Support for Being Benedictine

As I travel the country speaking to many different groups, it is clear that there is intense yearning for the Benedictine values of listening, community, consensus, hospitality, prayer, and service. Within monasteries, a certain way of life is fading, but new ways of living the Benedictine charism are being born. Our role is to pause, reflect, and assist in that birth. We are on the verge of a new Benedictine era that is just as meaningful and significant as any of the major reforms of the past. These are challenging, but exciting times to be a part of the great and enduring Benedictine narrative. — Judith Valente, Oblate, Being Benedictine co-chair, retreat guide and author

Hugh Feiss OSBThere are obviously momentous changes occurring in religious life right now. Among Benedictines, the growth in numbers of oblates is one of those changes. What it means, what opportunities it presents, are urgent questions that this conference aims to explore. It should help uncover some answers. — Hugh Feiss, OSB, writer and monk, Monastery of the Ascension, Jerome, Idaho 

Mary Lou Kownacki OSBIf Saint Benedict were born in our times, what kind of community would he imagine?  What kind of prayer would he recommend?  What values would he emphasize? What spiritual needs would he address? The same as in the 6th century?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But won’t it be challenging, and fun too, attending the Being Benedictine in the 21st Century conference and exploring questions such as these with other monastic seekers? — Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, Coordinator, Monasteries of the Heart 

Jerome KodellThe vision of Benedict has often come to our aid when our world was passing through turbulent times. But the application of his vision is not always clear and certainly not self-evident. Benedict tells us not to pre-judge where the answer will come from but to listen to all, because anyone may be the channel for God’s voice. This conference is a unique opportunity to listen together in prayer for that holy voice. —Jerome Kodell, OSB, author and Abbot Emeritus Subiaco Abbey, Subiaco, Arkansas

Jodi Blazek GehrWe live in challenging times, but there is comfort in knowing that we are not the first generation to do so. Since the 6th century, many have faced challenges by listening to the wisdom of the Rule of the St. Benedict. Being Benedictine is the foundation of my life, a commitment to lifelong learning and prayer. Being Benedictine is experienced by following the promises of obedience, stability, and conversion of life. I look forward to meeting other spiritual seekers on the journey to Being Benedictine at the Being Benedictine in the 21st Century: Spiritual Seekers in Conversation Conference. — Jodi Blazek Gehr, Oblate, retreat leader, SoulFully You and Being Benedictine blogger

Martin ShannonWhen I think of the future of Benedictine life, I look at my children and grandchildren. Could such a sentence have made any sense 25 years ago? As a member of an ecumenical Benedictine community of families together with celibate women and men, I am the beneficiary of Benedictine monasticism spreading beyond its traditional boundaries. Being Benedictine in the 21st Century promises to further the conversation of those who listen to and speak the language of St. Benedict, and it is precisely through such conversation that the spreading continues. —Martin Shannon, Community of Jesus, past president, American Benedictine Academy

Mary Margaret Funk, OSBConversation seldom does justice to the past, but always ignites the present into wonder. We Benedictines know each other well and the conversation has just begun into this 21st century. — Mary Margaret Funk, OSB, writer; advocate for interreligious dialogue; former prioress

There are two ways of approaching the future. One is to sit around and wait for it to arrive. The other is to seek to influence it by becoming aware of the dynamic forces that will shape its emergence. The theme of Being Benedictine in the 21st Century endeavours, by taking soundings from various points in the Benedictine world, to discern what are the most life-giving pathways to the future, and to understand what are the lineaments of our mission in bringing about positive outcomes. —Michael Casey OCSO, Cistercian monk of Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia; author and lecturer on monastic spirituality.

Lynn McKenzie, OSBIn recent years I have had opportunities through the international organization of Benedictine women (Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum) to see Benedictine life and spirituality in a much broader context than I had ever experienced before. I have seen the universality of the Rule of St. Benedict as it is lived by nuns and sisters across continents, cultures and languages. Benedictine monastic life is rich and diverse. Come, let’s continue to explore what it has to offer to our world! — Lynn Marie McKenzie, OSB, President, Federation of St. Scholastica; Moderator, Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum

Katie GordonIn the midst of the collapse of empire in the 6th century, Benedict wrote of a model for community that sustained life and spiritual tradition for centuries to come. Today, in the midst of our own societal and global crises, how can Benedictine wisdom help carry us forward into a more communal, contemplative future? This conference invites us all to have a voice in the conversation, and will inspire us to collectively discern how Benedictine spirituality speaks to our own times in prophetic ways. — Katie Gordon, M.T.S., Nuns & Nones national organizer

Kerry O'Reilly, OSBBenedictine women religious, seekers and pray-ers, living in community, learning to love have always responded to the call the Church. When needed we become do-ers and organizers, developers of systems and challengers to the status quo. What is God calling us to now? Perhaps the most important first thing is to Listen. Listen to the people of today and the cry of the earth. Then the quiet and persistent whisper of the Spirit giving hints. We can do this together at the Being Benedictine in the 21st Century Conference. — Kerry O’Reilly, OSB, President, Federation of Saint Benedict

Antoinette Purcell OSBSince 1947 the American Benedictine Academy has cultivated, supported and helped transmit the Benedictine heritage within contemporary culture through research, publications, and conferences. We hope to continue to serve in that capacity even while we explore with cohorts who participate in the upcoming conference, “Being Benedictine in the 21st Century: Spiritual Seekers in Conversation. The more we can share and dream together the better the possibility of meeting the challenges at hand and our future as one in mind and heart. — Antoinette Purcell, OSB, President, American Benedictine Academy