Thursday, February 8, 2018

ANTICIPATING ST. BENEDICT

Sister Elizabeth Grace was one of the first people I met when we migrated to The Mountain at Sewanee, Tennessee ten years ago. She belongs to the Order of St. Mary, a group of Anglican sisters who welcome strangers and friends to their Convent any day of the week for the prayer and offices to which they’ve made a lifetime commitment. Sister Elizabeth and four other Anglican sisters focus on God’s generosity to prepare for this season of Lent and Holy Easter and, like St. Benedict of Subiaco who formed monasteries on mountain tops, live out the Rule in a convent perched at 2,000 feet on the bluff at Sewanee. 

To prepare for Lent, Sister Elizabeth has been invited by the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany here in New Iberia, Louisiana to present a program on The Benedictine Way of Life and will be honored with a potluck supper on March 1 to share her story of living out the Benedictine Rule and to invite Epiphanites to become Associates and Oblates of the St. Mary Community. She’s also looking forward to an exchange of cultures — learning about the Acadian culture she’s heard Dr. Sullivan and me tout at breakfasts following Morning Prayer and Eucharist in the refectory at the Convent of St. Mary weekly (when I’m on The Mountain). Although she’ll miss Mardi Gras, she says she’s still looking forward to passing a special time in Cajun Country any time of the year.

During my ten years on The Mountain, I’ve enjoyed the hospitality of the Order of St. Mary and have been an active Associate, as well as a Board member for the Convent. Several years ago, I helped to plan a musical fundraiser with Brenda Lowry and “Bubba” Murrell of New Iberia who performed for over 100 people in the Sewanee community (and raised enough funds to sponsor interns at the Convent of St. Mary for three years). Sister Elizabeth had fun “rocking” with our bayou country musicians and has wanted to visit New Iberia since that occasion. Yesterday, when we exchanged e-mails, she said she was listening to a CD our musicians created a few years ago. 


We hope to show Sister Elizabeth Grace the hospitality of our historic Episcopal Church and a few of the sites that exemplify the Cajun experience while she’s here telling us about the life of the Spirit and mountaintop experiences at Sewanee. She will make her presentation at 6 p.m. in the Parish Hall of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany on Main Street. If you’d like to read more in poetic form about these inspiring Sisters who live out a Rule as St. Benedict outlined it, my tribute to this Anglican Order, In A Convent Garden, is available. Click on the title to order from Amazon.

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