Benedictine Charism

Avila Partnership Leads Catholic Formation Programme- Benedictine Charism Seminar

The Avila Partnership welcomed Catholic Primary and Secondary Schools to the ‘What Makes Great Catholic Schools’ fourth seminar on Thursday 12th March. The keynote speaker Fr Stephen Ortiger OSB, former Abbot of Worth Abbey and Headmaster of Worth School introduced the idea of Benedictine hospitality to the delegates. Fr Stephen who has a wealth of experience in both education and monastic life engaged delegates with ways in which they could implement Benedictine values in their own school through the medium of hospitality.  Fr Stephen explained the origins of these ideas from St Benedict and how they still hold true in the twenty first century as much as they did in the sixth. Fr Stephen expressed his understanding that education and hospitality may come to odds in difficult situations but there are still compassionate and hospitable solutions for Catholic leaders. He also stated that “Students may not remember what you said or what you did but they will always remember how you made them feel”. The talk left leaders with many ideas for their own schools and colleges reminding us all how hospitality can take many forms.

Two Benedictine Sisters from Tyburn Convent; Mother Marilla and Sister Fatima also joined us for the morning and gave presentations about their formation work with young people in New Zealand.  A project called ‘Silverion’ which is based on the stories of  JRR Tolkien like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Here young people engage with live role play using the stories as metaphors for the ongoing biblical fight of good versus evil. They hope to bring the project to England very soon. Sister Marilla, Mother General of Tyburn also contributed ideas for school chaplains as to how they could implement Benedictine values in everyday life of their chaplaincies.

The final part of the seminar was dedicated to the presentation from those delegates who went on the study tour to Australia and visited the Diocese of Cairns. They gave feedback to the other delegates about their learning opportunities whilst they were there and the structure of Catholic education in Australia. They outlined what they learnt most from the Australian model and were particularly struck by their advanced attitudes and understanding of mental health and wellbeing which allowed these delegates to explore different strategies for their own schools.

Our next seminar will discuss Ignatian Spirituality with Keynote speaker Fr Adrian Porter SJ. For further information about the programme, please email Rebecca.Paterson@avila.education

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