A biennial convention focuses on a theme relevant to the Benedictine heritage. These conventions, which are held at monastic institutions around the country, are open to any interested persons.
The 2016 convention was stimulating and inspiring with its theme
KEEP DEATH DAILY BEFORE YOUR EYES
Five presentations are available on audio CD:
Kerry Egan – Reflections from a Hospice Chaplain – sharing stories from her experience with people making peace with death
Chris Kean, OSB – Death: We Know NotThe Day Nor The Hour – views of death from a Benedictine who ministers as a mortician and funeral director
Judith Valente & Kathleen Norris – What the Living Do – two well-known writers share their reflections and poetry
Terrence Kardong, OSB – Writing Obituaries – master writer and monastic scholar describes the art of sensitive and honest obituaries
The Paschal Mystery in the Life and Death of a Monastery – four people speak of the grief and hope around the end of a monastic community: Abbot Denis Quinkert’s monks dispersed to several communities; Sister Ruth Feeney’s community returned to its founding house; Sister Melissa Letts’ sisters searched for a community with which to merge; Jenny Fenner is part of an oblate group adjusting to their community’s departure
Details about the theme, features and speakers are in the AMN June 2015
Download a copy of the audio CD order form
The 2014 convention was “BENEDICTINE MONASTICISM: THE PAST RECEIVING THE FUTURE,” July 24-27, 2014, Conception Abbey – Conception, Missouri.
Father Joel Rippinger, OSB, Marmion Abbey, Aurora, Ill.
Sister Ephrem Hollermann, St. Benedict Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn.
Alden Bass, Lotus House, St. Louis, Mo.
Sister Julie Upton, RSM, St. John’s University, Queens, N.Y.
Details about the topics and speakers were in the AMN February 2014. CD audio recordings of all the presentations are available at a cost of $5 each. An order form may be downloaded here and sent with payment.
Recordings of the pre-convention presentations are also available. “Listening to the Oblate Voice: A Pre-Convention Conversation” was held Thursday, July 24, 2014. Four oblates shared ways that the Benedictine charism is being carried into the world outside the monastery.
Laura Dunham: Transmitting the Tradition through a School for Benedictine Spirituality
Kathleen Norris: An Oblate in the Middle of Nowhere
Greg Peters: The Rule of Benedict in the University and the Parish
Judith Valente: Business as Unusual: Monastic Wisdom and the Work World
These presentations are also available, using the pre-convention order form.
Previous conventions have included:
- Convention 2012 – “Seek Peace and Pursue It: Monasticism in the Midst of Global Upheaval,” St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, Minn., August 5-8.
- Convention 2010 – “Benedictines and Evangelization,” St. Benedict’s Abbey / Benedictine College, Atchison, Kan., August 5-8. 2010 Presentations may be viewed in our archive.
- 2008 – Monastic Spirituality: Expanding Merton’s Vision, Sacred Heart Monastery, Mount Marty College, Yankton, S. D., August 7-10.
- 2006 – Family: Matrix, Model, Muddle, Benedictine University, Lisle, Ill., August 10-13.
- 2004 – Monastic Culture: Revitalizing Mind and Spirit, St. Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn.
- 2002 – Monastics and Mentoring: Refounding the Tradition, University of Mary, Bismarck, N. D.
- 2000 – The Good News of Monastic Life, Saint Meinrad Archabbey. Pre-Convention Papers
- 1998 – Hospitality: Prism for the 21st Century, St. Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Penn.
Many members of the Academy belong to ABA “sections.” Sections facilitate communication during and between conventions among members who have common interests. Current sections are Visual Arts, Monastic Research, Library and Archives.
The Archives Section has been part of the ABA for decades. It is a support and education group for those who keep the archives of their monastery. The records housed in an archives are those which are no longer in current use but are of enduring value. The first issue of “Shop Talk with Archivists” appeared in January 1985 and subsequent issues contained contributions by members on a variety of topics of general interest. The Archives Section has now evolved into mostly a resource for newly appointed monastic archivists who may have had very little if any formal archival management training. The section meets during the biennial ABA conference, at which time those present discuss current projects and concerns. Prior to this meeting, the section convener has requested reports from those unable to attend and shares these with those present. Between times, section members keep in touch by e-mail on an as-needed basis. The current convener of this section is Sister Hildegard Varga, OSB.
The Monastic Researchers Section is a forum for those studying monastic history, spirituality or related fields and includes many scholars who are not members of religious communities as well as the monastics. The section meets during the biennial ABA conference to inform others of their current projects and interests and to share resources. There is a regular newsletter which announces new publications by members, topics of current research and other items to facilitate networking among those fostering scholarship in this field. Sister Ephrem Hollermann, OSB, provides a regular newsletter about the recent publications and activities of the members.
The Visual Arts Section provides for sharing and support among ABA members who practice painting/drawing, sculpture/pottery, photography, textile arts or any branch of the visual arts. They are also invited to participate in an art display at each convention. Greg Evans, oblate, is the current coordinator.
The Library Section provides a forum for monastery librarians as well as librarians of their sponsored institutions and anyone interested in monastic resources. Jack Fritts currently chairs the section.
OTHER RELATED ACTIVITIES
Benedictine Studies Sessions are sponsored by the Academy at the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI. The congress is a worldwide gathering of scholars that takes place every May, and the ABA is one of many organizations that sponsor sessions. Each organization decides its themes for the following year at the time of the meeting. In late summer a call for papers is circulated and all sessions have to be organized and confirmed by October. Thus anyone wishing to participate should consult the congress website during the designated time frame or, if someone has a particular area of interest and would like to propose a topic for a future session, they may contact the ABA organizer:
Hugh Feiss, OSB
Monastery of the Ascension
541 East 100 South
Jerome, ID 83338
CALL FOR PAPERS: Proposals for the ABA session at the next congress, May 11-14, 2017, are due by Sept. 15, 2016. The theme is “Auctoritates: Bible, Rule, Customary and Tradition in Medieval Benedictine Monasteries.”