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The Order of Saint Benedict

What Was New

Third Quarter 2003
July, August and September

September 2003

Honor for the Grand Master

 On 12 October, Saint John's University, Minnesota, will confer an honorary doctorate on His Most Eminent Highness, Frà Andrew Bertie, Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, in a private ceremony. The Malta Study Center of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, founded by the Benedictine monks of Saint John’s Abbey, sponsors the preservation and filming of the archives of the Knights of Malta, housed in the National Library of Malta in Valletta. The conferral of the degree on the 78th Grand Master commemorates the 30th anniversary of the microfilming project.

Frà Andrew is no stranger to the Benedictines since he was once a student at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire. For 23 years, he taught modern languages at the school conducted by the Benedictine monks of Worth Abbey in Sussex. The Malta Study Center of the Hill Manuscript Library was established in 1973 with the mission to preserve and make accessible archival materials related to the history of the island of Malta and the Knights of Malta.

Nullius No More

 The Brazilian Bishops' website reveals that on 6 May 2003 the Holy Father removed the territorial character of Nossa Senhora de Monteserrate do Rio de Janeiro in the ecclesiastical province of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro. The Abbey, therefore, has reverted to being a simple Benedictine monastery and its territory is now integrated into the Archdiocese of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro. Founded in 1590, Mosteiro São Bento do Rio de Janeiro (Brazilian Congregation) was constituted as an abbey nullius (now referred to as a territorial abbey) in 1907. It lost its territorial character in 1934 and regained it in 1948. From 1968 to 2002, Brazil had two territorial abbeys. The Cistercian Abbey of Claraval (State of Minas Gerais) was constituted a territorial abbey in 1968. Its territorial character was suppressed in 2002.

"At this time there are twelve territorial abbeys worldwide. Nine are Benedictine, one is Cistercian (Common Observance), one is of the Italian Basilian Order of Grottaferrata, and one is of the Canons Regular of the Swiss Congregation of St. Maurice. One territorial abbey, Tokwon, is vacant and is ruled by an apostolic administrator. Only one of the remaining eleven territorial abbeys, Pannonhalma, is headed by an abbot who is also a bishop" (emails from Charles N. Branson, Jr., 14 and 26.ix.2003; Subiaco's territory was reduced in 2002 to the two abbeys that constitute one monastic community, but it remains de iure a territorial abbey).

The nine Benedictine territorial abbeys belong to the following Congregations:

St. Ottilien -- Live!

Since 3 September, the feast of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, the missionary Benedictine monks of St. Ottilien Archabbey, Bavaria, have been broadcasting daily Mass and all the liturgy of the hours live on the Internet. In cooperation with the Stuttgart radio station, KiP, the broadcast is available from the Archabbey's website five or six times a day. The service is being offered primarily as a way for guests and friends to maintain contact with the monastery throughout the year. It is also envisioned that others might take the opportunity to interrupt their work on a personal computer with a short period of reflection supported by the chant of the monks.

The signal for the transmission is generated by a server in the church and then broadcast worldwide by the radio's Web server. To join the monks at prayer one needs a connection to the Internet, an audio card and Microsoft's Mediaplayer. Vespers sung at 6 p.m. in Germany are received at 11 a.m. (CT) in Minnesota. The previously recorded service is broadcast until the next live transmission interrupts it. Services usually begin after a quiet, preparatory pause or organ prelude. The readings and prayers are generally in German, but both Latin and German are sung to Gregorian melodies. St. Gregory is the patron saint of choirs and choristers.

Euro-parliamentarians Challenge Monks of Athos

A report of the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) of the European Parliament challenges the exclusion of females from the "monastic republic" of Mount Athos, Macedonia. The status of the monks "is directly linked with a history of over one thousand years in Greece, with the country's traditions, values, symbols and religious faith," according to Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Tasos Yiannitsis" (Ecclesia Report, 8.ix.2003) . The Euro-deputies want the government to lift the Mount Athos entry ban on women. The autonomy of the monks, however, has been recognized in Greece's EEC Accession treaties.

Another Euro-battle concerns the lack of a reference to the Christian roots of Europe in the recently completed draft of the Constitutional Treaty. Pope John Paul II, Patriarch of the West, has addressed the topic with passion and conviction, and influential Europeans support him. The constitutional delegates, however, were intransigent. They completed their work on 10 July.

August 2003

Vallombrosian Monk Named Coadjutor Bishop

On 29 August the Vatican announced that the Holy Father has named Mar Mathew Moolakkatt OSB the Bishop Coadjutor for Kottayam of the Syro-Malabar Rite (India). Moolakkatt was ordained a priest in 1978. He began studies at Rome in oriental canon law in 1987. Father Moolakkatt completed studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in 1992. He returned to India and served as personal secretary to the Bishop of Kottayam, as judicial vicar and also as chancellor.

In 1994 Father Moolakkatt entered the Vallombrosian Benedictine monastery of Montenero in Livorno, Italy. The Vallombrosians support dependent houses in Kottayam and Bangalore. Until his nomination, Dom Mathew, 50, had served since 1998 as auxiliary bishop of Kottayam, the eparchy where he was born and first educated.

Shawnee Changes

During the summer of 2003, St. Gregory's University, Shawnee, Oklahoma, changed its Internet domain name. The website address is now <>. From this address one can gain access to St. Gregory's Abbey, The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, and other places on the campus. The Abbey can be reached directly at <>. Also this summer the monks opened the Tulsa College for Working Adults serving those nontraditional students who would like to acquire college degrees.

MID Celebrates

Monastic Interreligious Dialogue continues to celebrate the 25 years of its existence, 1978-2003. Bulletin #71 (August 2003) supplements regular features, articles and reviews with nine reflections on 25 years of interreligious dialogue by key Benedictine and Cistercian participants. Sr. Margaret Mary Funk OSB reports on "Nuns in the West," a gathering of thirty Christian, Buddhist and Hindu nuns hosted by Ven. Yifa at Hsi Lai Temple, Hacienda Heights, California, 23-26 May 2003.

Website Renewed

The Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Priory, Bismarck, ND, have renewed their website. It includes a photo tour, an events calendar, information about Oblates and other features.

Monastic Formators' Program

The 2003 Monastic Formators' Program concluded in June with a retreat in Subiaco, Italy. Designed for Benedictine and Cistercian men and women engaged in formation, the program is located for two weeks in Assisi after a longer session in Rome. Although English has been adopted as the common language, the participants routinely constitute a varied international assembly. Monastics interested in participating in the next program, 23 February to 24 May 2004, may submit an application to Dom Brendan Thomas OSB, Director.

Signs of Hope in Israel

On Thursday, 14 August, Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB presided at the reelection of Abbot Benedikt Lindemann OSB, 45, by the monks of Hagia Maria Sion Abbey, Israel. He had been abbot for eight years since his election in August 1995. On the Feast of the Assumption, Hagia Maria's house at Tabgha became a dependent priory. Abbot Benedikt appointed the incumbent superior, P. Jeremias Marseille OSB, first prior.

Olivetan Monk Named Bishop

The Holy Father has named Abbot Jean-Baptiste Gourion OSB Oliv, of St. Mary of the Resurrection, Abu-Gosh, Israel, auxiliary bishop for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and titular Bishop of Lydda.

Abbot Jean-Baptiste was born 24 October 1934, in Oran, Algeria. He studied natural sciences and medicine at the University of Paris. He was baptized on Passover in 1958 in the Abbey of Bec, France, and entered the monastery in 1961. He was ordained a priest in 1967.

In March 1976 he and two confreres accepted assignments to strengthen monastic life at Abu-Gosh. When, in 1987, the monastery was erected as a conventual priory, the capitulars elected Dom Gourion their first Prior. In 1999, the Priory was elevated to Abbey, and the monks elected Prior Gourion their first Abbot. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem pronounced the abbatial blessing on the Feast of St. Benedict, 11 July 1999.

In 1990, the Patriarch named Abbot Jean-Baptist episcopal vicar and President of the Oeuvre Saint-Jacques with the pastoral care of Hebrew-speaking Catholic Israelis. From 1986 until 1998, the abbot served on the council of the Olivetan Congregation.

ABECCA Assembly

The 10th assembly of ABECCA (Asociacion Benedictino-Cisterciense del Caribe y de los Andes), the Benedictine-Cistercian Association of the Caribbean and the Andes, was held at Chocalcayo, a Claretian retreat house in Lima, Peru, from 24 to 30 July. Abbot Primate Dr. Notker Wolf OSB attended, and the 46 Cistercians and Benedictines present deeply appreciated his humble, open and enthusiastic leadership.

Father Simon Pedro Arnold OSB, Monasterio Benedictino de la Resurreccion, Chucuito, Puno, Peru, took for his theme, "Monastic Formation in Today's Latin America" (La Formación monástica en el hoy de América Latina). He developed it in two essays: I. "Monastic Life and Latin American Postmodernity: a demanding dialogue" (Vida monástica y postmodernidad latinoamericana: un diálogo exigente) and II. "Monastic Formation in Today's Latin America" (La Formación monástica en El hoy de América Latina).

Sister Maria Julia Ardito OP, is a sexologist dedicated to counseling religious, but she also works with lay communities throughout Latin America. She offered several talks on affectivity in religious life. She focused succinctly on the common difficulties consecrated persons experience and suggested means for deepening one's life to achieve maturity. When available, her talk will be available at the ABECCA website.

S. Lilian Guevara OCSO, a psychologist from Humocaro, a Cistercian community in Venezuela, delivered a deep and articulate presentation on "A Psycho-pedagogical Approach to the Dynamics of Affective Maturity (Madurez afectiva y vocación monástica. Acercamiento Pscopedagogico).

S. Maria del Carmen Bracamontes OSB, from Pan de Vida Community at Coahuila, spoke to the hearts of the participants in her talk, "Maturity and Sexuality: integrating the fragmented life" (Madurez y sexualidad, integrando la fragmentación).

All expressed satisfaction with the meeting and readily exchanged insights with the speakers. Members of the association elected a new board and president. Abbot Guilaslermo Arboleda OSB, Epiphany Monastery, Guatape, Colombia, succeeds Abbot Oscar Rivera OSB as president. The secretary is S. Margarita Otiniano OC, from Lurín, Peru, and the treasurer is Abbot Jorge Acuña OSB from Abadía del Tepeyac-Mexico.

Liturgy Website Renovated

The Sylvesterine monks of Monastero San Vincenzo, Italy, announce a renovation of their popular website, "Liturgia della Settimana" <> . Through the Internet one can receive the week's liturgy by Web browser, PDA (cellphone) or E-mail. The digitalization of the texts for the liturgy is not yet wholly complete, but it is serviceable. The renovation concerns not only a simplified graphical look, but also a considerably improved and expanded search engine.

Monk Named Archbishop

On Saturday, 2 August, the Vatican news agency announced that the Holy Father has named His Excellency Francesco Pio Tamburrino OSB, 64, the Archbishop-Bishop emeritus of Taggiano Policastro, to become the Metropolitan Archbishop of Foggia-Bovino, Italy. Dom Francesco entered the Benedictine abbey of Praglia and professed vows in 1955. After studies at Sant'Anselmo he was ordained a priest in 1965. In 1988 he became a professor on the theological faculty there, coordinator of the Monastic Institute and subprior.

Elected Abbot Ordinary of Montevergine in 1989, he was named secretary of the Bishops' Commission for the Liturgy. Since 1997 Abbot Francesco has participated as the official representative of the Pope in the dialogue between the Greek-Catholic bishops and the Orthodox bishops of Romania.

In 1998 he was elected Bishop of Teggiano-Policastro and was ordained a bishop in March of that year. On 27 April 1999 the Holy Father named him Secretary of the Congregation for Liturgy and the Sacraments with the personal dignity of archbishop. He is succeeded in that position by His Excellency Domenico Sorrentino, Archbishop-Prelate of Pompei and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary.

New President for Federation

On Tuesday, 22 July 2003, the 21st General Chapter of the Federation of Saint Benedict elected Sister Michaela Hedican OSB of Saint Bede Monastery, Eau Claire, WI. The delegates installed President Michaela on Wednesday, 23 July, and she will serve for a term of six years. Sister Michaela succeeds Sister Colleen Haggerty OSB of Saint Benedict's Monastery, St. Joseph, MN, who served as Federation President for two six-year terms. Participants of the chapter also elected Sister Nancy Bauer OSB LJC of Saint Benedict's Monastery, St. Joseph, to the Federation Council for a six-year term. The Chapter met at St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, MN.

July 2003

Engelberg Abbey

A few days ago, the Swiss Abbey of Engelberg opened a website at <> that provides a look at Benedictine life in Engelberg. The website is organized under the following rubrics: Lifestyle, Guests, Parishes, Schools, Culture, Enterprises and Cameroon. Benedictines have been at Engelberg since 1120. In 1932 the first monks went as missionaries to Cameroon.

+ Abbot Martin Burne (1914-2003)

On Friday, 25 July, Abbot Martin Burne OSB, St. Mary's Abbey, NJ, died peacefully at Morristown Memorial Hospital. Abbot Martin was the fifth abbot of St. Mary's from 1966 to 1971. He served as Abbot President of the American-Cassinese Congregation from 1971 to 1983. He zealously brought to life the teachings of Vatican Council II for his community, the Congregation and the Oblates. The community will celebrate the Liturgy of Christian Burial on Tuesday, 29 July, at 4:30 p.m. Abbot Martin's obituary is online.

St. Albans Psalter

BBC News featured on 20 July the appearance on the Web of the St. Albans Psalter, a 12th century illuminated manuscript. Sparing no expense, the University of Aberdeen has made the manuscript available in its entirety. Dr. Jane Geddes, head of the University of Aberdeen's History of Art department, provides a learned and engaging commentary.

Abbot Elected in Munich

The Benedictines of St. Boniface Abbey in Munich and Andechs Monastery (Bavarian Congregation) have a new abbot. On Wednesday, 23 July, the 19 capitulars of both houses elected Fr. Johannes Eckert OSB to succeed Abbot Odilo Lechner OSB, 72, as the eighth abbot. Until his election, Abbot Johannes, 34, had served as the pastor of the parish at Andechs.

Mother Abbess Elected

On Thursday, 17 July, the nuns of Saint Walburga Abbey, Colorado, elected Mother Maria Michael Newe OSB, prioress, to become the community's second abbess. Abbess Maria Michael professed first vows in 1978. Mother Maria Thomas Biel OSB, founding abbess, retired on 16 May, the 14th anniversary of her election in 1989. Photographs of the ceremonies that day accompany a statement from Mother Maria Thomas posted at the website. Abbess Maria Michael had served as Administrator after Mother Maria Thomas retired. Sister Genevieve Glen OSB succeeds Abbess Maria Michael as prioress.

Oblate Directors' Meeting

The 2003 meeting of the Association of Benedictine Oblate Directors will be held on the campus of Benedictine College, Atchison, Kansas, Friday, 25 July, to Wednesday, 30 July. Under the leadership of Sister Jean Frances Dolan OSB, national coordinator, the conference will focus on this year's theme, "Forming the Monastic Heart."

Events will include a memorial service for Oblate Directors and Oblates deceased since the 200l meeting in Minnesota. Fourteen conferences related to the theme will be given by 1 abbot, 4 monks, 4 sisters, 2 laymen, 1 secular priest and 3 women. Some of these will make presentations as a team.

There will also be business meetings, discussion groups, common meals, a closing banquet and daily liturgies. Conference-goers can participate in the annual Amelia Earhart Atchison Festival and signup for historic sightseeing trips to Leavenworth and Atchison, Kansas, and Saint Joseph, Missouri.

Five Polish Brothers

The Holy Father used the millennial anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint Benedict and Companions to speak to the Camaldolese congregations. His predecessor, Pope John XVII, sent Camaldolese missionaries into parts of Poland and the Slavic countries to evangelize the faith. Benedict, with John, Matthew, Isaac and Christinus, worked, like St. Adalbert of Prague, to bring the Gospel to the Slavic peoples. In 1003 robbers attacked their monastery near Gnesen and slew the five monks. Their feast day is 10 November. They are revered in Poland as "the Five Polish Brothers" although they were not all Poles and not related. The Pope notes that the vitality of the Camaldolese today is fueled by the example of "another five Polish Brothers of Camaldolese hermits, killed in the Nazi concentration camps during the last century."

Benedict, Father of Monastics

Benedictines and their friends celebrate Saint Benedict, Patriarch of Western Monasticism and Co-Patron of Europe, on Friday, 11 July. In preparation for the celebration, a visitor to the website recommends a pair of books on Benedictine spirituality for parents and grandparents. The Family Cloister: Benedictine Wisdom for the Home (Crossroad, 2000) won the National Book Award for the Catholic Press Association in 2001 for best "Family Life" book. It offers parents a practical commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict. A companion title, The Christian Family Toolbox: 52 Benedictine Activities for the Home, was released in 2001 by Crossroad.


  The 2003 Congress of Benedictine Junior Monks (Congressus Iuniorum OSB) will convene 16-26 July at Collegio Sant'Anselmo, Roma. They will visit as pilgrims the holy places associated with Saint Benedict, with the opportunity of meditating and exchanging experiences -- as well as being tourists. P. Johannes-Paul Abrahamowicz OSB (far right in photo) is the organizer.

The main theme will be the monastic vocation, the importance of the vows today; e.g., stability as fidelity, etc. Sadly, there will not be simultaneous translation for the conferences as is done at the Congress of Abbots. There will, however, be short discussions in language groups, and the results of each discussion will be reported and translated, so that everybody may follow progress in the other groups. As the common liturgy provides the opportunity of expressing unity at such an international meeting of monastics, the participants in the Congress will celebrate together each day the Eucharist and the Liturgy of Hours. The Office of Vigils / Readings will be celebrated in the language groups. Fr. Stefano Visintin OSB, Praglia and Rome, spoke to Vidimus Dominum about the Congress at its conclusion.

Erie Benedictines

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania, have rallied round Prioress Christine Vladimiroff OSB supporting her public criticism of the state's proposed budget before the Erie City Council. Citing the deleterious impact on human and social services, her critique was also signed by Sister Joanne Courneen, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, and Sister Ricarda Vincent, President of the Sisters of St. Joseph Community of Northwestern Pennsylvania. "More children will be abused, more domestic violence will be heaped upon women" and "we can expect more homelessness" and "we will spend more money than anticipated on a growing prison population that increases the bitterness and antisocial behavior in our community. We all will be victims if this happens."

Confederacion LatinoAmerica de Religiosos

On Tuesday, 3 July, the XVth Assembly of CLAR concludes. Fr. Simon Pedro Arnold OSB spoke to the confederation about the reconciliation of mysticism and prophecy. Dom Simon-Pierre is a monk of Stavelot Abbey, Belgium, but he serves as superior of the abbey's dependency in Juliaca, Peru. CLAR has adopted the story about "The Road to Emmaus" as the scriptural theme for the deliberations about the future of religious life in Latin America and the Caribbean.


What Was New (spring 1995-; archive)

April, May and June 2003.

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