For the first time in its 20-year history, the International Commission on Benedictine Education (ICBE) will hold its global conference in Australia next year, and according to Good Samaritan Education, the host of the five-day gathering, delegates will be offered a unique and distinctly Australian experience.
The international conference of the Benedictine Educators’ Network, or BENet as it is commonly known, is held every three years and offers teachers and administrators who promote a Benedictine vision of education with a forum to support and inspire each other.
BENet 2019 will be held at St Scholastica’s College, Glebe, in Sydney from September 30 to October 4, with the theme “Benedictine wisdom beneath the Southern Cross”.
Good Samaritan Education’s Executive Director, Leonie Keaney, said planning for the conference was well underway and the organising committee was excited about the program being created.
“Australia as the setting for BENet 2019 will explore the fusion of ancient and new in the Benedictine tradition as well as in Australian society and culture,” she said.
“The theme, ‘Benedictine wisdom beneath the Southern Cross’, has been chosen to express this fusion and to highlight the richness and blessings it will bring.
Leonie said BENet 2019 will also explore “new models of governance in education, embracing the diverse expressions of Benedictine spirituality which visitors from every continent and all over Australia will bring”.
The conference organising committee has invited a mix of international and Australian speakers and the program includes keynote presentations and workshops, liturgy and prayer, opportunities for discussion and reflection, as well as social events and meetings.
Confirmed keynote speakers at this stage include Kathleen Cahalan, Professor of Practical Theology at Saint John’s University School of Theology, Minnesota in the USA, and Michael Casey OCSO, from Australia, regarded as one of the most significant writers in the Benedictine and Cistercian tradition and a world-renowned retreat master, lecturer and formator.
Leonie said Terry Creagh, the Foundation Chair of Good Samaritan Education will deliver the opening address of the conference and Lee-Anne Perry, Executive Director of the Queensland Catholic Education Commission, will be the conference facilitator.
“We expect to welcome up to 100 delegates from every continent – Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, Oceania – and 150 delegates from Good Samaritan Education colleges, associated schools, other Benedictine communities and partners in Australia,” she said.
Other special guests to attend the gathering include Moira Najdecki, Chair of Good Samaritan Education, Sister Patty Fawkner, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Abbot Elias Lorenzo, President of the ICBE, and Abbot Gregory Polan, Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation.
“It’s going to be wonderful,” said Leonie.
“I think it’s quite an occasion for the Good Samaritan Benedictine tradition here in Australia.
“The ICBE wanted us to host BENet. The ICBE specifically asked, made it clear that it be held here in Australia. They’re very interested in the ecclesial community model that we have here in Good Samaritan Education because there’s nothing like it elsewhere.
“So we have a unique set of circumstances here in Australia which they’re keen to learn from.”
Good Samaritan Education is the ecclesial community established by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan in 2011 to oversee the ethos, mission and stewardship of the ten incorporated Good Samaritan Colleges in Australia.
Registrations for BENet 2019 opened in October 2018. For more information and bookings, visit the conference website https://www.benet2019.org