This year I am taking a little time to connect with a Benedictine friend from Chicago. We are staying at a lake house that belongs to her community. Belinda is a wonderful women who is about my age and stage in community life (we both recently made first monastic profession).
Belinda and I met at a gathering called NADI (Novice and Directors institute) a few years ago. NADI is an inter-federation* gathering of Benedictine Sisters who are in their novice year. Its purpose is to teach about monastic life and offer connections with other women in this stage of religious life.
Participation in NADI gives us ongoing support from our peer group (the photo included is from this year’s gathering of younger Benedictine women, along with our hosts). It is wonderful to visit and share with others who are in the same place as we are! We share our joys and our struggles, our thoughts and insights. We compare notes.
One insight I’ve come away with is that we are all very much alike, even though we come from different communities. Wherever we go, we have a … sister! 🙂
So as you read this, Belinda and I are hanging out, talking, sharing, walking … even watching TV. We will hike at the local forest preserve and sit in the coffee shop together working on our computers. I truly treasure this time.
You see, even though individual monastic communities have grown smaller, with fewer women entering religious life today, we have found ways to enjoy companionship from our peers. In fact, each of our monasteries is in some way enlarged by these connections. Our family isn’t limited to the cloister walls!
I appreciate Belinda’s friendship and companionship on this journey of religious life. What a blessing to be able to have such companionship, no matter where I hang my hat!
*There are 3 federations and 1 congregation of Benedictine Sisters in the U.S. Each federation – formed to offer mutual support – includes several monastic communities.