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ABOVE: A batik of Hildegard of Bingen by Judith Goetemann hangs on the walls of Evin Hall, the building that currently houses the Spirituality Center/Studium, and is a symbol of dedication to the Benedictine value that is the love of learning

Studium: The Beginning Dolores Super, OSB

STUDIUM WAS ENVISIONED IN 1992. It resulted from brainstorming on how the untapped wisdom and experience of our sisters, especially our older sisters, could further our mission of service to others into the future. The Benedictine value of love of learning shaped the idea for a supportive learning community. Sister researchers, writers, editors, consultants and presenters formed such a community, and named it "Studium." In 1994, I was appointed its first director and remained in the positon until 2008. With close proximity of offices for Studium members and a commitment to a monthly meeting, opportunities abounded for collaboration, for critiquing works and for encouraging one another. From its first year, the fruit of Studium members’ work (about 15 sisters yearly) included publications, such as books and articles on women’s monasticism, spirituality and parish histories; consultations on topics including liturgy and financial concerns for religious women’s communities; editing manuscripts; and presentations, locally, nationally and abroad on many topics, including aspects of our monastery’s history and heritage.

An integral part of Studium from its beginning has been a residence program for guest scholars, providing a quiet place for work—researching, writing, editing—and a solace in knowing that others were doing likewise nearby. Scholars joined the monastic community for meals, and if desired, common prayer. During its first ten years, Studium hosted 92 residencies with scholars from 27 states and four foreign countries. Many, both religious and lay, were faculty on sabbaticals from universities and colleges, and from Protestant seminaries. Others were independent writers and artists.

Without any planning, questions and conversation between sisters and scholars at meals provided a measure of “lifelong learning” for both. Sisters listened and responded to aspects of the scholars’ work. For example, a sister from Makurdi, Nigeria, working on the history of her religious community, gave sisters a new insight into “mission”, which for her African community included giving witness to persons from various tribes—they had sisters from nine tribes—living together peaceably. For another, a faculty member from a university in Ohio, it was sharing ideas for a revision of a theology textbook. Toward the end of his stay, the scholar remarked that experiences made their way as “themes and insights” into his revision. In 2016, Studium continues to honor scholarship as a sacred ministry through the creative work of sister members and visiting scholars. Many persons, near and far, continue to benefit from their work.

Dolores Super, OSB, first director of Studium

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Benedictine Sisters and Friends, Spring Summer 2016  

Published by the Office of Mission Advancement, Saint Benedict's Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn. The purpose of Benedictine Sisters and Friends...