Research project – dont use

Research project on Contemporary Monastic Communities

2013-03-20 13.11.13

Research project

On Monday 30 March 2015 Fr Abbot and the monks of Ealing Abbey accepted an invitation to be a  ‘promotor abbey’ in an international research project on contemporary monastic communities.

The lead researcher, Dr Wim Vandewiele of KU Leuven, has established a research framework that expresses eight characteristics of its viability. It must be: sustainable, plausible, generative, expressing solidarity, co-operative, co-creative, communicative and empirically grounded. This isn’t simply a cheap list of buzz-words. 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.

Fr Abbot has agreed 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 Vandewiele has looked  for another three or four ‘promotor abbeys’ in Belgium and The Netherlands in recent months. Finding a sufficient number of ‘promotor abbeys’ is a condition for a provisional start in January 2016. An important characteristic will need to be sustainability. We wish to be involved in a medium-term vision on the finance and build-up of the collaborative network. The initial time range 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 Dr Vandewiele’s 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

Research project associate

Dom James Leachman has the support of the Abbot’s Council in employing a 20% FTE research associate (RA) who has begun to coordinate the Ealing Abbey face of the collaboration. The candidate selected is Mr Zia Ali. His responsibility has included becoming familiar with the Benedictine ethos and culture and with the different parties at Ealing Abbey who are engaged in the conversation and he has written an initial position paper, “Feeding Others: Baking bread and generating new life” and will present the second paper, “Feeding Others: Baking bread and handing on new life” in early September 2015.

Research project preparation

In a preparatory phase from April to August 2015 we have 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.

Research project stage 1

In a first phase from September 2015 to February 2016 it may be possible for the RA to co-create his own way of managing their proper initiative, for example by engaging funders so that monasteries from Africa or Asia may be engaged in the research project.

This will be the research face of Ealing Abbey in the larger initiative. 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.,  25 August 2015