The American Monastic Newsletter

        Volume 32, Nr. 2, June 2002             Richardton, ND 58652

Inside this issue:

A Relational Skill

ABA Conference Schedule

News Omnibus

Grant Opportunity

Ecumenical Conference

ABA Board Nominees

Book Reviews


AMN Online

ABA Index

2002 ABA Board Nominees

Vice President Members at Large

As part of the biennial meeting of the American Benedictine Academy, new members are elected to its board of directors. The assembly will elect a vice-president, who succeeds to the presidency in 2004, and three board members, who serve a term of two years. Currently, the board consists of Valerian Odermann, OSB, president; Rosemary Rader, OSB, vice-president; Eugene Hensell, OSB, past president; Adel Sautner, OSB, executive secretary; and the three at-large board members. Kathleen Hickenbotham, OSB, is completing her second term and may not be re-elected. Two other members, Dennis Ockholm and Richard Oliver, OSB, are eligible for re-election.

In order to facilitate the election process, board nominees are being introduced in this issue. ABA members are encouraged to spend some time in prayerful consideration of these nominees and to bring this information with them to the convention in preparation for the election.


Two ABA members have accepted the nomination as vice-president, to become president in 2004.

Ramona Fallon, OSB, Watertown, SD

After attending Benedictine schools in central South Dakota I entered Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton in 1954. My formation years included learning Benedictine life in a monastery and on mission, finishing high school, beginning college, elementary teaching and deciding to become part of the new foundation, Mother of God Monastery. In 1960, I was part of the first class to make final profession in our new monastery, temporarily located at Pierre, SD. The next 41 years included active participation in my community, which moved to Watertown, SD, and a variety of educational ministries in parish and school settings. I completed my doctorate in educational leadership from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, in 1992. I am presently ministering at the parish in St. Peter, MN, as pastoral associate.

I have been a member of ABA for ten years. My community has been a corporate member for many years and I have had access to the ABA readings and proceedings. I have also attended several of the conventions. I am not sure I have an individual vision of ABA. Being an extrovert, I need to hear from other members about their vision and together we come to a common vision for ABA. However, I do envision it as a stable Benedictine presence in today's society. I see ABA keeping its finger on the pulse of today's society and assisting Benedictine communities with futuring. I believe today's society has a need for "community" more than ever, and that the ABA and Benedictine monasteries can provide leadership in this area.

Top of Page

Richard Oliver, OSB, Collegeville, MN

My bachelor's degree in English from La Salle University set me firmly in the path of literature and history. After making solemn vows in 1973, I earned a master's degree in library science at the University of Iowa. I was privileged to pursue further library training at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. For many years I worked in diverse roles as a university librarian at Collegeville. My first experience microfilming medieval manuscripts took place at Durham Cathedral and University in England, 1984. During the following period of rapid social and political change in Europe, I filmed manuscript collections in Tuebingen, Freiburg, Mainz, Frankfurt am Main and Giessen. Returning to Minnesota, I became enchanted by the early forms of the Internet, created my first website in 1994 and, since 1995, I have been webmaster for several monastic websites.

Reactivating my ABA membership, I participated in an Internet presentation with Sister Diana Seago at the 1998 convention. We then co chaired the Benedictine Internet Commission. This led to me becoming first coordinator of the Benedictine Internet Technology section of ABA. I have been a co presenter for a pre convention workshop at ABA 2000, at the oblate directors' convention, and at the OSB development directors' meeting.

In my vision for the ABA I foresee a more widely diverse membership of technically savvy monastics and oblates for whom the wide realm of "scholarship" allows and fosters individual expression of an integrated commitment to seeking and listening to God together. I hope to continue adding material to the OSB website that will be helpful to the formation of both oblates and monastics.

Top of Page

MEMBERS AT LARGE (three to be elected)
Benedict Auer, OSB, Lacey, WA

I have a master of divinity degree from St. Meinrad's and a doctorate in Christian spirituality from San Francisco Theological Seminary. I have been director of the masters programs in education at St. Martin's College and an associate professor. I am presently vocation director, oblate director, and instructor of novices at St. Martin's Abbey and sacramental minister for our college. I spend more and more time writing. I have five books of poetry that have been published and one book on poetry therapy. I have written extensively for Human Development and Review for Religious. My interests include religious formation, poetry as therapy, and religious education.

At present I have been a member of the ABA for about ten years. I have attended all the meetings, and try to do what is helpful during those meetings. I believe the ABA should be an organization that prompts Benedictine values through scholarship and discussion. I have found all the meetings of the ABA thought provoking and helpful to myself and my community. I would see the ABA as a forum for discussion of the key issues facing monasticism in the twenty first century.

Top of Page

Marianne Burkhard, OSB, Rock Island, IL

I was born in Switzerland and have a PhD in German and French literature from the University of Zurich. I was literary editor for a Swiss newspaper before teaching German language and literature at the University of Illinois. I entered St. Mary Monastery, Nauvoo, IL, in 1987. Since receiving a licentiate in canon law, I have served as a judge in the marriage tribunal of the Peoria diocese and as a member of my federation's juridic committee, as well as being assistant archivist for my community. I am also a member of the editorial board of the American Benedictine Review.

I have attended ABA conventions since 1990, and been a member since 1996. The ABA is doing well with its conventions and publications. One area I would stress is continuing the dialogue with the oblates, exploring ways to provide more guidance for them. The second is broadening the ABA's connection with newer monastics. Since the conventions move around, I would propose that younger monastics, especially from nearby, be invited to the convention for meeting informally among themselves, and as part of formal sessions; e.g., responding to papers from their points of view and their experience. The third is cultivating an international connection by inviting monastics from other countries who are studying here to give us some insight into their life, especially those from Africa and Asia whose monastic experience is very different from ours.

Top of Page

Donald Corcoran, OSB Cam, Windsor, NY

I am a co-founder and the present prioress of Transfiguration Monastery in Windsor, New York, a priory of the Camaldolese Benedictine Congregation. I have been a Benedictine for forty years and have a PhD in theology from Fordham University. I have taught at St. Louis University, St. John's (Collegeville), Binghamton University and St. Meinrad's, as well as giving numerous monastic and "Benedictine Experience" retreats. I am the co-author of Spiritual Sisters, a dialogue with a Tibetan Buddhist nun, and the author of The Spiritual Guide: Midwife of the Higher Spiritual Self.

I believe that the purpose of the ABA should be to foster "sacred humanitas," an injunction which the Holy Father gave to Benedictine prioresses several years ago. Like the wise person of Matthew's gospel, the monastic person attentive to the Spirit must search and integrate the wealth of tradition with the Spirit's urging in the new.

Top of Page

Cyril Drnjevic, OSB, Mount Angel, OR

I graduated with highest university honors from the University of Puget Sound in 1981 and made my monastic profession in 1985. I have earned three master's degrees: theology from Mount Angel Seminary, history from the University of Virginia, and divinity from Mount Angel Seminary. Until October, 2004, I will be writing a critical history of Mount Angel Abbey (1882-1982). I am also one of the seven founding members of "Earthen Vessels," a program begun in 2000 which ministers to people in ministry, using insights from Marriage Encounter and Retrouvaille.

I joined the ABA in 1998 and attended the 1998 and 2000 conventions. In 2000, I was nominated for election as an at-large ABA board member. Having visited over thirty Benedictine-style monasteries in North America I have a broad understanding of Benedictine academic needs today.

I see the ABA developing in these ways: to continue to offer monastics opportunities to interact and learn from each other, to identify a principal publisher for books by ABA member authors, especially community histories, and to prepare a clear role for Benedictine oblates within the ABA.

Top of Page

Ramona Fallon, OSB, Watertown, SD

(See above)

Top of Page

Marielle Frigge, OSB, Yankton, SD

A member of Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, my entire ministerial life has been devoted to classroom teaching. After a BA in English and secondary education, I taught high school English. Discerning a greater need in other areas, I pursued graduate studies in theology, and after completing an MA at Washington Theological Union, I began teaching at Mount Marty College in 1979, which ministry continues today, after time out for a PhD from Boston College and sabbatical studies in Chicago and Israel.

ABA is a wonderful forum and "connection point" for monasteries and those with interest in monastic studies and spirituality. The turn to the latter emphasis is what drew me to become a member nearly two decades ago. The influence of ABA has been evident at other types of monastic gatherings. I have been privileged to be a presenter at the 1994 convention, and have also published in the American Benedictine Review.

My hope for the ABA is that it will continue to offer inspiration, dialogue, and challenge to its members and the many communities from which we come and in which we have influence. We have much to offer a hungering world: wisdom in the midst of floods of mere information, community in the midst of co-existing individuals, time-tested spirituality in the midst of fleeting experiments that do not really feed those who hunger for God.

Top of Page

Eileen Neville, OSB, Yankton, SD

I have a Ph.D. in British literature from St. Louis University, and more than four decades of teaching English (and for a time French and cross-cultural studies) at Mount Marty College. I ave also received a dozen or so NEH grants for further research. I spent a year each at Boston College and Catholic Theological Union studying ministry and recently served as interim director of our MA program in pastoral ministries.

I have been a member of the ABA since the late 1950's and served as executive secretary for six years during the 1980's. As for my vision of ABA's future, I envision the Academy being a vibrant organization that involves its members, both religious and lay, in spirited exchange (both written and face-to-face) that leads to renewed and re-energized commitment to Benedictine ideals for both Academy members and their communities and for the larger society.

Top of Page

Gladys Noreen, OSB, Dayton, WY

I am a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. I have a master's degree in religious studies and am a currently a candidate for a doctor of ministry degree in ecumenism.

Over the past several years, I have attended four ABA conventions. I believe that the ABA should continue the practice of discussing how Benedictine values can be lived in this new century.

Top of Page

Dennis Ockholm, OblSB, Wheaton, IL

My academic degrees are from Wheaton (IL) College (BA in philosophy), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M Div and MA in church history), and Princeton Theological Seminary (ThM. and PhD in systematic theology). For the past 20 years I have taught at Western Kentucky University, Jamestown (ND) College and Wheaton College, in theology and philosophy. I am ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and I am a Benedictine oblate, affiliated with Blue Cloud Abbey (SD).

I have been a member of the ABA since I was asked to respond to a paper at the 1990 convention. I have attended most of the conventions since then. As a member of the research section, I have continued to do work in Evagrius, Cassian, and Gregory, some of which resulted in a paper on gluttony published in the American Benedictine Review. During the past two years I have served on the board, chairing the awards committee.

My primary concern for the ABA is that it continue to encourage the exploration of Benedictine monastic thought, life, and arts in order to mine the tradition for its riches and to spread the wealth with others outside of the Benedictine community. Sharing the wealth has been especially meaningful to me as an oblate on the receiving end, and I support the ABA's continued inclusion of oblates, while respecting the fact that the agenda should be set primarily by those in the order.

Top of Page

Mary Kay Panowicz, OSB, Yankton, SD

I have been a member of Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, for 35 years. I earned a BA in art, a master's degree in media, design and creative writing and a doctor of ministry in applied ministry with a focus in liturgical design. I have also completed a liturgical space consultant certification program at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Since completing my undergraduate degree I have served in the areas of public relations, art education and graphic design, and am currently ministering as a liturgical space consultant and artist. I also serve on several health care boards of directors at the local, system and state levels.

I have been a member of the ABA since 1990 and was one of the co-organizers of the ABA visual arts section and art exhibit, serving as interim chair and then section chair from 1992-94. I have also participated as an exhibitor in some of the ABA art shows. My vision for the ABA is that it will continue to be a forum for Benedictine men and women to share our dreams, hopes, struggles and heritage on an intellectual, spiritual and artistic level. In the future I would like to see the ABA also explore in more depth our prophetic role in society and the church.

Top of Page

Martha Piorkowski, OblSB, Aurora, IL

With a bachelor's degree in music education from DePaul University, I am an organist for Marmion Abbey, of which I am an oblate. I have facilitated peer support ministry groups for the students at Marmion Academy for 12 years, teach an addiction prevention class, and recently ended an English language class for a junior monk from Marmion's priory in Guatemala. A freelance writer of spiritual articles and poetry, I have had articles published in numerous journals, including American Benedictine Review and Guideposts for Teens. I have also had several note card designs in the Printery House Catalogue and engage in other arts, give talks on spirituality in the area, and compose music.

I have been a member of the ABA since the mid 1990's and have attended each ABA conventions since then. It is my hope that the ABA will continue to foster and nurture its stability of purpose, its clarity of St. Benedict's vision, and its depth of St. Scholastica's heart, all of which I have found to be so stunningly evident at the conventions. If I am elected to the board I will strive to work within these ideals as God ever increases them, bringing the American Benedictines and the world into the embrace of love, truth, beauty, and unflappable hope!

Top of Page

Susan Quaintance, OSB, Chicago, IL

When I entered the Benedictine Sisters' community in Chicago in 1988, I had a degree in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and had served in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for one year. Since then, I have earned a master's degree in theology with a concentration in monastic studies from St. John's University. I have taught for eleven years in our community sponsored high school, am currently community secretary and serve on the formation team, and am on the editorial board of the American Benedictine Review.

My involvement with the ABA is relatively recent. I joined ABA in 1999 and attended the 2000 convention at St. Meinrad. The explosion of oblate participation at that event certainly shaped my vision of the future of the ABA. Balance, not surprisingly, seems imperative: a balance between the vast knowledge of vowed members who bring with them a lived and academic understanding of this transformative tradition and the voracious enthusiasm of lay women and men who bring fresh insight and deep appreciation of that same tradition. I would welcome the opportunity to help shape that balance.

Top of Page

Aaron Raverty, OSB, Collegeville, MN

I have a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota in anthropology, master's degrees from Saint John's University in systematic theology and the University of Minnesota in anthropology, and a PhD from the University of Minnesota in sociocultural anthropology. I am also certified in graphoanalysis. I also spent a month at Sant'Anselmo in Rome for a special course on monastic interreligious dialogue. I am an editor at The Liturgical Press and book review editor for the Bulletin of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, serve on the Saint John's University alumni board of directors, and have been a member and secretary on the board of the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. I was also appointed MID's representative for the Benedictine Internet Commission.

I joined the ABA in January 1999 and attended the 2000 meeting, where I identified myself with the Benedictine researcher's division. My vision for the future of the ABA is that I see the ABA as the nexus, or point of connection, for all forms of Benedictine scholarship. It should serve to encourage, coordinate, and sponsor scholarly activity involving the many dimensions of Benedictine life and spirituality in glad and loving service to the entire membership and to the larger church and the world.

Top of Page

Theresa Schumacher, OSB, St. Joseph, MN

I am an active member of the Benedictine Musicians of the Americas and the Monastic Liturgy Forum and contribute articles regularly to the Monastic Liturgy Forum Newsletter. I have presented papers at several of the conferences of these groups and also at the Monastic Institute and the American Benedictine Formation Conference. In 1997, I authored A Benedictine Calendar: With Liturgical and Historical Celebrations of American Benedictine Women and Their Foundations, commissioned by the presidents of the Benedictine women's federations. I have studied and worked extensively with the Liturgy of Hours and am a consultant on liturgical spirituality. I have given presentations, workshops, and retreats in areas of liturgical spirituality and monastic formation. I am a regular presenter for the Academy of Spiritual Formation, an ecumenical program sponsored by the Upper Room, Nashville, Tennessee.

As a member of ABA. I contributed an article for the pre conference papers some years ago. I hope that ABA can offer to American Benedictines the kind of understanding and support needed to meet the transitions we are moving through in our monasteries. I hope that we can give each other energy and conviction that living the monastic life for the sake of the world means that we will be both a sign of contradiction and a sign of faithful love.

Top of Page

Laura Swan, OSB, Lacey, WA

I have several master's degrees in theology and spirituality and a post master's in spiritual direction. I was the director of our spirituality center and am now prioress. I have equal (balancing?) interests in spirituality and traditional monastic studies. My current research and writing centers around the history of women's monasticism and feminine insights into the Rule. Our community has been blessed with a close relationship with the Benedictine women of Tanzania, enriching us with a practical and global perspective.

I have been a member of ABA and its research group since 1992. I follow the work of the ABA and its members closely but "life" has interrupted my attempts to attend meetings until now. The most helpful image to me for the future of the ABA is one of fostering conversation. We are all in a liminal time of significant transition for the Church, for religious life and for monasticism. Oblates and other friends are shaping and adding wisdom to this conversation. The ABA can continue to help us listen and live into the hard questions. Like many, I have concerns around our need to mentor young members to take on some of the challenging yet enriching scholarly research that needs to continue. The ABA can keep this question before the leadership of our communities and also continue "enticing" non-monastic scholars to continue this intellectual pursuit.

Top of Page



OSB | ABA | Newsletter


© Copyright 2002-2009 by American Benedictine Academy / Webmaster /