Sister Miriam Cosgrove, OSB, joined the Benedictine Sisters of Florida in 1960. As she celebrates 55 years in religious life, she shares with SOAR! the joys of her vocation and her new ministry.

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Following our family move from Detroit, Michigan to Zephyrhills, Florida, my parents first introduced me to farming as a 5-year-old when I fed the turkeys and (wow!) milked our cow. What a thrill to actually see where milk came from!

God chose me at that same tender age to a religious way of life and put a seed of admiration in my soul for my teachers, Franciscan Sisters.

I received my early education from them when I learned an appreciation for what I now know as a contemplative stance to prayer and was given a small vocation prayer card which had an immense impact on my young soul’s development and decision after high school graduation. For seven years it was my nightly prayer.

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Who knew this is where the Divine Author of all life would lead me? Father Damian Duquesne, our last Benedictine chaplain said, (10-21-98) “Once we understand how fortunate we are, we must act.”  Prayer leads to action. This same holy monk influenced my brother to become a priest and so Father Mark Francis Cosgrove suggested I try the Benedictine Sisters in Saint Leo and guided me through the challenges of early religious life.

All my life I have appreciated Saint Francis’ love for creation and the earth and even more so now in this fish farming phase of life’s new adventure.

We often hear about a change of life, and I’m here to tell you I didn’t even know my life needed changing! This Benedictine community moved into our newly constructed monastery in August, 2014.  Now, in this new building, I change shoes when I come in from the garden to protect our shiny floors often wearing only socks, change from “clean chapel attire to earthy, water, and fish clothes,” change at a moment’s notice from tasks at hand to give curious visitors a tour of the aquaponics garden.

For many years, I had a desire to learn about aquaponics after seeing a brochure from Morningstar Fishermen but knew it wasn’t the time yet. I’m never too old to learn a new way to learn, and since the training, my brain is bursting with new ideas. Prior to installation of our aquaponics system Christmas eve, 2014, I created art projects, calligraphy, respect life posters, photography for inspirational note cards, made Nifty Knitter hats for Detroit soup kitchen patrons,  raised vegetables and papayas at our previous site, volunteered at HPH Hospice, and instructed RCIA candidates in faith formation at St. Rita’s parish in Dade City. Prior to that, my life has been as an educator in 5 Florida cities for 20 years which our Benedictine Sisters staffed, followed by 23 years as an elementary school guidance counselor in the Pasco County Public Schools.  I seldom watch TV so there’s time to serve in many capacities and my motivation and good health enable me to serve in a new life-giving project.

To read more about Sister Miriam’s aquaponics project, please click here.