Chapter 64 of the Rule explains that "In choosing an abbot, the guiding principle should always be that the man placed in office be the one selected either by the whole community acting unanimously in the fear of God, or by some part of the community, no matter how small, which possesses some sounder judgment. Goodness of life and wisdom in teaching must be the criteria for choosing the one to be made abbot, even if he is the last in community rank."
We spent four days in prayerful discernment during our Chapter of Election. It was an amazing experience to consider all the sisters' gifts & talents, and how those could be shared as the prioress of our community. All throughout the prayer and discussion and prayer and balloting and prayer and more voting, I found a great peace in the faith that Jesus Christ was guiding our discernment through the gift of the Spirit (for which we prayed at every celebration of our Liturgy of the Hours). The culmination of these days was our 'canonical' election which is the decisive balloting for prioress. Our sister Penny Bingham was chosen as prioress of Sacred Heart Monastery.
Following the election were the two most enheartening parts of the whole process (for me). We all approached Sr. Penny, placed our hands in hers or hugged her, and offered our support. I have to admit to a few tears in my eyes as our elders would come up to her and offer their prayers with great love in their voices. The agape with wine and homemade bread was a wonderfully joy filled time as well. The sisters celebrated in the Chapter room with Sr. Baker's fresh bread in one hand, a bit of wine in the other, and greeted each other with hope, joy, and faith-filled anticipation for our future. It was beautiful to listen to the blessed sound of laughter fill the room.