Monks and nuns responsible for guiding new members through the initial formation process in the monastic communities of the Region of the Isles of the Cistercian family gathered at Mellifont Abbey, Co. Louth, Ireland from 28th February until 4th March 2023 for the purposes of further training, collaboration and support. In attendance were Fr Rufus and Fr Bavo, Mellifont Abbey, Sr Edith and Sr Usia, Holy Cross Abbey, Wales, Sr Christina and Sr Renata from TautraMariakloster in Norway, Br Barry, Sancta Maria Abbey, Nunraw, Scotland, Fr John and Fr Denis Luke, Mount Melleray Abbey, and Sr Mary Helen, Hyning Monastery, U.K. Sr Ann Flynn, Junior Director and Sr Sarah Branigan, Vocations and Novice Director at St. Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn, were both very happy to have the opportunity to attend the meeting.
The meeting included a two day workshop on the various aspects of the vocation discernment journey together with exploring formative relationships and human development in initial formation. The input and facilitation was conducted by clinical psychologists Gerard Perry and Rosario Power. Topics covered were:
- Human Development
- Formation Relationships
- Formator Supports (Supervision)
- Applicants Journey
- Postulant / Novice Development (Stages & Challenges)
We are indebted to Gerard Perry and Rosario Power for the enrichment we gained for our formation ministry from their shared expertise and professional experience as well as to the community at Mellifont Abbey for their warm hospitality. The spiritual and temporal support of the host monastic community held us and gave us the freedom to engage deeply both in the workshop and in our sharing that resulted in a very worthwhile and enjoyable meeting.