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Benedictines gather for national conference

Benedictines gather for national conference - (27-02-2015)

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The Conference of Benedictine Abbots and Prioresses drew more than 70 leaders earlier this month to share in leadership and discuss issues vital to community life and the world.

Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Sister Dawn Annette Mills, OSB, prioress general of the congregation, and Sister Ramona Varela, OSB, prioress of the Tucson, Arizona, monastery, attended meetings held throughout the first week of February at the Sacred Heart Monastery and St. Bernard Abbey, both in Cullman, Alabama.

During the conference, prioresses discussed Wisdom Connections, a religious formation project for new members in the process of becoming a religious sister. Sponsored by the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, Wisdom Connections allows Benedictine communities to share online classes on theology and spirituality to help prepare women in formation for religious life.

“It allows participants to interact, share insights, observations and questions and develop support relationships,” Sister Dawn Annette said.

Reports also included topics on human trafficking, gun control, immigration and innovative social media strategies.

The Cullman community hosted a barbecue and a visit to the Ave Maria Grotto.

“The southern hospitality shown by the Cullman Sisters was amazing,” Sister Ramona said. “It was better than any hotel.”

Women religious leaders meet annually, and leaders of men’s communities are invited to a joint meeting every four years. According to Sister Dawn Annette, the joint meeting of men and women superiors included input on adaptive leadership from Dr. William Cahoy of St. John’s University and Dr. Sharon Daloz Parks from the University of Seattle. They shared information about special tasks in leadership during a time of shifting mental models as communities plan for the future of religious life. 

“It is amazing how much love and laughter are packed into these days,” Sister Dawn Annette said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to share the struggles and joys of leadership with other men and women who are also called by their communities to this ministry. It is a time for renewing friendships, consoling one another through difficult times and celebrating the successes of each of our communities as St. Benedict said, ‘That in all things, God may be glorified.’”