Sister Michelle Sinkhorn, OSB
Monastery of the Immaculate Conception,
Wisdom Connections T4
The Wisdom Connections T4 program, which has been in place for six years, has become a common monastery word for many Benedictine communities. The official name of the program is Wisdom Connections: Timeless Traditions↔Technological Times and is often called the T4 program or simply T4 for short. T4 is a Benedictine Formation program which uses technology to provide initial and ongoing formation classes for members of Benedictine communities. The program is also used to connect newer members and their formation directors with each other across the world.
The program was originally funded by a generous grant from the GHR Foundation and was implemented by many Benedictine sisters throughout the United States. During the grant period, the first 3 years, participation in the program was limited. However, since the end of the official grant, the program has been opened up as a membership-based opportunity for women’s and men’s Benedictine communities from anywhere in the world.
There are currently 49 monasteries in the T4 program. They are from seven different countries – Australia, Canada, Ireland, Korea, Lithuania, Nigeria, and the United States. There currently are a total number of 2,499 community members in the T4 communities.
The T4 program offers access to a secure digital library with presentations by Benedictine scholars such as Abbot Primite Gregory Polan, Sister Irene Nowell, Fr. Jerome Kodell, Sister Ephrem Hollarman, Fr. Terrence Kardong, Sister Joan Chittister, and many more. Some topics include Benedictine History, Liturgy of the Hours, Profession/Vows, Rule of St. Benedict, Scripture, Benedictine Spirituality, and Personal Awareness/Development. There are currently over 312 videos in the library with 44 different presenters. Several more presentations / classes are still in the process of being taped and edited.
The T4 program also offers access to a variety of resources to go along with the videos. A biography page is provided for each presenter. This page includes a photo of and information about the presenter as well as titles and descriptions of all presentations s/he has in the T4 library. For presentations where it is applicable, there is also access to handouts and any other supporting documents provided by the presenters. These can be printed out or saved electronically and used for classes or formation days.
For ease of use, a full list of all presentations in the T4 library is easily available on the T4 web page. For members, this document has clickable hyperlinks that go directly to the biographies, videos, and handouts. If a little more guidance is needed, members have access to T4 specific instructional materials including a T4 Technology Handbook and homemade videos showing how to use various parts of the T4 program. While most communities are able to figure everything out with these resources, if a community needs a little extra technological help, a 1-2 day in-person T4 orientation and training in English may be available (this is an added expense above the membership fee).
If T4 members so choose, there is opportunity for your initial formation members and initial formation directors to participate in T4 Relationship Building groups using a video conferencing program called Zoom. These groups are organized by T4 volunteer committee members and run by T4 volunteer moderators. Each group of initial formation members and their moderators meet on a regular basis at set times, depending on what each group decides. It is an opportunity for new members to share their journeys with each other, ask questions they might have, or study something specific together.
Likewise, the formation directors have their own groups in which they can share their experiences, formation curriculums, joys, struggles, and more. There are 34 initial formation members in the U.S.A participating in relationship-building groups, and 14 in Australia and 22 formation directors in groups of 5-6 each.
If your community is interested in T4, the newly renovated website includes pages with information about the program as well as a downloadable list of the presentations included in the program. Also included on the web page is a list of benefits that come with paid T4 membership as well as testimonials of current T4 members.
The T4 membership fee is $500 U.S. dollars per year due every December 1st. This membership fee grants access to all the T4 resources. A downloadable membership form is available on the home page of the T4 web site: www.wisdomconnectionst4.org