Celebrating the gift of ecumenical Benedictine community

Lynne Smith, OSBLiving in Community, Monastic Life, Oblates, Sunday Assembly, Women Exploring Community Leave a Comment

Today, February 17, 2012, marks the 6th anniversary of our official re-founding as an ecumenical Benedictine community for Benedictine Women of Madison.

“A New World Order” is how the media sees it. “Welcoming women of all Christian traditions” is how we talk about it. “It is a gift to be welcomed into a community” is how a recent Volunteer in Community experiences it.

The history that brings us to this day is rich and deep, as Sister Mary David Walgenbach recalls:

The first steps were inspired by the decrees of the Second Vatican Council and the Community of Taize, France. In the mid-60’s our local sisters and brothers of various faith traditions asked us to become an ecumenical place where all could pray together, meet and listen to each other and see that we are all on a similar journey – if not the same journey. Ecumenism became a part of the core of our community.

In the early 1990’s with the wisdom of many friends and a lot of prayer together, the path became clearer to us. We, as a community, felt the call to deepen our commitment to ecumenism. This commitment involves being a Benedictine community open to Christian women where all are equal and all support each other in our quest for God. An Ecumenical Board was formed to guide the creation, growth and formation of this ecumenical monastic community.

Recognizing that ecumenism had changed our hearts, our community began a process with the Federation of St. Gertrude to become an ecumenical community of sisters. In 2006 after fourteen years of consultations and guidance from many women and men, we officially became an ecumenical Benedictine community of sisters.

Sister Joanne Kollasch adds to the story with these thoughts:

For this community, it has been a history of much change, listening to the Spirit and to the signs of the times, consulting with spiritual friends, and resolutely making our way into an always unknown future. Throughout this process, the constant values of the Benedictine Women of Madison have been the cultivation of prayer and spirituality, providing hospitality, and caring for the earth.

And of course my story, coming from a Presbyterian background to make my profession as a Benedictine sister, is that of being the direct recipient of the determination of this community to fulfill its vision to become ecumenical. I could not have found my heart’s true home without the vision of this community.

On this anniversary day we give thanks to so many who have accompanied us along the way:

  • The sisters of our founding community, Sisters of St. Benedict, who gave birth to, prayed for, and nurtured the vision of an ecumenical community from the very beginning
  • Members of the Ecumenical Board who journeyed with us and helped guide our vision
  • Members of the Federation of St. Gertrude who supported our vision with their faith and prayers, and their affirmation

Are you drawn to this inclusive, ecumenical community life? We invite you to explore the possibilities with us. Consider any of the following:

Other experiences of ecumenical community at Holy Wisdom Monastery open to both men and women include:

  • Oblates of Holy Wisdom Monastery – an intentional community of women and men who find a practical spirituality in the Rule of Benedict
  • Sunday Assembly – our ecumenical worshiping community of men and women, children, youth and adults

Or contact me, Sister Lynne Smith, 608-831-9305, for more conversation.

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