Research project on Contemporary Monastic Communities
On Monday 30 March 2015 Fr Abbot accepted an invitation for Ealing Abbey to be a ‘promotor abbey’ in an international research project on contemporary monastic communities.
Dr Wim Vandewiele, the lead researcher, of KU Leuven has established a research framework that expresses eight characteristics of the project’s viability: sustainable, plausible, generative, expressing solidarity, co-operative, co-creative, communicative and empirically grounded. Every feature must be logically interlinked with other features. Each feature must be concretely translatable into the goals and actions of the different partners of this international research platform.
Dr Vandewiele and Fr Abbot write, “We are happy that Ealing Abbey will be a ‘promotor abbey (OSB)’ in the initial collaborative network that we will create around the international research line on contemporary monastic communities”.
Dr Vandeweile has identified another four ‘promotor abbeys’ in Belgium, the Netherlands and elsewhere in recent months. Finding a sufficient number of ‘promotor abbeys’ was a condition for a provisional start in February 2016.
An important characteristic of the research project is sustainability. We wish to be involved in a medium-term vision on the finance and build-up of the collaborative network. The initial range our lead researcher suggests is a period of 5 years (2016-2020).
The two working languages will be Dutch and English.
Dom James Leachman has accepted an invitation to be the lead researcher’s ‘monastic’ sparring partner in creating this framework during the coming weeks and months. There is also an ‘academic’ sparring partner already in place. These two conversation partners will strengthen the framework by anticipating as much as possible any emerging questions and expectations and by maintaining a realistic balance of interests.
Research project associate
Fr Abbot has approved Dom James Leachman’s proposal that Zia Ali be employed as 20% FTE research associate (RA). Zia has begun by coordinating the Ealing Abbey face of the research collaboration.
Research project pre-preparation
In a pre-preparatory phase from April to August 2015 Zia’s first responsibility was to become familiar with the Benedictine ethos and culture and with the different parties at Ealing Abbey who are engaged in the conversation. He and Dom James worked co-creatively and responsibly to engage the Benedictine Study & Arts Centre, Liturgy Institute, St Bede Library, Ealing Abbey Music & Centre for Integral Humanism under the umbrella of Benedictine Institute. In this period Zia has written a position paper for 1 July, “Feeding Others: Baking bread and generating life” and “Feeding Others: Baking bread and handing on new life” for 1 September 2015.
Research project preparation
In a preparatory phase from September 2015 to February 2016 Dr Vandwiele has discussed with several monasteries their planned involvement in the research project.
Zia Ali is working with Fr Abbot and others to co-create and manage his proper initiative. Zia will write a third position paper for 15 December, proposed title, “Preparing the Harvest’ or ‘Readying the Harvest”.
Zia may later decide to design a course that could be based at College for Life (a new initiative of Ealing Abbey) and that engages diverse groups and values diversity. Structures of supervision, mentoring, safeguarding financing and advertising will need to be in place. Zia may engage funders to support such new study programmes for young people.
Research project stage 1
After the planned start of the research project in February 2016 the research face of Ealing Abbey in the larger initiative will become clearer.
In this way Ealing Abbey can effectively be a ‘promotor abbey’ in this international research project on contemporary monastic communities
© Ealing Abbey, James Leachman, O.S.B., 11 December 2016