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Rend your hearts.

The Order of Saint Benedict

What Was New!

First Quarter 2003
January, February and March

 An Ecumenical Prayer for Peace

March 2003

Thomas Merton Room

The Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery have created a webpage about their outreach ministry in the city of Duluth. The Thomas Merton Room provides a large collection of materials by or about Thomas Merton that are available to casual and regular visitors. S. Laura Daigle OSB welcomes people of all faiths to the Thomas Merton Room in the St. Anthony Center. Many treasure the Room as a place of quiet in a busy city or as a gathering place for groups, especially the local chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society that meets monthly.

+ Hans Cardinal Gröer OSB

Zenit News Agency reports the death of Hans Hermann Cardinal Gröer OSB, former Archbishop of Vienna. He died at 83 late Sunday/early Monday, 23-24 March. Born in Vienna in 1919, and ordained a priest in 1942, Hans Gröer was named archbishop in 1986; he was made a cardinal by John Paul II in 1988. His final years were clouded by accusations of sexual misconduct that he denied. The Holy Father accepted Dom Gröer's resignation offered on 14 September 1995. He retired to Kloster Marienfeld bei Maria Roggendorf where he will be buried. Archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn will conduct a memorial service in St. Stephan's cathedral in Vienna on 4 April at 7 p.m.

Rostrevor, Co. Down

The Olivetan Benedictine monks of Holy Cross Monastery, Northern Ireland, announce the opening of a website at <>. The community, founded in 1998 from the Abbey of Bec in Normandy, has as its special mission "to contribute to the reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants in a land marked by reciprocal violence and stained by the blood of Christian brothers and sisters."

Conference at Monte Cassino

In celebrations honoring Saint Benedict on 21 March, Bishop Jean Louis Tauran, Foreign Minister of the Vatican, spoke at a conference, "The European Constitutional Charter in the House of St. Benedict, First Constituent," and drew parallels between the Rule of Benedict and "the authentically democratic spirit which permeates the European Union."

Syro-Malabar Monastery

With the consent of the Holy See, on 19 March St. Michael's Benedictine Hermitage in Kumily, India, has been constituted as a monastery in the Syro-Malabar Church. The adoption of the Syro-Malabar rite by this predominantly Syro-Malabar community will be marked by joyful celebrations on 22 March in the presence of the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil CSSR, and the local bishop, Mar Matthew Arackal. On that same day Bro. Joseph Pathenpurackal OSB will be ordained a deacon, according to the S-M Rite. Abbot Godfrey Sieber OSB (Inkama, SA) represents the Ottilien Congregation during the celebrations.

+ Dom Aelred Tegels OSB

On Monday afternoon, 17 March, Father Aelred Tegels OSB, 80, died at Saint John's Abbey. During the tumultous years of the post-Vatican II implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Fr. Aelred's regular column, "Chronicle," in Worship magazine offered insightful criticism of ill-conceived and tawdry expressions of liturgical adaptation. Named in 1965 to be successor in the unenviable position as editor of the magazine -- filled since 1938 by Fr. Godfrey Diekmann OSB -- Fr. Aelred maneuvered the fine line between love and profound respect for the tradition he had studied and fidelity to the aggiornamento so recently legislated by Bl. Pope John XXIII and the Council Fathers.

The confluence of pre-planned events and the restrictions of the liturgical calendar resulted in the unprecedented decision to celebrate the Liturgy of Christian Burial on 20 March for Father Aelred and for his senior confrere, Father Gervase Soukup OSB, 83, former treasurer of the abbey and financial counselor for the American-Cassinese Congregation. Fr. Gervase preceded Fr. Aelred by a day into the company of those who celebrate eternally the banquet of the Lamb.

Death of Saint Benedict

On 21 March Benedictines commemorate the Passing of Our Holy Father, Saint Benedict. Pope St. Gregory the Great recounts the miraculous premonition and the circumstances of his serene death in Chapter 37 of the Second Book of Dialogues. Because of this, he is invoked, along with the great Saint Joseph, whose feast Catholics also celebrate this week, with the prayerful intention for a happy death.

The Medal of Saint Benedict, the most indulgenced sacramental in the Roman Church, recalls the prayer, "May we be strengthened by the power of his presence at the hour of our death," by the Latin phrase that surrounds the obverse, "Ejus in obitu nostro præsentia muniamur."

Abbot Primate on Monastic Life

Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB spoke recently to Vidimus Dominum about the nature of Benedictine monastic life. He maintains that consecrated life will succeed in coming out of the crisis in the West by giving primacy to God over the "I" of ego and self.

Trinity Institute Conference

"Shaping Holy Lives: Benedictine Spirituality in the Contemporary World" is the theme for the 34th conference of Trinity Institute, 28-29 April 2003. Founded to provide theological renewal for clergy in the Episcopal Church, Trinty Institute, New York City, is now a continuing education program for clergy and laity. The conference features Sr. Joan Chittister OSB, Erie Benedictines; Fr. Lawrence M. Freeman OSB, Christ the King Priory; Kathleen Norris OblSB, Assumption Abbey; and Dr. Rowan Williams, Abp. of Canterbury. A live transmission of the sold-out conference will be hosted by Holy Cross Monastery, Beaumont, TX.

Lenten Resources

During these days, therefore,
let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service,
... and give ourselves up to prayer with tears,
to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence. RB 49:5,4

Lift Up Your Hearts is a website of liturgical and devotional resources that includes an extensive section devoted to Lent, Holy Week and Easter. The Catholic Book Publishers Association tracks the best-selling Catholic titles. Numerous titles have appeared recently by Benedictine authors or writers sympathetic to Benedictine themes. John Kiser's popular and timely report on the martyred Cistercian Monks of Tibhirine in Algeria appeared early this year in paperback. An excerpt from Fr. Alexander Schmemann's Great Lent introduces an excellent collection of Orthodox Resources for Great Lent. The Eastern Church celebrates Easter this year, 2003, on 27 April.

February 2003

Pro-Monastic Anglican Primate

On Thurdsay, 27 February, Dr. Rowan Williams was installed as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and President of the Anglican Communion. Shortly thereafter in an interview with Vatican Radio, Dr. Williams spoke about his appreciation for the life of the spirit maintained by Benedictine monasteries. "The monastic life for example is one of the sources of future ecumenical progress. When it is lived in this context of sharing prayer, the study of the Bible, contemplation and recognizing how this life style affects the whole Church, it can also be a great help in the area of ecumenism" (Vidimus Dominum). Cardinal Walter Kasper also spoke about Christian unity in his address at the enthronement banquet.

American Monastic Newsletter

Vidimus Dominum, a Roman news service for religious, draws attention to the inspiring interview with Schwester Aquinata Böckmann OSB published in the current issue of the American Monastic Newsletter 33:1 (February 2003). The newsletter, edited by Sr. Judith Sutera OSB for the American Benedictine Academy, contains information about spring and summer events "On the Horizon" such as the annual Monastic Institute.

Superior Meeting

The Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses and the Conference of American Abbots will be meeting 20-25 February in Atchison, Kansas, home of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery and St. Benedict's Abbey.

Well of Life Priory

The Benedictine Nuns of Perpetual Adoration near Oss, The Netherlands, have a website at <> that gives information about the life of prayer and work at Priorij "Fons Vitae." Other houses of the congregation are found in Germany at Cologne, Osnabrück, and Trier.

African Elections and Blessing

Archabbot President Jeremias Schröder OSB reports that on Saturday, 15 February, the monks of Tigoni Priory, Limuru, Kenya, elected Fr. Anthony Ochieng OSB conventual prior for a period of six years. Prior Anthony had been prior administrator of Tigoni since early 2000.

On Saturday, 8 February, the community of Inkamana Abbey in South Africa elected Fr Godfrey Sieber OSB its second abbot. Abbot Godfrey, 62, originally a monk of Sankt Ottilien, has been working in South Africa since 1968. He served formerly as vicar general of the Diocese of Eshowe among other posts. He is also the author of the Congregation's history, "The Benedictine Congregation of St. Ottilien." Since 2000 he has been Secretary of the Benedictine Congregation of St. Ottilien. The election followed in the wake of the resignation of Abbot Gernot on 27 December 2002, after more than 20 years as Abbot of Inkamana.

The blessing of Abbot Godfrey will take place on Saturday, 26 April, at Inkamana. Bishop Mansuet of Eshowe will confer the blessing. Abbot Godfrey will continue to serve as Congregation Secretary until the middle of April.

Abadía Santa María

Dom Leonel Gomez OSB announces the redesign and new address for the website of Abadía Benedictina Santa María <>, Envigado (Ant.), Colombia. Founded 50 years ago from Montserrat in March 1953, it is the first Benedictine monastery in Colombia. Sustained and encouraged by generous lay and clerical patrons and friends in the Archdiocese of Medellin, the monastery and the school it founded prospered. In 1957 the community was raised to the status of conventual priory of the Subiaco Congregation. In 1974 the monks elected their first abbot, Dom Cesáreo Figueras Palá OSB. Today the community numbers 26 with 5 postulants.

 [Wood carving, St. John's Abbey.] Saint Scholastica

On Monday, 10 February, Benedictines honor Saint Scholastica, Virgin and Religious Founder. Pope St. Gregory the Great writes about the spiritual friendship between Saint Benedict and his twin sister in chapters 33 and 34 of the Second Book of Dialogues. The Monastic Liturgy Forum presents the results of the "Scholastica Project." Offered for consideration and comment are provisional texts appropriate to Saint Scholastica.

World Day of Consecrated Life

Sunday, 2 February, is the World Day of Consecrated Life. The Holy Father will lead a celebration at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Saturday evening, and other celebrations will take place worldwide. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops offers a variety of resources dealing with the theme of the day, "For I have seen the face of Christ."

January 2003


On Wednesday, 28 January, the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) released a copy of a letter sent to President Bush urging him to use his "leadership in the world community to pursue peace rather than war." A second letter has been prepared in case the President follows through with his plans to make a pre-emptive strike against Iraq.

Prioress Christine Vladimiroff OSB, President of the Region IV of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) expressed anti-war sentiments at a recent ecumentical prayer service organized by the Erie Benedictines. In October the Presidents of men's and women's Benedictine congregations approved an anti-war statement. All of the statements are in harmony with the "Doctrinal Note Regarding Participation in Political Life" issued 16 January with the approval of the Holy Father.

New Websites

Fr. J.P. Abrahamowicz OSB sends a message from Rome about the new locations of several official websites for the Order of Saint Benedict. The websites for The Benedictine Confederation <>, the Atlas O.S.B. < [until 2013]  and Sant'Anselmo Ateneo <> and Collegio << are now under the care of Don Stefano Visintin OSB, a monk of Praglia Abbey (Subiaco Congregation - Italian Province).

Fr. Mathew Molath OSBSil, is responsible for the first website, in Italian and English, of a Benedictine community in India. Navajeevan Priory <> is an independent community of the Silvestrine Congregation in the state of Andra Pradesh.

Maumont Monastery

Abbaye Sainte Marie de Maumont is a monastery of Benedicine nuns located between Angoulême and Bordeaux in southwest France. The website at <> provides information in French and English about the guest house that is open throughout the year to groups, families and individuals. Visitors come for prayer, retreat, rest or vacation and enjoy the picturesque countryside. The monastery shop sells books, tapes and CD's of the monastic liturgy, as well as items produced by other French monasteries. The nuns also produce high-quality liturgical vestments. In 1996 they made a foundation in Guinea, Sainte Croix of Friguiagbé.

Worth Hospitality

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity concluded in style at Worth Abbey when 500 Anglicans from the Diocese of Chichester visited the abbey on Saturday, 25 January. They participated in Growing Healthy Churches with Robert Warren and Alison White of Springboard, the Archbishops' Initiative for Evangelism. The parishioners joined the monks for midday prayer.

While many churches are in decline, a good number are bucking the trend. Springboard has identified factors that seem to underline such growth. The day at Worth Abbey helped the parish groups attending see new ways through which they could cultivate parish vitality. John Twisleton, diocesan mission adviser, was delighted by the response. "We were all reminded that it is the quality of worship, relationships and social outreach that matter when it comes to growth. Christian communities with depth and integrity that are welcoming, challenging and spiritually empowering attract people. Worth Abbey is a splendid example of such community life and provided the perfect venue for our reflections, besides reminding us that the Church of England is but a part of the Church in England."

Subiaco Charter

Created in December 2001, the European Convention has been charged with the task of forging a Constitution for Europe creating "a new framework and structures for the European Union which are geared to changes in the world situation, the needs of the citizens of Europe and the future development of the European Union." The Subiaco Charter discusses the role of Christianity in European culture, monasticism and St. Benedict. It was presented to the European Convention on 22 January by the Abbot of Subiaco, Fr. Mauro Meacci OSB, together with the Italian Ambassador to the Holy See and the President of the Forum of Family Associations.

"In the work of evangelization in Europe, that was also the work of civilization, St. Benedict and monasticism played a very important role. The figure of St. Benedict binds classical antiquity with the Middle Ages" and "this extraordinary capacity of synthesis between religious faith and reason, between work and contemplation, knew how to give life to a wise humanism..." (Zenit).

Abbatial Election

On Saturday, 11 January, the community of St. Joseph's Abbey, Güigüe, Venezuela, elected Fr Otto Lohner OSB, 64, its third abbot for an unlimited period. Abbot Otto made profession at St. Ottilien in 1958 and has been working in Venezuela since 1966. Up to his election he was prior and bursar of the abbey. The election took place in the wake of the resignation on 31 December of Abbot José Maria Martinez Barrera OSB after 20 years as abbot.

Patron Saint of the Internet

Santi, Beati e Testimoni, a comprehensive encyclopedia of the saints in Italian, is sponsoring a series of votes to elect the patron saint of the Internet. Now in the concluding phase, the slate of candidates has been limited to six: St. Alphonsus Liguori, Saint Clare, the Archangel Gabriel, Bl. Giacomo Alberione, St. John Bosco and St. Maximilian Kolbe. Leading by a wide margin is Blessed Alberione (1884-1971), founder of the Society of St. Paul, an international family of priests, religious and laity, dedicated to spreading the Gospel using every means of social communication. Visitors to the website may vote once from one computer. In the United States the Society is well know through the publications of Alba House.

Shaw Island Website

The Benedictine women of Our Lady of the Rock Priory in the Archdiocese of Seattle maintain an informative website at <>. Founded in 1977 from Regina Laudis Abbey, the nuns exploit their scenic location to achieve a high level of self-sufficiency through horticulture, crafts and the raising of quality livestock. They breed and train several kinds of llamas. The Cotswold Sheep, Highland and Kerry Cattle are prized. Mother Hildegard George OSB, a child psychologist, has written about the (Scottish) Highland Cattle. When not chanting the monastic office in Latin, the nuns spin and weave items for their own use, and also make handcrafted items to sell. Many of the liturgical vestments used in their chapel are hand-woven from their hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn.

Autonomy of Orders

Among the top 10 neglected Catholic news stories of 2002, Vatican correspondent John Allen, Jr. lists in 5th place the erosion of autonomy effected by the negation of a Capuchin's election and the last-minute inclusion of religious in the revised US policies dealing with instances of sexual abuse. "Given the critical role that religious communities play in every area of Catholic life, this is a story that bears watching."

Year of the Bible

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Germany is one of the cosponsors of "Seek. And Find," a yearlong project to make "2003: the Year of the Bible" in German-speaking Europe. The collaborating organizations, which in Germany also include the Bible Society, the Protestant Church, and the Organization of Christian Churches, and in Austria the Bible Society and the Catholic Biblical Federation, have been making extensive preparations for many months.


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