First Quarter 2004
The Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota, invite visitors to their revised web site at <www.DuluthBenedictines.org>. A ten-member taskforce of Sisters and staff worked with an advertising and marketing firm, H.T. Klatzky, to develop the new look. The latest additions to the site include a virtual tour of the Monastery, the sound of the angelus bell, and a prayer request form. Photographs and information about the St. Scholastica community, its missions and values, ministries, and monastic life are also included. The Liturgy of Christian Burial was celebrated in the Bishop Marty Chapel on Thursday morning, 14 April, with interment in the monastery cemetery. May she rest in peace.
The Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples publishes annually a calendar of the martyred. In the list for 2003, eight of the 35 belonged to congregations of religious, one of them monastic: Brother Clement Igwilo OCSO, a Nigerian mechanic. Six of the martyred were either lay volunteers or catechists. The most senior ranking among the 21 clerics is His Excellency Michael Courtney from Ireland, Apostolic Nuncio to Burundi, slain 29 December 2003 in Minago. Martyred Missionaries Day is promoted by the Youth Missionary Movement of the Pontifical Missionary Societies, on the anniversary of the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador on 24 March.
Death of Saint Benedict
On Monday, 22 March, Benedictines commemorate the death of Saint Benedict because the usual date, 21 March, is Laetare, the 4th Sunday in Lent.
The serenity of Saint Benedict's passing is recalled in the prayer to Saint Benedict for a happy death. Below, mindful of the victims and survivors of the terrorism in Madrid, is a Spanish prayer invoking the merits of Benedict's life and death:
Omnipotente y eterno Dios,
que en este día, libre de las ataduras de la carne, llevaste al Cielo a tu santísimo confesor Benito:
concédenos a todos los que celebramos esta fiesta el perdón de nuestros pecados, para que, cuantos nos congratulamos de su gloria, mediante su poderosa intercesión logremos también asociarnos a sus méritos.
Por Jesucristo Nuestro Señor. Amén.
San Benito! destierra de nuestra vida y de nuestra casa, las asechanzas del maligno espíritu. Amén.
Cistercian Web Resource
"The Cistercians in Yorkshire" is an informative website that focuses on five abbeys with important standing ruins: Byland, Fountains, Kirkstall, Rievaulx and Roche. Supported by the New Opportunities Fund, a £50 million digitization program, the well-designed project also includes other abbeys, general articles, a biographical directory and a helpful glossary.
Pope Lauds Benedictine Touch
Archbishop Riccardo Fontana of Spoleto-Nursia accompanied to the Vatican on 17 March the pilgrims of peace bringing the "Benedictine Torch" from Nazareth to Norcia. The Holy Father greeted them and encouraged the "traditional initiative" that fosters peace and reconciliation. He prayed that "your region, land of St. Francis and St. Benedict, will be ever more aware of the spiritual values that have forged the thought, art and culture of Italy and Europe" (Zenit). From 1989 to 2001, the torch was "lit in a different European capital each year by pilgrims retracing the Benedictine tradition and seeking the common Christian roots of the different European peoples" (AMN 32:2).
Lay Community of St. Benedict
The Lay Community of St. Benedict was founded as an independent, lay Benedictine movement in August 2003. St. Bruno's House, the cradle of the movement at Worth Abbey from 1971-2002, serves now as housing for Worth's Centre of Spirituality.
The Lay Community is not "based in a specific location as members exist world-wide. There are already active regional groups, and members are keen to develop local groups to attract those interested in Benedictine spirituality."
On 11 March Father Prior Zacharias Kurupacheril OSB, the founder of St Michael's Priory in Kumily (India), resigned from the office of superior of the community. Prior Zacharias devoted the best years of his life to the foundation and development of St. Michael's Monastery and the Angel Valley institutions. He will reside at the monastery after a well deserved holiday and a period of renewal over the next several months.
On the same day Abbot President Jeremias Schroeder OSB appointed Father Joseph Puthenpurackal OSB new prior of the Ottilien monastery. Prior Joseph is 29 years old and was ordained to the priesthood last year.
11 March 2004 marks the 1,400th anniversary of the death of Saint Gregory the Great. St. Gregory's Abbey and University kicked off a yearlong celebration of events on Thursday, 11 March 2004, with a prayer service, ceremonies and a picnic lunch. St. Gregory (540-604) was the first monk to become Pope, and he wrote what we know about Saint Benedict. The celebration runs from 11 March 2004 to 12 March 2005. The rare display of "Etruscan Treasures," is a singular highlight. The exhibition includes some items from the Gregorian-Etruscan Museum of the Vatican Museums.
Pope St. Gregory's name is inseparably associated with the plainchant used in the Roman Liturgy. The Abbey of Regina Laudis, Bethlehem, Connecticut, is the only Benedictine monastery in North America that uses Gregorian Chant in all its Latin glory and liturgical purity so extensively. A weeklong conference on chant in Stamford will feature the premiere on Saturday of a new documentary by Yale University professor Margot Fassler, "Work and Pray: Living the Psalms With the Nuns of Regina Laudis." Copies of the film can be obtained from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.
Drexel Visit Remembered at Belmont Abbey
Mother Katharine Drexel visited Belmont Abbey on 20 March 1904, attending first vespers for the feast of Saint Benedict. Thereafter, she and Bishop Leo Haid OSB continued a lively correspondence. Later, Fr. Michael McInerney OSB, a Belmont Abbey monk and architect designed some of the College’s buildings and many churches, schools, convents and hospitals supported by Mother Katharine and her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.
Belmont Abbey College and the monastery will remember her visit and celebrate the generous life of Saint Katharine Drexel on Thursday, 25 March 2004, beginning with Mass at 5 p.m. in the Abbey Basilica and a dinner reception with a special ceremony to follow.
Prioress Susan Re-elected to Third Term
Following a period of discernment, the sisters of Annunciation Monastery, Bismarck, North Dakota, re-elected Prioress Susan Berger OSB to her third four-year term on 2 March. During the process of discernment, the sisters identified as priorities: "Calling forth the gifts of the community's members, seeking new members, and articulating Benedictine spiritual values in their ministries and institutions, such as St. Alexius Medical Center and the University of Mary."
Saint Meinrad's Sesquicentennial
On Sunday, 21 March, the monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, Indiana, welcome friends and guests to a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the monastery by monks from Einsiedeln Abbey, Switzerland. The celebratory events will include a re-creation of the original procession from Ferdinand to Saint Meinrad, dedication of a historical marker, Vespers, and an evening meal followed by a "Sounds of Spring" musical variety show. The public is invited to all events, but reservations are required for the evening meal and the musical.
"Spirituality and Social Justice after 9/11" is the topic of a conference to be held at the College of St. Scholastica, 16 and 17 April 2004. Featured speakers are John Dear SJ, "A Hunger for Justice;" Ellen Pence, "How Spirituality Transforms Violence;" and Anne McCarthy OSB, "Spirituality for the New Millennium." The Conference is supported by the College of St. Scholastica, The Alpern Globalization Fund and St. Scholastica Monastery.
The conference begins Friday evening in the Mitchell Auditorium and continues all day Saturday. A fee of $20 will cover both attendance and luncheon. For further information or registration, contact Sister Mary Josephine Torborg OSB, MTorborg@css.edu.
Surely one of the oldest and noblest abbeys of France is the Abbey of Our Lady, Jouarre. Founded in the seventh century, the monastery adopted the Rule of Benedict at the suggestion of Charlemagne. The Merovingian crypt of Saint Paul was prepared as a family mausoleum for the founders. As abbess, Madeleine d'Orléans, sister of Francis I, reformed monastic observance in the 16th century. Three Bourbon noblewomen served as abbesses in the monastery's history.
The abbey, never having lost its canonical status, was repopulated in 1837 by a group of sisters from two other places and three nuns who had gone into hiding when expelled in 1792 by the Revolution. The nuns of Jouarre embraced the principles of Vatican II and monastic life there today is vital and dynamic. The abbey's website at http://perso.wanadoo.fr/abbayejouarre/ has been in operation for almost two years. The sisters support themselves by offering hospitality and retreats, producing fine jams, repairing cane chairs and by making ceramics. Jouarre has actively supported Aide Inter Monastères since 1998.
+ Abbot Leonhard
Abbot Leonhard Bösch OSB, died on Thursday, 26 February. Born 1912 at Ingenbohl, Abbot Leonhard was elected Abbot of Engelberg Abbey, Switzerland, in 1956 and served for 32 years until 1988. Ewiges Leben schenke ihm, o Herr; es leuchte ihm das ewige Licht.
Members and subscribers to the newsletter of the American Benedictine Academy have received copies of the American Monastic Newsletter (February 2004). Others can read the latest issue online that gives details about this summer's convention. The assembly will convene 12-15 August, 2004, at Saint Benedict's Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn. President Rosemary Rader OSB presents the theme, "Monastic Culture: revitalizing mind and spirit."
S. Paula Hagen OSB co-founded M.O.M.S., a Christian ministry for mothers, in St. Paul, MN, in 1987. Since 1992, M.O.M.S., Ministry of Mothers Sharing, has touched over 250,000 women and their families in over 100 dioceses. Over 3,000 parishes have initiated this ministry. The Tampa Tribune reports on the chapter recently formed in Brandon, FL. According to the ministry's philosophy, women who cry, share, trust and pray together bring to their homes a sense of peace that makes everyone happier -- moms, children and dads.
Bishop Gerry OSB Retires
Bishop Joseph J. Gerry OSB, 75, is making a final round of pastoral visits in the Diocese of Portland. The Holy Father accepted the resignation Bishop Gerry submitted when he reached retirement age in September 2003. The bishop has led Maine's 234,000 Roman Catholics for 15 years. Bishop Gerry is presiding over the Rite of Election at four parishes around Maine this month and next. At the end of March he will return to Saint Anselm Abbey, Manchester, N.H., resuming his life as a Benedictine monk.
+ Frank Kacmarcik OblSB
Brother Oblate Frank Kacmarcik, 83, died unexpectedly in his sleep on Sunday morning, 22 February, in the retirement center of Saint John's Abbey, Minnesota. Brother Frank defined himself as "a deacon of visual theology, a teacher of the Word in art, ... a spiritual director of visual forms." The North American Academy of Liturgy conferred its Berakah Award in 1981 on Frank acknowledging how
"His work in graphics and in pioneering the role of artist-designer-consultant for church building, renovating and furnishing embodies commitment to high standards, freedom from fads, conviction that tradition lives, and remarkable correspondence with the best insights of a Church in process of renewal."
His unrivalled collection, "Arca Artium," serves as a fitting memorial. On Friday, 27 February, the monks, family and friends celebrated the Liturgy of Christian Burial in Collegeville at 3 p.m.
Election in Colombia
On 13 February, the monks of Abadia Benedctina Santa Maria, Enviagado, Colombia, elected Padre Gabriel Gilberto Jaramillo Mejia OSB, 58, Prior Administrator. Abbot President Thierry Potevin OSB (Subiaco Congregation) presided at the election.
Eleven US monasteries are featured in the special double issue of A.I.M. Bulletin, Nos. 78-79 (2003). Under the rubric of "Monasticism in the Church and Society" the articles explain how these monasteries incorporate ecological awareness and respect for the earth into everyday monastic life. The articles are found online at the website for the Alliance for International Monasticism.
Sunday, 15 February, marks the 60th anniversary of the destruction of Monte Cassino Abbey by American B-17 and B-26 bombers. The strategic location of Monte Cassino, city and abbey, halted the northern advance toward Rome. A long and bloody battle cost many lives.
General der Panzertruppe Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin, a Benedictine Oblate, commanded the XIV Panzerkorps. The BBC News is asking readers to share their reflections online about the campaign in the winter and spring of 1944. Allied Polish troops suffered great losses.
On Tuesday, 10 February, Benedictines honor Saint Scholastica of Nursia, religious founder. Pope Saint Gregory the Great teaches a lesson about the efficacy of prayer by telling a story about Saint Scholastica and her twin brother, Saint Benedict. He also relates the miracle that allowed Saint Benedict to learn of her death by seeing a dove fly heavenward.
S. Jane Morrissey SSJ puts Saint Gregory's stories in context in her article, "Saint Scholastica and Saint Benedict: a paradox, a paradigm."
Monasticism in Egypt
A symposium entitled "Monasticism in Fayoum" being held under the
auspices of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III and hosted by His Grace Anba Abraam, Abbot of Deir al-Azab in Fayoum, runs from 5 to 10 February 2004. All five days of the Symposium are to be broadcast on the following Website: www.copticpope.tv/ by H.H. Pope Shenouda III Organization & Information Technology Center of the Coptic Orthodox Church. An online library of previous sessions is also available.
Benedict's Dharma 2
In the spring of 2003 forty Episcopalian men and women from around the country gathered in historic New Harmony, Indiana, for a very special "Benedictine Experience" inspired by the book, Benedict's Dharma. Sister Mary Margaret Funk OSB, executive director of the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, Rev. Kusala Bhikshu, a Buddhist monk, and Mr. Karl Peterson, a specialist in early Christian music, guided participants through Benedict's Dharma 2 - A Buddhist/Christian - Benedictine Experience. A Benedict's Dharma 2 text-only e-Book is available for free download as a PDF file.
Catholics in the Clinch
Abbot Martin Werlin OSB invites Catholics "in the Clinch" with the Church to make a "different" pilgrimage to Einsiedeln Abbey, 15-28 August 2004. For the second time, Abbot Martin encourages people in conflict with the Church to engage in open and honest dialog. The Wailing Wall (Klagemauer) that allows individuals to post their complaints and questions about the Church was a popular feature of the first such retreat, 9-13 July 2003.
Woodside Priory School, Portola Valley, CA, will host the Second International Benedictine Youth Congress from Wednesday, 28 July, through Sunday, 1 August 2004. Information and a pre-registration form for IBYC2 are available online. The theme of the Congress, based on the Benedictine vow of conversatio morum, is "Breaking Barriers, Making Waves: Conversations in California" or "Surfin' OSB" for short. Abbot Christopher Jamison OSB issued the letter of invitation to all Benedictine educators in December 2003. The Congress is sponsored by Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB and the International Commission on Benedictine Education.
The BBC reports that historians of medieval Devon have unearthed scattered evidence in manuscripts that they claim proves the local treat, Cream Tea, originated in the county some 1,000 years ago. The manuscripts describe a repast of clotted cream, strawberry preserves and bread that the monks offered to workers responsible for renovation of Tavistock Abbey. The Benedictine abbey was completed in 981, but it was plundered and badly damaged by Danish Vikings in 997.
On 25 January Abbot Simon Ri OSB of Waegwan Abbey, Korea, will raise the Korean community at St. Paul's Abbey, Newton, NJ, to the rank of a simple priory. The Korean monks had been invited to come to the US in 2001 to take over St. Paul's Abbey whose dwindling American membership had made this step necessary. Both St Paul's Abbey -- founded in 1924 -- and Waegwan Abbey belong to the international St. Ottilien Congregation. The Korean St Paul's Abbey is now a dependent house of Waegwan Abbey. Its monks under the prior, Father Bosco Kim OSB, minister to Korean Catholics in the New York area.
Election in Africa
On Wednesday, 14 January 2004, the chapter of Hanga elected Father Thadei Mhagama OSB as its new abbot for a period of 12 years.
The election became necessary after the resignation on 2 January of Abbot Alkuin of Hanga after ten years in the abbatial office. Abbot Alkuin has meanwhile accepted new responsibilities at Sant'Anselmo in Rome. Abbot Alkuin served as councilor for the Ottilien Congregation from 1996 to 2000 and as chair of the African Region.
The new abbot, Father Thadei, 54, had of late been superior of the Benedictine Study House at Cedara, South Africa. Archbishop Norbert Mtega of Songea will impart the abbatial blessing on Abbot Taddei on 25 March 2004. Honghera! Congratulations!
Creator alme siderum
New Norcia Abbey, Australia, is the home of a Deep Space Ground Station connected with the final phase of the Mars Express, launched by the European Space Agency.
The Australian site was chosen above other possible sites in the southern hemisphere due to its climate conditions and latitude which favored deep space communication. New Norcia was founded by the Spanish Benedictine Dom Rosendo Salvado, who transformed the tiny town into a Christian mission which has had the most impact on Australian history (Vidimus Dominum).
The Australian Broadcasting Company provides a transcript of a conversation (20 August 2003) dealing with the "New Norcia Dish." On 30 December 2003, ESA's Deep Space Station in New Norcia was used successfully to maneuver the orbiter into a polar orbit around Mars. "With the ground station expected to operate for the next 75 years, the European Space Agency and New Norcia's monks will have a long time to be neighbors and partners" (ABC Asia Pacific).
The Friends of Saint Benedict, an Anglican-sponsored program promoting Benedictine principles, have released a videocassette about "The Benedictine Experience." Patrick Redsell and Jonathan Brinton of Suffolk Films, UK, produced a colorful, informative and inspiring documentary based on conversations with participants at recent Benedictine Experiences. The film shows a variety of prayer-filled locations in Europe and the US that includes Saint John's Abbey, Minnesota. The video, Benedictine Journey: Listening with the ear of the heart, is available from the Friends for about $30.
What Was New (spring 1995-; archive)
October, November and December 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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