Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ancient traditions for a modern world

Episcopal News service piece on a "new" religious order.

Companion of St. Luke re-interpret Benedict's Rule

Sixteen years ago, Michael-John Austin approached his parish priest in Chicago about the possibility of founding a new type of religious community in the Episcopal Church.
"He said he thought I could do it -- and then added that I was out of my mind," Abbot Michael-John, as he is now known, remembers with a smile.

The Companions of St. Luke, he says, has become one of the fastest-growing religious communities in the United States. From its beginning in Chicago to its current location in southeast Iowa, it draws on ancient traditions of Benedictine spirituality interpreted in innovative ways.

"Our charism is to make monastic life available to everyone: single, married, with children or without, whether they are able to live at the abbey or not," says Abbot Michael-John, 57.

The community is one of three Episcopal Benedictine orders in the United States. It combines characteristics of an order (typically made up of vowed, celibate members) and a community (which can include married people and usually has no mother house). Its members range in age from 35 to the late 70s. Many work in the health field, in part because of the community's connection to St. Luke, the patron of physicians.

The rest is here -


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