Presidential Introduction

Valerian Odermann, O.S.B.

In August 2002 nearly 180 persons interested in things Benedictine gathered for a smorgasbord that fed our hungry spirits. "Monastics and Mentoring: Re-Founding the Tradition" was the glue that brought us together. The event was, as one presenter put it, like a family reunion.

For three days eight speakers and panelists gave input. But more than that, interchanges brought lively dialogue on an area of importance in any human community. You will find in this volume their thoughtful and provocative contributions.

After one panel presentation, a participant captured the excitement of those days: "These panelists were so good, why haven't I heard of them before?" The three days were fantastic, faith-filled, and fabulous as well as incisive, interesting, insightful--and those are just the "f"s and "ï"s.

The balance of theoreticians and practitioners, researchers and those with life experience "from the trenches" tapped the topic of "monastics and mentoring." They fleshed out the wisdom of the Rule of Benedict lived in our day as the handing on of a way of life that retains its vitality. That's Tradition, with a capital "T."

The speakers mentored us with carefully crafted scaffolding of ideas which serve to build lives of living monastic values. We all need mentors, but even more so we would all benefit from a "culture of mentoring"--a giant step away from a culture of disconnection. Since monasteries are always one generation away from extinction, their capacity to mentor is foundational. And when the chips fall, all mentoring, like politics, is local.

Convention themes shape or drive membership. The assistance in Bismarck at the University of Mary in 2002 showed an American Benedictine Academy ready to meet challenges with its "preferential option for learning" for the good of the monastic spirit. In 2004 at St. Benedict's Monastery in Minnesota, we will again take another step in this most worthwhile journey.

Valerian Odermann, O.S.B.
Assumption Abbey
Richardton, ND 58652
ABA president, 2000-2002

© 2003 by The American Benedictine Academy / www.osb.org/aba/