When it comes to the use of technology by cloistered nuns opinions abound. As with anything we allow into our life, much thought, prayer, and discussion goes on with the if's, how's, and why's of the place of technology in our contemplative life. The dangers of distraction and dissipation are certainly real, but how does technology enhance our life of prayer?
We'd like to share with you how one type of technology, the internet, has enriched our life.
One way the internet has benefited us is in the formation of our sisters, especially those in initial formation (aka the novitiate). A year or two ago we tested the waters of sharing our formation resources via the web. Using a variety of programs and finally settling on GoToMeeting, our monastery in Squamish, British Columbia was able to participate in a novitiate class taught in our monastery. This worked so well that our Canadian sisters tuned in for the next course.
With the internet, sisters from multiple monasteries are able to take classes together without leaving their monastery. This is especially helpful for monasteries who might not have the resources within their own community to provide a particular class for their young sisters.
Taking it a step further, Sr. Denise Marie (the novitiate's Monasticism instructor) arranged for a course on the Conferences and Institutes of John Cassian to be given by Fr. Terrence Kardong, OSB. Fr. Kardong is a Benedictine monk at Assumption Abbey in North Dakota. Every Wednesday at 4pm our time, 2 pm his time, sisters in three different monasteries gather around their computers for class. Each monastery is able to see, hear, and interact not only with the instructor but also with each other.
The participating monasteries in this course are Queen of Peace Monastery in British Columbia, Corpus Christi Monastery in the Bronx, and our own Monastery. It must also be mentioned that this adventure was made possible by our tech-savy Sr. Mary Ana! She sets up GoToMeeting and troubleshoots whatever problems might arise, helping the other monasteries and instructors to use the program. Thank you, Sr. Mary Ana!