by Julie A. Ferraro
Special to The Leaven
ATCHISON — After being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a very special eucharistic celebration took place in St. Scholastica Chapel at Mount St. Scholastica here on May 15.
The perpetual profession of vows as a Benedictine for Sister Jennifer Halling had originally been planned for September 2021. In order for Sister Jennifer’s family to attend, the liturgy was rescheduled.
Abbot James Albers of St. Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison, presided at the Mass. Sister Esther Fangman, prioress of Mount St. Scholastica, accepted Sister Jennifer’s vows on behalf of the community. More than six dozen Sisters present welcomed Sister Jennifer with promises to support her in her vocation, and special blessings.
Also during the ceremony, Sister Jennifer received a gold ring with the initials “IHS” — a Greek inscription for the name of Jesus — blessed by the abbot and slipped on the third finger of her left hand by Sister Esther as a symbol of her union with Christ.
Sister Jennifer entered Mount St. Scholastica in 2016. She professed first vows — stability, fidelity to the monastic way of life and obedience — as a Benedictine in 2018.
The daughter of the late Luke A. Halling and the late Dolores (Will), Sister Jennifer grew up in Leavenworth, graduating from Immaculata High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Benedictine College, Atchison, and a master’s degree in pastoral counseling from Loyola College in Baltimore. She worked as a manuscript editor for a medical publishing company and a freelance copy editor prior to entering religious life. She also served on the staff at Shantivanam House of Prayer, Easton, and volunteered at the Catholic Worker House in St. Louis, while being active in social justice issues and prison ministry.
In the monastic community, Sister Jennifer serves as editor of Mount St. Scholastica’s twice-yearly magazine, Threshold, as well as Benedictines, a journal that is also published twice each year. She writes “The Monastic Call” (https://themonasticcall.blogspot.com), a blog, and serves as a director for the Atchison oblates, lay people who affiliate with the monastery in following the Rule of St. Benedict.
“Being a Benedictine Sister is integral to my life and ministry because it helps my work become a prayer,” said Sister Jennifer. “My life as a Benedictine Sister, with its focus on communal prayer and community, increases my awareness of the presence of God no matter what I am doing.”
Sister Jennifer’s family has a rich history with Mount St. Scholastica. Local history records that the Hallings were among those who welcomed and protected the first Benedictine Sisters when they arrived in Atchison in 1863. As a nod to those ancestors who kept night watch over the Sisters, lanterns were used as decorations in the chapel and for the reception, which followed the Mass in the monastery’s dining room, bringing together Sister Jennifer’s family, friends and guests.
Sister Jennifer will be pursuing her certification as a spiritual director through the Souljourners program offered by the Sophia Spirituality Center at Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison. She looks forward to continued spiritual growth as a Benedictine, seeing her ministry within the community as a source of strength.
“It helps me stay centered and provides me with the structure and support I need to effectively share my gifts and talents with others,” she said.