Mrs. Phyllis Thompson, an Oblate of Saint Benedict affiliated with Annunciation Monastery in Bismarck, North Dakota, will be a guest speaker at Saint Vincent on Sunday, May 16, at 6:45 P.M. in the Foundations Room in Placid Hall. Her talk, entitled “The Cellarer in Each of Us: Some reflections on the Rule of St. Benedict 31:10-11,” is being sponsored by the local Oblates of Saint Benedict. Mrs. Thompson has written many articles on Benedictine spirituality and has given numerous retreats and presentations to Benedictine monks and sisters and to Oblates of Saint Benedict. The presentation will last until 8:00 P.M. It is open to the public and is free of charge.
Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, a city with no Benedictine community, Phyllis’ education was “ecumenical.” She benefited from teaching by Belgian Marian Sisters through parochial school at her parish and high school at the Sisters’ motherhouse for the Eastern US province. She received an AB at Franciscan Rosary Hill College, and an MA from the Jesuit Canisius College. That undergrad and grad work was in English.
Doctoral studies then took her to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, for course work only in 19th century American Literature and a sub-area in Early American Philosophy and Theology. In Madison she met and married a fellow grad student in English.
Employment took Phyllis and her husband to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in ’70 where both taught in the provincial university’s English Dept. Phyllis taught there 16 years before shifting to the college at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster where, for another 5 years, she taught English and was campus minister.
In addition to campus ministry, for 12 years in Saskatoon, Phyllis had an episcopal mandate and oversaw the Catholic ministry in a 238-bed provincial skilled nursing facility. This was a volunteer, but the diocese funded the training required of her to do this.
Phyllis and husband, Claud, retired to Vancouver Island in August ’98 where she continues to do pastoral ministry at a nursing home and where she serves on her parish’s pastoral council and chairs the liturgy committee.
Phyllis has been an Oblate of St. Benedict since June ’93 and has been blessed to attend the biennial Oblate Directors’ meetings since Oblates were first invited – ’97, ’99, ’01, ’03. She was one of the principal speakers at the ’99 gathering. She is associated with the women’s community at Annunciation Monastery in Bismarck, N. Dakota.
Phyllis also is a member of the American Benedictine Academy, since June ’97.
Since retiring, Phyllis has been asked by the Oblate Director at St. Meinrad Archabbey to write the occasional brief essay for the Archabbey’s quarterly Oblate Newsletter. Phyllis has been published in the AMN, the ABR, in Benedictines. She wrote the chapter on Presbyterian minister, Eric Dean, in the ’02 book on relevant deceased Oblates, and received a grant from the ABA in order to assist with the research for that chapter.
Since retiring, too, Phyllis has given numerous retreats and presentations, mostly for Oblates at various Benedictine houses: St. Gertrude’s Monastery in Idaho; Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon; Blue Cloud Abbey in S. Dakota; St. Placid Priory in Washington state; Mt. St. Benedict’s Monastery in Minnesota; St. Benedict’s Monastery in Winnipeg, Manitoba; and House of Bread Monastery in her home city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. Phyllis also returns annually to Saskatchewan’s St. Peter’s College, at the president’s invitation, to give workshops to the faculty/staff on Benedict, the Rule, and Benedictine spirituality.