Benedictine abbots ask what attracts vocations
Benedictine abbots from around the world gathered in a monastery atop the Aventine Hill in Rome to discuss what has been happening in their monasteries, how they can work together and how they can reach out to the rest of the world.
The Congress of Abbots of the Benedictine Confederation of Monastic Communities brought 235 abbots, as well as representatives of Benedictine women’s communities, to Rome’s St. Anselm Abbey Sept. 17-25.
During the congress, the abbots re-elected German Abbot Notker Wolf to a four-year term as abbot primate.
The main talks at the congress focused on the viability of Benedictine monasteries, and on balancing the autonomy of Benedictine abbeys with a need for wider cooperation among them. But the abbots also participated in workshops on issues ranging from ecumenical and interreligious dialogue to the formation of candidates for monastic life.
Two facts framed much of the discussion: Benedictine abbeys generally are growing in Asia, Africa and South America; while abbeys in Europe, North America and Australia generally have a declining membership.
There are exceptions to the rule. Abbot Peter Novecosky of St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, Saskatchewan, just welcomed six candidates to his community of 15 monks.
“For us, six is an unusually high number. I consider that God is blessing us,” he said. “We lost five members to death in the last two years, so maybe they are sending replacements.”
The abbot said the men, who range in age from 19 to 52, will have a six-month candidacy period and then move to a one-year novitiate before first vows.
“They feel a call from God. It’s a response to an awareness of God in their life and wanting to do his will,” the abbot said, adding that the candidates have told him they consider the Benedictine life a “tried and true way of spirituality.” [More]
Catholic News Service