The gift of encuentro

Denise West Living in Community Leave a Comment

Last November, Sister Lynne Smith, Sister Paz Vital and I headed up to Milwaukee for a conference on the future of religious communities in the United States. The theme of the conference was Encuentro, and the focus was around the great diversity of cultures in this country and the changing face of religious communities as greater numbers of women and men born outside the US join American religious orders. The keynote speaker was Sister Teresa Maya, president-elect of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious. A native of Mexico City, she is a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate …

Monastic profession in a time of violence, division and fear

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 4 Comments

Openness to change is a cornerstone of Benedictine life, reflected in the vow of conversatio morum, traditionally understood as “conversion to the monastic way.” Conversatio points Benedictines to an openness of the heart, a commitment to conversion—a deep-seated orientation toward the Spirit’s call. At its best, Benedictine life is a fluid and flexible form, inspired by a 1500-year history and the examples of those who have gone before. Last week over 100 monks, sisters, nuns, oblates and students of theology attended the 2016 Monastic Institute hosted by Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville, MN. Reflecting on the theme …

What are you reading for Lent?

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community, Monastic Life Leave a Comment

In the Rule, Benedict writes: “during this time of Lent each one is to receive a book from the library, and is to read the whole of it straight through.” It continues to be our practice to choose a book to read during Lent. Sister Joanne and I share reflections on our Lenten reading below. Sister Joanne: Mary Gordon, the author, comes to Holy Wisdom Monastery when she travels to Madison.  On a recent visit she presented the sisters with an autographed copy of her latest book, Reading Jesus.  It was my choice for Lent; I gained new insights into …

"Learn everyday of your life"

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 2 Comments

This week my attention has been focused on how on-going growth and integration is basic to the monastic life. Benedictine life asks that we “learn everyday of our lives” and that learning is not just about intellectual knowledge. In her book, Seeking Life, Esther de Waal notes that Benedict is always addressing the whole self – body, mind and spirit. Benedict tells us in the Prologue that we must “prepare our hearts and bodies.” So as we seek to open ourselves more deeply to God during Lent, we might attend to each aspect of our person as de Waal suggests. …

Reflections on Formation in Community

Lynne Smith, OSB Benedictine Bridge, Monastic Life, Women Exploring Community Leave a Comment

My work as director of membership and monastic formation has prompted me to reflect on my own formation lately. Formation is different for each woman who comes to community, yet the process is similar. Prayer, common work and dialogue, study, leisure and the practices of hospitality, listening, obedience and humility invite a woman into the on-going conversion at the heart of monastic life. Some stories from my own early years in community may shed light on the process of Benedictine formation. An ordinary event soon after I moved to the monastery revealed a portion of God’s agenda for my formation. …

Sister Asella Returns to Korea

Mary David Walgenbach, OSB Benedictine Bridge, Hospitality, Monastic Life Leave a Comment

In June 2009, Sister Asella Kim, a Missionary Benedictine from Seoul, Korea, came to live with the sisters at Holy Wisdom Monastery. She was here on a year’s sabbatical after serving a Korean and American parish in New Jersey for six years. Asella has known us since 1994 when she spent four years here learning English and continuing her education. Because Sister Asella is a kindred spirit we count her as part of our community. She especially enjoyed walking in the prairie and working in the garden. She even requested a three-month extension of her sabbatical so she could help bring in the produce …

Benedictine Women Welcome First Associate at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Holy Wisdom Monastery Benedictine Bridge, Monastic Life, Women Exploring Community Leave a Comment

On September 1, 2010, Benedictine Women of Madison welcomed Mary Lynn Adams as the first associate member of Holy Wisdom Monastery. An Associate Member seeks God by following the Rule of Benedict as expressed through the mission and values of Benedictine Women of Madison, and by participating in the common life of the monastery. The associate lives, works and prays at Holy Wisdom Monastery; she is not a professed member of the community. With the successful completion of a six month probationary period, the associate and community enter into a covenant, which can be renewed annually. Through this covenant, the …

Leadership in a Benedictine Community

Mary David Walgenbach, OSB Benedictine Bridge, Monastic Life, Rule of Benedict Leave a Comment

Respectful listening is the first and foremost quality for leadership according to St. Benedict. He begins his Rule with “Listen.” For anyone seeking to grow in relationship to God, self and others, attentive listening is key for a whole and holy life. Two premises support the understanding of leadership in the Rule of Benedict (RB). The first is that Christ is the ultimate authority and second that the abbot represents Christ in a special way for the community. The leader, either prioress or abbot, is chosen by the community and receives what Benedictines believe to be the grace of office. …

Great Friend, Great Gratitude to You

Gloria Krysiak Benedictine Bridge, Monastic Life Leave a Comment

If you’ve heard the words nature, purpose, structure and function at a parish council, school board or curriculum committee meeting, chances are very good that Sister Barbara Dannhausen, OP (Order of Preachers), was involved in defining their organizational structures. All over Wisconsin and beyond, schools, churches, boards and religious communities have benefited greatly from the strategic planning skills of this Sinsinawa Dominican, but none perhaps as much or as long as Benedictine Women of Madison (BWM). During the early 1980s, Barbara worked with our sisters to assist in defining the focus of the retreat and conference center. Later in the 1990s, during a time of considerable discernment about …