AGM, Santi Forest Monastery, Bundanoon – 9th December, 2017
Warm greetings to the Sangha, the committee, and other members attending the AGM.
This year has been quite a busy year for Santi in different ways, for both the monastery residents and the Santi committee, and at times we may have struggled to keep up with it all, but we are coming to the end of the year with much hope and goodwill for the future of Santi Nuns’ Monastery as we move into 2018.
Venerble Nirodha Bhikkhuni has summed up the year from the monastic and lay resident perspective in her sangha news report. So I will just give a brief overview of things from the committee perspective. In April this year, myself (Jitindriya) was invited onto the committee and elected as President/Chair with Elizabeth Rowe leaving the position, and Margaret Smith was invited on and elected as Secretary, with Kamalini resigning from that position.
Since then, the committee has addressed and managed several significant areas of concern, including:
- finalising the Safety Assessment Report on the Big Cave and an implementation plan;
- having a health and safety audit completed re the Cave and its use (more in progress);
- started improving the drainage issues in the Cave;
- have begun to look at the drainage and other issues outside the Cave and the surrounding area of the Kwan Yin statue;
- clarified and addressed the DGR (Deductible Gift Recipient) status, and SBF (School Building Fund) compliance;
- reviewed and updated our insurance policies, which now include Directors’ and Managers’ Insurance;
- began the process of the constitution review regarding the current inconsistencies in the document and the functioning of the committee (which will continue through next year);
- created and supplemented WHS policies and procedures for Santi FM
Additionally, those of us on the ground at Santi have been taking stock of the maintenance requirements around the monastery grounds and buildings and are attempting to get some quotes from various tradespeople for work needed, (this process seems to take a long time!). We continue with cleaning up various areas of the monastery and sorting through the inevitable accumulation of things that happens over time, clearing out what is no longer necessary or useful and making space. And of course, the maintenance of the forest paths and roads continue as an ongoing necessity at Santi.
I’ve been doing my best to keep up with website maintenance, updating content, and doing posts from time to time to keep supporters informed of events and news from the monastery; and have also made a start on developing a database of SFM members.
With both Sue and Richard moving on from Santi in December after 2-3 years of long term residence, we’ve also been busy in the last few weeks getting inductions from them re their respective areas of responsibility in the day to day running of the monastery, including all areas of office admin, financial accounts, kitchen and dana rosters, guest accommodations, and other works and projects on the go.
This year on the committee we’ve had quite a turnover of office holders and some new committee members coming on board. In addition to Margaret Smith and myself joining in April, we’ve also welcomed Dhash Dhash, Jen Smith, and Lalitha Malinee onto the committee in September.
Dhash will replace Ranjan as Treasurer, and Harshani will replace Richard as Public Officer.
While Ranjan will stay on the committee, we will be saying goodbye to both Richard and Sue, as they are moving further afield, and we thank them immensely for all their wonderful service to Santi FM during their time here, both as residents and committee members – it’s been very much appreciated. And of course we wish them both all the very best for their future endeavours.
Many thanks also to Ranjan for his sterling work as Treasurer for Santi over the last couple of years and in handing over so thoroughly to Dhash who will now take up that position. And, in retrospect, many thanks to both Kamalini and Elizabeth Rowe, for their time as office bearers on the Santi committee.
Just to highlight two significant events this year (amongst other events and monastic visits):
we enjoyed the brief, though successful visit by Ajahn Brahm in April, who gave two wonderful talks, in Sydney and in Bundanoon, with all donations after costs for the support of Santi Monastery. Many thanks to Ajahn Brahm for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to help support us here.
And in October we had a successful and lovely multicultural Kathina celebration, initiated and led by the Cambodian community from Canley Vale in Sydney, and joined by some of Santi’s Thai and Vietnamese supporters, our faithful Sri Lankan community, and other Australian friends and supporters of the monastery.
Regarding some near future community developments at Santi – with myself and Margaret now permanent residents here, we both intend to take Samaneri robes and precepts early next year with Ayya Nirodha, after a short stay at Dhammasara Nuns’ Monastery in WA. Ajahn Brahm is fully supportive of each of us in our commitment to do so and to be here to help Santi move forward as a nuns’ community. Our presence here and support of Santi will also allow Ayya Nirodha to begin to take a step back from running the monastery after many years of hard work and sacrifice, and to take up a long awaited opportunity to move more and more into retreat mode, also fully encouraged and supported by Ajahn Brahm.
Our combined vision going forward for Santi is to help establish a small and stable nuns’ community, giving the opportunity for serious practitioners in Australia who wish to experience the monastic life the chance to do so on their home ground. As we all know, the opportunity for women to practice in this monastic form in a forest monastery is very rare. While Santi is intended primarily as a Bhikkhuni community, it will of course continue to be a place where the four-fold sangha can feel welcome to learn and practice together.
With many thanks and gratitude to all of you who continue to contribute to the life of Santi, whether as committee members, association members, or supporters and practitioners who visit the monastery.
May the blessings of the Triple Gem continue to support us all, as we endeavour to uphold the Dhamma and practice the Path of Liberation.
With gratitude and metta,
Santi FM President