For six days last week, we were privileged to host the Federation of Saint Benedict Chapter Meeting, which is held every three years.We hosted delegates and prioresses from across the Federation, including St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota; St. Paul’s Monastery in St. Paul, Minnesota; St. Placid Priory in Lacey, Washington; St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island, Illinois; Annunciation Monastery in Bismarck, North Dakota; St. Benedict Monastery in Japan; St. Benedict Monastery in Taiwan; St. Martin Monastery in Bahamas; Monasterio Santa Escolastica in Puerto Rico; and our own monastery here in Duluth.
The delegates listened to talks on the changing face of monasticism over the last century and to reports from each community on how they have put into practice the resolutions from the last Chapter in 2012. They developed direction statements and elected new council members, Sister Lisa Maurer and Sister Nichole Kunze; and a new president, Sister Kerry O’Reilly of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph.
Although this was a closed meeting, the Sisters of St. Scholastica were invited to attend Sister Edith Bogue’s talk, Experiencing our Changes: Individually and Collectively. She brought statistics to life as she described how, as our communities are shrinking in size and aging, we are learning to deal creatively with new realities. This requires that we bring them into our hearts, habits and practice.
Crisis makes change possible, but if we spend our energy trying to avoid crisis and continue with old ways, we close ourselves off from the Spirit and our ministries no longer bear fruit. If we instead remain open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, God will guide us into the future, for when the old ways fall apart, new ideas will be born. There are many paths to get from where we have been to where we are going. On the journey, we will find opportunities for new ministries to carry on Christ’s healing work.