Junior course for monks and nuns in formation, 1-7 July 2013

As Secretary for Formation for the region, along with Fr. Michael Burleigh of Mount St. Bernard, I have been asked to write a few words on the recent Junior course held in the first week of July. It was hosted by the monastery Mount St. Bernard in Leicestershire, England. Our speaker was Fr. Jim McManus and the theme was ‘True self-esteem’.

He took us on an interesting journey of what it means to have true self-esteem, starting with atheism, bringing us to scripture, navigating through the Vatican encyclicals, incorporating the theology of the body by Blessed John Paul 11 and touched into many more writers and pray-ers.

The weather was a little timid at first with overcast skies and moody clouds but on Friday our day ‘out’ the sun arrived. We visited the ruins of Rievaulx where St.Aelred had been abbot. We had a wonderful guide in Fr. Oswald of Ampleforth. We then went to Ampleforth for the office of Sext and a lavish buffet lunch, many thanks to Fr. Oswald and Ampleforth for all their hospitality and kindness. We then headed off to Stanbrook for tea and scones. Mother Andrea gave us a guided tour of the new eco friendly monastery. It is set snuggly in a valley and enjoys sweeping views of pastoral beauty. We wish Stanbrook well as they continue to fund raise for a new church.

Fr. Jim conducted a healing service on his penultimate day and concluded his course Saturday morning. Dom Erik, the superior of Mount St. Bernard, then took up the challenge of giving us two talks on a ancient monastic text showing us how it also conveyed the values of true self-esteem.

The week was brought to a fitting end by a BBQ organized by Br. Adam of Mount St. Bernard. It became a celebration not only for the participants of the junior course but also for the hosting community. It is customary to celebrate the life of a monk when he dies. During the course the community had been keeping vigil at the bedside of Br. Gabriel. He was 99 and the longest serving monk of the community….77 years. He was held in true high esteem and died peacefully and joyfully.

Thank you Fr. Jim, thank you Mount St Bernard, thank you Michael and thanks to all the juniors for making this course a very enjoyable experience.

– Sr Michelle Miller ocso

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