01/16/2013 04:15 pm ET Updated Apr 15, 2013

Does Digital Communication Affect Spirituality?

In 2003, when Sister Catherine Wybourne’s Digitalnun helped form a community of Benedictine nuns in Oxfordshire, England, she knew they could not afford to pursue the order’s mission of hospitality. Based in rented quarters with little financial support, Wybourne and her sisters had neither the space nor the resources to welcome seekers, strangers and others in need. But Wybourne, a former banker who is intrigued by technology, believed a virtual community could express “traditional Benedictine hospitality in contemporary form.” The sisters launched a website that dispenses spiritual teachings via podcasts and videos, hosts conferences, sponsors online retreats, offers a prayer line, and allows participants to “converse” with the nuns. By enabling visitors to “share in the monastery’s life without physically journeying to us,” the nuns embrace a worldwide community, many of whom would not have come to the monastery.

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