The turn of a new year brings the hope of new beginnings and the anticipation of new possibilities. St. Peter exhorts the Christians in Asia Minor to be ready always to provide a defense for the hope they have (I Peter 3:15). Our reason for hope is the new life we have in Jesus Christ. Our community of Benedictine women is experiencing this hope in a number of areas where we see new life emerging.
- Two women are discerning a call to the monastic community and several other women have expressed interest in learning more about what it would mean to join.
- Our membership work is enhanced with the addition of Ann Moyer to the department. Ann worked in the retreat and conference center here in the 1980s and later at St. Bede Monastery in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. She brings knowledge of Benedictine values and many skills for our outreach work. She attends Lake Edge United Church of Christ in Madison.
- This year we will offer three Exploring Community: Benedictine Life vocation retreats for single women to experience the rhythm of life in our Benedictine community. The retreat dates are March 26-28, July 23-25 and December 3-5, 2010.
- We are anticipating another good response to our Volunteer in Community program this coming summer. You can help us by referring single women between 20-50 years of age to our website for more information about this eco-spirituality experience.
- Jerrianne Bland is our new full-time director of Benedictine retreats. She began work at the monastery with women exploring community life. An oblate of the class of 2006, she is enthusiastic about offering spiritual guidance, providing Benedictine spirituality input for retreat groups and leading Benedictine retreats. You can find her in the former prioress’s office in the Retreat and Guest House. This year we will offer Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Life from March 10-14, a retreat based on the Benedictine rhythm of prayer, study, work and leisure. It will provide retreatants with an experience of the major principles of the Rule of Benedict. She is a long-time member of Bethel Lutheran Church in Madison.
- The new biennial Benedictine Retreat, September 17-19, will feature James Finley as presenter on Little Things that Fill the Whole World: Gospel Metaphors of Spiritual Awakening. It promises to be an enriching retreat.
- The expansive worship space in the monastery engages everyone who comes for worship. Each Sunday we have new visitors at our ecumenical Eucharist and 14 households have joined Sunday Assembly since we returned to worship in the monastery, including six families with children. Many other visitors are becoming regulars at Sunday Assembly.
- The children’s ministry is growing. It is now offered twice a month and more families with young children are attending Sunday Assembly.
- The retreats and activities of the oblate community are creative and stimulating. The oblate formation circle will refine and begin implementing a proposal for on-going formation within the oblate community with a focus on monastic mindfulness. Editor’s Note: Elsewhere in this newsletter you can read oblate candidate Claudia Porter’s reflection on what is emerging among the oblate candidates.
New monastery building
- The beauty and “green” features of the new monastery have generated a great deal of interest. Many requests for tours and space for meetings and retreats continue. This year we plan to set up special days each month for tours. Arrangements for a tour can be made with Ann Moyer at 608-836-1631, ext. 197. A suggested $5 donation is recommended for each person taking a tour.
- Groups looking for meeting space can utilize the monastery building. The monastery usage committee has established guidelines for the use of the new monastery to help guests self-select space that meets their needs and respects the contemplative nature of the monastery.
After attending the emerging church conference in Albuquerque last spring, I can see many connections between what is emerging here at the monastery and what is emerging in other parts of the church. I hope you will visit us soon to experience the excitement for yourself.