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Formation director completes intense program

Formation director completes intense program - (19-06-2024)

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PHOTO: Novice Director Sister Ruth Elaine Starman, OSB, (front row, center in blue) joined more then two dozen formation directors from around the globe for the Monastic Formators’ Program in Rome.

Novice Director Ruth Elaine Starman, OSB has completed the intensive Monastic Formators’ Program in Rome.

Hosted by Sant’Anselmo College, the program invites professed Benedictines who work in formation to dive deeper into the roots of their monastic tradition. This experience teaches participants to integrate what they’ve learned into their own monastic lives and to share it with those they are directing in formation.

Classes lasted from mid-March to June and were taught by Benedictine and Cistercian formation directors from around the world.

“We had classes on the Rule of St. Benedict, other various monastic topics and human formation,” Sister Ruth Elaine said. “I will be able to use the input I received when teaching classes to our women in formation.”

In order to prepare for the immersive, months-long program, Sister Ruth Elaine spent some time learning a bit of Italian so “I could understand a few words when someone was speaking,” she laughed.

Twenty-two men and women religious from around the world gathered for the program. The international flavor was especially joyful for Sister Ruth Elaine. In a sense, the participants formed a monastic community for a few months within the program.

“I loved meeting wonderful nuns and monks from different cultures and countries,” she said.

Participants met for class each morning and afternoon daily during the week. The group also pilgrimaged to Italian sites important to St. Benedict, including Norcia, his hometown; Subiaco, where he spent three years as a hermit; and Monte Cassino, the monastery where he died.

“We also attended Palm Sunday mass with 60,000 other people in St. Peter’s square where Pope Francis presided,” Sister Ruth Elaine said.

The program participants spent time at Oasi Sacro Cuore in Assisi, the hometown of St. Francis and St. Clare.

“The San Damiano Church where St. Francis heard the cross speak to him saying, ‘Rebuild my church,’ was just a short walk down the hill from where we stayed,” she said. “I would often walk there to pray in the afternoons. Assisi is high on a hill surrounded by mountains, so I enjoyed the beauty around me.”