The American Monastic Newsletter

Volume 4041, Nr. 3b, October 2010                  Richardton, ND 58652

ABA Awards and Grants

The ABA offers a number of awards to promote its goal of fostering monastic scholarship. Terrence Kardong, OSB, was the recipient of the Egregia Award for his lifetime contribution to monastic studies.

Mary Kay Panowicz, OSB, former chair of the committee which judged the Junior Essay Competition announced that there were two winners for 2010. The Awards Committee deemed that both essays were worthy of recognition and that awards should be given to both women. The competition is for essays by those in initial formation, in which they research a topic using the archives and experience of their own communities. The winners were "Moved by the Spirit" by Sister Ana Cloughy, OSB, Benet Hill Monastery, Colorado Springs, CO, and "Changing Habits, Changing Lives" by Sister Belinda Monahan, OSB, St. Scholastica Monastery, Chicago, IL. Each received a book, membership in ABA and free attendance for the convention.

Since the ABA membership meeting in 2008, four study grants have been awarded: Cheryl Crozier Garcia, PhD, Honolulu, HI, to help research and complete an article on monastic humility for university teaching; Maria Guarino, an ethnomusicology doctoral student, Charlottesville, VA, to assist her in her pre-dissertation research at Weston Priory and Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent in Vermont; Orlando Rivera, PhD, Nyack, NY, for research on the contribution that Benedictine monasticism can make on the current leadership debate on vertical and shared leadership in organizations; and Greg Peters, PhD, La Mirada, CA, to assist with the cost of introducing four young men from Evangelical/Protestant churches to the riches of contemporary monasticism at St. Andrews Abbey, Valyermo, CA (Dr. Peters report and the students reflections papers are published in this issue).  Since August 2010 Mr. Dennis Okholm OblSB chairs the ABA Awards Committee.


Monastic Grant Report

I am writing as requested regarding my use of the ABA Monastic Studies Grant that I was awarded in January. As it turns out, I was able to take the four students to St. Andrews Abbey, Valyermo. Three of the four students wrote brief reflections on their time at the monastery. The fourth student was unable to contribute a reflection due to an emergency hospitalization.

As leader, my reflections are as follows:

Receiving a grant from the ABA to take four undergraduate students from Biola University to St. Andrew's Abbey in Valyermo, CA, was a delight. After spending some time thinking about which students to invite, I settled upon four names. Each readily accepted my offer. I knew that taking a biological sciences major, a double major in biochemistry and philosophy, an English major, and an engineering major with me would create a good diversity of perspectives. Though each of them comes from historically evangelical churches, their interests and experiences made a trip to the monastery seem like a perfect addition to a busy semester.

Two of the students had spent a semester at Oxford University in England where they were exposed to high church Anglicanism. Another student had discovered the desert fathers and mothers for himself about a year ago and was most excited to live as they had lived (something that is more easily accomplished here given St. Andrews desert location), if only for a weekend. The fourth student has been journeying over the past five months into Anglo-Catholic Anglicanism so he was eager to experience a monastic liturgy. Scheduling the retreat over a weekend when Father Luke Dysinger, OSB, would be leading talks on "Desert Wisdom" just added to impact of the trip.

The weekend proved to be great -- wonderful teaching, corporate prayer, and perfect weather. We all engaged in prayer and eating with the monks and in attending Father Luke's sessions. Though that quickly filled up each day with purposeful activity, the retreat still managed to allow for time of stillness and personal reflection. Father Luke was kind enough to provide a tour of the abbey's sacristy, showing us liturgical articles related to the abbey's time in China. This was followed by a tour of the monastery's library, something that always proves exciting to a university professor and his students. Our conversation on the way home quickly turned to the nature of the monastic life and the value that it seems to have for the monks individually and for the church herself. As evidenced in the students reflections, they were certainly impacted by the experience and a hearty thanks is due to the ABA Board for their generous grant.

Greg Peters, PhD
Biola University, La Mirada, CA

Reflections from Dr. Peters students:

In reflecting on my time at the monastery last weekend, two impressions stand out. First, I was impressed by the discipline of the monks in keeping their schedule and doing the same thing day in and day out. This had an impact on my own spiritual life in helping me to reflect on the comparative lack of discipline in my life. Second, I was impressed by the contrast of monastic life with my day-to-day life. Even though day-to-day life has changed dramatically since the earliest monastics, the monastic life has remained relatively unchanged. In some ways, going to a monastery is like taking a trip back in time. This was also meaningful for me and helped me to be more reflective.

Dustin McCurry
Senior, biochemistry and philosophy

In a culture that places much emphasis on production, it is easy for a person to neglect the cultivation of inner peace for the sake of external accomplishments. I find myself easily caught up in the pace of the world with its worries and strivings, neglecting the state of my soul because of business. My stay at St. Andrew's Abbey in Valyermo was refreshing for the state of my soul because the pace at the monastery differed from the frantic pace of the world. While at St. Andrew's, I experienced one aspect of what it means to leave the world to draw near to our Lord Jesus Christ.

That change of pace, which at first was difficult for me, became an enjoyment because it enabled me to take time to look into the state of my soul. Upon leaving the monastery, the speed of the cars on the freeway brought into sharp relief the crazed speed with which those in the world travel through life and the calmer lives of the monks.

Not only did I experience refreshment of my soul, but also my intellect was fed while I was at the monastery by the astute teachings of Father Luke. His extensive knowledge of the early Christians was made obvious from the content of his seminar "Desert Wisdom on the Spiritual Journey."

Since the desert fathers and other fathers of the early Church have interested me for some time now, I had some knowledge about the topic going into the seminars. But Fr. Dysinger's expertise showed me areas where I had made incorrect assumptions and corrected preconceived notions that I held while, at the same time, he introduced new ideas to ponder.

I am glad that I went to St. Andrew's Abbey because of the good impact it had upon me. It refreshed my soul and my intellect. I would like to thank you for the scholarship that made that possible by enabling me to go.

Christian Sprunger
Junior, biological sciences

Visiting Father Luke and the monks at St. Andrew's Abbey was my first extended exposure to the secluded monastic life of a desert monastery (literally!). It was quite the experience. Each day was finely delineated between vigils, lauds, breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc. by bells. The pace was actually somewhat demanding, and yet it was restful, because it involved a great deal of worship, with incense and soft chanting. The grounds were beautiful. There was a large koi pond fed by the Abbeys own fresh water spring; the desert hills were covered in Joshua trees, cacti, and other wild shrubs; the gardens were well kept; there were stretches of green field, simple buildings, and lots of shady cottonwood trees.

We got a private tour of the monks' quarters as well as their library. Our living quarters were clean, simple, and comfortable. The monks were very kind. In the kitchen there was a stunning set of panel paintings, fiery in color, with dancers, doves, pomegranates, a rich red cloth, and a very prominent Adam-like-man sneaking through the tall grass with a fresh picked pomegranate in his hand. The painting was both mystical and very physical. It struck a good balance; and I felt that the monks way of life -- austere and joyful -- struck a good balance as well. They certainly knew how to serve.

Wilson Hutchinson
Senior, English

Issue Contents

Monastic News Omnibus

At their worldwide assembly in September, the Cistercian abbots, abbesses and delegates elected Father Mauro Giuseppe Lepori, OCist, of the abbey of Hauterive to be abbot general. Continuing the effort begun with the encouragement of Pope John Paul II in 1998, he will be working with the Trappist Abbot General Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, OCSO, to reunify the two branches of Cistercian life.


The major superiors of the United States, assembled for their annual meeting in Long Beach, CA, voted Abbot Giles P. Hayes, OSB, of Morristown, NJ, to become president-elect of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM).


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

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The project Appreciating the Liturgy held its fourth colloquium on Saturday, May 29, returning to SantAnselmo to discuss different rationales for organizing and teaching the study of liturgy under the title "Rationales for Liturgy Curricula." Because the structure and content of liturgy curricula determine their respective pedagogical outcomes, the colloquium was held to consider how different liturgy curricula are organized and to what ends.

Four papers were presented on the rational for the curriculum at various liturgical institutes in Europe. The resulting book will be of assistance to all who are organizing the teaching of liturgy in different contexts.

On the previous day, the project held its first Anglican/Roman Catholic Symposium. This symposium was entitled "Consensus in Liturgical Research: Differentiation in Liturgical Renewal." The intent of the theme of consensus was to address the growing mutual influence of the liturgical research undertaken in different churches, and the differentiation topic focused on the valuing and development of liturgical, spiritual and cultural patrimonies of local churches. Five papers were presented during the symposium and will be considered for inclusion in an upcoming publication.

Although these meetings took place at Sant'Anselmo, they are relevant to the American monastic scene in that a couple of American monastics participated, others are permanent members of our project, and Abbots Barnabas Senecal and Gregory Polen are US sponsoring abbots of our project.

Two related books, Appreciating the Collect: An Irenic Methodology, ed. J.G. Leachman and D.P. McCarthy (Farnborough, Eng.: St. Michael's Abbey Press 2008) and Listen to the Word: Commentaries on Selected Opening Prayers of Sundays and Feasts with Sample Homilies (London: The Tablet Publishing, London, 2009) are also available. More information at:

Daniel McCarthy, OSB,Project Co-director
DREI: "Liturgiam aestimare: Appreciating the Liturgy"

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The fiftieth general chapter of the American-Cassinese Congregation of Benedictine monks convened at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, AL, June 13-18, 2010. At the meeting, Abbot Hugh Richard Anderson, abbot of St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, IL, was elected congregation president. He succeeds Abbot Timothy Kelly, OSB, who had to resign for reasons of health midway through his second term as president. His council will include elected councilors: Archabbot Douglas Nowicki, Abbot Matthew Leavy, Father Valerian Odermann, and Brother Alban Petesch. Brother David Kelly has been appointed executive secretary of the president's council.

Sisters of the Benedictine Federation of St. Scholastica met in June 2010 in Atchison, KS, for their general chapter. They heard talks by outgoing president Sister Esther Fangman (Atchison) and Sister Ephrem Hollermann (St. Joseph, MN) related to the challenges and future vision for American Benedictine women. Sister Glenna Smith, OSB, of Bristow, VA, was elected federation president. Her council includes Sisters Lynn McKenzie (Cullman, AL), Anne Shepard (Atchison, KS), Susan Quaintance (Chicago, IL), Bernadine Reyes (Boerne, TX) and Christine Ereiser (Tulsa, OK).

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The 2010 Annual Meeting of ABCU, the Association of Benedictine Colleges and Universities, took place at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, NC, June 27-30. In addition to presidents of ABCU institutions and monastic superiors of sponsoring monasteries, the chief academic officers also attended the annual meeting. This meeting also initiated the organizations Benedictine Leadership Forum.

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Thirty-seven monks attended the June 20-July 3 Junior Monk Institute at St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana. This annual event brings together the junior professed from the Americas for a two-week program of study and formation. Father Harry Hagan OSB, a Scripture professor at St. Meinrad, related key terms of the Old Testament with monastic life as outlined by St. Benedict. Father William Skudlarek OSB, Secretary General of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, also led discussions with the monks.

Issue Contents

Seek Peace and Pursue It:
Monasticism in the Midst of Global Upheaval

2-5 August 2012

St. Scholastica Monastery
Duluth, Minnesota

Issue Contents


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