Judith Valente, a journalist with PBS‘ Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, spent a week a month for nearly a year at Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, KS for a book project. Her time there did result in an interesting segment shown on PBS October 30, 2009. (You can read the transcript or, perhaps, see the 10 minute video on that site.)
As often happens, what began as a journalist’s story became a period of personal transformation, which she shared in an essay on the R&E website. “I admit I questioned at first what practical wisdom a monastery might hold for a modern, married, professional woman like me,” she wrote. “It turns out I’ve learned plenty.”
She goes on to describe the monastery: “I used to think of monasteries as outmoded remnants of a past era. But now, when I enter Mount St. Scholastica, I feel as if I’m peering into the future, a future our world so desperately needs—one that stresses community over competitiveness, service over self-aggrandizement, quietude over gratuitous talk, and simplicity over constant consumption.”
Her deeply personal essay “Building a Monastery of the Heart” provides an excellent picture into the encounter of secular people with monastic life. One of the oblates of Mount St. Scholastica viewed the film on R&E Newsweekly and wrote in the comments:
Don Says: As an Oblate or lay member of [Mount St. Scholastica], and not a Roman Catholic, I can testify that what is presented is absolutely true. Trying to live by the monastic rule for the last 15 years has changed my life for the better. Next to my blood family the sisters are my closest friends, confidants and spiritual partners and companions.