U.S. Region hosts first virtual Juniors Conference

U.S. monks and nuns of the Order participated in the region’s first virtual Junior Conference online this summer.

The Junior Conference is usually a two-week event hosted at a different U.S. Trappist house each year. The formation opportunity gives the monks and nuns in simple vows the opportunity to meet with their peers in the region and experience the Cistercian way of life at another house. Through daily conferences, they also explore a particular aspect of Cistercian spirituality in depth.

The 2020 junior conference was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Because of continued uncertainty at the start of the year, a one-week online event was planned for 2021. Seventeen monks and nuns from ten houses participated in the virtual event June 21 through June 25.

Fr. Daniel Hombergen of Guadalupe Abbey spoke each morning on the wisdom of the desert fathers, with particular attention paid to Evagrius’ eight negative thoughts. During the afternoon, the juniors gathered online again to discuss the morning’s presentation and share their own thoughts and experiences.

A patristics expert, Fr. Daniel taught and served as a dean at the Benedictine college of Sant’Anselmo in Rome for many years. He was also abbot of Maria-Toevlucht Abbey in Zundert, Netherlands from 2007 to 2017.

Participants said that the discussions were rich and that the subject matter was particularly relevant to them as monks and nuns in formation.

As the Order’s Secretary of Formation in the United States, Sr. Pamela Clinton of Wrentham organized the online event – the first of its kind in the region. She noted that the Zoom event was not intended to replace the annual in-person conferences. Rather, the virtual gathering prevented depriving the U.S. juniors of this unique opportunity for discussion and connection with their peers for a second year as the country continued to pull through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thank you to Sr. Pamela, Fr. Daniel and all the participating monasteries for their work and flexibility in offering this opportunity to our junior monks and nuns.