Inside this issue:
An Open Letter
Dan Ward's Column
Grey Yellow Pages
We Gathered, the News was Good Indeed
Like a multi-faceted gem, monasticism was examined and appraised from several different points of view at the biennial convention of the American Benedictine Academy. Held at St. Meinrad's Archabbey in Indiana, the meeting attracted ABA members and non-members from across the country. Its topic of the "good news of monasticism" invited participation of persons from many backgrounds. Ephrem Hollermann, OSB, prioress of St. Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, MN, and Abbot Matthew Leavy of St. Anselm's in Manchester, NH, began the exchange with
their perceptions of where monastic life is and is going.
A panel of people who are not professed monastics, but have been moved to a lifestyle which embraces monastic values, shared their perceptions and appreciations in a panel led by Antoinette Purcell, OSB. Those participating in the panel were Janet Buchanan, Mark Plaiss and Nancy Campbell.
Father Harry Hagan, OSB, and Dr. Carney Strange described how the Rule of St. Benedict can be an important tool in student life programs on college campuses. Dr. Scott Rains, developer of the CD-ROM on the Rule and related resources, gave a demonstration of its use and many of its valuable capabilities. A panel of young monastics both praised and challenged religious communities in their presentations addressing what they seek and what they may offer to the
future of monastic life. Members of the panel were Teresa Jackson, OSB; Agostino Fernandez, OSB; Sarah Yungwirth, OSB; and James Wyss, OSB.
Those attending were enthusiastic about what they heard and about the hopefulness and thoughtfulness which it engendered. Although a majority of ABA members are monks or nuns, a growing segment of the membership and of the convention attendees are people from other walks of life who have an academic and/or personal affinity for the Benedictine lifestyle. All have found something they do not find elsewhere. Rita Tybor of Henry, IL, was delighted with her
first ABA convention. An oblate of St. Bede's Abbey, she has found in Benedictine spirituality a way of reinforcing her Christian life in the world. "The lessons of the Rule are sown in silence," and strengthen a person to face and appreciate all of life, "the marvelous and the mundane."
Van Reidhead, an anthropologist at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, has spent years studying the sociology of monastic communities. He was especially grateful for the opportunity to meet and converse with other oblates and to share the ways they have taken the Rule into their own lives. More than a dozen oblates from all over the country engaged in a two-hour discussion in addition to all the other opportunities they found for meeting and supporting one another.
Another participant, Gerald Schlabach, theology professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, brought a unique perspective to the meeting. Raised Mennonite, he sees many parallels between that faith tradition and monasticism within the church. The history of serious discipleship and continuous renewal in both are a strong witness to him of the incarnation of Christianity in living communities.
These stories represent only a small fragment of the diversity and the energy present in the assembly. Elsewhere in this issue, readers will find reports of the business portion of the convention and also information for ordering tapes and transcripts of the presentations.