The tentative title for he ABA Convention 2000 is "Reading the Signs of the Time: The Good News of Monastic Life." The place of the convention will be St. Meinrad Archabbey, St. Meinrad, IN. The dates will be August 10-13, 2000. The American Benedictine Academy board was unanimous in stressing that this first convention in the new millennium should be positive in tone and place a particular emphasis on our hopes and directions for the future. In conjunction with this, the board will attempt to get more young monastics involved in the Convention 2000, both in the presentations and the responses. Five basic areas or topics were proposed for the convention presentations:
1) Monasteries Without Walls: This topic intends to address the growing phenomenon of monastic "oblates," "associates," and "friends." These are men and women from Catholic and other Christian traditions who are attracted to a Benedictine way of life, especially in terms of spirituality, but do not live regularly in a monastery. Monasteries relate to these various groups in different ways. The common experience, however, is that the number of these people interested in our way of life is increasing. What is this growing phenomenon saying to monasticism specifically and the church in general?
2) Monasticism within a Culture of Technology and the Internet: In many ways technology is bringing about the "death of distance." It is rapidly reshaping almost every aspect of our culture. There is absolutely no doubt that monasticism is and will continue to be influenced by this reshaping. How should monasticism respond to such a powerful influence? What opportunities does technology and the Internet present to monastic communities? What are the cautions we must exercise?
3) The Monastic Dream for the Future: The women and men who are entering our communities today are in many ways quite different from those who entered in decades past. They bring to the monastery a wide diversity of personal experiences and talents. They also bring expectations, hopes for the future, and a very real, if undefined, dream of monastic life. These are the people who will carry on and reshape the traditions of our monastic communities. The ABA board feels that it is important for us to hear from some of these men and women. Therefore, we intend to invite a panel of junior monastic men and women to speak to us about their expectations, hopes for the future, and dreams of monastic life.
4) Sharing the Good News of Monastic Life: Monastic tradition throughout the ages has been packed with "Good News" and remarkable experiences of the many men and women who live it day by day. Our personal experiences are important and they are also a part of a greater whole. We would like to get a glimpse of that whole by sharing some of these personal experiences with one another in some smaller group settings. To accomplish this, we will take some time and assemble in small groups where we will have an opportunity to share some of our personal "Good News" of monastic life with others. This will give us not only the opportunity to speak, but also to listen.
5) Monasticism, Ecology and Our Precious Resources of Time and Space: All life is relational. Benedictine life is accurately aware of this and therefore strongly promotes the concept of balance in everything a monastic person is and does. We cannot abuse our natural resources and expect to survive any more than we can abuse our spiritual resources and expect to live. This balance and respect has not been a value for much of society throughout the greater part of the twentieth century. If there is to be a future for the earth, then it cannot repeat the patterns of the past. What role ought monasticism play in this future? What do we have to contribute?
The ABA Board voted unanimously to create a new section entitled Benedictine Information Technology. This new section is an outgrowth of the Benedictine Internet Commission which, having completed its original task, dissolved. Many Benedictine men and women are active and interested in the Internet and other elements of information technology. This new section will give us an opportunity to continue working in this very significant area and sharing our experiences with one another. Brother Richard Oliver of Saint John's Abbey, Collegeville, MN, has been asked to facilitate this new section. Anyone interested in being a part of this section, Benedictine Information Technology, should contact Brother Richard.
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