What Was New!
First Quarter 2002
Abbot of Jerusalem on TV
German World Service Television (DW-world.de) broadcasts an In Focus segment (30.03.2002, 18:30 UTC) on Benedikt Lindemann OSB, abbot of Hagia Maria Sion Abbey, Jerusalem.
Preparing for Easter
Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB outlines how Benedicines observe Lent according to the Rule of Saint Benedict in an interview with Zenit News Agency (Rome).
+Abbot Bonifaz Sellinger OSB, 90, the former Abbot of Schottenabtei, Vienna, Austria, died in the afternoon of Sunday, 10 March. He had been a monk for 69 years and a priest for 64 years. Abbot Bonifaz combined pastoral experience with duties as a teacher. With great discretion he promoted energetically the reforms of Vatican Council II during his term as abbot (1966-1988). For many years he served on the national conference of major religious superiors. Herr, gib ihm die ewige Ruhe.
Five times a year The Oblate from Saint John's Abbey appears in print and online. The editor, Keith Homstad OblSB, will be ordained a minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on Palm Sunday 2002.
Thursday, 21 March, commemorates the death of Saint Benedict. The serenity of his death among his confreres makes him a special advocate for the dying. The prayers of the liturgy recall this patronage. On the margin of the Benedictine Medal, encircling the figure of Benedict, are the Latin words: Eius in obitu nostro præsentia muniamur (May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death)!
Claire Luna reports for the Los Angeles Times (Saturday, March 16) about the steady increase in numbers of vocations to monastic life. "More Contemplate a Monastic Calling" documents renewed efforts at recruitment, vocational retreats, use of the Internet, and the renovation of monastic facilities as partial causes for the "surge in new members."
On Wednesday, 13 March, the monks of Rohr Abbey elected Prior P. Gregor Zippel OSB to become the fourth abbot of Braunau in Rohr. Abbot Gregory, 61, has been a monk since 1966. Besides serving as a teacher of Latin and German, he also served as deputy headmaster of the boarding school and director of the retreat and conference center. Named subprior in 1978, he became prior ten years later. According to the consititutions of the Bavarian Congregation, his predecessor, Abt Dr. Johannes Zeschick OSB resigned after his 70th birthday.
American Benedictine Academy
The February 2002 issue of the American Monastic Newsletter previews the biannual convention of the American Benedictine Academy. The topic for the 9-11 August meeting at the University of Mary, Bismarck, ND, is "Monastics and Mentoring: Refounding the Tradition." The convention will be preceded by a mini-workshop devoted to computer networking in small communities. Among other features, the newsletter includes an "Open Letter" by Mr. Gerald W. Schlabach OblSB concerning Oblate discernment.
German Benedictine Silenced
Abbot Fidelis Rupert OSB announced to his fellow monks of Muensterschwarzach Abbey the decision of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to forbid Fr. Willigis Jaeger OSB, 77, to publish any of his thinking about Zen. In 1972 Fr. Willigis began a six-year study of Zen in Japan with Yamada Koun. Subsequently he became a Zen teacher (Ko-un Roshi). His website, however, announces that his disciples will take over a planned course of instruction. He began publishing around 1982 and several of his works have been translated into Polish and other languages. Fr. Pat Hawk CSSR, an American disciple of Fr. Willigis, adopted his style and format for a Christian Contemplative Intensive Retreat.
Benedictine Peace Torch
For the first time since 1988 the "Benedictine Peace Torch" will be lit outside of Europe. Archabbot Lambert Reilly OSB will light the torch at Saint Meinrad Archabbey on Wednesday, 5 March, in Indiana. After a stop in New York City to honor the victims of 9/11, the torch will proceed to the Vatican and Norcia, Italy, legendary birthplace of St. Benedict, for the celebration of his feastday on 21 March.
The Privilege of Love: Camaldolese Benedictine Spirituality (Liturgical Press, 2002) consists of a series of essays by Camaldolese, including the Prior General, regarding the history and all the main facets of Camaldolese spirituality. Peter-Damian Belisle OSB Cam is the editor, and Michael Downey contributes an Introduction. Fr. Robert Hale OSB Cam writes about "Koinonia: The Privilege of Love," and he also co-authors a chapter with Thomas Matus OSB Cam on "The Camaldolese in Dialogue: Ecumenical and Interfaith Themes in the History of the Camaldolese Benedictines." Richard Rohr OFM writes: "If a Franciscan has anything to say about monastic wisdom, I think this is excellent spirituality. It is monastic, but also universal. It presumes community, but also offers true individuation. It is solid tradition, but wonderfully contemporary." The volume is enriched by a ground-breaking and comprehensive bibliography for the study of Camaldolese history and spirituality.
Abbot Martin Werlin OSB, has introduced a new element to the ancient practice of pilgrimage to the venerable shrine of Our Lady of Einsiedeln. Having received an avalanche of mail subsequent to his election at 39 last November, Abbot Martin responded by making Einsiedeln the sign and symbol of a renewed social and pastoral role for monasticism. The pilgrimage being planned for 2003 is one of prayer for those who have left the Roman Church disappointed by negative experience and unable to identify with it today.
The Pontifical Council for Social Communications has issued two documents about the Internet. "The Church and the Internet" reaffirms the Church's commitment to use every means of modern communication to make known the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. "Ethics in Internet" discusses some of the issues connected with two-way communication and the novelty, immediacy, accessibility, decentralizaion and libertarian aspects of the Internet. Archbishop John P. Foley serves as President of the Council.
+ Godfrey Diekmann OSB STD
Father Godfrey Diekmann OSB, 93, liturgist, teacher, editor, and monk of Saint John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minn., died mid-afternoon on Friday, 22 February, at the abbey's retirement center. Fr. Godfrey served as a peritus at Vatican Council II after taking up the torch from Dom Virgil Michel OSB, pioneer of the liturgical movement in the United States. Nolan Zavoral recaps Fr. Godfrey's career for the Minneapolis Tribune (23 Feb. 2002). A press release from Saint John's Abbey gives 2:30 PM, Wednesday, 27 February, as the time for celebrating the Liturgy of Christian Burial. The community received the body of Fr. Godfrey the evening before at evening prayer, 7:00 PM. The Abbey's obituary for Fr. Godfrey is available online.
+ Mary Charles Bryce OSB PhD
Sr. Mary Charles Bryce OSB, teacher, catechist and a member of Red Plains Monastery, Piedmont, Oklahoma, died Friday, 15 February, at Dooley Center, Atchison, Kansas. For 18 years, Sr. Mary Charles was a professor of religious studies at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In recognition of her contribution to religious studies, Catholic University established the Mary Charles Bryce Lectureship in the Christian Education Trust. In 1984, she was the first woman appointed to the Flannery Chair of Theology at Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington.
The only Cistercian monastery for women in Ireland was founded from England in 1932, a century after the founding of Mount Melleray Abbey for Cistercian men. Glencairn Abbey in turn founded the first Trappistine house in North America and, in 1982, a second foundation was made in Nigeria. The tastefully designed and illustrated website <www.glencairnabbey.org/> features a concise and informative FAQ, a list of frequently asked questions about monastic life, such as "Why do you get up so early?"
Two of the major congregations of Benedictine houses are developing websites. Both trace their roots to Bavaria, and both have offshoots around the world. The Federation of Saint Benedict <www.federationsaintbenedict.org/> traces its foundation to Abtei St Walburg, Eichstätt; its houses today are as far afield as The Bahamas, China, Japan and Puerto Rico. "With Hearts Inclined" outlines the theological and spiritual foundations of the Federation.
The American-Cassinese Congregation, founded by the indefatigable Benedictine missionary, Abbot Boniface Wimmer OSB, spread rapidly from St. Vincent Abbey, Latrobe, PA, throughout the United States and eventually to The Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Japan, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The "General Principles" delimit the nature of the Congregation and serve as the prelude to its Constitutions. The Necrology of its deceased members and the Ordo for liturgical services in its houses have for some time been available on the Web.
Brazil's Open Monastery
Vidimus Dominum, a service of the Roman Union of Superiors General, reports on the Brazilian monastery of Goias Velho, a dependent house of Tournay Abbey in the Subiaco Congregation. Under the leadership of P. Marcello de Barros Souza OSB, Annunciation Monastery has opened its doors and hearts in the hope of inserting the Catholic faith into daily life and "by assuming a prophetic commitment to solidarity and communion with the victims" of social injustice.
When monastics adhere to Benedict's instruction that "each receive a book from the library" as part of the observance of Lent, many take comfort in a new or familiar title by Thomas Merton OCSO. To help in making a choice, John Laughlin has written Reading Thomas Merton: a guide to his life and work (Dec., 2000). Dan K. Phillips briefly reviews the comprehensive reference work at his Thomas Merton website.
At the conclusion of his Rule, Benedict appends a recommended bibliography that includes the Bible in pride of place, but also the Church Fathers (CCEL) mentioning by name St. Basil and Cassian. Cassian's Conferences and Institutes are available in their entirety online as part of the Lectio Divina section of this website.
The Benedictine Sisters of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Desert, near Abiquiu, New Mexico, made their first monastic profession on 26 January. The ceremony both completes and begins a common dream. Begun in 1990, the sisters remained Oblates of the nearby monks' Christ in the Desert Abbey. Two years ago, inspired by increased numbers and the stability of their members, the sisters began the process of becoming a "regular," canonical, Benedictine monastery. They appealed to the women of Jamberoo Abbey, New South Wales, Australia. This flourishing community, friends of Abiquiu since 1981, responded with prompt and generous support for the sisters in New Mexico.
On Saturday, 26 January, Prioress Julianne Allen OSB, canonically a Sister of Saint Mary of Namur, made a commitment to the new community. Five Sisters, Mary Benedicta, Mary, Maria Theresa, Hilda and Guadalupe, professed temporary vows. The night before, Sr. Elizabeth had entered the novitiate. The nuns of Jamberoo and the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur earned special thanks for the generosity that made this development possible.
The new community owes a particular debt of gratitude to the Jamberoo Sisters Antonia Curtis OSB, director of novices, and Maureen Therese Woodhouse OSB, assistant. They spent the last year with the sisters of Our Lady of the Desert. Without their willingness to come to a "foreign land," a recognized, canonical novitiate would not have been possible. Our Lady of the Desert, now a dependent house of Jamberoo, is composed of six professed sisters, one novice and several candidates.
Although for male monastics this year the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time takes precedence over the liturgical celebration of Saint Scholastica on 10 February, most communities of women will celebrate the Solemnity of their Founder. The visit Scholastica made to her brother, Benedict, suggests that their monasteries were not far distant. Such has remained the pattern and many Brother/Sister monasteries are close. Through collaboration in the apostolate and in prayer, men and women Benedictines support each other in fidelity to the Holy Rule.
Erzabtei Sankt Peter
The oldest monastery in German-speaking Europe, St. Peter Archabbey, Salzburg, maintains a website at <www.stift-stpeter.at/>. Attractively designed in the gold and black colors of the Abbey's arms and the Habsburg Monarchy, information is provided about the 18th c. renovation of the Gothic Abbey Church erected after the Carolingian edifice burned. The Java Scripted navigation menu, however, might create difficulties for some Web visitors trying to uncover all the spiritual, historical and cultural treasures of the website.
News of Newton
Archabbot President Jeremias Schroeder OSB announces that on 25 January a group of eight monks from Waegwan Abbey, Korea, accepted the transfer of St. Paul's Abbey, Newton, NJ. Both communities belong to the Congregation of St. Ottilien. The American community is in transition, and its members live in several places, including Newton. Abbot Joel Macul OSB continues to be their Superior. The monks who took possession of the monastery on its patronal feast, the Conversion of St Paul, are established as a dependent community of Waegwan Abbey. Their local superior is Fr. Bosco Kim, formerly Prior Administrator of Waegwan. The new community of St Paul's will serve Korean Catholics in the New York metropolitan area.
The December/January issue of British Heritage magazine contains two articles of monastic interest. "Columba's Isle of Exile" investigates the history of Iona, "Scotland's holiest island and the resting place of her earliest kings." St. Columba and his monks flourished there as missionaries, scribes and farmers in the second half of the 6th century. In the 13th century, Benedictines succeeded the Columban monks for a brief span of glory before their abbey dissolved into ruins in the 16th century. "Stripped of influence in adjacent lands, lacking the library of a scholar's haven or the relics of a pilgrim's destination, Iona's fortunes fell."
"Oh, Brother," on the other hand, tells the amazing story of the rebirth and growth of monastic life at Buckfast Abbey, a Cistercian house dissolved in 1539. Starting in 1906 on the strength of a one-pound donation, the Benedictine monks rebuilt the abbey church during the next 32 years. About three dozen monks -- artists, bee-keepers, foresters, vintners and generous hosts -- welcome a constant stream of visitors and retreatants.
John W. Kiser documents the inspiring story of the seven French Cistercian Monks of Tibhirine killed by Islamic extremists in Algeria. Excerpts from six chapters of Kiser's book, published by St. Martin's Press, engage the reader's curiosity and stimulate the spirit. The tastefully designed website promoting the book includes a Forum for visitors.
Created by some US service personnel, the Tour of Italy for the Financially Challenged contains a section devoted to the history, location, treasures and decoration of the Abbey of Montecassino, final home and resting place of Saint Benedict and his Sister, Scholastica.
Mr. Frank J. Henderson has completed work on another early version of the Rule of Saint Benedict written for a women's community. The Northern Metrical Version of the Rule of St. Benedict was translated from the Latin into Middle English ca. 1440. The manuscript, edited by E.A. Koch in 1902, resides in the British Museum.
S. Aquinata Böckmann OSB has enriched the sections of her "Bibliography for Students of the Rule of Saint Benedict" that deal with the liturgy. Citations relative to chapters 8-9, 22 and 50-51 are supplemented by a classified bibliography about the Liturgy of the Hours in general. A separate bibliography is devoted to the Psalms.
Subsequent to the retirement of Mother Abbess Gertrude Oger OSB, who had been elected in 1986, the nuns of the Abbey of Notre Dame de Wisques elected Mother Prioress Marie-Elisabeth Bossu OSB to be their abbess on Tuesday, 22 January. Abbot President Philippe Dupont OSB of the Solesmes Congregation presided at the election and confirmed the nuns' choice. Abbess Marie-Elisabeth professed her first monastic vows on 25 March 1966.
Church UnityOn 18 January, begins the Week of Prayer for Church Unity. The Octave ends on 25 January, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The devotion of prayer for unity, inaugurated by the Society of the Atonement, was approved as a Catholic devotion by Pope Benedict XV in 1916. This year, in the spirit of Ut Unum Sint and influenced by the tragic events of 11 September, Pope John Paul II has invited the world's religious leaders to Assisi to join in prayer for peace on 24 January. Participants will pray at the same time, but not in the same place. The week concludes in Rome with Solemn Vespers at the Benedictine abbey, San Paolo fuori le Mura, Rome.
In "Women of God" Mary Gordon, novelist, writes about the state of women religious in a long article published by The Atlantic Monthly (January 2002). Until seventh grade, Gordon considered a vocation to a contemplative community, but the questions she now asks are "What, then, does it mean to be a nun today? What does it mean to be a celibate woman whose life is formally dedicated to the service of God, a woman who lives in some sort of community with other women, in some sort of relationship to the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church?"
Mount St. Scholastica Monastery hosts "Upon This Tradition," a website devoted to five statements of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses. The documents, edited by S. Ruth Fox OSB, date from 1975 through 1996, but they are all updated to 2001 and are supplemented by guides to reflection and discussion.
Assumption Abbey Church
On 22 December monks and parishioners participated in the re-dedication of Assumption Abbey's renovated church in Richardton, ND. Bishop Paul Zipfel, Fr. Brian and Abbot Patrick were the chief concelebrations at the moving ceremony well-documented at the Abbey's website.
Purity and Contemplation
In 1998 the book, Gethsemani Encounter, publicized the long-established Christian/Buddhist monastic dialogue. Purity of Heart and Contemplation (Continuum, 2001) expands the focus to include other Asian religions for all of which the title's themes are central to the monastic quest. Edited by Bruno Barnhart OSBCam and Joseph Wong, the book is the result of a week-long consultation at New Camaldoli Hermitage. David Steindl-Rast OSB reacts to the book saying, "Future spiritual practice in America might well be predominately a lay movement in the secular desert for which monasteries -- few and far between -- serve as spiritual watering holes."
Some of the earliest monastic foundations in Egypt and the Holy Land took the form of the skete. The skete combines the support of community with the eremitical way of silence and solitude. Near Loch Ness in Scotland, Sister Petra Clare OSB is the permanent resident of Sancti Angeli Skete attached to Marydale Parish Church. Women considering monastic life or simply wishing to deepen their prayer life and discern their path can visit and share the daily prayer, Gregorian chant, study and work. The Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey supervises the foundation, and Sr. Petra made her novitiate at St. Cecila's Abbey, Ryde.
Development Connection Inc. is a novel enterprise supported by Saint Leo Abbey, Florida. Intended to be helpful to smaller non-profit institutions, its website enables development officers, board members and volunteers to increase income, expand the donor base, improve services and involve more people. The helpful content reflects Mr. Bob Allen's almost forty years experience in non-profit development work. Mr. Allen serves in the Development Office for Saint Leo Abbey.
Saint Bede Academy
Saint Bede Academy in Peru, Illinois, announces a new address for the Academy's website at <www.st-bede.com/>. Established in 1891 by the Benedictines of Saint Bede Abbey, the Academy is a Catholic college preparatory high school for young men and women.
Saint Andrew's Abbey has created a new website <www.standrewsabbeyceramics.com/> that features the popular and attractive ceramic designs of Father Maur van Doorslaer OSB.
The Abbey Banner
The colorful third issue of The Abbey Banner from Saint John's Abbey is available online in PDF format that requires Adobe's Acrobat reader. Fr. Daniel Durken OSB edits the publication.
Send items for inclusion in "What's New" to the <Webmaster>.
What Was New (spring 1995-)
October, November and December 2001.
The monks of Saint John's Abbey welcome comments, questions and suggestions from readers at the Pilgrim's Parlor.
OSB Index | Welcome | Search
Saint John's Abbey