The American Monastic Newsletter

Volume 33, Nr. 2, June 2003               Richardton, ND 58652

Inside this issue:

Convention 2004

News Omnibus

Grey Yellow Pages

Scholarship Report

Book Reviews

Website Reviews

Members, Sponsors & Donors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMN Online

 

ABA Index


Issue Contents

Abbot Primate Wolf Visits US Superiors

Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, KS, was the site of the February meetings of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses and the Conference of American Abbots. By holding simultaneous meetings in the same location, the two groups are also able to hold some joint sessions and to have an opportunity for more interaction among all Benedictine superiors. This year, one hundred participants came from across North America, as well as Australia, Mexico and the Bahamas.

This year's speakers, addressing topics related to life in cenobitic community, were Sister Genevieve Glen of St. Walburga's Monastery in Virginia Dale, CO, and Fathers Columba Stewart and Dan Ward, both of Saint John's, Collegeville, MN. The hosts and local planning committee were Sister Mary Collins of Mount St. Scholastica, Abbot Barnabas Senecal of St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, Abbot Gregory Polan of Conception Abbey, Conception, MO, and Sister Karen Joseph of the Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration of Clyde, MO.

A special guest was Abbot Primate Notker Wolf, who came from Rome to attend the meeting and give the group an update on international developments in the Benedictine world. The abbot primate, from Grömelbach, Bavaria, was archabbot of his congregation of St. Ottilien, an international missionary group of Benedictines, for over twenty years before becoming abbot primate two years ago. His primary task at the meeting was to give a report on Sant' Anselmo, the international house of studies in Rome, and other business of the worldwide confederation of Benedictines.

Such meetings also present an opportunity for him to acquaint himself further with the superiors and concerns of other regions of the world, to conduct other personal business with superiors, and to visit individual monasteries. He delighted the local communities with informal visits and impromptu flute recitals. Not merely an accomplished classical musician, he is also well known in Germany for his flute work with a rock band, perhaps a first for any Benedictine abbot, much less an abbot primate!

In an address to the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, he reflected on his own love of the Benedictine way and its contemporary importance. "It can be characterized as a very human way of life for anyone who wants real freedom in life," he remarked. "It is not perfectionism but natural contact with God in whatever way we live." He likened its simple, but deeply touching, way of contemplative prayer to chewing gum: "It enters our body slowly and we get all the flavor from it by working on it over a period of time."

This way of life continues to influence many people. He reported on the growth of religious life in countries where it has not been as available, such as Vietnam, Korea, and across Africa. While noting that there is still a decrease of vocations in the Western world, he pointed out that the largest number of religious vocations in Germany is still to Benedictine communities and that there are some signs of new vitality in religious life in Europe.

"We have to find new paradigms," he challenged. "People are still looking for solid roots of prayer and meditation, and also meaningful work." He has also seen an increase in the oblate movement in other countries besides the United States. He is energized as well by the dialogue with other religious traditions, and especially the connections being made to Buddhist monastics. He thinks that there is much to be gained from the spiritual exchange between two groups whose way of living is so similar. In this, as in many things, his philosophy is both practical and profound. "It isn't that we do this so we can just learn about each other. We must become friends and then we can learn."

 

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The American Monastic Newsletter

Published in February, June and October

Judith Sutera OSB
Editor in Chief
Mount St. Scholastica
801 S. 8th Street
Atchison, KS 66002
<JSutera@mountosb.org>
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Renée Branigan, OSB
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Adel Sautner OSB
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