Meet Us

We express our gratitude to our friend Guy Atchley for his individual portraits of our Sisters.

Sr. Victoria

Our prioress, Vicki is also one of the foundresses of our monastery. A Cistercian Prioress is a leader and more—a friend, spiritual guide, image of the Cistercian spirit, and (with her marvelous smile and gift of ready humor) sustainer of morale. She holds down several jobs in the community, taking her turn at common chores. And in Vicki’s case, selflessly acting as principal driver. The position of prioress is a function and more, an honor and more, a life-sustaining presence to a vibrant and striving community.

Sr. Rita

Rita has been in charge of our principal industry, the production and mailing of Altar Breads, for over twenty years. She also takes care of the bookkeeping for monastery and Altar Breads, is our novice mistress, and acts as sub-prioress with a steady and encouraging personality. Her cheerful support to the prioress and her sisters is a great gift to Vicki and to each of us.

Sr. Clare

Both a foundress and a Diamond (!) Jubilarian, Clare is a living testament to the life in which she has been immersed over decades of both change and stability. Now in her 90’s she inspires us with her gifts of wit and courage in the face of the challenges and the privileges of aging, her wonderful stories of the early days at our mother house (where she was among the very first postulants) and our Arizona house, her love of life and sense of adventure, and above all with her love of Jesus and dedication to prayer. She serves both us and our callers as portress during half of almost every day. Her talents as iconographer and weaver have enriched and delighted us.

Sr. Jacqui

Jacqui is our gift from the British Isles, a delightful little person who fills many niches in our life of service to the People of God. Helper of everybody in need, generous and smiling, lover of the American Southwest with its expansive sky and mountainous landscape, Jacqui’s greatest gift is the presence of a person who embodies a long and faithful living out of Cistercian ideals and practice. She is also a Diamond Jubilarian, celebrating her 60th anniversary of vows in May 2017.

Sr. Miriam

Miri is a transplant from our Mother House in Massachusetts, who has taken root in the simplicity and warmth of our Arizona home. Our prioress from 2000 to 2012, she keeps our monastic library well-supplied with excellent books for our on-going formation. The community basks in the warmth and sweetness of her gentle smile. Our neighborhood ravens, also, are very fond of her, waiting daily for her to appear with gifts of stale bread. The whole of the natural world is a great source of joy to her.

Sr. Esther

Esther spent many years as a pillar of our altar bread bakery crew. She still lends a hand there when needed, but in recent years, she has had more time to further her gifts as an artist. Her sculptures grace many homes and churches throughout the country.  The authenticity of her prayer is reflected in each piece. The “extraordinary” extends to her culinary efforts and her gardening, as well as her dazzling smile. She celebrated her Golden Jubilee (50 years of vows) in March 2017.

Sr. Kate

An exemplar of the generous and thoughtful, we are grateful for the often unseen kindnesses that spill from a personality sweetly geared to service and the happiness of the other. It is not only her happy presence at Altar Bread work, the lovely table decorations for feasts, and the multitude of large and small beauties she provides, but simply for a presence that cheers and enjoys and brings peace. She celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2015.

Sr. Pam

Being the kind of person who does everything well, Pam, our almost-native Arizonan, is the great rescuer. From computer glitches to leaky plumbing to an exquisite voice as chantress in choir, to a cheerfully social disposition, our “tall Redhead” is a gift of God to the needs of a monastic family. If she has a fault it is that she has too many projects going all at the same time and is trying to get them all done before Vespers tonight! She takes great joy in sharing about our monastic way of life with the young women who attend our monastic experience weekends.

Sr. Margarita

Margarita has been our guest mistress off and on for many years. She also stays busy as our nurse-in-chief and as manager of the kitchen and menu department—in addition to the good humor and good sense department—as well as to the department of monastic integrity. She is happiest with a pile of interesting books to read–everything from monastic spirituality to natural science to “nice” murder mysteries. She finds God in everyone she meets, and her constant prayer is that everyone will come to know how deeply God loves them. She celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2016.

Sr. Hildegard

Hildegard, a native of Kenya, felt called to the monastic life from a young age. When her call persisted over the years, the Trappist monks at Our Lady of Victoria in Kenya recommended her to the Abbaye N.-D. de Bonne-Esperance in Echourgnac, France. She entered our Order there in 2002. Her English skills quickly came back to her. Just as quickly she has learned to love our community and our corner of the American Southwest. She is one of our dinner cooks, helps clean the retreat house, and works in the altar bread bakery. In the bakery she has learned to mix the batter (a challenging job, getting the viscosity just right!) and operate the baking machine. She cheerfully lends a hand wherever needed. Around the monastery hers is a graceful, gentle presence with a beautiful smile.

Sr. Sharon

Postulant Sharon became Sister Sharon on March 25, 2020 when she was clothed in the Cistercian habit and began her novitiate. Sharon grew up in Texas and worked several years in the physical therapy profession. Here in the monastery she is learning new skills, including how to read the chant notation we use at the Divine Office and how to bake altar breads. She takes a turn cooking dinner once a week, cleans the retreat house, and generally lends a hand around the monastery wherever needed. Her eagerness to give herself to God and to learn our Cistercian way inspires us all to live our vocation more deeply.

Photos of Sr. Hildgard and Postulant Sharon by Santa Rita Abbey