The American Monastic Newsletter

Volume 4041, Nr. 2a, June 2009                                  Richardton, ND 58652

Monastic News Omnibus

The following have been elected recently to leadership of their monastic communities:

Prioress Pia Portmann, OSB - Immaculata Monastery, Norfolk, NE
Prioress Roberta Bailey, OSB - Holy Name Monastery, St. Leo, FL

Reelected to continue in their leadership were

Prioress Maureen OLarey, OSB - St. Placid Priory, Lacey, WA
Prioress Kathy White, OSB - Emmanuel Monastery, Lutherville, MD
Archabbot Douglas Nowicki, OSB - St. Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, PA
Prioress Mary Catherine Wenstrup, OSB - St. Walburg Monastery, Covington, KY

* * * * * *

Abbot Philip Anderson, OSB, will serve as the first abbot of Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, OK. The foundation of the French Abbey Notre Dame de Fontgombault of the Solesmes Congregation, became an independent abbey this past February.

St. Emmas Monastery in Greensburg, PA, has also recently become an independent monastery. It was founded in the 1930s by Abtei Sankt Walburg in Eichsttt, Bavaria. Mother Mary Anne Noll, OSB, continues to serve as prioress. 

* * * * * *

The sisters of Our Lady of Peace Monastery have made the decision to close their monastery in Columbia, MO, and to seek membership in other monasteries. A majority will be going to St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, AR, which founded the Columbia community in the 1960s.

The sisters of Saint Bede Monastery in Eau Claire, WI, are also closing their monastery. They will be merging with St. Benedicts Monastery in St. Joseph, MN, from which their house became independent in 1948.

ABA at Kalamazoo

The ABA sponsored session at the 45th International Congress of Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, May 12-16, was well attended, and the four papers on the theme "What Is a Monk?" were of very high quality.

Two papers (Martin and Claussen) were contributions to current developments in the understanding of Carolingian monasticism. The third paper (Pepin) examined a text from the late 11th century, a time when monasticism re-formed and diversified. The final paper studied late medieval monasticism in England and found further evidence that, as others have argued, the monasteries of the time were neither decadent nor anemic.

Michael Martin, Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO, gave a paper entitled, "Your Way Of Acting Should Be Different From The World: What Is a Carolingian Monk?" He described Carolingian times, in which the interaction of clerical and monastic institutions was flexible and varied. By 750 there was a strong tradition of pastoral care by monks and villagers often had no connection with the church except through monasteries. Alcuin, though not himself a monk, tried to promote a monastic heart in himself and in monks and lay people through the practice of pastoral care.

Martin Claussen, University of San Francisco, spoke on "The Toils of Benedict of Aniane." Claussen explained that Benedict of Aniane said to have begun his monastic life as an extreme ascetic, changed his mind and accepted the moderation of the Benedictine Rule. He sought advice from spiritual guides and studied various rules, which he collected and collated into what amounted to a historical guided tour of monastic history. What he saw in these Rules was harmony, not uniformity and a progression culminating in the RB.

Ron Pepin, Greater Hartford Community College, emeritus, explored "Quid deceat monachum," an erudite and satirical didactic poem of 812 lines by an unknown author, addressed primarily to his monastic brethren. What makes a monk is not the habit, but strength of soul and self-discipline. The author emphasized four elements: humility, contempt of the world, charity and temperance, reflecting the growing number of adult converts in a world that was growing in prosperity. This poem is one of earliest representatives of the contemptus mundi genre that flourished throughout the Middle Ages.

The presentation of Lucy Barnhouse, Fordham University, was "Communities and Customs in the Diocese of Lincoln, 1183-1340." She has studied sources generated by monastics and their bishops regarding 220 elections of monastic superiors in the diocese of Lincoln, 1183-1340. In this period there were only seven depositions and some 30 resignations. Most superiors died in office. She concluded that administrative tasks and spiritual leadership were not inherently contradictory and that, overall, in this material there is no evidence of monastic decline.

We have requested two sessions for next year, but may receive only one, on the theme "Cooperation and Friendship between Benedictine Monks and Nuns in the Middle Ages." We hope more Benedictine monastics will offer papers. Anyone interested should contact me at hughf@idahomonks.org.

Hugh Feiss, OSB


"Benedictines and Evangelization"


5-8 August 2010


St. Benedict's Abbey and Benedictine College


Atchison, Kansas


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