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Second Quarter 2003
April, May and June

June 2003

Monastic Institute

"The Distinctive Character of Monastic Prayer" is the theme of the annual Monastic Institute that convenes 28 June - 2 July at Saint John's Abbey, Minnesota. The Monastic Institute began in the 1980s as a small, informal workshop for monastic superiors. The Institute's scope broadened over the years to include all men and women who aspire to grow in their knowledge of monastic life and tradition. Fr. Columba Stewart OSB is the director. Fr. Columba is a professor of theology, director of formation for Saint John’s Abbey and senior research fellow in Eastern Christianity at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library. He teaches in the monastic studies program of the School of Theology and is the author of Cassian the Monk and Prayer and Community.

Abbot Primate attends Centennial Festival

On June 21, the monks and friends of Douai Abbey opened with great festivity the centenary year of the community's life in England. Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, presided at the Mass and the sermon was preached by the Abbot Primate, Dr. Notker Wolf OSB.

Vatican Museums Online

The Vatican Museums have expanded and enriched their popular website. For the first time Web visitors are able to tour the Vatican's Ethnological Missionary Museum that has been closed many years for renovation. The virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel allows closer inspection of many details when the Java applets function.

Annual Event

Every summer junior monks of different houses in North America travel to a particular monastery for an extended program of formation. This year about 30 junior monks of the American-Cassinese, Swiss-American and St. Ottilien Congregations are engaged in the experience at St. Gregory's Abbey, Shawnee, Oklahoma, 15-28 June.

Fr. Joel Rippinger OSB, Marmion Abbey, is teaching monastic history; Prof. Anthony Picchioni PhD, Southern Methodist University, is teaching about conflict resolution; and Br. Bede Healey OSBCam, Big Sur Hermitage, is teaching about the dynamics of community life. The Formation Director at St. Gregory’s, Fr. Charles Buckley OSB, is directing this year's program.

Oblates Gather in Germany

The "Arbeitsgemeinschaft Benediktineroblaten," the association of Benedictine Oblates in the German-speaking countries, met from 10 to 13 June in St. Ottilien Archabbey. Thirty-two Oblate groups were represented at the meeting, most of them from Germany, but also from Switzerland, Austria and Hungary. The spiritual topic, stabilitas, was treated in a lecture given by Sister Birgitta Louis OSB from Venio Community in Munich. The moderator of the association, Abbot Albert Altenähr OSB from Kornelimünster, opened the discussion about the "self-understanding of the Oblates in the German-speaking world today" with a brief introductory talk.

Furthermore, the participants discussed the Oblate Convention 2005 suggested by Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB. They placed particular emphasis on the need for a clear and substantive concept for the 2005 convention. The German-speaking Oblate communities consider it important to re-examine the old Oblate idea and to translate it into the contemporary world and into the individual cultures of the various regions of the world. The website of Kornelimünster Abbey includes a number of interesting texts on Oblate spirituality.

Cistercian Changes

After more than 120 years in Quebec, Canada, the Cistercian monastery of Oka is moving. The official announcement clarifes that the Oka community is at the beginning of a long process. It is hoped that a move at some future date to an, as yet, undetermined location, will better foster the pursuit of a contemplative vocation.

Ewell Monastery reveals the sad news of the closing in the spring of 2004 of that Anglican Cistercian community.The community was founded in 1966 at West Malling, near Maidstone, Kent, UK.

Mags Online

Members of the American Benedictine Academy have received paper copies of the latest American Monastic Newsletter (June 2003). President Rosemary Rader OSB offers some hints about the ABA Convention 2004 to convene at St. Benedict's Monastery, Minn., 12-15 August. Editor Judith Sutera OSB offers a spring bouquet of news and features.

The Oblate from Saint John's Abbey is also published both in paper and online. The Oblate, May/June 2003, features a conference, "On the Holy Spirit" by Abbot John Klassen OSB, and insightful contributions by several Oblates. Fr. Kilian McDonnell OSB supplied a timely poem. His collection of poetry, Swift, Lord, You Are Not, will be published by Liturgical Press in July 2003.

+ Abbot Basilio Penido OSB

Dom Basilio Penido OSB, Abbot of the Monastery of St. Benedict of Olinda (1961-1987) and Abbot President of the Brazilian Benedictine Congregation (1972-1996), died in the Monastery of Saint Benedict, Rio de Janeiro, on 2 June 2003. Rio de Janeiro was his monastery of profession and work from 1938 to 1961. Dom Basilio was born on 1 July 1914. He had been ill since September 2001.

Ferdinand Benedictines Elect Prioress

The Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, Indiana, announce the election on 2 June of Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau OSB, 54, as their 12th prioress. Prioress Kristine Anne will begin a five-year term of office with an installation ceremony at Monastery Immaculate Conception on Saturday, July 12. She succeeds Sister Joella Kidwell OSB, who has served as prioress since 1998. Prioress Kristine Anne has been the director of ongoing formation for the past four years. Previously, she was special programs coordinator at the sisters' Kordes Retreat Center and also served as a counselor and teacher.

St. Bede Monks Elect Seventh Abbot

The monks of Saint Bede Abbey in Peru, IL, elected Father Claude J. Peifer OSB as their seventh abbot on Tuesday, 3 June 2003. Abbot Claude was born September 20, 1927, professed monastic vows on July 11, 1947, and was ordained a priest on May 22, 1952. Abbot Claude serves on the Council of the President of the American-Cassinese Congregation. Most recently Abbot Claude has been serving as the subprior of St. Bede. Abbot Claude succeeds Abbot Roger Corpus OSB, 72. Abbot Roger retired after serving the community for thirteen years.

May 2003

New Norcia Noticed

Sampson Spanier writes about the cultural treasures of New Norcia Abbey, W. Australia, for The Art Newspaper. Dom Christopher Power OSB, the Procurator, is charged not only with finding Aus$12M (US$7.2M) for the renovation of the buildings, he is responsible for the conservation in the outback of a widely diverse collection of cultural objects and artifacts.

Abbatial Re-elections

On Friday, 23 May, the monks of St. Martin's Abbey, Lacey, WA, re-elected, for a ten-year term, Abbot Neal Roth OSB, 64, as their eighth abbot. Abbot Neal was first elected in 1993.

In accord with the legislation at the time of his election in 1973, Abbot Melvin Valvano OSB retired as Abbot of Newark Abbey, NJ, when he reached 65. On Saturday, 17 May, the capitulars of Newark re-elected Abbot Melvin for a term of ten years. From 1989 to 2001, Abbot Melvin had served as President of the American-Cassinese Congregation.

Trinity Institute Videos

Nathan Brockman provides a full report (ENS) of April's Trinity Institute that focused on Benedictine spirituality. Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, identified the basic elements of Benedictine monastic life as follows, according to Brockman:

... moderation, measure, good order, respect for those who are different from ourselves, compassion for the old, the young and the sick, generosity for the stranger who turns up after the guest-master has gone to bed, a balanced lifestyle, good time management, vertical and horizontal forms of authority, listening to everyone, social equality, and justice. (Full text of Archbishop's address.)

Video or audio files of individual presentations as well as the Eucharist that opened proceedings are online; texts will follow.

Papal Appointment

On Thursday, 15 May, The Holy See announced the appointment of Dom P. Fabio Bernardo D'Onorio OSB, 62, abbot of the territorial abbey of Montecassino, Italy, since 1983, as a consultant of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments.

+ Fr. René Voillaume

Vidimus Dominum announced on Thursday, 15 May, the death of Father René Voillaume, 97. In 1933 he founded the Little Brothers of Jesus at El-Abiodh Sidi Cheikh (Sahara). He was an ardent disciple of Ven. Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916), also known as Brother Charles of Jesus. Inspired by his example, Voillaume dedicated the religious congregations he founded to spreading the Gospel among "the poorest and most abandoned people." Foucauld's family of Little Brothers and Sisters has grown to include ten religious Congregations and seven Associations of Spiritual Life. Voillaume greatly influenced many consecrated religious and devout laity through his little book, The Need for Contemplation (1972), and his more developed work, Faith and Contemplation (1974). Donnez-lui, s'il Vous plaît, la paix dans le bonheur que rien ne peut détruire.

Prayers for China

Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB asks the Benedictine Confederation to remember in their prayers the Chinese people so deeply afflicted by SARS. The Abbot Primate serves as the chair of the Benedictine China Commission. In his Circular Letter for 2003, Abbot Primate Notker mentions he attended meetings of the China Commission last year in St. Otttilien and Rome.

Red Plains Monastery

The Benedictine women of Red Plains Monastery, Oklahoma, announce an address change for their website at <>. The primary apostolate is the Spirituality Center that offers a variety of spiritual experiences aimed a deepening the life of prayer. "Meet the Sisters" offers brief introductions to the life and work of individual community members. The Sisters welcome "Co-members" that are often known elsewhere as Oblates or lay associates.

April 2003

News from Europe

The former Archabbot of Salzburg, Franz Bachler OSB, 87, died Monday morning, 28 April. From 1956 to 1997 he led the oldest monastery in German-speaking Europe, St. Peter in Salzburg. The monks will celebrate the Liturgy of Christian Burial on Friday, 2 May, at 2 p.m. with burial following in the crypt of the abbey church.

On Friday, 25 April, the Salzburg Abbots' Conference elected Abbot Benno Malfer OSB (Muri-Gries) to succeed as president the retired Abbot of Scheyern, Bernhard M. Lambert OSB. The Salzburg Abbots' Conference includes Benedictine superiors from German-speaking Europe as well as from Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Lithuania. Abbot Benno, 56, retains his position as president of the Swiss Congregation. His fellow monks chose him to become the 59th abbot of Muri in 1991.

Douai Magazine

The Douai Magazine, Nr. 165, is available online at the abbey's website. "The Role of the Monastery in Today's Secular Society" is an article written by Sir David Goodall KCMG, former British High Commissioner to India, that develops a theme dear to the late Dom Basil Cardinal Hume OSB.

Monks in the Media

A BBC documentary film about the making of "The Saint John's Bible," commissioned by the monks of Saint John's Abbey, is scheduled on the Canadian History Channel, for Friday, 18 April, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Mr. Donald Jackson and a team of scribes in Monmouth, Wales, UK, are at work copying and illuminating the complete Bible. "The Illuminator and a Bible for the 21st Century" will be broadcast on Easter Sunday, 20 April, on BBC Two Wales, at 1810 BST.

Fr. Jerome Tupa's OSB "Road to Rome" will be featured on CBS News Sunday Morning on Easter as "Monk has Passion for Painting." An article in the Washington Post (24 October 2002), reviewed the exhibition of paintings that runs until 7 May 2003 at the John Paul II Cultural Center. On 23 May, "Road to Rome" will open in Chicago, Illinois.

Chocolate Computers

The Trappistines of Mount Saint Mary's Abbey, Wrentham, MA, are the subject of an article distributed by the Associated Press on Tuesday, 15 April. "Candy-making Nuns Join Computer Age" by Justine Pope explains how a computer consultant helped the Sisters simplify the bookkeeping connected with the production and sale of their famous Trappistine Quality Candy.

Lakota Benedictine Experience

The Rev. Martin Brokenleg, PhD, OblSB, will lead the Lakota Benedictine Experience, 22-27 July 2003, at Borderlands Education and Spiritual Center in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Dr. Brokenleg is professor of Native American Studies at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, an Episcopal priest and an oblate of Blue Cloud Abbey. He is a pipe carrier of his family participating in the sweat lodge and sun dance traditions of his Sicangu Lakota (Burnt Thigh) people. The participants will explore these two diverse, communal, spiritual traditions through the rhythms of worship, relationship and sacred space.

ABR 54

The first issue of volume 54 (2003) of the American Benedictine Review has been sent to subscribers. Besides nine book reviews, the issue features an article by Fr. Matthias Neumann OSB about the founding of the Ferdinand Benedictines and an overview by Riccardo Cristiani of the medical language in chapters 27 and 28 in the Rule of Benedict. S. Ruth Fox OSB, a former prioress and Federation President, writes about "Benedictines in the Third Millennium."

Golden Jubilee

Weston Priory, Vermont, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding from Dormition Abbey, Jerusalem, by the late Abbot Leo Rudloff OSB in 1953. In 1968 the community was constituted a conventual priory subject to the jurisdiction of the Abbot Primate. The monastery's idyllic setting and reverent liturgies make Weston a popular destination for retreatants. Since 1984 the community has also served as a public sanctuary for Central American refugees.

Monastic Interreligious Dialogue

This year the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (MID) is marking the 25th anniversary of its founding in 1978. The March 2003 issue of the MID Bulletin is available on its website. Besides timely book reviews and notices of coming events, the magazine contains the personal reflections on the practice of interreligious dialogue by 43 participants.


Morgan Atkinson, an independent filmmaker, has produced a stunningly beautiful documentary about the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. Thomas Merton's monastery attracts devout pilgrims who participate in the liturgical life of the abbey. "Time in the Garden" is a 23-minute video which is in many ways a meditative companion piece to the hour-long Gethsemani possibly to be aired on Public Broadcasting Service.

Theology of Peace

The Pontifical Benedictine University of Saint'Anselmo had prepared for an ecumenical seminar, "Toward a Theology of Peace," long before the invasion of Iraq. The inter-faculty event included professors from the Waldensian [Protestant] Faculty of Rome and addressed the urgent themes of the global nature of modern war, economic development, Christian nonviolence, and the relationship of faith and ethics.

Durham Cathedral Priory

For over 900 years, Durham, UK, has been an important religious landmark. It is the final resting place of two great monastics, Venerable Bede (672-735) and Saint Cuthbert (635-687), the Apostle of Northumbria. In 1986 Unesco recognized Durham Cathedral and Castle (University College) as a World Heritage Site and as "the largest and finest example of Norman architecture in England." One section of the award-winning and highly accessible virtual web tour of Durham is devoted to "Durham's Benedictine Monks." The rare and priceless manuscripts of the Chapter Library -- a few no doubt used by Bede himself -- were microfilmed by the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library in 1985-86.

Visit to Trinidad

Christopher Kenneally, a popular travel writer, recounts his visit to Pax Guest House on the grounds of the Monastery of Mount St. Benedict in Tunapuna, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. The guest house is managed by laity, but visitors are eager to join the informative tour of the monastery given by Brother John Pereira OSB. The monks harvest and sell "Pax Honey." It is marked by the exotic flora of the tropical environment.


1 April marks the eighth anniversary of the OSB website <>. Launched in 1995, the website has evolved over the years. During the last year, a searchable database has been updated to provide names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, and, when available, e-mail and website addresses for all the monasteries of the world in the Benedictine Confederation of Congregations. The anniversary was generously noted by the Roman news agency for religious, Vidimus Dominum.


What Was New (spring 1995-; archive)

January, February and March 2003.

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 <Webmaster>.


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