Second International Lay Cistercian Encounter

We believe the moment has come…

Our Lady of the Holy Spirit • Conyers, Georgia • April 24-30, 2002

Dear Abbots and Abbesses gathered together at the General Chapters of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance,

We send you this letter from nearly one hundred participants from twenty-six communities of Lay Cistercians associated with monasteries in Canada, Chile, France, Ireland, Nigeria, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the United States and Venezuela.

We are lay men and women who feel deeply the call to be seekers of God within the Cistercian tradition. We accept the Rule of St. Benedict as our guide for living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

From the richness and the diversity of our groups, similar values and practices bind us together. These include:

  • lectio divina
  • individual, communal and liturgical prayer
  • simplicity of life
  • conversatio morum
  • interior silence and contemplation
  • work as a way to holiness

During the past fifteen years we believe the Holy Spirit has drawn together communities of Lay Cistercians in different parts of the world. Since 1994 there have been periodic meetings among groups in several countries to exchange information. The first international exchange among twelve communities took place at Quilvo, Chile in January of 2000.

The growing numbers of new communities and individuals seeking our help in following the Cistercian way present us with some challenges. These include the role of cenobitic guidance, initial and ongoing formation, the relationship between the host monastery and the Lay Cistercian community, and the life of the Lay Cistercians in the world.

We believe the moment has come to ask you for a word of wisdom and encouragement for our endeavors to live the Cistercian charism in the world. Thus we ask the General Chapters to discern the authenticity of this work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The fraternal help and prayer of the Order is an important element in our authentic response to the presence of Jesus in our hearts and to the renewal of the Church in this new millennium.

We are grateful to those twenty monks and nuns who participated with us at Our Lady of Holy Spirit Abbey for the Encounter, and those who sustain us by their prayers and assistance.

We pray in thanksgiving for all the members of Cistercian Houses around the world whose vocation is a source of spiritual strength to the Church and us.