Nestled the expansive landscape of South Dakota, a community of women have been living their best lives since 1889, when their Swedish sisters “relocated to the bluffs of the Missouri River in Yankton.”
The Sisters of the Sacred Heart Monastery have been perfecting the craft of living a life immersed in spirituality and they have a lot to offer the right young woman seeking to be closer to—and in service of—God.
The kinship that comes part and parcel with being a “Yankton Benedictine” is a truly gratifying and wonderful life.
These women truly live according to their beliefs, in harmony with one another and the world around them. Their order is composed of a group of unwaveringly committed people united in passion and purpose making the world a better place. It is a model for those seeking a more peaceful and enlightened existence.
Too bad too few people know about it.
ISO Women 18-25 who hear the Call and CAN’T NOT answer. We know you’re out there.
Geopolitical and social forces have sequestered the “Life of a Sister” to the back burner of secular consciousness. If you don’t dress in habit, carry a stern demeanor, and pace the classroom in disapproval a la Hollywood depictions, people don’t really know you’re a thing.
And that’s a shame, because every day this group of devout women work to deepen their relationship with God, inspired by the philosophies of St. Benedict that focus on living in community with one another and assuming a vocation of spiritual enrichment.
Gone are the days of nuns in Catholic schools (secular teachers were introduced in the 1960s, reducing the visibility the Sisters had enjoyed in Catholic family life since the very first nun. Population trends toward smaller family size means that well-meaning aunts/uncles/grandparents/priests/friends stop suggesting “the life” and start pressuring, instead, for grandkids. Add a steady decrease in the traditional church experience for many American families, and it’s fair to say that nuns have become less of a staple and more of a curiosity.
Doing nothing about this problem of a general lack of awareness and little visibility despite all of the wonderful opportunities open to the right kind of women would be the least Benedictine thing ever.
Rather than fading into quiet obscurity these sage do-ers/problemsolvers put their forward-thinking heads together and decided to tackle this mountain by approaching it like …
The Sisters understood that the disconnect between their wonderful programs and a steady supply of the just-right young woman was [capital-M]arketing.
The ”miss” was in the messaging. Although their marketing mix had many activities, consistent output, and an interested audience, the overall effort just wasn’t making an impact on the decision-making mind of a future nun (or an influencer thereof).
It was time to go deep on brand, culture, and true purpose; to figure out just who ‘our’ people are, what they’re all about, and how we can build a connection; to define who “we” are, and just what we deliver; to shine the light on what makes us different and uniquely “for” the just right kind of woman and her support network. (Learn more about the Power of Positioning to Build Brand.)
In a pre-COVID world, I could fly to South Dakota and live with the Sisters (and like a Sister) for a few days, immersing myself in the culture. It was 2019, and so I did.
It was an Anthropologist/Culture Maven’s dream come true. Greeted by a lovely lady (my soon-to-be new best friend Sister Bonita) dripping with hospitality and well wishes, the brandventure began in earnest.
Soon after being installed in my room for the next two nights, I met with a large cross section of Sisters, representing various committee leadership, vocations, and ages. Together, we transcribed the core of what the Yankton Benedictines are all about: community, spirituality, and high-performance as a human being.
For the next three days I had the honor and privilege to participate in all walks of “the life,” including prayer, mealtime, and culture. I spent most of my time meeting with a mid-sized cross section of Sisters, representing various committee leadership, vocations, and ages. Together, we unpacked what is in the hearts and minds of our target market and identified the kind of messaging that would appeal to each pain point along their journey to the Sisterhood.
What were the results of this fine work? Well, take a look-see for yourself.
👀 Roll-out session with the Sisters on ZOOM
We’re focused on finding wonderful people to contribute to the community and try the sisterhood on for size through our Volunteer Program. We’re growing interest in the Spiritual Retreats at the Peace Center. And more importantly, we’re planting a flag in the center of modern life, a place for people who want to add their story to the 1500 year history of Gospel living in the light of St. Benedict.
“You are something very special. It was such a treat to have you here with us for a few days. I pray that Kourtney is able to implement some of what you worked out with us.”