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Benedictine Sisters chosen as delegates to Rome CIB symposium

Benedictine Sisters chosen as delegates to Rome CIB symposium - (16-10-2014)

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Photo: Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Ramona Varela, OSB (left) takes a moment to catch up with her prioress general, Sister Dawn Annette Mills, OSB during a break at the Seventh Annual Symposium of the Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum in Rome. Credit: Sister Colleen Quinlivan, OSB on behalf of the CIB.

They were teachers, nurses, activists, farmers, social workers, seamstresses, bakers, cloistered, missionaries - and all of them women of prayer.

When the Seventh Annual Symposium of the Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum (CIB) opened on Sept. 10 at the Benedictine College of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, the 104 Benedictine nuns and sisters in attendance represented a grand scope of works performed around the globe in the name of the Catholic Church.

Among the delegates representing more than 14,000 Benedictine religious women were Sister Dawn Annette Mills, OSB and Sister Ramona Varela, OSB, members of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

While their native languages, styles of habits and jobs for the Catholic Church varied, they had something most special in common.

“We are all Benedictine women of prayer, and prayer and liturgy are our primary services to the Church,” said Sister Dawn Annette who serves as prioress general of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and lives at their Clyde, Missouri, community.

Sister Ramona, prioress of the sisters’ monastery in Tucson, Arizona, echoed those thoughts.

“Our Benedictine values are rooted in the gospel and in the Rule of St. Benedict,” she said. “It was especially evident when everyone participated in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the Eucharist even though another language, often not their own, was spoken.”

The symposium convenes every four years, inviting nuns and sisters of Benedictine communities from around the world to promote the work and spirit of religious women. Delegates spent one week in liturgy, prayer and reflection while enjoying presentations related to the symposium’s topic, “Listen with the ear of your heart,” a salute to the opening prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict.

Featured speakers included Dr. Maria Pina Scanu, a scripture scholar at the Sant’ Anselmo college; Sister Aquinata Böckmann, OSB, a German author and scholar of monastic spirituality; and Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB, a theologian and philosopher from the Philippines.

Sister Ramona was particularly drawn to Sister Aquinata’s presentation.

“She said that when we listen with two ears often what we hear goes in one ear and out the other,” Sister Ramona said. “Listening with one ear, symbolic of a monk or nun who has one ear covered by a cowl or veil, means it enters in and stays in the heart. That is how we listen to the Scriptures and to the Rule.”

The event offered a nice surprise for Sister Ramona who was invited to a morning audience with Pope Francis. In addition, she and Sister Dawn made a day trip to Subiaco, Italy, the location where St. Benedict embarked upon his monastic life.