What Was New
Third Quarter 2002
New Abbot for Maria Laach
On Tuesday, 24 September 2002, the monks of Maria Laach Abbey elected Fr Benedikt Müntnich OSB, 49, to be their new Abbot. He will serve for a 12-year term of office. Abbot Benedikt professed first vows in 1976 and was ordained a priest in 1981. His predecessor, Abbot Anno Schoenen OSB, 77, had resigned on 10 September on grounds of age. Abbot Anno, however, will continue as President of the Beuronese Congregation. In spring the General Chapter reelected him as Abbot President.
Since 10 September Dom Mauro Simpson OSB, 77, has been a prisoner awaiting trial in Puerto Rico. A monk of San Antonio Abad, Dom Mauro was arrested during a protest of the US Navy's continued presence on the island of Vieques. "Vieques residents and their supporters are protesting the exercises by illegally entering the testing grounds in an effort to make the Navy suspend operations. As of 11 September a total of 17 protesters had been arrested. These included Mauro Simpson, a retired Catholic priest from South Dakota who served in Puerto Rico for 50 years" (Americas.org). President Bush has made a public commitment to cease military exercises in Vieques no later than May of 2003.
+ Sister Mary Anthony OSB PhD
On Wednesday, 19 September, Sr. Mary Anthony Wagner OSB died at Saint Benedict's Monastery in Minnesota. Sr. Mary Anthony earned her B.A. in Religion from St. Louis University, her M.A. in Religious Education and Liturgy from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and her Ph.D. in Theology from St. Mary's School of Theology at Notre Dame. She taught in the Theology Department of the College of Saint Benedict and was the assistant Director of the Benedictine Institute of Sacred Theology. BIST later became the graduate School of Theology at Saint John's University. She was the Dean of the School of Theology and editor of the magazine Sisters Today. In 1972 she became the Oblate Director for Saint Benedict's Monastery, a position she held until her death. Friends, sisters and family will celebrate the Liturgy of Christian Burial on Wednesday, 25 September, at 4:00 pm.
From 4-11 September about 80 Benedictine Abbesses and Prioresses representing Benedictine women's monasteries all over the world met for a Symposium at Sant'Anselmo, Roma. This was organised by what used to be the Abbot Primate's Commission for Benedictine Women. It is now called "The Conference of the Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum". Also invited to the Symposium were 20 newly professed sisters representing the 19 Regions sending Delegates. Also present was a newly professed sister of the international congregation of the Missionary Benedictines of Tutzing. There were 6 talks offered around the theme, "RB 72 Good Zeal in the Workshop of the Monastery." Participants also exchanged reactions and insights in discussion groups. The next Symposium is scheduled for 2006.
After the Symposium, on 12 September, the Conference of the C.I.B. met to elect the Administrative Council for a new 4-year term. The Conference elected Abbess Máire Hickey OSB of St. Scholastika's Abbey, Dinklage, Germany, as Moderator and Sr. Judith Ann Heble OSB, Prioress of Lisle, USA, and President of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses (CABP) as Assistant Moderator. The newly elected Council members are Sr. Sonia Wagner SGS, Prioress General of the Good Samaritan Benedictines in Australia and M. Irmgard K. Poroto OSB, Prioress General of the Benedictine Sisters of Otshikuku, Namibia.
Oblate Weekend, 11-13 October, at Sacred Heart Monastery will feature special activities celebrating 100 years in Alabama for the Benedictine women in Cullman. Today the sisters concentrate on the Benedictine Manor, a seniors' community, and the Benedictine Spirituality and Conference Center as their primary expressions of monastic witness. Visitors and guests are personally welcomed to participate actively in the prayer of the sisters.
Congregational Presidents Gather at St. Ottilien
The Synod of Presidents, heads of the monastic congregations that constitute the Benedictine Confederation, will convene at St. Ottilien Archabbey in Bavaria, 15-19 September. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the monastery's elevation to the status of abbey.
On Wednesday, 18 September, the Abbots President and many others will celebrate Abbot Primate Notker's 25th anniversary of abbatial service. Abbot Notker was elected Archabbot of St. Ottilien in 1977 at 37 and Abbot Primate in 2000.
19-21 September the Benedictine China Commission will meet at St. Ottilien. The central topic will be "Seminary Formation in China." On the 19th there will be the opening of an exhibition "Die Gesichter Jesu in China," prepared by the noted Sinologist and Professor of Religious Studies, Fr. Roman Malek SVD.
The exhibition includes depictions of Christ on porcelain, silk, and paper in batik and cutouts. They show how the image of Christ has become known from the first Nestorian attempts at Christianization (7th c.) up to modern China. The pictorial witnesses seek to give a comprehensive overview of how Catholics and Protestants, Jesuits and Franciscans, Chinese missionaries and Chinese Christians, believers and unbelievers discerned and mediated Jesus Christ. Contakt: P. Cyril Schäfer OSB <cyrill @ erzabtei.de>.
Glenstal Abbey, Murroe, Ireland, celebrates in 2002 the 75th anniversary of its founding. The Abbey has created an attractive website <www.glenstal.org/> that gives information about this month's Glenstal History Conference, 27-29 September. Both lay and monastic scholars are featured presenters at the conference devoted to Irish Monasticism. "In tandem with the conference an award winning exhibition by the Clare Reading and Writing scheme on Literacy through the Ages will be on display in the library." The Abbey Shop sells books, music and monastic items from all over Europe. Glenstal Abbey School is the only Benedictine school for boys in Ireland.
CatholicIreland.net is a compehensive web portal to Internet resources about the Church in Ireland. Honoring the island's rich monastic heritage, Monastic Ireland provides information about Celtic Christianity's significant monastic sites and saints.
From 4 to 26 September the General Chapters of both the female and the male branches of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance will be held during a Mixed General Meeting in Rome. In conformity with decisions made at the MGM of 1999, the Chapters will deal primarily with pastoral issues: formation, elections, ageing, economics, work, etc.
AIM Monastic Bulletin
The Alliance for International Monasticism (Alliance InterMonastères) publishes a Bulletin several times a year. Some of the articles in Bulletin 73, that deals primarily with education, are now available online. The Editorial by Fr Martin Neyt OSB, President of AIM, stresses the primacy of spiritual formation over intellectual formation.
The biennual convention of the American Benedictine Academy concluded with the installation of board members on Sunday, 13 August. Fr. Valerian Odermann OSB, manager of the highly successful gathering in Bismarck, ND, assumed the post of Past-President. Sr. Rosemary Rader OSB, elected Vice-President at the convention in 2000 at St. Meinrad, acceded to the office of President. The assembly elected Board member Bro. Richard Oliver OSB as Vice-President. The members re-elected Mr. Dennis Okholm OblSB, chair of the awards committee, and chose Vice-Presidential candidate Sr. Ramona Fallon OSB and Bro. Cyril Drnjevic OSB to become the new members-at-large from a slate of fourteen candidates. Sr. Adele Sautner OSB continues as Board Secretary.
Subiaco Parishes Suppressed
Giovanni Battista Cardinal Re, the Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, announced the suppression of some of the parishes belonging to the territorial abbey of Subiaco. Sixteen parishes have been a part of the "diocese" of Subiaco since 1659. They will be divided among the Dioceses of Anagni - Alatri, Palestrina and Tivoli. The Italian Episcopal Conference is evaluating all ecclesiastical jurisdictions with less than 70 thousand inhabitants.
Dom Mauro Meacci OSB, the Abbot of Subiaco, however, retains his ordinary abbatial jurisdiction over the monastic communities at Sacro Speco and Santa Scholastica -- two residential sites of the one monastic community. Subiaco remains a territorial abbey. The mayor of Subiaco laments the loss of the special relationship Subiaco and its surrounding towns have had with the Abbot and community for four centuries.
On 11 December 2002 Ampleforth Abbey celebrates 200 years of monastic life on its site in Yorkshire. The celebrated Ampleforth College opened its doors on 14 April 1803. Events related to the bicentennial include Vespers sung in Westminster Abbey, London, on 23 October at the invitation of the Dean and Chapter. The Ampleforth community is linked with Westminster through Dom Sigbert Buckley OSB, the last monk to survive from the pre-Reformation community of Westminster Abbey. In 1608 he and several other exiled Englishmen resumed communal monastic life abroad at Dieulouard in Lorraine.
The monks invite alumni to celebrate with them during an Assembly at Ampleforth on 21 September 2002. Dom Anthony Marrett-Crosby OSB has authored a colorful, illustrated, commemorative volume, A School of the Lord's Service: A History of Ampleforth. The table of contents and samples of the text are available online. Since 1897 the monks of Ampleforth administer St. Benet's Hall, a constituent body of Oxford University.
Benedictine on Board
At the annual convention in Philadelphia, 7-10 August, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) elected Abbot John Klassen OSB to the Board . Serving as tenth abbot of Saint John's Abbey since November 2000, Abbot John has set high standards for the handling of sexual abuse cases. The Abbey's "Sexual Abuse Policy," first adopted in 1989, has been revised recently in light of the US Bishops' Charter. Abbot John is primarily responsible for "Responding in a Time of Crisis," a website created for Saint John's of Collegeville.
New OSB Websites
In 1971 three sisters from St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, AR, founded St. Benedict Monastery in Canyon, TX, in the Diocese of Amarillo. The Sisters maintain a website at <www.osbcanyontx.org/>. It provides information about the monastery's contemplative life, its growing number of Oblates, and the Sisters' close association to the environment.
Transfiguration Monastery is a dependent house of the Federation of Saint Scholastica founded from Saint Joseph Monastery, Saint Mary's, PA, in 1998. A website <www.emmausosb.org/> gives information about this small community of Benedictine women in Emmaus, PA. They have been working in the Diocese of Allentown since 1987.
The Benedictine women of Holy Cross Abbey at Herstelle on the Weser, Germany, announce the opening of their website at <www.abtei-herstelle.de/>. Founded in 1899 as a convent of Perpetual Adoration, the community affiliated with the Beuronese Congregation in 1924. Although devoted to the prayerful celebration of the Divine Office and daily Eucharist, the nuns welcome retreatants and guests and staff a gift shop that specializes in ceramics designed and produced at the abbey. They maintain friendly contact with an ever-widening circle of friends and supporters.
For many years Jill Maria Murdy maintained the Monastic E-Mail Directory. During July and August information in the directory was transformed into an online, searchable database of personal, monastic e-mail addresses. Any monastic or oblate may request inclusion in the database by submitting the Registration Form.
The Geographic Database includes addresses, phone and fax numbers, e-mail and website addresses of the houses listed in the two volumes of the quinquennial Catalogus OSB published in 2000 by Sant'Anselmo, Roma. Fr. Johannes Paulus Abrahamowitz OSB and Br. Richard Oliver OSB coordinate updates, changes and corrections. It is possible to search the Geographic Database by entering the name of monastery, street, city, Internet country code, postal code, US state digraph, or US Zipcode. Wider results are available by using the Congregational Code or a Geographic Region.
The new website for the Monastic Liturgy Forum <www.osb.org/mlf/> provides information about the National MLF Conference scheduled for 16-19 July 2003 at Our Lady of Grace Monastery, Beech Grove, IN. The theme of the conference will be "Unfolding the Paschal Triduum in a Monastic Setting."
An Anglican and a Catholic Benedictine from Australia are planning an extensive pilgrimage to monastic locations in France and Italy from 17 September to 7 October 2002. Fr Michael King OSB of the Anglican St. Mark's Priory at Camperdown in Victoria and Fr. Michael Kelly OSB of the Silvesterine Monastery of St. Benedict in Arcadia, NSW, will serve as the hosts. Ancient and contemporary monastic settings included in the tour will require stops at Paris, Rouen, Mont-Saint-Michel, Angers, Tours, Vézelay, Dijon, Taizé, Cluny, Lyon, Avignon, Arles, Marseille, Monte Carlo, Îles de Lérins, Rome, Fabriano, Assisi, Subiaco, Montecassino, Naples and Pompei.
BBC News first mentioned Douai Abbey's Fr. Dermot Tredgett OSB in a program called "Spirituality Goes to Work" (8 August 2001). Before becoming a monk, Fr. Dermot held senior management positions in the hotel and catering industry and higher education. He serves as an associate tutor in the School of Management at Cranfield University. Fr. Dermott is responsible for "Spirituality in the Work Place Series," six retreats that begin on 13 September 2002. The abbey's location in the countryside near Reading makes it an ideal spot for folks who need to take a break from their usual routine by participation in the Douai Abbey Pastoral Programme.
From the authors who delighted thousands of readers with Benedict's Way: An Ancient Monk's Insights for a Balanced Life comes a new book with a bold challenge: Radical Hospitality: Benedict's Way of Love (Paraclete Press, October 2002, $19.95). In this book, Lonni Collins Pratt, a Catholic laywoman and Benedictine Oblate aspirant, and Fr. Daniel Homan OSB, a Benedictine monk, blend their unique voices to present a radical vision for a kinder world. For people of all faiths and walks of life who seek to live with compassion and generosity, Radical Hospitality provides an essential introduction to the timeless wisdom contained in Benedictine spirituality. The authors will be touring in Minnesota during the second week of September; they will participate in campus events memorializing 9/11 at Saint John's Abbey, September 9-11.
Fondation des Monastères (Foundation for Monasteries) is a French corporation in support of monasticism. Since 1970 a Board of Directors has been dispensing funds or grants to monsteries in need. The website provides information about the foundation and monasticism in both French and English.
The ancient and venerable Abbey of Einsiedeln, Switzerland, regularly and generously hosts pilgrims, visitors and tourists in great numbers. From Tuesday to Sunday, 23-28 July, however, the monks will reach out in a special way to those whose livelihood depends primarily on driving and travel. Special parking permits have already been granted to about 130 vehicles. The recently elected abbot ordinary, Martin Werlen OSB, will lead a torchlight procession to the shrine of Our Lady of Einsiedeln on Friday evening. The chaplain for itinerants in Switzerland, Father Jean-Bernard Dousse OP, estimates that 90% of the people who travel for work are Catholic.
Benedictines Return to Lithuania
On Friday, 7 June, Benedictines of the Solesmes Congregation celebrated the consecration of St. Benedict's Abbey Church in Kelme, Lithuania. Bishop Eugenius Bartulis of Siauliai and Abbot-President Philippe Dupont OSB presided at the liturgical ceremony. The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Peter Stephen Zurbriggen, was principal concelebrant of the Mass. In 1998 a group of French and Spanish monks resumed Benedictine monastic life that had begun early in the 15th century. In 2000 they began construction of Palendriai monastery. Dom Hervé de Broc OSB, 58, a monk of Solesmes Abbey, is the community's first prior. Besides celebrating daily Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours, the monks sponsor retreats for guests housed in separate accommodations.
The year 2002 marks 150 years of Benedictine women in North America. A website celebrating Mother Benedicta Riepp OSB (1825-62) and her spiritual progeny can be found at <www.benedictariepp.org/>. S. Joan Chittister OSB provides an enlightening reflection on the remarkable woman, "Benedicta Riepp: a voice for today." At the time of her death, after only ten years in the United States, six independent communities of Benedictine women were established and thriving: St. Marys (1852), Erie (1856), Newark (1857), St. Cloud (1857), Covington (1859) and Chicago (1861).
The website for Abadía Benedictina de Santa María in the Diocese of Medellin, Colombia, has a new look and a new location: <www.geocities.com/monasteriobenedictino/>. The monastery belongs to the Spanish province of the Subiaco Congregation. The website makes available La Santa Regla, a translation into Spanish of the Rule of Saint Benedict.
Solemnity of Saint Benedict
On Thursday, 11 July, Benedictines celebrate the Patriarch of Western Monasticism and the Co-Patron of Europe.
It is not only the bygone ages that had reason to profit from the benefits of this Patriarch; our own age has many important lessons to learn from him. Let those first of all who belong to Saint Benedict's numerous family learn -- We do not doubt that they do -- to follow daily ever more closely in his illustrious footsteps and let each reduce to the practice of ordinary life the principles and example of his virtue and sanctity. Thus they who in obedience to a supernatural call followed a heavenly sent vocation to embrace the monastic life, not only will correspond with it wholeheartedly and efficiently, seeking the peace and the calm not of their own conscience and their own eternal salvation alone, but they will also be able to labor with better effect for the common good of Christianity and for the promotion of God's glory.
-- Pius XII, Fulgens Radiator (1947) 24.
Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB spoke to a representative of the Italian Bishops' Conference about Europe and the Benedictines (zenit.org).
Vidimus Dominum (Roman Union of Superiors General) recaps several interviews with European Benedictines speaking about the values, virtues and vitality of contemporary Benedictine life.
On Wednesday, 3 July, the monks of Worth Abbey elected Headmaster Christopher Jamison OSB, 50, to succeed Father Stephen Ortiger OSB as abbot. Abbot Stephen had been elected in 1994. Born in Melbourne, Australia, Abbot Christopher was educated at Downside School. He holds an MA from Oxford in French and Spanish and a BA from London in philosophy and theology. He is co-author of To Live is to Change that describes change in the Catholic Church over the last thirty years. Founded in 1933, Worth Abbey has a community of 27 monks. It is one of thirteen monasteries belonging to the English Benedictine Congregation that requires an abbatial election every eight years.
The Encyclopedia Titanica contains an entry for P. Joseph Benedikt Peruschitz OSB (1871-1912), monk of Sheyern Abbey, Bavaria. According to the account, he was a second-class passenger on his way to a Benedictine school in the Midwest. The details of his intended assignment cannot be confirmed by archival evidence. His devotion to duty and bravery, however, are attested by three survivors of the Titanic disaster. Prefering to stay onboard offering comfort to the doomed passengers, he declined a place in a lifeboat. "Fr Peruschitz died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified. He is remembered with a plaque in the cloister at the Scheyern Monastery. It is inscribed with the words, 'May Joseph Peruschitz rest in peace, who on the ship Titanic piously sacrificed himself.'"
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