In mid-January 2019, the governing body of the Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum (CIB), the worldwide association of female Benedictine monastic communities, met at the Benedictine Abtei St. Scholastika in Dinklage, Germany.

The Moderator of the committee is Sister Lynn McKenzie, OSB, while the Abbess of Dinklage, Mother Franziska Lukas, OSB, serves as Assistant Moderator.  The body was co-founded by the former Abbess of Dinklage, Mother Máire Hickey, OSB.

At this meeting, the central issue of concern addressed the various possibilities for cooperation between women’s and men’s monastic communities, and between men and women in the Church overall, Mother Franziska noted.  In addition to her participation, the seven-member governing body also includes female monastic leaders from Australia, Belgium, Spain, Tanzania and the USA.

Abbot Primate Gregory Polan, OSB, the leader of the Benedictine Confederation that includes monasteries of men, as well as all of the world’s Benedictine Nuns and religious Sisters by association, took part in the meeting at Dinklage.  Abbot Primate Gregory has served in this role since September 2016, succeeding German Benedictine Abbot Notker Wolf, OSB.  While at the CIB meeting, Abbot Primate Gregory indicated the abbey at Dinklage to be a wonderful place with an impressive community, appreciating particularly the warm welcome of hospitality extended by the monastic community, as well as their work with the homeless and refugees who approach them for assistance.

Looking more broadly across the Benedictine Order worldwide, Abbot Primate Gregory remarked that some monastic communities have experienced significant growth, while others elsewhere have tended to stagnate.  Such instances of strong growth, and consequently of substantially large communities, may be found for example in South Korea, in the Philippines, in South Africa, and in the USA.

Abbot Primate Gregory highlighted that in order for the Church to confront successfully the challenges that she faces in our current era, monastic communities need to trust in their monastic traditions, to carry out what they as particular communities are called to do, and to serve people in the best possible way.  Through such an approach, the Church will be able to overcome the crisis that she currently faces, founding his optimistic approach well in Sacred Scripture.

During and subsequent to the CIB governance meeting of mid-January, Dinklage Abbey also spent time preparing for the formation of a European confederation of eleven Benedictine convents in Europe.  Dinklage Abbey is in the process of becoming more formally associated congregationally with ten other European women’s communities, including Nuns from Lithuania, Belgium, Spain, France, Netherlands and Sweden, in a manner that will not have impact on its legal independence as an abbey. 

At present, approximately 13,725 Benedictine Nuns and Sisters may be found worldwide, with 1,200 in Germany.  Dinklage Abbey currently has 22 Nuns between the ages of 36 and 93.  Dinklage also is having a strong impact internationally through the service of Sister Anna Eichhorn, OSB, who has worked as one of the Secretaries of the Abbot Primate since Fall 2017, at Sant’Anselmo in Rome.

(adapted from an article by LCV Oldenburg)