The timely topic, Celebrating Eucharist with Twenty-First Century Documents, brought Sister Jeanne Ann Weber, Sister Dorene King, and Sister Mary Christa Kroening to Saint Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana. This was the first meeting of the combined groups of the Benedictine Musicians of the Americas and the Monastic Liturgy Forum which have formed the Monastic Worship Forum. Originally the Benedictine Musicians was formed, for the monks only, back in the 1970s. Sisters joined in the later 1970s, and together they have published two hymnals, Benedictine Book of Song I in 1979 and Benedictine Book of Song II in 1992. St. Scholastica Monastery hosted this group for two meetings.One presenter was Dr. Paul F. Ford, Oblate, speaking on preparing the people for the new Roman Missal scheduled for the First Sunday of Advent 2011. The other presenter was Sister Julia Upton, RSM, Oblate, who spoke on deepening our understanding of the Eucharist in our lives. Various monasteries prepared and led the daily liturgies.For those of us who have been members of both groups, after the business meeting we enjoyed time to reminisce. Sister Colleen Winston, founder of the MLF, presented a brief history of the BMofA. Fond memories recalled beloved musicians and their contributions to our heritage. Several acts from the Talent Shows were recalled with delight. For example: a talented pianist who played sitting on the bench facing the assembly and playing with his hands behind him, a regular feature of a “Charlie McCarthy” act; the Abbot with guitar and cowboy hat; and the event of going to a movie in nearby Jasper, Indiana, after a wonderful picnic with the Sisters in Ferdinand. Of all things, the movie was Sister Act! Many of the townspeople could not figure out why these strangers were laughing at scenes that only professional musician-monastics who had lived the life would understand.The history of the MLF was recounted and memories shared. The very first conference, planned via telephone conference calls and emails, was held in Atchison, Kansas. The disasters of another conference which called the Steering Committee to clean and organize the site had its own challenging issue. The wonderful regional planning session in Minnesota recalled the meeting at a lake cabin and telling liturgy disaster accounts from our daily prayer experiences; for example, the Sister who regularly would be sleepy during the two-minute pauses and sway to and fro, awaking with a jerk that sent her false teeth sliding to the front pew where the novice was seated; and the organist in the choir loft who had a cold and after accompanying the Magnificat came to the choir railing and sneezed, sending his false teeth to the Abbot’s prayer book as he was praying the oration.We are grateful for the contribution these monastics have made and are making to the liturgical life of Benedictine communities.
—Contributed by Sister Mary Christa Kroening