Monastic Institute

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : May 22, 2006

July 1-7, the 21st Annual Monastic Institute is taking place at St. John’s University here in Minnesota.  Any of you interested in monasticism, or neo-monasticism, should come; the theme this year will be One Heart, One Soul: Many Communities.

Here is an overview from their website:

we begin the third millennium of Christianity there is growing interest in
religious community and monasticism.   New communities are springing
up in unexpected forms, places, and denominations.  Some borrow directly
from traditional monastic models.  Others develop new models guided only
by their desire to gather intentionally with people of faith in some way beyond
what can be found in the parish or congregation.  Yet all the while,
existing monastic communities are shrinking.

As part of the 150th anniversary
celebration of Benedictines in Central Minnesota (Saint John?s Abbey - 2006 and Saint
Benedict?s Monastery - 2007) the 2006 Monastic Institute will examine this
phenomenon by convening a conversation among members
and scholars of these various forms of community life.  We seek to
increase our understanding of the cultural dynamics generating new religious
communities, to explore what established monastic communities can learn from
the experience of the new communities, and what the new can learn from the
experience of the established.  Featured speakers include Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB; Abbess M?ire
Hickey OSB, Moderator of Communio
Internationalis Benedictinarum
Columba Stewart OSB, Director of Hill Museum and
Manuscript Library; Kevin Seasoltz OSB, editor of Worship;
Meg Funk OSB, author of Thoughts Matter; Christine Pohl, author of Making
Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition
; as well as
representatives of Sant?Egidio, L?Arche, Bridgefolk, New
Monasticism, Community of Jesus, Madison Ecumenical Monastery, new members of
traditional communities, and others.

Questions to be considered: 

  • How important/necessary are authority and bedience? 
  • What is the monastic rhythm in your life situation?
  • How would you describe your code of conduct (rule of life or customary way of living the life)?
  • What constitutes membership for your group? 
  • Why have you formed a distinct group?
  • What has not been present in your life that you formed into this group or what was present but you sought to join this particular group?
  • What do you do about ownership and money?  How do you contribute to the community?

Missio Dei has become increasingly monastic since we started 1.5 years ago.  It was about 6 months ago that we began to self-identify ourselves as a missional order.  There is still alot of shaping and molding for us as a community.  We don’t want to do monastic things simply because they are monastic.  However, we recognize our indebtedness to the monastic tradtion.  As my wife and I go to this conference, we hope to hear many stories from all sorts of monastic and neo-monastic groups.  My hope is that we will learn some things that can help Missio Dei understand how to best embody the Gospel on the West Bank. 

for further reading . . .

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