was often a theme when he was chaplain for the Sisters of Divine Providence. He celebrated Eucharist knowing his congregation. 

       From the beginning we learned and experienced his commitment to, and passion for the Church’s teaching on social justice. He used pen and spoken word to remind his readers and hearers of the plight of the poor, immigrants and the powerless. Frequently John would close his homily by extending his hand toward the altar—a gesture reminding us of the connection between what we do outside the chapel and what we offer on the altar at Eucharist. His commitment and desire to celebrate Eucharist was last evidenced in his final days in St. E’s ICU when he told Sr. Colleen that he missed celebrating Eucharist with us. He knew he was no longer able to do so.  

        Floyd County certainly left its mark on the person, John. Love of the land, coal mining and miners would occasionally be part of a homily. In his later years at Madonna Manor he could be seen porch sitting-- greeting neighbors and passersby. He worked on his flowers and tomatoes in a tiny garden in front of his cottage. Next spring that tiny yard will be filled with the hundred or so blooming crocus blubs he recently planted.  

        I surmise that John acquired his commitment to learning and his love of nature, music, beauty, art and travel at an early age. These formed him into a person who respected and was comfortable with diverse cultures. That also may explain why he was a good chaplain. Monastic life and women religious definitely have a culture all their own. John had more than respect for us and our culture. He got it.  

       In John’s request that I give this remembrance he asked that I tell you, and I now quote: “about my profound respect and admiration for religious women . . . and the joy I experienced and the inspiration I received while serving (and being served by) them”. And we say, “The feeling is mutual.” 

        John’s life and service were gifts to the diocese and its people. The hallmarks of his priestly vocation were visible in his devotion and commitment to the Eucharist and in his work as pastor, homilist, teacher, and advocate for those in need. He will be missed by all whose who shared his culture, convictions, joys, sorrows, and his own very interesting journey through life.


Prioress, St. Walburg Monastery

Memorials for John may be made to: The Benedictine Sisters, St. Walburg Monastery, 2500 Amsterdam Rd. Villa Hills, KY 41017 or the Congregation of Divine Providence Sisters, 2200 St. Anne Drive, Melbourne, KY 41059.



Congratulations to our 2017



Back: (left to right); Sr. Mary Tewes, celebrating 60 years, Sr. Mary Catherine Wenstrup, Prioress, Sr. Emmanuel Pieper, celebrating 70 years. Front: (left to right): Sr. Ann John Kotch, celebrating 50 years and Sr. Estelle Schulte, celebrating 70 years.

The Jubilee celebration was held on Saturday, September 30, 2017 at Evening Prayer in the monastery chapel, followed by a festive meal.



To read the Summer 2017 issue of LEAVEN click here.


     On the evening of August 3 Sr. Joann Dziolek died at St. Walburg Monastery Infirmary.
     Sr. Joann entered Our Lady of Sorrows Priory, Oak, Forest, Il in 1955. In 1973 she earned a B.S. in education from DePaul University. She served as an elementary school teacher in the Chicago area form 1957-75. From 1970-75 she was also novice director at Our Lady of Sorrows Priory as well.
     In 1975 she came to St. Walburg Monastery and transferred her vow of stability in 1997. She taught first grade at St. Henry Parish and St. Paul Parish from 1975-1980. from 1980-91 she taught in the primary grades at Villa Madonna Academy. She retired from teaching in 1991.
     Sr. Joann enjoyed watching all kinds of sports and was a fan of any Michigan team because she was born in Free Soil, Michigan.
     Vigil and Visitation for Sr. Joann at 7 pm Sunday, August 6 in the monastery chapel; Mass of Christian Burial at 5:20 pm Monday, August 7 in the monastery chapel. Memorials can be made to St. Walburg Monastery, 2500 Amsterdam Rd., Villa Hills, KY 41017.

Click here for official obituary.


The Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery are pleased to announce that Ashley Commercial Group, LLC, with whom we have a purchase agreement to buy 85 acres of monastery property, will call the new development: Sanctuary. The word stems from the Latin, sanctus meaning holy. For us and for many of you, the word is identified with that place in the chapel where Eucharist is celebrated. It can also mean a place of safety, refuge, rest, and haven.


In an email, Bill Kreutzjans, Jr. of Ashley said: "We felt this name captured many of our aspirations for the property." The Benedictine Sisters are very pleased with this name.





Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg

 Monastery contract to sell land in Villa Hills to developer


June 29, 2017


VILLA HILLS, Ky. -- The Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery and Ashley Commercial Group LLC have announced they have entered into a contract to purchase 85 acres on Amsterdam Road that overlooks the Ohio River.


The real estate has been the subject of much study and public input over the past two years.  Ashley Commercial Group will unveil its development plan, which will be guided by recommendations from The City of Villa Hills; the Benedictine Sisters; and the Villa Hills Study, a joint land-use planning effort managed by Planning and Development Services of Kenton County.


“We are very pleased that Ashley Commercial Group and their partners have been inspired by the small-area study in developing their plans for this property,” said Butch Callery, mayor of Villa Hills. “The City of Villa Hills was very happy to participate in the public process used by the Benedictine Sisters.”


“We are ready to work with the developers as this project proceeds and are excited about what this development means for the future of our community,” Mayor Callery continued.


The Benedictine Sisters are grateful to all who have assisted in this planning process and for the encouragement the order received for its continued presence and ministry in the Villa Hills community.


Ashley Commercial Group looks forward to working with the City of Villa Hills, PDS, and local neighborhood groups as well as its development partners, Ashley Construction, M/I Homes, OHM Advisors, Hub + Weber Architects, and Bayer Becker on this exciting mixed-use community.


About Ashley Commercial Group LLC. Ashley Commercial Group LLC is a full-service development, property-management, construction-services, urban-redevelopment, and asset-management firm dedicated to providing customized, boutique solutions for its clients. To learn more about Ashley Commercial Group LLC, visit:


Sr. Mary Xavier Anneken (95) the oldest member of the community on May 23, 2017 around 2:30 pm. Sr. Xavier was born March 26,1923 to John and Clara Robish Anneken.and entered St. Walburg Monastery on December 27, 1946. She was one of four sisters from the Anneken family to enter St. Walburg Monastery. Sr. Xavier always had a head for numbers and business and although she taught the 5th and 6th grades at St. Henry School in Erlanger from 1950-51, most of her ministry was spent in business offices, especially at Mount Mary Hospital in Hazard, Kentucky, Estill County Hospital (now Marcum-Wallace Hospital) in Irvine, Kentucky and St. Joseph Hospital, Florence, Colorado. From-2011 she was either Transportation Assistant or Transportation Director at SWM. Sr. Xavier loved her time in Eastern Kentucky and had a treasure trove of stories about Eastern Kentucky. She enjoyed reading and was an ardent Cincinnati Reds fan.

Reception of the Body and Vigil will be held in the monastery chapel on Thursday, May 25 at 7 pm. Mass of Christian Burial will at 4 pm on Friday, May 26 in the chapel, followed by interment in the monastery cemetery. Memorials may be made to St. Walburg Monastery, 2500 Amsterdam Rd, Villa Hills, KY 41017

Click here for official obituary.

Please remember Sr. Xavier in your prayers.



To read the 2017 statement on Racism from the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, click here.


Click here to read the Winter 2016 issue of LEAVEN.

Click here to read the 2016 issue of the Oblate Newsletter.



Click here to read the Oblate Fall 2015 Newsletter
Arcadia Press has published The

Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg


To order a copy, email Sr.

Deborah Harmeling at or call her

 at 859-331-6771.

Proceeds from the book go to

The Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg


You can review the first chapter of the

 book at or







We have a  St. Walburg Monastery blog entitled Reflections from the School

for the Lord's Service. It is a multi-voice blog with different sisters posting every week. New posts will go up on

 Wednesdays. Click here to read.

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