Monday, June 27, 2016

Staying with the Sisters: Summer 2016


My name is Tory Lanaghan, and I am part of Servants to the Sisterhood, a national program that is beginning anew with the Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand. For a whole summer, myself and four other girls will be living, praying, and working with these wonderful women in order to learn what is so special about this order of sisters. When our program is complete, it will be our jobs to draw in women who are interested in monastic life and tell them about this truly incredible community. I decided that the best way to tackle this monstrous task is by writing to all of you, the families and friends of these sisters, so that you might get a behind-the-scenes look at this community and the things that they have done and still do to change this world.

But before I begin, I want to tell you a little about myself and the faith journey that has led me to the Sisters of St. Benedict.

I am a junior at Murray State University, majoring in Public Relations and Creative Writing. My hometown is Millstadt, IL, just thirty minutes southeast of St. Louis, where I have lived with my parents and my older sister Shea for my whole life.

My parents, Jon and Connie 
My sister, Shea, is on the left.

I grew up Catholic, attending St. James Grade School in Millstadt and Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville. I became an active member of my parish’s youth group when I turned 13, which first connected me to Ferdinand.

Though I was too young to go, my mother and sister were part of the first youth group to ever take a mission trip to Ferdinand’s sisters nine years ago. The sisters were a bit tentative when the group showed up, having teenagers live on their campus was pretty wild, but within the first day, the kids had finished the five-days-worth-of-work list and the sisters had to scramble to find more things for them to do. We were told they fell in love with us. 

Scraping walls free of glue on
Mission Trip 2015
Two years later, I was able to join my youth group for my first trip and the experience blew me away. The grounds were beautiful, almost as beautiful as the women they are a home to. It was truly an experience and serving the sisters set me off on a love for others and a passion for service that has continued throughout my life. Every single summer, I came, making my way up the ranks from youth to adult leader and reconnecting with God each time I went to morning prayer.

Honduras Senior Service
Trip 2014

Even after all of this, when the sisters asked both my sister and I to join in this first project, I was nervous. My connection with the Church and God had to be tenuous at best since I had been to college, and though the mission trips always revitalized and affirmed my love for Jesus(and his love for me), I was not sure how I would be able to handle an entire summer of prayer. I was worried that I would be different than the other three girls who were coming, that they would be more like my sister, who is going to receive her masters in Theological Studies, and I would be a bit of an outcast with my non-traditional and rocky faith journey.

But I knew that I loved service, and if I wanted to stick with my life mission of making a difference in the world, this would be a perfect opportunity to find myself in the depths of service and prayer, and so, here I am, in this beautiful little house in Ferdinand Indiana, beginning my first week of waking up at 6 a.m. to go to prayer, learning the layout of this huge campus, and scratching the surface of the loving community these sisters have welcomed me into.

Though it has only been three days since I arrived, I have learned more about what it means to be a servant of the Lord than I could have done in years on my own and I certainly look forward to discovering exactly the life these wonderful women lead. I hope that many of you will follow me on this faith journey. I will enjoy sharing it with you.

Thanks for listening,
Tory Lanaghan

Isaiah 6:8 – And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”


  1. God has a plan for you, Tory, Tory.

  2. You are so special... thanks for saying yes to service and specifically to the program. Wish I was there.

  3. You can't visit "the Hill" and not come back changed for the better. The Sisters have that gracious influence over everyone. I grew up with that influence all of my life--Sisters as grade school teachers, attended the boarding school Academy for high school, and constant contact ever since. I am so glad that you can experience the love and hospitality that is their trademark. BTW, I enjoyed taking your sister Shea to Gethsemane in June! Theresa Bauer

    1. Looking back on this summer as I am now, I could never have expected the outcome and I am changing still. You are right Theresa -- these women change the world and it is just incredible to have the opportunity to see into the inner workings of this community.

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