It has been nearly 11 years since I hung out with teenage girls and, probably, 15 years since I have been around teenage boys and girls together. This past weekend the Monastery hosted 14 students from St. Bede Academy, Peru, Illinois. Anyone over 40 can appreciate how I am still recovering!
I spend two years working at St. Bede’s as Dean of Women and a coach. I loved it and enjoyed getting to be friends with many of the Benedictine men who operated the school. Fr. Ronald and I have been friends ever since. As the Chaplain, Fr. Ron chose Hospitality as the school theme. We arranged two weekends with the Benedictine Sisters so the students could get a feeling for our particular hospitality.
It was especially great that March 21 was the Feast of Benedict and the students joined the Sisters for the Vigil of the Feast. Sr. Phyllis, our Prioress, gave a great reflection that was geared, primarily, towards the students. They really appreciated that and got the message!!
One afternoon we visited a shelter for homeless men and women. We all learned a great deal from the Director about the initiatives that not only provide temporary housing but long-term low-income housing that aids families as they get back on their financial feet. The Program Director gave us a tour and explained they no one is ever turned away or put back on the street. The shelter provides job training, education and grooming for their clients. I explained that St. Mary’s is too small in number to do such a big mission (this one is sponsored by the Humility Sisters), so we help by donating a certain amount of money to their programs.
I would say the highlight of the weekend was having a sing-a-long with Sr. Charlotte, playing the Apples to Apples game and talking with the Sisters. On Saturday evening one of the boys cooked an Italian dinner for the the group. Then, some of us watched the NCAA basketball games while others watched the latest Harry Potter DVD.
It was a wonderful, high-energy weekend that allowed us to share our Benedictine hospitality with a group of delightful young people.