There is a world premiere event happening in late March at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.
But you don’t need to find an evening gown or tuxedo.
The Benedictine Institute at SJU will be releasing a series of 14 educational videos known as BEN Talks beginning Wednesday, March 24 to help viewers gain a better understanding of the Benedictine history and values that shape the culture of the campus communities.
Similar to TED Talks, BEN Talks are short (roughly 15 minutes each) and feature monastics from both Saint Benedict’s Monastery and Saint John’s Abbey discussing topics ranging from hospitality, justice, listening and respect for persons.
There were two reasons for producing the BEN Talks, according to Rodger Narloch, director of the Benedictine Institute.
“We wanted a set of resources we could have online that people could utilize in a variety of different ways,” Narloch said. “We wanted some kind of foundational video material that people could access to educate themselves better in regard to what the Benedictine perspective is all about, and we wanted that for a variety of sources.”
The second reason involves the new Integrations Curriculum now in use at CSB and SJU, which includes a “Benedictine Raven” requirement. The intent of this requirement is to “encourage students to reflect on a Benedictine perspective throughout their curricular work giving particular attention to the practices, values and heritage of the Benedictine tradition.”
“We figured it would be a great resource to have these videos available for faculty to show in their classes or assign to students to watch as homework to get a better understanding of the Benedictine perspective,” Narloch said.
Here’s how the BEN Talks rollout will work.
On the March 24 debut date, the Benedictine Institute will publicize links to a promotional video featuring Narloch, a series introductory piece by Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB, and a video to one of the Benedictine values. Stewart’s video will introduce St. Benedict, the Rule of St. Benedict and monasticism and “should be watched first if one has little familiarity with those topics,” Narloch said.
The Benedictine Institute will then publicize another video each week for 12 weeks. However, all the videos will be available on the Benedictine Institute webpage and in Digital Commons on the premiere date.
Here are the specific BEN Talks videos and their presenters:
- Series overview, “Wisdom Throughout the Ages,” Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB.
- “Awareness of God,” Fr. Michael Peterson, OSB.
- “Community Living,” Sr. JoAnne Backes, OSB.
- “Conversion,” Fr. Efrain Rosado, OSB.
- “Dignity of Work,” Sr. Mary Weidner, OSB.
- “Hospitality,” Fr. William Skudlarek, OSB.
- “Justice,” Sr. Kerry O’Reilly OSB.
- “Listening,” Sr. Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB.
- “Moderation,” Br. Paul-Vincent Niebauer, OSB.
- “Obedience,” Abbot John Klassen, OSB.
- “Peace,” Sr. Josue Behnen, OSB.
- “Respect for Persons,” Fr. Michael Patella, OSB.
- “Stability,” Sr. Christian Morris, OSB.
- “Stewardship,” Sr. Pat Ruether, OSB.
With the COVID-19 pandemic halting in-person meetings and gatherings, Narloch said the videos provide another useful outlet.
“Most of what we do at the Benedictine Institute is to try to bring people together to educate them about the Benedictine perspective,” Narloch said. “During COVID-19, when we’re not able to bring people together, we thought, ‘What can we do to help this initiative in the long term?’ We figured this would be a perfect time to develop these materials that can be used in perpetuity.”