Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum

Wednesday 17 September: Final Day of the Symposium

Wednesday 17 September
Final Day of the Symposium, Saint Hildegard of Bingen

Morning Session

It was the feast of Saint Hildegard of Bingen, we found at our places cards of an icon of St Hildegard written by Sr Paula at Mount Sr Scholastica, USA, and Terce included some passages from the writings of St Hildegard.

Alliance InterMonastères (AIM)

Sr Gisela spoke to us about her work of fundraising for AIM, outlining the current situation with regard to fund raising. This was followed by a break.

Listen to Sr Gisela:–

Sr Gisela

Leadership Course

After the break we sang ‘Gaudeamus Hodie’, then Fr Luigi Gioia spoke to us about the LRB Program, a leadership course which is held at San Anselmo in July. Fr Gioia, the director of leadership course, is librarian and teacher of systematic theology and spirituality at San Anselmo.

Fr Gioia’s talk was followed by an opportunity for questions or comments. Sr Gisela emphasized that no one need be excluded from attending the course because of inability to pay course fee or air fare, as Fr Luigi and AIM would try to find funds.

Listen to Fr Luigi Gioia:–

Fr Luigi Gioia

Then came the final round of the ‘Hello!’ activity with our facilitators, which had continued throughout the Symposium, staring with having to remember the names of five Symposium participants and increasing in difficulty each day. Now, although the rules were a little puzzling to some of us, it emerged that table 5 had won, and they received their prize—a short serenade on flute and violin by Sr Caterina and Sr Celina!

Afternoon Session

After Mass, lunch and siesta time, we assembled outside for a group photo, Br Simon and Sr Colleen appeared with their cameras at an upstairs window and tried to get us into order, eventually meeting with some success.

click here for a large group photo

see also photos by Br Simon (Flickr)

After None we were invited to surface possible themes for the next Symposium, in 2018. To get us into the right frame of mind, our facilitators screened a delightful short video: ‘It’s Smarter to Travel in Groups’. (This video can be found on YouTube)

This was followed by many very big THANK YOU’S from Sr Judith Ann—followed by a big thank you to Sr Judith Ann from the Abbot Primate, she asked him to give us his blessing, which he did.

Listen to Sr Judith Ann:–

Sr Judith Ann

Closing Ritual

Vespers was a bit earlier than usual, followed, after a silent break, by the Closing Ritual:


The Scriptures, Rule of Saint Benedict, and globe were incensed, during which we sang ‘Song at the Center’ by Marty Haurgen.

Watch the incensing ceremony (YouTube)

Prayer and Reading

This was followed by a prayer and a reading from the Prologue in English, Français, Deutsch, Español, Italiano.

Ritual of Blessing

Delegates from the regions then came forward one at a time to bless sisters and nuns from their regions, saying, in their own languages: ‘May God strengthen you to listen in all ways with the ear of your heart and faithfully practice God’s ways of peace and love’.

Call and Mutual Blessing

We were called in regions to receive a gift from Sr Judith Ann, a pearl-coloured ceramic shell with the word ‘Obsculta’ painted on it in gold. These had been commissioned by the Italian abbesses from an artist in North Italy.
After three regions were called, we sang the response ‘Obsculta, obsculta me inclina aurem cordis tui’, which had been used throughout the Symposium.

This was followed by a short reading in English from Julian of Norwich:
‘Thanking is a true understanding of who we really are. With reverence and awe we turn ourselves around toward the working that our good Lord incites us to do, enjoying and thanking our real selves. True thanking is to enjoy God.’

Sign of Peace

We took time to thank one another at our tables for our time together, and offered each other a sign of peace.

Prayer (said by Sr Judith Ann)

‘O God, may this time we have been together fill us with hope and open us to deeper listening. May we be instruments of reconciliation, peace, and unity in our Church, our communities, and to whomever we meet.
This we ask in Jesus name, now and forever. Amen.’

Closing Song

We sang ‘Malo, Malo’, a song of thanksgiving by Jesse Manibusan which uses fifteen languages, as well as alleluia!

Cultural Night

Supper was followed by our ‘Cultural Night’, held in the refectory. It began with a traditional Indian dance, and continued with presentations from all over the world, dances and songs.

We ended with a ‘Blessing Dance’, and we had reached the end of a truly inspiring eight days!

photos by Sr Colleen Quinlivan Flickr (Flickr)