ABECCA 15-20 July 2005 - Santa Lucia

Monastic Life and the
Latin American and Caribbean World:
Mutual Contributions and Challenges

Regional Meeting of ABECCA -- Zone of the Caribbean
Chronicle of Events and Participants

Due to the suspension of the regular meeting of ABECCA 2005, scheduled for the Monastery of Mount of Prayer, Santa Lucia, from Wednesday, July 13, to Wednesday, July 20, the members of ABECCA in the Caribbean decided to meet nevertheless in order to share and dialogue over the answers to the questionnaire that was to have been discussed at the Assembly of ABECCA. We did so at the request of Mother Marianna since ABECCA was not going to make use of the results of this questionnaire. With this agreement, the meeting took place beginning Friday, July 15, since flights to Santa Lucia had been delayed two days due to a tropical storm.

Participating in the meeting were representatives of

the Benedictine Monastery of Mount of Prayer of Santa Lucia (Mother Marianne Pinto and Sisters Margaret Mary Maynard, Scholastica Felician y Christine Alphonse),
the Benedictine Monastery of Morne Saint Benoît of Haiti (Prior Anselme Baudelette),
the Benedictine Notre Dame du Mont-Des-Oliviers of Martinique (Prior Peter Caesar),
the Benedictine Monastery of Santa Escolástica of Humacao, Puerto Rico (Sister Angela Berríos) and
the Benedictine Abbey of San Antonio Abad of Humacao, Puerto Rico (Prior Eduardo Torrellas and Bro. Antonio Hernández).

The visiting participants were housed in the Retreat Center of the Monastery. The only Caribbean communities absent were those of Trinidad, Tobago, and of the Dominican Republic. However, both excused themselves since they had made other plans when the general meeting of ABECCA was cancelled.


Also attending was the Abbot of Belmont Abbey, England, Paul Stonham OSB, as representative of AIM for Latin America. Likewise attending was Rev. Patrick Anthony of the Diocese of Castries, Santa Lucia, who is the chaplain of the Sisters of Mount of Prayer.

Chronicle of Events

On Saturday, July 16,
since the Sisters had a programmed activity with some lay people, Mother Marianna invited us and directed us by means of a guide to various parts of tourist interest on the Island, as for example the Volcano Soufriere and the peaks of Santa Lucia (Grand Piton and Petit Piton), bordering the Island coast toward the south. We also toured some towns along the beach near Hewanorra Airport. We then returned, moving northward until we arrived back at the Monastery. Prior Peter and Father Anthony had not accompanied us.

On Sunday, July 17,
the group participated in the Sunday liturgy along with the Benedictine community and a good number of lay people from the area. Abbot Paul presided. That afternoon we began the meeting of ABECCA of the Caribbean with a prayer and a hymn to the Holy Spirit, directed by Sister Angela Berríos, the contact (person) for the Caribbean and vice president of ABECCA. She then spoke about the underlying purpose of ABECCA, chiefly to orientate Prior Peter who was attending for the first time a meeting of this organization. She likewise spoke about the unexpected cancellation of the meeting of ABECCA that had come from the Abbot President, Guillermo Arboleda. Abbot Paul in the same session spoke about the structure of ABECCA and of the economic support that AIM gives this type of inter-monastic activity.

On Monday, July 18,
Bro. Antonio began the day with his presentation, which had been translated for the English-speaking members, thus making his conference available in both languages. However, since all attendees understood English, with the exception of Prior Anselm of Haiti, each participant received a Spanish as well as an English copy of the conference. Prior Peter helped Prior Anselm with translation into French. In this way we were able to conduct the entire meeting in English on the topic, "Monastic Life and the Latin American and Caribbean worlds: Contributions and Challenges." Bro. Antonio's paper summarized the answers that had been received from some of the monasteries concerning the contributions and the challenges that monastic life presents the Latin American and Caribbean worlds, as well as the reverse, namely, what contributions and challenges the Latin American and Caribbean worlds make to monastic life.

The group first discussed the contributions in both directions and then the challenges, in this way giving the participants an opportunity to react and comment on the presentation, following the reading of each section of the paper. The group met for two hours in the morning and again for two hours in the afternoon.

On Tuesday, July 19,
the dialogue on the text continued and the participants then spent time on the questions suggested at the end of the presentation. This meeting lasted less than two hours since the participants, with Father Anthony serving as guide, were to prepare to visit the anthropological museum in the capitol, where they enjoyed an impressive audio-visual display of the history of Santa Lucia. In the afternoon the group met again to conclude the meeting. They agreed to send a letter to the President of ABECCA voicing a number of concerns and suggestions as to the future of ABECCA.

At the end Sister Angela thanked Mother Marianna and all the Sisters of the monastery for the extraordinary welcome extended to the visitors. She presented her with a gift and a card of thanks signed by all the participants in gratitude for the outstanding hospitality as well as taking note of Mother Marianna's recent golden jubilee of monastic life.

That evening the group dined with the Archbishop of Santa Lucia, Mons. Kevin Felix.

Early in the morning of Wednesday, July 20,
the participants prepared to return to their respective monasteries, taking with them these precious moments of monastic sharing.

--Sr.Angela Berríos, O.S.B.
--Bro. Antonio Hernández, O.S.B.


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Rev. 22 August 2005 | © 2005 by ABECCA | www.osb.org/abecca/2005/chronicle.html