Thursday, October 17, 2013

Br. Lorenzo Conocido Joins MAS Journalism

By Brother Lorenzo Conocido

In chapter 54 of the Rule of Saint Benedict, it states that the abbot is to provide all things necessary - tunic, belt, shoes, knife, handkerchief.  Included in the list are a stylus and writing tablets as personal necessities.  In this day and age, monks have access to computers and color printers, not to mention even android tablets and wifi.  Whether it's hours in the scriptorium or seconds on a blog site, writing is part and parcel of a monk's life.

Brother Lorenzo Conocido - photo by Sister Hilda Kleiman

Better Late Than Never
So taking a journalism class this semester just made a lot of sense to me as a monk.  However, I almost missed the class having been stranded in the Philippines due to my visa processing as I tried to come back home after attending my father's funeral last summer.

Coming three weeks late to Sister Hilda's journalism class, I was humbled by her generosity when she accepted me in the class and allowed me to catch up on what I missed.  Part of what I have to make up for, though, is to interview somebody in the class and write and an article about the person as a profile introduction of this year's journalism students.  However, since everybody in the class has already been paired up with somebody, I am left with nobody but to humbly introduce myself as the latest (yes, by three weeks!) addition to this year's journalism roster.

A Little about Myself
I'm Brother Lorenzo, a junior monk from Mount Angel Abbey.  I entered the monastery in 2011.  With my background in marketing, photography, and web development, I was assigned to work on the Abbey website and am now the website administrator.  That's the major reason why I'm taking this class.  Keeping a website current requires that you should have a journalism toolkit handy - writing, following stories and people, interviewing persons, researching, taking photos, and these are the things I want to learn in this class.

Today, social media and networking has become the common platform for communication, and I hope to contribute to our MAS Journalism Blog as well as our website stories that reflect our community life, photos that capture real moments of real people, and most of all our testimonies of experiences of Christ here on the hilltop.

You, My Story
On the other hand, journalism can be somewhat counter-cultural to a monk.  I remember back in my postulancy formation that one of the norms that was introduced to us was the custody of the eyes, meaning gawking at people and always looking out for some action that interrupts the atmosphere of silence and recollection, whether in thoughts or in words.  Verse 56 of Chapter 7 of the Rule even says that a monk should control his tongue and remain silent unless asked a question since in a flood of words you will not avoid sinning (Prov. 10:19).  I should stop here right now!

However, if there's also one thing the Rule encourages me to pursue in this class it's found in the very first word of the its Prologue.  The word is Listen.  I love listening to people's stories - experiences and emotions that are unique to each individual, aspiration that moves a person, moments that edify the spirit!  This is why I'm here, in this class, not to stick my nose to where it doesn't belong, but to lend an ear, and with your permission, to write something about it and share it with others in the spirit of service and charity.

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