The American Monastic Newsletter

Volume 33, Nr. 1, February 2003                   Richardton, ND 58652

Planning Already Underway for ABA Convention 2004

President's Message

Greetings from Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David, Arizona, where the American Benedictine Academy Board met for its annual meeting! It was rather difficult to focus on agenda topics in the midst of such a beautiful desert oasis with its spring-fed ponds, giant, gnarled cottonwood trees and, most of all, the generous welcome given us by the monastery's community members.

From left: Valerian, Ramona, Cyril, Rosemary, Richard, Adel, Dennis.

I am happy to report that we did settle in to look at issues, topics and speakers for the 2004 convention, and arrived at what we consider will be an energizing and exciting gathering.? We surfaced more names of presenters and topics than any one convention could accommodate and, although we will not be able to feature all the speakers, we are grateful to those of you who sent in names and qualifications. Our emphasis was on retaining those names of speakers whose areas of expertise were most closely related to the 2004 convention theme: "Monastic Culture: Revitalizing the Life of the Mind and the Spirit." The focus is the dual one emphasized in the president's address at the 2002 convention: the necessity of retaining both the intellectual and the spiritual elements of our Benedictine way of life if we are to be true to our rich Benedictine heritage.

In keeping with St. Benedict's concept of peace, let us, at this crucial time in history, pray that there will be a peaceful resolution to the imminent world crises surrounding us today. With the concerted prayers and efforts of Benedictine members and their communities, may we today be the harbingers of peace as Benedict was for his world and that of the intervening centuries. May Benedict's peace be with you.

Rosemary Rader, OSB
President, American Benedictine Academy

ABA 2002

Subiaco on the Plains

Hawk and falcon flared wide their wings
In aerial orans as tribes of Benedictines
Processed into Bismarck melding ancient
Mindfulness with those the Plain chants of
In reverenced oneness: Wahpeton, Sisseton,
Mandan, Cree; Arikara, Hunkpapa, Mantani.

Breuer's banner sentinelled Sister Emmanuel's,
The Missouri swirled its fluid scapular in the
Valley as Benedict's Subiaco -- his cave --
Reframed glass-walled rooms floor to ceiling
With endless frescoes of Dakota horizon
Compelling too on the outer statio of campus paths.

Night's encroachment drummed the elders' tales:
Mentored, modeled, drizzled down like sweet divinity
Melted in the soul giving pause -- giving praise -- kindling
Fire in the belly yet whispering that small, still, voice
In the chambered caverns of the heart's attentive ear
As Scholastica pleaded, "Per favore" as we tipped our cups.

Oh how the glass portals shook, heaved, wailed,
As unleashed Spirit careened faster and faster in a Plains
Tarantella hurling rocks, unfettering concrete walls from
Ordered human symmetry, tingling spines no matter who was
The wisest and shattering windows into microbursts of facets
Suspended perfectly like the Mother's lode of expanded vision.

Power ceased, the nights lightened, Scholastica rested
'Til the sweet-voiced sister mused during Ed Sullivan reruns
That this convention had truly amputated walls and barriers:
No separated Entities of monks and sisters, oblates
And priests; gazers and merely the curious, we were all
One now as seekers of God, with Benedict as our humble guide.

Hawk and falcon flared wide their wings in aerial orans
As tribes of Benedictines bowed their namaste to Spirit
And wind, departing -- yet never leaving behind --
The ancient mindfulness of those the Plains chant of in
Reverenced oneness: Mandan. Sisseton, Benedictini.
(I guess you had to be there!)

-- Martha Piorkowski, OblSB
ABA, August 2002

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On the Internet: RB

Liturgical scholar Frank Henderson has recently posted updated and expanded versions of his useful bibliographies on his website. Available to researchers there are bibliographies on "Feminine Versions of the Rule of St. Benedict" and "Masculine Vernacular Versions of the Rule of St. Benedict."

There is also a small new piece, "Medieval Women and the Rule of St. Benedict: Miscellaneous Documents." Finally, there is a larger non-Benedictine bibliography, "Rules, Constitutions and Statutes of Medieval Religious Communities of Women (except Benedictines) and of Related Communities of Men."

Each of these provides a listing of the various texts by language, with identification of both manuscripts and critical editions. Where there have been published studies of the texts, these are also listed. A few of the Rule of St. Benedict texts are posted and more translations are being sought to add to the group.

The "miscellaneous documents" bibliography is another gold mine. It includes resources on statutes of individual Benedictine women?s communities, commentaries on the Rule written by women, illustrated manuscripts of the Rule prepared in or for women?s communities or owned by them, customaries of Benedictine congregations and related documents (which may or may not refer explicitly to women, but may have influenced women?s communities or have been adopted by them), and constitutions of other religious orders that used the Rule of St. Benedict.

Anyone researching the interpretation of the Rule, or seeking to understand how it was lived in a particular area or time, should go to this website first and foremost. Anyone looking for a translation or research project in this area would be particularly welcomed, as there is much more to be done with all these resources. Of course, anyone who has done any study of these texts or knows of others as yet unlisted is especially invited to make themselves known.

The first documents on the feminine versions of the Rule are posted on the American Benedictine Academy website: <>. The others are on "Frank Henderson?s Page on Liturgy and Medieval Women" <>. This is only a small portion of the wealth of information and resource links to be found at that site.

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Coming Events

The Association of Benedictine Oblate Directors will hold their biennial meeting at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS, July 25-30. Although the organization is for directors, both directors and oblates will be involved in the presentations on various dimensions of prayer and on other topics related to the oblate movement. Sister Jean Frances Dolan, OSB, of Clyde, MO, is president of the directors' group and is being assisted in planning by the hosting communities of St. Benedict's Abbey and Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison.

* * * * *

This year's Monastic Institute at Saint John's, Collegeville, will be June 28-July 2, with the theme of "The Distinctive Character of Monastic Prayer." Topics will include: the interplay of the Work of God and lectio divina, psalmody, vigil, silence, compunction, praying community, gestures and postures. The institute will be led by Columba Stewart, OSB, director of formation at Saint John's Abbey and professor of theology at Saint John's University.? He specializes in the area of monastic studies.

For information, contact

Linda Schreiber
Saint John's University
Collegeville, MN 56321

<>; 320-363-3154. Information in PDF file.

* * * * * *

The 2003 national conference of the Monastic Liturgy Forum will explore the theme of "Unfolding the Paschal Triduum in a Monastic Setting." The meeting, to be held at Our Lady of Grace Monastery, Beech Grove, IN, July 16-19, will feature Abbot Patrick Regan, OSB, and Sister Genevieve Glen, OSB.

The Monastic Liturgy Forum is an organization for monastic communities, formed to provide support and continuing liturgical education for monastic liturgists. Information about the conference and the "Scholastica Project" is available from <>.

* * * * * *

The School of Theology of Saint John's University, holds its summer session June 16-July 25. This year's monastic studies offerings include "Reading the Bible with Benedict," taught by Irene Nowell, OSB, June 16-July 3, and "Life and Writings of Thomas Merton," with instructor Lawrence Cunningham, July 7-25. A one-week Gregorian Chant: Interpretation Seminar? (July 21-25) and many courses in liturgy, Scripture and other areas of theology are part of the summer curriculum. For more information, contact

The School of Theology
Saint John's University
County Road 159
Collegeville, MN 56321-7288


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Monastic News Omnibus

Sister Susan Doubet, OSB, of Mount St. Benedict, Erie, PA, has accepted the position of Executive Director of the Alliance for International Monasticism (AIM). She replaces Sister Mary Lou Kownacki OSB, of the same community, who resigned after eleven years of able and inspiring service to AIM.

After a year as president of the AIM USA board of directors, Sister Patricia Henry, OSB, of Torreon, Mexico, has turned over leadership to Abbot Joel Macul, OSB, of Newton, NJ. Two other board members, Abbots Neal Roth and Thomas Hillenbrand, accepted a second term on the board. Timothy Kelly, OSB, was appointed to the AIM International Council.

* * * * * *

The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration announce the appointment of Benita Leutkemeyer, OSB, as superior of Osage Monastery in Sand Springs, OK.

Subsequent to the death of their prioress, the sisters at St. Walburg's in Elizabeth, NJ, have elected Sharon McHugh, OSB, as their new prioress.

The monks of St. Procopius Abbey, Lisle, IL, recently elected Dismas Kalcic, OSB, as abbot.

Josephine Markiewicz has been elected prioress at Monasterio de San Benito in Mexico City.

At St. Benedict's Abbey, Atchison, KS, the monks voted that Abbot Barnabas Senecal, OSB, continue in his service as abbot.

* * * * * *

Abbot General Andrea Pantaloni, OSB, conducted the official visitation of the monasteries in the US of the Sylvesterine Congregation in a November visit from Rome. The visitation included the monasteries of the Holy Face, New Jersey and St. Sylvester and St. Benedict Monasteries in Michigan. He convened a priory chapter at St. Benedict in Oxford, MI. The meetings, held every six years, share with the capitulars the reports of the US superiors about their communities, as well as the suggestions and insights of the abbot general. The chapter reelected Daniel Homan, OSB, as prior of the US monasteries of the congregation.

* * * * * *

The Cistercian General Chapter, held in Rome at the end of September, brought together monks and nuns from throughout the world as 220 Cistercians from 164 communities gathered to examine the reports from the different geographic regions, to address common concerns and to develop a vision statement for the coming years.? Among the topics were changes to governance and constitutions, dialogue with and about formation and the "young professed," and enclosure/separation from the world.

The most notable achievement was the "Vision of the Order 2002" statement. It began with the chapter's consideration of "communities in a precarious condition." This inspired the rest of a document that addresses the notion of "precariousness," a document both realistic and prophetic in its approach to the changes in monastic life today. The full text of the statement may be found on the Cistercian website dedicated to the General Chapter at <>.

* * * * * *

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie were the recipients of the 2002 US Catholic Award, presented each year by the editors of US Catholic magazine to an individual or group that has furthered the cause of women in the church. Sister Christine Vladimiroff, prioress, accepted the award at Loyola University in Chicago on October 15.

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