Benedictine nuns prepare to leave Piedmont monastery

A Benedictine order of nuns who live at the Red Plains Monastery, also called the Red Plains Spirituality Center, are preparing to close down in fall 2012.
BY CARLA HINTON chinton@opubco.com Modified: October 3, 2011 at 1:21 am •  Published: October 3, 2011
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— The Red Plains Monastery on the outskirts of west Oklahoma City has long been called a place of peace.

A small group of Benedictine nuns has been an integral part of that peaceful atmosphere, but that is about to change.

Sister Jan Futrell, Red Plains' prioress, said the nuns are preparing to close their Piedmont home at 728 Richland Road and move permanently to Atchison, Kan., to become a part of daily life at another Benedictine monastery.

Futrell said the Red Plains sisters officially joined the Mount St. Scholastica order in Kansas in 2009 mainly because of the aging of the Piedmont nuns and the fact that there are fewer people joining religious orders across the country.

Those same reasons figured into the nuns' eventual decision to move to the Kansas monastery permanently.

Futrell said four of the older Red Plains sisters already have moved to Mount St. Scholastica.

She said one sister moved to Kansas on Friday and two others will make the move in March. Futrell said the last four Red Plains sisters, including herself, will remain in Piedmont until September 2012, when they, too, will relocate to their new home.

The Piedmont monastery has been called the Red Plains Spirituality Center since becoming a mission of the larger Kansas monastery. The name is fitting because the sisters are best known for their work as spiritual directors, their spiritual direction program and spiritual retreats.

Red Plains was founded in August 1968 by a group of sisters from St. Joseph Monastery in Tulsa. Members of the new monastery served throughout Oklahoma as pastoral ministers, teachers and counselors. In 1974, they moved to Oklahoma City.

In 1989, the Red Plains sisters moved to Piedmont, when the property on Richland Road was purchased. The 21-acre property with a 4-acre pond consists of several buildings where the nuns live and hold chapel services and spiritual retreat sessions. An art barn for spiritual retreats with an art emphasis and a gift shop was added in 2007.

Spiritual direction

Meanwhile, Futrell said the sisters' leave-taking does not mean their spiritual direction ministry won't continue.

The sisters recently gathered with friends of the monastery to commission three members of the laity, Mary Diane Steltenkamp, Kay Britton and Joanne Forgue, to take over the spiritual direction ministry. It will be operated under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City's Office of Worship and Spiritual Life.

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