Sister Judith-Ann Heble, OSB
President of the International Community
of Benedictine Women
SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE INTERNATIONAL
COMMUNITY OF BENEDICTINE WOMEN
Since 2014, the first goal of CIB has been the promotion of solidarity. It states the following: ‘We will be in solidarity with Benedictine moniales and sorores all over the world. In solidarity with weaker communities, we will promote mutual help through greater bonding, sharing of personnel, and spiritual and material support.’ This goal became a very concrete reality when the CIB met in September, 2016. We learned of the devastating earthquake of August 24, 2016 that hit Central Italy. There have been subsequent earthquakes since then. The CIB determined to hold the thirteen Benedictine communities (one of monks; twelve of nuns) in prayer for an entire year. A special prayer calendar was devised and sent to all communities around the world promising our prayerful support. In addition, monies are being collected from the different regions to support our sisters in Italy. Since financial assistance will continue to be needed for the communities, you can still donate to help out.
The CIB has been engaged in examining the Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere on Women’s Contemplative Life, issued by Pope Francis on June 29, 2016. At the meeting of the CIB Conference in 2016, Sister Scholastika Häring of Dinklage (Germany) and Sister Lynn McKenzie of Cullman (Alabama, USA), both trained in Canon Law, gave a very insightful presentation about the document regarding the concerns and questions it raises, hopeful signs within it, and salient points to keep in mind as communities work on their own constitutions. The two Sisters also met with Rev. Hank Lemoncelli at the CIVCSVA on September 8, 2016 to apprise him of the questions that had surfaced among the CIB Delegates. Though the new regulations have not yet been published by the CIVCSVA, many communities are already studying the document and looking at ways in which they might implement this Apostolic Constitution. The CIB is aware that the new regulations may hold some implications regarding the CIB structures and the leadership that may be needed for the future.
In September, the CIB Conference will travel to South Korea for their annual meeting scheduled for September 8-18, 2017. There are many communities of Sisters from the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing and the Olivetan Benedictines residing in South Korea. The CIB Conference Delegates will have occasion to meet the communities in Daegu, Busan and Seoul.
Plans are being finalized for the 8th International CIB Symposium which will take place at Sant’Anselmo in Rome from September 6-13, 2018. The theme of the Symposium is ‘Let all be welcomed as Christ… RB 53.1’. The presenters have been identified and they will focus on hospitality from the Scriptures and the Rule of St. Benedict. In addition, hospitality will be examined both inside and outside the monastery. What does it mean to be a stranger in the community or to live with a stranger next to me in community? The role of leadership will be examined from what Benedict teaches about loving each member of the community and not showing favoritism. In looking at hospitality outside the monastery, we meet many strangers, especially in recent times, in the plight of refugees, the poor and members of other faiths. Are there problems for our communities when we practice hospitality? A Planning Team of six has been identified to coordinate the Symposium. They had their first planning meeting in March, 2017. The Symposium will conclude with a pilgrimage to Subiaco and there celebrate our common monastic profession. Invitations to the CIB Regions will be sent out toward the end of 2017. In a spirit of collaboration with our brother monks, we are hoping to have some abbots from our Regions join us for this Symposium.