The American Monastic Newsletter

Volume 42, Nr. 3b, October 2011                  Richardton, ND 58652

Monastic News Omnibus


The following have been recently elected to monastic leadership:
Abbot James Wiseman, OSB - St. Anselm's Abbey (Washington, DC)
Abbot Phillip Davey OSB - Saint Bede Abbey (Peru, IL)

Recently reelected to continue their ministry were
Prioress Lois Eckes, OSB - St. Scholastica (Duluth, MN)
Prioress Anne Shepard, OSB - Mount St. Scholastica (Atchison, KS)
Abbot Thomas Frerking, OSB - Saint Louis Abbey (Creve Coeur, MO)

* * * * * *

The inauguration of the Institutum Liturgicum at Ealing Abbey, London, on July 12 was marked in the afternoon by a presentation from Bishop Alan Hopes followed by the first St. Bede Liturgy Lecture, given by Prof. Ephrem Carr, OSB, president of the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy in Rome: "Sacrosanctum Concilium and its Consequences: A Contribution to the Current Discussion on Liturgy in the Church." Both presentation and lecture will be published. The Liturgy Institute promotes graduate research and teaching accredited by the Catholic University of Leuven, and the bishops of England and Wales have given their endorsement. The first courses began the following day and the sixth annual Latin Institute began on August 16. Information is available at <>.

The summer teaching program from June to August prepares future university teachers and forms members of diocesan, national and religious liturgical commissions. All interested will be welcome to attend as credit or auditor students for single courses or the certificate program. The courses provide English language access to license and doctoral degrees at the Catholic University of Leuven and the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy in Rome. Other specialist courses for clergy, laity and religious are being considered. The teaching program is supported by research and publishing throughout the year. The Latin Institute provides instruction from the first encounter to proficiency, using the teaching method of Fr. Reginald Foster, OCD, forty years Papal Latinist.

The Liturgy Institute is the product of three years of study and preparation by Dom Daniel McCarthy of St Benedict's Abbey, Atchison, KS, and Dom James Leachman of Ealing Abbey, London, their respective communities and that of Farnborough Abbey. Endorsing sponsors include Abbot Barnabas Senecal of St. Benedict's Abbey and Sister Anne Shepard, prioress of Mount St. Scholastica, both of Atchison, and Abbot Gregory Polan of Conception Abbey, MO.

The Rt. Rev. Alan Hopes, auxiliary bishop of Westminster is Chairman of the Committee on Liturgy of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. Rt. Rev. Martin Shipperlee, OSB, of Ealing and Rt. Rev. Cuthbert Brogan, OSB, of Farnborough also welcomed guests, benefactors and collaborators. Honored guests included Prof. Joris Geldhof, Head of Liturgy, Catholic University of Leuven, and of the Liturgical Institute in Leuven; Abbot Francis Rossiter, former Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation; and Abbot Cuthbert Johnson of Quarr Abbey, president of the Henry Bradshaw Society and advisor to the Vox Clara Committee on the Liturgy. Present were representatives of five monastic congregations: English Benedictine, Subiaco, American-Cassinese, Swiss American and Solesmes.

All the guests were invited to tour the institute's new facilities. For further information, please contact Dom James Leachman at <>.

* * * * * *

After a first successful year for their newly formed Benedictine Women's Service Corps (BWSC), St. Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, MN, has branched out internationally. As of August 17, 2011, Sister Mary Jane Berger returned from escorting two volunteers to St. Agnes Convent, Chipole, Tanzania. Ashley Irons and Maggie Niebur, 2011 graduates from the College of St. Benedict, have committed to 10 months of service at the 400-member Benedictine monastery in southern Tanzania.

Maggie, an English major, is teaching English to girls at the St. Agnes Secondary School for Girls while Ashley, who graduated with a peace studies major, is teaching computer skills. Internet access is limited in this area of Tanzania. Therefore these volunteers are using their cell phones in order to send their blogs to our website:

In addition to Tanzania, BWSC has placed two volunteers in Puerto Rico for the second year. They are teaching English at Colegio San Benito, a K-9 school run by the Benedictine Sisters at Monasterio St. Escolastica. Sarah Schwalbach, a communications and Hispanic studies major, is teaching English to 46 kindergartners while Jana Graczyk, a biology major, is teaching a health class and a history class to seventh graders who are in the bilingual track. They are writing blogs as well.

Issue Contents


The Junior Essay Competition is a program sponsored by the American Benedictine Academy to encourage scholarly research among monastics in formation. All monasteries are asked to encourage participation in this competition as a means of promoting monastic scholarship for the future.

To foster use of local archives in monastic communities
To develop interest in local history and tradition
To acquaint young monastics with the history of the community, the purposes and personalities of its founders, significant events, developments, and challenges in the community
To encourage the collection of personal memoirs
To stimulate interest in and study of monastic history

The essay must be a historical or geographical study centered in the junior monastic's own monastery and utilizing archival material. The paper should be 2,000 to 2,500 words in length, double-spaced, and done as a computer-generated Word document.

The winner of the Junior Essay Competition will be awarded:
A two-year membership in ABA
A waiver of registration and hospitality fees for the August 2012 ABA convention
A certificate of participation
A book of interest to monastics
A one-year subscription to the ABA newsletter

Essays should be submitted to

Dennis Okholm
371 Ogle Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

The deadline for submission is March 1, 2012
The award will be announced to the winner on April 15, 2012.

Issue Contents

Brief Film/TV Reviews

Monasticism, past and present, has been getting much attention in the visual media recently. The French film, Of Gods and Men, has been playing across the country after its American release by Sony Pictures. It tells the story of the Cistercian monks of Tibherine, who were martyred in Algeria in 1996.

Rather than focusing on violence and sensationalism, the movie primarily depicts the everyday life of the men, showing a great deal about both the ordinariness of the monastic life and the uniqueness of the types of individuals who are drawn to it. Theirs is a type of heroism that is rarely seen in film.

Consequently, its slow pace and deliberate development of characters is not something that will attract the masses, but it has done well among critics and has educated a broader circle of viewers to a way of life in which small daily decisions can be just that, or sometimes lead to events that touch the world.

This was the second glimpse of monastic history in recent months. Last fall saw the release of "Vision," a film on the life of twelfth-century nun extraordinaire Hildegard von Bingen. It is the work of German writer and director Margarethe von Trotta. This one, too, has the disadvantage of being a foreign film with subtitles, and was viewed by a more limited American audience. It attempts to be a depiction of medieval German life and works hard at establishing the context of church and politics, but there are things the film gets right and things it gets wrong in trying to portray this complex woman in a complex monastic environment.

Contemporary Cistercian life showed up in an episode of PBS's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly on May 6. Judy Valente, who has previously done features in Atchison on the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica and the photography of Abbot Barnabas Senecal of St. Benedict's, is back with the story of Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO. Brother Paul is a contemplative poet and photographer at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, following in the footsteps of his mentor Thomas Merton. His gentle observations on the monastic life and his writing are yet another window on the contemplative way and its contemporary practice.

All these inspiring figures should nourish the TV and movie viewer with a radical alternative to the noise, violence and self-promotion that are the more common screen fare. These, along with the vast presence of monastic communities on the internet, are a major modern form of evangelization. Hopefully, they will bear fruit in better attitudes toward religious life and inspiration for the next generation to find their own stories in the monastery.

Issue Contents


At the ABA biennial business meeting on August 10, 2010, held at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS, the membership approved a Constitutional revision re-naming the previous "Fellowship Award" to the "Egregia Award."

The Egregia (Latin: distinguished, exceptional, with outstanding praise) Award is the principal award conferred by the American Benedictine Academy upon individual members. The award is publicly bestowed at the biennial meeting and includes gratis lifetime membership. The recipients of this award will be so designated on the membership lists as published in the American Monastic Newsletter.

This award is conferred on persons who have been members of the Academy for a minimum of eight years and whose achievement or contribution to the Academy's purpose is long-standing in one of the following:

An Academy member who wishes to nominate a person for the 2012 Egregia Award may submit the name of the nominee, together with a description of the nominee's achievement to Ephrem Hollermann, OSB, Board Member-at-Large (, by January 1, 2012. Nominations will be submitted to the president and board of directors for selection and conferral of the Egregia Award at the August, 2012, convention at the College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth, MN.

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


OSB | ABA | Newsletter

Support This Site


Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional
© Copyright 2011 by American Benedictine Academy / Webweaver /