No Mass at 9am on Friday 31 May

News from Sr Thérèse in Italy

On 11 March I travelled to Italy to join a group of 22 monks and nuns on the Benedictine Monastic Formators Program. We come from 5 continents: Africa, North and South America, Asia, Australia and Europe and form a diverse group. The principal aim of the program is to assist participants in their work of formation – educating and accompanying candidates for the Benedictine life from when they make first contact with the monastery until Solemn Profession.

The first part of the program was conducted at Sant’ Anselmo’s – the Benedictine House of Studies in Rome. There is a rich and varied mix of classes about various aspects of Benedictine and Cistercian monasticism – the Rule of Benedict, Lectio Divina, monastic history as well as input on community dynamics and human and spiritual formation. The picture shows our group with Fr Michael Casey OCSO who spent 10 days giving us the benefit of his wisdom and teaching concerning “monastic tradition and experience”. Besides all this we have had many pilgrimages and visits to places of interest in Rome and further afield. A week ago, we moved to Assisi to continue the program in more peaceful surroundings; we will return to our communities on 1 June.

Beyond the formal aspects of the course, perhaps the most challenging and rewarding aspect has been living, studying, and journeying with a diverse, energetic, curious and joyful group of monks and nuns. Being with the group, and being away from the routines and structures of life at Stanbrook, while still within a monastic environment where we celebrate the Divine Office together, is a little like being on retreat. I can take a step back and look at myself and ask myself who I am and where I am going, and the experience has been salutary and rewarding. The multicultural composition of the group has helped challenge my western egocentricity and the vitality of the participants and the dedication and enthusiasm of the lecturers have helped me realise more deeply how, as a Benedictine, I am part of a great and enriching spiritual tradition which has much to offer to the world, and I myself am part of that giving.

The following incident, I think, says so much: at Stanbrook I avoided eating oranges for years in favour of apples, bananas and pears. At Sant’ Anselmo’s, often oranges were the only desert offered. I find they are delicious.

Sr Thérèse Murphy is a nun of Stanbrook Abbey. She took her first vows on 11 July 2023.