Catholic Relief Services

The Hunger Site

Catholics Confront Global Poverty

The Order of Saint Benedict

What Was New

July, August, and September 2011

Rev. 6 October 2011

September 2011

World Heritage Sites

A special list of World Heritage Sites connected to Benedictines welcomes suggestions for additional inclusions. The complete list of inscribed World Heritage Sites is available online.

Missionary Benedictines Aid Victims of Slum Fire in Nairobi

On 12 September 2011, great parts of the Mukuru-Sinai slum area of Nairobi City, Kenya, were devastated by a burning pipeline. More than 100 people lost their lifes. The slum area occupies about 20 hectares and has an estimated population of 37,000 people living in great poverty. Together with many others, the monks of Tigoni Priory, situated only some kilometers from the scene of the tragedy, have committed themselves to helping the survivors. Bro. Augustine Simuiyu OSB of the Community Projects Office and Prior Lawrence Emukule OSB wrote to Saint Ottilien Archabbey that they especially need shelter material (iron sheets, timber poles, nails), food (maize flour, beans, rice), clothing, and blankets.

Saint John's Bible Completed

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The Washington Post acclaimed the completion of the Saint John's Bible with Hallelujah! in a headline. Abbot John Klassen OSB and Father Bob Koopmann OSB happily announced the completion of The Saint John's Bible at a press conference at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) on Thursday, September 15. The Bible is a monumental work: seven volumes that contain all 73 books of the Old and New Testaments; 1,150 pages with 160 illuminations.

The project took fifteen years, required collaboration among theologians, art historians, scripture scholars, calligraphers, and artists, and cost over $8M. The Bible project was inspired by the biblical and liturgical spirituality of Benedictine monastic life. Pre-Gutenberg monks copied manuscripts in order to transmit texts to succeeding generations. The monks of Saint John's Abbey commissioned a Bible for our time, the beginning of the 21st century and a new millennium. Never before had there been a handwritten, illuminated Bible with a view of the planet Earth from outer space, the inclusion of the image of the HIV virus, or the double helices of DNA. "The project was conceived and overseen by Donald Jackson, one of the world's foremost calligraphers and Senior Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Crown Office at the House of Lords" (MPR News).

August 2011

Hail and Strong Winds Damage Clyde Monastery

Late Friday evening, 19 August, high winds, hail, and perhaps even a tornado ripped through Clyde, Missouri, and damaged the historic monastery of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Fortunately all the Sisters were shielded from the flying glass, though the storm caused much physical damage to facilities.

While all the damage has not yet been assessed, the Sisters report that "we lost about 40 windows, including the Austrian art glass in the Sorrowful Mother Chapel and the Relic Chapel. Our new Sacred Stones Sacred Stories renovations incurred water damage from many broken windows, housing for sick and elderly Sisters has significant window damage, several windows in the chapel and sacristy were destroyed, and many of the trees on the monastery grounds sustained ruinous damage.

"We don't yet know what the cost of clean-up and damage will be, but we are certainly going to need at least $10,000 to pay our property insurance deductible. Would you please consider making a special donation to help us recover from the storm? All money raised from this appeal will be used to help with storm damage, or for other structural needs at the Monastery. Please donate online, or send your checks to:

Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
CD Department
31970 State Hwy P
Clyde, MO 64432-8100

"Thank you for your support, and please join us in thanking God that none of our Sisters or neighbors was hurt in the storm. Also, please keep in your prayers all those affected by the storm and the emergency workers who helped -- and are still helping -- to restore lost power."

New Abbot President for Swiss-American Benedictines

Father Joel Rippinger OSB shares good news about the fourth abbot of Marmion Abbey: "The Swiss-American Congregation concluded their 44th General Chapter at Westminster Abbey in Mission, British Columbia, 8 August 2011. The capitulars elected Abbot Emeritus Vincent Bataille OSB, 71, to succeed Abbot Peter Eberle OSB as Abbot-President of the Congregation. The chapter also elected Abbot Gregory Polan OSB and Father Patrick Caveglia OSB, both of Conception Abbey, to the Abbot's Council."  The Abbot President serves for a term of six years.

Monks of Pluscarden Elect Abbot Anselm of Petersham, MA

The Holy Father's nomination of Abbot Hugh Gilbert OSB as the Bishop of Aberdeen, Scotland, led the monks of Pluscarden Abbey to elect Dom Anselm Atkinson, OSB, superior of St. Mary's Monastery, Petersham, Massachusetts. Since 2003, Abbot Anselm has also served as the Abbot Visitor of the English Province of the Subiaco Congregation.

Basilica for Sale?

In 1948 the Communist regime of Yugoslavia seized the property of the Italian Benedictines of Dajla near the city of Novigrad and banished the monks. Although the monks received 1.7M lire in 1975, the Holy See is demanding that compensation for the property, now being used as a retirement home, be given to the Benedictine Abbey of Santa Maria Assunta, Praglia. Sadly, the local Diocese of Porec and Pula, Istria, that received all of the meadows, acres, forests, and buildings from the State of Croatia in the 1990s, sold most of that to finance the construction of new ecclesiastical properties. Most Rev. Ivan Milovan, the local ordinary, was reluctant to comply with the Vatican decision that would necessitate raising 30M € to compensate for the property, some of which is about to become a golf course.

Although the prime minister, Jadranka Kosor, and the regional tourist authorities support the bishop against the Pope, a possible way of raising the money might be the sale of the diocese's late antique (6th c.) Euphrasius Basilica, a magnet for German and Austrian tourists. Unesco inscribed the basilica complex -- church, memorial chapel, atrium, baptistery, and episcopal palace -- on its World Heritage List in 1997. Croatian politicians see the Vatican's demand as an attack on Croatia's sovereignty since the courts have already ruled against the Pope. On 6 July the Holy See sent Archbishop Santos Abril y Castello from the curia as a commissar empowered to sign the agreement in the place of Bishop Milovan. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung recaps the situation in detail (2 August 2011) and a Croatian news service in English incorporates a statement from the Holy See's Press Office.

July 2011

Abbey Ends Ranching Operation

Assumption Abbey, Richardton, North Dakota, is putting its ranching operation out to pasture because it lacks monks with cowboy skills. Abbot Brian Wangler OSB tells The Dickinson Press that ranching has been a part of Assumption Abbey since 1893, when it was in Devil's Lake, ND. He says raising cattle helped make the monastery self-sufficient. He says two monks now care for 260 cows, but only one has the skills to do it by himself. Seventy-six-year-old Brother Placid Gross OSB has tended the monastery's cattle for 51 years and says it once had one of the biggest ranching operations in the region. He says he won't miss the hard work but will miss the cows. Abbot Brian says the abbey will rent its pastures to other ranchers (Washington Post).

Monks of Dormition Abbey Elect New Abbot

On 26 July 2011, the monks of Dormition Abbey, Jerusalem, with Abbot Primate Dr. Notker Wolf OSB presiding, elected Dom Gregory Collins OSB (Glenstal Abbey, Ireland) as the sixth abbot. Father Gregory has had a varied ministry of writing and preaching retreats. Among his publications are The Glenstal Book of Icons (Dublin: Columba Press, 2002) and Meeting Christ in His Mysteries: A Benedictine Vision of the Spiritual Life (Dublin: Columba Press, 2011). Abbot Gregory will depart for Jerusalem in early August.

Inauguration of Institutum Liturgicum

On 12 July 2011, the Abbots of Ealing and Farnborough welcomed guests and benefactors to the inauguration of a liturgy institute for England and Wales. It is the hope of the founders that research and graduate level teaching will help those who attend to rise above polarized positions on liturgical issues to make an irenic contribution to the broader Church. The summer teaching program from June to August prepares future university teachers and forms members of diocesan, national and religious liturgical commissions. The courses provide English language access to the licenciate and doctoral degrees at the Catholic University of Leuven and the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy in Rome. The opening of Institutum Liturgicum culminates six years of preparation by Dom James Leachman OSB (Ealing) and Fr. Daniel McCarthy OSB (Atchison). Ad multos annos!

Louisiana Benedictines Allowed to Sell Caskets

On Thursday, 21 July 2011, Judge Stanwood R. Duval, of the U.S. District Court in New Orleans ruled against the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, a state regulatory board dominated by funeral-industry members. The monks of Saint Joseph Abbey, Covington, Louisiana, "had filed the federal lawsuit last August, arguing that the state was violating their gainful right to earn a living. They cited Louisiana's 'casket cartel' and said they had only sold 60 caskets, hardly making them a threat" (Wall Street Journal). The Atlantic Monthly also featured an article about "How 38 Monks Took on the Funeral Cartel and Won" (22 July 2011).

Monastic Worship Forum

At the conclusion of their conference at Saint Meinrad Archabbey, the Monastic Worship Forum launched a new website. The Benedictine Musicians of the Americas merged with the Monastic Liturgy Forum to create the new entity. Father Godfrey Mullen OSB, Vice Rector and Director of Liturgy for Saint Meinrad Seminary, serves as Chair of the Core Committee that consists of five Benedictine monastics.

Subiaco Monks of Medellín, Colombia, Elect New Abbot

In the presence of P. Bruno Marin OSB, Abbot President of the Subiaco Congregation, and P. José María Soler OSB, Abbot Visitor of the Spanish Province, the monks of Saint Mary of the Assumption Abbey, Envigado (Antioquio), Colombia, elected Father Leonel Gómez Pinilla OSB as their new abbot.

Monastic Formators' Program: 18 March to 15 June 2012

The English-language program for monastic formators has now run for ten years. Over 240 men and women have participated from over 40 countries. Participants in the program meet with monastics from all over the world and engage with some of the best monastic teachers of our time. Instructors in the program have included Fr. Michael Casey OCSO, Abbot Gregory Polan OSB, Fr. Columba Stewart OSB, Sr. Aquinata Böckmann OSB, and Dom Bernardo Bonowitz OCSO. Rooted in the teaching of Saint Benedict and the monastic tradition, the Monastic Formators' Program addresses contemporary issues and particular aspects of human and spiritual growth.

Applications for the three-month, 2012 program in Rome and Assisi are due before the end of September. Further information can be obtained from the Director, Fr Brendan Thomas OSB (

The Patriarch

Solemnity of Benedict

Benedictines and their friends celebrate Saint Benedict, Patriarch of Western Monasticism and Co-Patron of Europe, on Monday, 11 July. Born in 480 A.D., his Rule for Monasteries brought order and creativity to a world of decadence and corruption.

The stained glass at right from Sacred Heart Monastery Church, Yankton, South Dakota,  depicts our Founder holding a manuscript copy of his Holy Rule (Sancta Regula) flanked by his disciples.

What we know of Saint Benedict comes from the Second Book of the Dialogues written by Pope St. Gregory the Great. The office hymn, Gemma caelestis recalls his vision of the death of his twin sister, Scholastica, and the sequence, Laeta quies, poetically recalls incidents of Benedict's life in the light of scriptural precedents.

Many monasteries use this date for the Profession of Vows.  Congratulations to the many Benedictine men and women making first or final commitments or celebrating jubilees of monastic profession.

Online Publications

The new issue of Dilatato Corde, the on-line journal of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, opened 1 July 2011 on the DIMMID website: <>. The latest issue of The American Monastic Newsletter, published by The American Benedictine Academy is 42:2 (June 2011). Also available online is the June 2011 issue of the ABA Monastic Researchers's Newsletter (Vol. 2:3) compiled and edited by S. Ephrem Hollerman OSB.


What's New OSB
What's New (Aktuelles) in the Austrian Congregation. Aktuelle Meldungen (Erbe und Auftrag).

What Was New OSB (1995-; archive). April, May, and June 2011.

The monks of Saint John's Abbey welcome comments, questions and suggestions from readers at the Pilgrim's Parlor. Send items for inclusion in "What's New" to the <Webkeeper>.


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