I’m Sister Cathleen – also known as “The Soap Sister”! I am a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and I am a hand-crafted soap maker. Our monastery is located in the beautiful rolling hills of northwest Missouri… a perfect spot for my monastic soul, a great location for my soap-making endeavors, but not so conveniently located for meeting friends like you. Hence - this blog! I am so happy to be able to share more about my life and connect with yours through cyberspace.
Many people have wondered how a Catholic sister became a soap maker... well, it all started about 15 years ago with a bar of soap. I have always loved working with my hands and when I received a lovely bar of handmade soap as a gift, I wondered…could make something like it myself?
After two years of study and research, I holed myself up in a spare broom closet and got to work. I shared my first efforts with my sisters in community. They responded favorably so I began making more and more. My tiny crock pot soon became four crock pots. Eventually those four pots turned into two steam kettles which became a thriving little cottage industry. The sale of these soaps helps to support my monastic community here in Clyde, Missouri. And even after thirteen years of soap-making, I still love doing it.
Part of what has sustained my interest and kept my heart in this business is my connection with those who use my soap. From the beginning, I wanted to connect my life of prayer with the work of my hands. I began adding a few drops of holy water to each batch along with my prayer for all those who would use the soap. This is a small but meaningful way to symbolize God’s presence in even the simplest and humblest things in our lives - the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
There are so many wonderful things about hand crafted soap. I think the best part is the natural ingredient list. Isn’t it amazing that most of what goes into my soap are items you could also use in your kitchen? Cocoa butter, shea butter, almond oil, rice bran oil, and several other oils are also what make my soap so great for your skin. The exquisite and extensive fragrances add just the right amount of scent – enough that it lingers on your skin yet does not overpower you (or those around you!). The final loving touches are seen in the packaging. The soaps are cut and packaged in individually made cloth bags and sealed with our monastery’s logo.
So… that’s a bit of history of how I began this adventure. I hope to share more with you on this blog about my life, about my community, about soap making, and about me.
Right now, my favorite scent is Black Raspberry Vanilla, our most popular fragrance is Swiss Lavender – what’s your favorite? I welcome your feedback about my soaps and your suggestions for new scents.
One of our Benedictine mottos is “that in all things God may be glorified.” I truly feel that this little soap making endeavor does glorify God by using the natural gifts of creation and by putting my God- given talents and my prayer into a product that delights those who use it! I hope to be able to praise God through this work for many years to come. And I look forward to hearing from you and getting to know you better!
Peace and blessings
Your “Soap Sister” – Sr. Cathleen, osb