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What's New

October, November, and December 2013

Rev. 20 October 2015


December 2013

Dormition Abbey, Jerusalem

Public Radio International ran a story about Christmas Eve Mass at Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion. The Benedictine abbey church fills up early with mostly young, mostly secular Jews. Daniel Estrin interviewed Abbot Gregory Collins OSB about preaching on Christmas Eve to a non-Christian crowd.

A Visit to Glenstal Abbey

Conor Pope offers "An Ordered Existence," his entertaining and thought-provoking summary for The Irish Times of two days spent with the Benedictine monks of Glenstal Abbey, Co. Limerick. A five-minute video, "The Sound of Silence: Conor Pope at Glenstal Abbey," supplements the article.

New Abbot Ordinary for Cava de' Terreni

On 14 December 2013, the Holy Father confirmed as abbot ordinary of the territorial Abbey of the Most Holy Trinity of Cava de' Terreni, Italy, Rev. Michele Petruzzelli OSB. Father Michele had been claustral prior and master of novices at the Abbey of Santa Maria della Scala, Noci, Italy.

Father Michele was born in Bari in, 1961. When he was 24 years old, he entered Noci. He made his first vows in 1987I. He studied in the monastic school of Praglia and the Theological Institute at Bari. He received the STL in Monastic Theology from Santt'Anselmo. He was ordained a priest in 1998.

AbbotNew Abbot Ordinary for Einsiedeln

Pope Francis has confirmed the election, 23 November 2013, of Fr. Urban Federer OSB as 59th ordinary abbot of the territorial Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln, Switzerland. The abbot, elected for a 12-year term, was born in Zurigo-Fluntern, Switzerland, in 1968 and became a priest in 1994. He holds a licentiate in German literature and history, and a doctorate in medieval German studies, both from the University of Fribourg. He also studied music and Gregorian chant at the Fribourg Conservatory of Music. Fr. Federer, 45, was dean and vicar general of the territorial abbey at the time of his election. The Benedictines will celebrate the abbatial blessing and installation, Sunday, 22 December 2013, in the abbey church.

Prior Elias Named President of ICBE

At the recent international gathering of Benedictine and Cistercian schools, 24-27 October 2013, in Manila, Abbot Primate Dr. Notker Wolf OSB, after hearing from the members of the International Commission on Benedictine Education (ICBE) and more than 150 assembled delegates at the global conference (BeNET), named Fr. Elias Lorenzo OSB president of ICBE. The founding president, Fr. Christopher Jamison OSB, Worth Abbey, stepped down after more than ten years to dedicate himself to his work on vocations for the episcopal conference of England and Wales. Fr. Elias, himself a founding member of ICBE, has held the positions of secretary and treasurer of the commission. In his initial remarks, Fr. Elias invited the assembled delegates to Rome for the next international meeting of Benedictine and Cistercian educators in 2016. Fr. Elias serves as the Prior at Collegio Sant'Anselmo. 

November 2013

2015 - Year of Consecrated Life

Vatican Information Service reports on the meeting of Pope Francis with members of the Union of Superiors General in Rome.


Vatican City, 29 November 2013 (VIS) – The Union o­f Superiors General held its 82nd General Assembly in the Salesianum in Rome from 27 to 29 November 2013. The story of three experiences provided the basis for reflections and encounters focusing on the challenges of leadership in the light of the Magisterium and following the example given by Pope Francis. The Holy Father chose to meet with the Superiors for three hours, rather than the short encounter envisaged: no address was prepared in advance, but instead a long, colloquial and fraternal discussion took place, composed of questions and answers. (More).

Be Grateful

Brother Steindl-Rast OSB spoke in June 2013 addressing the topic, "Want to be happy? Be grateful." TED posted online the 15-minute video clip in time for Thanksgiving Day. Brother David maintains a website at <>.

Blue Cloud Abbey Sold

Six Catholic couples have purchased the property of Blue Cloud Abbey, Marvin, SD, that closed 5 August 2012. The couples plan to "develop a specific purpose in the coming months that will likely preserve the site's Catholic identity and continue the monks' mission of using the monastery as a corporate and individual retreat house and a place to host events and faith activities," said Wade Van Dover, one of the new owners (Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan).

Benedictine Sisters Survive Typhoon

All the 16 Tutzing Missionary Benedictine Sisters who were in Tacloban when typhoon Haiyan (aka Yolanda) hit survived at Divine Word Hospital, Tacloban City. About half of them were from the Benedictine-run St. Scholastica's College-Tacloban, about 45 minutes from the hospital. "St. Scholastica's Tacloban was a total wreck. The nuns' decision to evacuate saved their lives. In the aftermath, witnesses saw looters hauling away sinks and the nuns' carry-on suitcases. 'As if they were walking out of an airport,' a sister said with a chuckle" (Philippine Inquirer). Divine Word Hospital was the only medical facility left in operation, but damaged. "Two of our buildings were unroofed, ceilings and electrical wirings were destroyed. Expensive laboratory equipment, vehicles, laundry equipment and generators were soaked in water that destroyed them. Our hospital floors were littered with broken glasses and our grounds with debris and fallen trees. Our hospital staff continued to work under limited conditions –- with little light and water." Read updated reports and make donations at <>.

+ Rev. Demetrius Dumm OSB

Father Demetrius R. Dumm OSB, 90, a monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey, died Sunday, 17 November 2013. While studying in Rome, he was ordained a priest at Subiaco Abbey, Italy, 7 December 1947. He earned the STD at Sant'Anselmo Pontifical Institute, 1950; studied at the École Biblique in Jerusalem from 1950 to 1952; and received a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Commission, Vatican City. He served as rector of Saint Vincent Seminary for 17 years, 1963-1980. Father Demetrius was also a gifted writer. He was a major contributor and one of the editors of the Collegeville Pastoral Dictionary of Biblical Theology, contributed to the New Jerome Bible Commentary, and authored numerous articles for The American Benedictine Review and The New Catholic Encyclopedia. Father Demetrius lectured internationally and was widely popular as a retreat master. Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki OSB will preside at the Mass of Christian Burial, Wednesday, 20 November 2013, 2:30 p.m. May he rest in peace.

Conclusion of the Year of Faith

Year of Faith Logo

The first of three "signs" that will conclude the Year of Faith was a visit by Pope Francis to the enclosed Camaldulese nuns on the Aventine Hill in the monastery of Saint Anthony the Abbot. The Holy Father spent some time in the cell of an American mystic and anchoress, Sister Nazarena (née Julia Crotta, 1907-90). The "Day of Contemplative Life," 21 November 2013, was dedicated to those who have chosen a cloistered life in order to dedicate themselves fully to a life of prayer and contemplation.

Other concluding events include a papal reception of catechumens, 23 November, and the Mass in St. Peter's Square, Sunday, 24 November, that includes a collection for those affected by the catastrophic typhoon in the Philippines.

Stanley Roseman Launches Website

Since 1978 Stanley Rosemen (1945-) has travelled widely in the world capturing on paper with chalk striking images of men and women monastics. The section of the new website devoted to "The Benedictines" features two monks of Solesmes in a drawing now owned by The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. In 1983 the prestigious Albertina Collection, Vienna, presented Roseman's "Drawings from Monasteries" as the first one-man show by an American graphic artist. The website, "Stanley Roseman: The Monastic Life," features an introduction to monastic life, sections for Cistercians and Carthusians, correspondence from the monasteries, a biography of the artist, other subjects and media, and selections from his memoirs. Roseman's colleague, Ronald Davis, prepared the material for the impressive and profusely illustrated website.

New Officials for Grottaferrata

On 4 November 2013 Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Very Rev. Fr. Archimandrite Emiliano Fabbricatore OSBI from the office of Exarch of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata and Superior General of the Congregation of Basilian Monks in Italy, according to CCEO, can. 210 § 1. The Holy Father appointed Most Rev. Marcello Semeraro, Bishop of Albano, as the apostolic administrator ad nutum of the Holy See for the Italo-Albanese Monastery of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata. Bishop Semeraro serves as the secretary to the newly created Council of Cardinals.

The pope also appointed Abbot Michel Van Parys OSB as hegumen of the Territorial Abbey of Santa Maria di Grottaferrate, Lazio, Italy. Abbot Michel was the first abbot of Chevetogne Monastery when the priory became an abbey in 1991. From 1997 until 2002 Abbot Michel served as consultor to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

Friends of St. Benedict

The two-day Symposium on Benedictine Spirituality takes place at St. Alban's Episcopal Church, Washington, DC, 15-16 November 2013. Dr. Phyllis Tickle is the keynote speaker, Friday, at the second annual gathering. Her topic is "Spirituality in the Whirlwind." On Saturday, Sr. Mary Donald Corcoran OSB, Abbot James Wiseman OSB, and the Rev. Robin Dodge will conduct a workshop, "Practicing Benedictine Spirituality in Our Own Whirlwinds." For more information visit the Friends of St. Benedict website, phone 202-363-8061, or send an email to <>.

Chant CD from Minnesota

The St. Cloud Times reviewed the new chant CD, "Singing with Mary and the Saints" with music performed by 15 voices of the Gregorian Chant Schola, which includes undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University as well as monks from Saint John's Abbey. MinnPost interviewed Fr. Anthony Ruff OSB, the music director behind the project. The audio CD is available from Amazon and I-Tunes.

October 2013

Mary Mother of the Church, VA

Thanking Very Rev. Adrian Harmening OSB, 86, for his generous and faithful service both as prior and administrator, Abbot President Hugh Anderson OSB announced, Friday, 25 October 2013, his appointment of Abbot Placid Solari OSB as external administrator. Abbot Placid is the superior of Belmont Abbey, NC. Both abbeys belong to the American-Cassinese Congregation.

ICBE Convenes in Manila

Abbot Primate Dr. Notker Wolf OSB joined Benedictine educators from around the world at the triennial conference sponsored by the International Commission on Benedictine Education (ICBE). The theme of the four-day conference, 24-27 October 2013, is "Benedictine Education: A Gift to the World." Our "vocation as educators is a strong testimony of the vitality and richness of our timeless Benedictine values, in particular, seeing and reverencing Christ in the young, old, and most vulnerable among us," said Abbot Notker. The conference host, St. Scholastica’s College and Priory, began in the Philippines in 1906 with the arrival of Benedictine sisters from Tutzing, Germany. Among the school’s prominent alumnae are the late President Corazon C. Aquino and the first woman Supreme Court justice, Cecilia Muñoz Palma (Global Nation Inquirer).

Monks' Coffins Legal

After a legal battle lasting five years, the Benedictine monks of St. Joseph Abbey, Louisiana, have the right to sell to the public their handmade wooden caskets now that the U.S. Supreme Court has let a lower court ruling stand. Read more in the National Catholic Register.

Short Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality

Father James Flint OSB, St. Procopius Abbey, begins a series of five e-mails that constitute a free, online course in Benedictine spirituality. The first session runs from 14-18 October, and the second, 28 October – 1 November 2013. Learn more about the program or sign-up online.


ABECCA launches a website with material from the Eleventh Encounter of Latin American Monastics (EMLA XI). The theme of the conference was "La Vida Monástica en Tiempo de Transformaciones Culturales." The participants gathered 22-29 July 2013 in Mexico and visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Quadalupe, 25 July, for Mass with the apostolic nuncio to Mexico, Most Rev. Christophe Pierre. Copies of the major papers, PowerPoint presentations, and several videos capture some of the gathering. Hma. Patricia Henry OSB, Torreon, Mexico, coordinated the online project with the OSB webkeeper.

ORDO 2014

A copy of the American-Cassinese Ordo for 2014 is available for download as an MS document. Brother Paul Jasmer OSB, Saint John's Abbey, manages the production and distribution of the book.

What's New OSB
What's New auf Deutsch: Aktuelle Meldungen (Erbe und Auftrag, Monastische Welt).
What Was New OSB, July, August, and September 2013, and further back (1995-; archive).

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


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