A New Paradigm Of An Old Tradition
Mutual Mentoring With Those Outside the Community
Examples of external mentoring
The best example I can provide to depict this true monastic hospitality, a truly spiritualizing experience that involved mutual mentoring, is the story of our Sister Francine, who used to minister at our retreat center in her retired years. One weekend a gentleman named Bob came to Kordes for a workshop and met Sister Francine. She asked him questions about himself and, in the midst of the conversation, he said that he had just lost his last living relative, his godmother. She obviously had meant much to him. Francine immediately offered to be Bob's "adopted godmother." Bob accepted gratefully and happily. A relationship was born. Francine mentored Bob in the Benedictine way of life and soon Bob became an oblate. Bob, in turn, has mentored the sisters in the love of his culture, Welsh. He now invites the sisters to spend time at cabins that he owns and rents and he offers to us and to others who visit the hospitality that he experienced from Sister Francine.
I would like to share two very favorable experiences with the media. Yes, believe it or not, we have had some very rewarding and positive encounters with members of the media, during which I experienced mutual mentoring happening. One involved a company called Context Media out of Providence, Rhode Island. The staff members had such a reverence for our monastery, for our way of life and for each sister. They often asked if it was all right to place one of their cameras on a table or floor. For every interview, the director told us that if we were not comfortable with the question or our response, she could pull it and not use it. I recall that during my interview I was saying that I did not feel I could fully explain my vocation, that part of it is a mystery. The cameraman jumped in at that point and talked about the mystery in his marriage and said that he is Catholic. The deep conversation about vocation and faith and God left us all mutually mentored.
The other example is more recent, involving a gentleman who worked as director and editor for "The Young and the Restless" for 22 years and has twelve Emmy Awards. Dan decided he had enough fame and wealth and started his own production company called "Miracles Do Happen" to help non-profit groups raise funds. We are working on producing a video for high- definition TV with Florence Henderson as our host. Dan brought a crew of four people and collected more help from the area TV stations and universities. When I saw this crew of people give their "all" to making this production for us, I was in awe. Dan has taught me what it means to be generous, to care about others, to sell all that fame and wealth and come, follow Jesus. He is a deeply spiritual person. The day the crew left, Dan asked me if he could thank the sisters for their cooperation and hospitality. He did this by writing a prayer and praying it for us in our dining room. Dan has taught me so much about not being afraid to proclaim my faith in Jesus.
Once again, I am sure you have many, many examples of mutual mentoring that have happened for you with someone outside the community. I would again ask you to take a few moments of silence and to recall some of those mutual mentoring experiences with people outside the religious community. Now I want you to choose one experience and share it with the person next to you. If possible, this time select the person on the opposite side of you.