Keeping in touch with our oblates and associates became much easier once we began to use web conferencing. These online meetings were, and are, private; but it seemed logical to take the idea one step further and invite people to meet the nuns in real time without having to journey to the monastery. If, at the same time, we could preserve the peace and recollection of the community, so much the better. Thus was born our online Virtual Chapter.
As Benedictines we decided to adopt a format already familiar to us, that of the chapter. The meeting opens with prayer, there is then some input (often a talk from the prioress), followed by a general discussion. The chapter closes again with prayer and, if a priest is online, a blessing.
Our early experiments met with mixed success. Although we had participants from Australia, Canada, Japan and the U.S.A., the vagaries of British broadband and hiccups in the Talkshoe conferencing system sometimes led to much frustration. You can listen to a recording one of the earlier chapters here:
Virtual Chapter of 6 May 2010 on the interior/missionary dimension of Christianity
We have been using a combination of Dimdim and Ustream and, occasionally, Skype for the past few months. However, since DimDim was bought out by another company in January 2011, we have had to scrap plans to use the DimDim interface and are now trialling AnyMeeting. It's good and has worked well for an oblate affiliation, but we are also working on a conference room set-up of our own. Please bookmark this page and check back for details in late October. If you would like to suggest a topic for discussion or submit a question in advance, please use the form below.