St. Benedict founded his first monastery 1500 years ago and, ever since, Benedictine spirituality has been important to the Christian Church. Today, while there continue to be many Benedictine monks and nuns (both Episcopalian and Roman Catholic), there are even more lay people of many denominations who base their life on the teachings of St. Benedict.
Many people believe that what we need most of all in these difficult times is to base our life in prayer, to offer hospitality to the stranger – especially those who are poor and those who are “searching” for God— and to live in a community of people who wish to deepen their faith every day. The Rule of Benedict teaches us how to live in peace with one another, how to listen to God and one another more deeply, and how to live a life of service.
Upon the invitation of Bishop J. Scott Barker, Brother James Michael Dowd traveled from New York City in 2016 to serve as the Diocese of Nebraska’s first monk-in-residence. Within his first year, Br. James and Bishop Barker began on a path of discernment that would lead them to a new kind of Benedictine community in Omaha, Nebraska.
This community was to be an example of Benedictine life in the 21st century; gathering to itself a multi-generational, diverse group of people who desired to live together as a Christian community in the context of Benedictine spirituality, according to the Rule of Benedict; a life of prayer; service to the poor and forgotten; and care of creation.
It would consist of three branches: The Benedictine Service Corps (one-year commitment for young adults), The Oblate Way (both residential and non-residential for adults who desire Benedictine spirituality but not vowed monastic life), and The Monastic Way (for those who seek traditional vowed monasticism). Together, this community would work to bring God’s Kingdom to earth.
After two years of discernment and through the tireless efforts of these leaders and of the entire diocese, the Community of the Benedictine Way celebrated its foundation on September 14th, 2018. The community currently lives in two houses on the campus of the Church of the Resurrection in north Omaha.