Benedictine Life: A Vision Unfolding Colloquium

Sister Linda Romey presents at the Colloquium in Atchison, KS

More than a dozen Erie Benedictine sisters and several oblates participated in Benedictine Life: A Vision Unfolding, a two-day colloquium that took place at Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, KS, the end of June. Sister Linda Romey was a co-planner of the event which was the culmination of a nearly five-year awareness-raising process designed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Federation of St. Scholastica, the 17-member grouping of monasteries to which Mount St. Benedict Monastery belongs.

The goals of the years-long process were:
•    Make our Benedictine way of life visible and accessible in new ways to today’s seekers by celebrating our history and envisioning our future.
•    Share our lives as Benedictine women, past and present, what we stand for, and why we do what we do as we invite others to experience our charism and good zeal and to join us in “running while we have the light of life.” (Prologue, Rule of Benedict)
•    Support Benedictine life today so that it can continue to be the same kind of stabilizing presence in our cities and towns and light for spiritual seekers that it has been for more than 1,500 years.

Sister Linda and Sister Liz Brown of St. Lucy Priory in Glendora, CA, chaired the centennial committee that was comprised of monastic women from six different monasteries. "Our overarching goal for the work of the committee was about seeing and thinking differently, both past and present, so that the Benedictine charism is carried into the future in a healthy and life-giving way," said Sister Linda.

To that end, the committee wrote and published a prayer and set up a website where 15 sisters from different monasteries took turns sharing weekly reflections during the four years leading up to the Colloquium. They posted podcast interviews with sisters young and old, with oblates, benefactors, and alum. "The idea was to invite seekers into Benedictine life and spirituality, an invitation that would culminate in the realization of the Colloquium," she explained. "What made this gathering unique is that it was planned to be a gathering of all those seeking God through the Benedictine charism--professed, oblates, and seekers."

And when the time for the actual event finally arrived, all was in place for a hybrid event with 250 followers of Benedict registered, 100 with the intent of being present in Atchison at Mount St. Scholastica, and another 150 who would join virtually. Six women were ready to present papers and two responders set to give their reply. Then covid reared its ugly head in Atchison and the colloquium planners were forced to make a quick shift to a fully-virtual event. Despite disappointment at the unexpected change, papers were presented and zoom conversations happened and questions were raised and experiences shared. 

"We have no doubt that Benedictine monasticism will continue to seed our world with the values it so dearly needs," said Sister Linda after the event. "What we don’t know is which ideas or efforts will take eventually take shape and so we continue to gather, to question, to experiment."

While the centennial website will soon cease to exist, the Federation of St. Scholastica, renamed the Monastic Congregation of St. Scholastica at its General Chapter immediately preceding the colloquium, can be accessed here.