What Was New
July, August, September 2004
Rev. 25 July 2012
Choir, soloists, organ, synthesizer and orchestra will perform "De sanctis Angelis" by Franz Xaver Frenzel on Sunday, 17 October, at 3 p.m., in the Abbey Church of Altenburg, Austria. The Abbey Church is decorated with 455 Baroque angels. Walter Rescheneder, state music director for Upper Austria will conduct the performance. Tickets for the concert (€12) also allow admission to the special exhibition, "In the Gaze of the Angel" that is open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., until 1 November 2004.
The General Chapter of the Congregation of the Annunciation elected Rt. Rev. Ansgar Schmidt OSB, Abbot of St. Matthias Abbey, Trier, as abbot president of the congregation. Abbot Ansgar will continue to serve as superior of his own community until his third eight-year term of office expires in 2005.
Hanga Abbey Website
Father Pirmin Ngolle OSB, Ottilien monk and pastor of St. Pius X Church, manages the website <www.hangaabbey.org/> for Saint Maurus Hanga Abbey in Southern Tanzania. The primary works of the monks focus on social services and education. The monastery, founded 44 years ago with the intention of adapting the Rule of Saint Benedict to African culture, has become the largest Benedictine community for men in Africa with four houses in Tanzania and Zambia.
Tutzing Sisters Found Archives-Museum and Digital Exhibit
President Corazon Aquino, alumna, participated at the groundbreaking for the Archives-Museum of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters and St. Scholastica's College, Manila. The project is one of several the Sisters are using to commemorate the centennial in 2006 of their institutions in the Philippines. One of these will be an interactive digital museum with touch screens that will feature an historical timeline of the Benedictine sisters and their missions in the country.
Benedictine Congress of Abbots in Rome
From 21 to 29 September 2004, the Eternal City welcomes 230 abbots of the oldest monastic Order of the West. The abbots convene every four years to deal with matters concerning the entire Benedictine Confederation as well as those of the College and Athenaeum of Sant'Anselmo in Rome. Also present will be twenty-four representatives of the Benedictine nuns and sisters and five delegates from other Christian denominations.
Apart from the usual topics of discussion, the Congress will develop the broad theme of globalization. Professor Norbert Walter of the Deutsche Bank of Frankfurt and Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio, will give key-note addresses treating the secular and the ecclesial aspects of the question. In some 438 monasteries spread throughout the world Benedictine monks have always adapted to the needs and culture of their environment, while conserving the continuity of their particular spiritual heritage. Globalization, the theme of the Congress, then, is highly apposite.
New Abbot President
On Tuesday, 14 September 2004, at the Abbey of Praglia in Italy, the General Chapter of the Subiaco Congregation elected as its new Abbot President, Dom Bruno Marin OSB, for a term of eight years. He succeeds Dom Thierry Portevin OSB. Since 1990 Dom Bruno has been the Abbot of Praglia near Venice. Dom Bruno was born in 1941, professed in 1957 and ordained in 1966. His new office will bring him to Rome, to the Curia of the Subiaco Congregation that is located at Sant'Ambrogio. A new superior will be elected at Praglia.
The Subiaco Congregation consists of sixty-two monasteries of monks and forty-four monasteries of nuns and sisters dispersed in twenty-eight different countries. Subiaco is the largest of the monastic congregations that comprise the Benedictine Confederation. Abbot-President Bruno will participate in the Congress of Abbots that convenes 20-29 September 2004 at Sant'Anselmo, Rome.
Cistercians Build a Monastery for Bohemia
Thursday, 2 September, saw the completion of five years planning and construction of the new Trappist monastery, Our Lady of Novy Dvur, Czech Republic. It is "the first new monastery of the 21st Century, and only the sixth Cistercian monastery built since 1900" (Eyestorm). The monks of Sept Fons Abbey engaged the Minimalist architect, John Pawson, after seeing photographs of the Calvin Klein store he designed for New York. "But given that Pawson became famous for designing houses for the rich that look as austere as monasteries, there is a certain logic to the situation. Pawson, who has always wanted to live in the simplicity of a monk's cell, has finally had the chance to design a real one for himself" (Deyan Sudjic, The Observer). National Public Radio interviewed the architect on "All Things Considered" (14 August 2004) and Mark Irving writes about the "Simplicity of the Cloister" for Britain's Tablet (11 September 2004).
Sister Joan Chittister OSB (Erie Benedictines) is among one of three authors featured in the 3 September issue of the National Catholic Reporter. Her autobiographical narrative, Called to Question, is interspersed with entries from her journals that are primarily reflections on her spiritual reading. The other titles mentioned are Taught to Believe the Unbelievable by Sister Jane Kelly PBVM and Catholics at a Crossroad by theologian Eileen P. Cook. All three books examine critically the contemporary Church in North America.
Benedictine Named Consultor
On 8 July 2004, the Holy Father named R.P. Alfredo Simón OSB, 39, a consultor to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Pater Alfredo is a monk of Abadía de Santa Cruz, Madrid, and member of the theological faculty of the Pontifical Ateneo of Sant'Anselmo, Rome.
Pater Alfredo holds licentiates in Philosophy from the University of Navarre and in Theology from the Pontifical University of Commilas in Madrid. He earned the doctorate in Theology from Sant'Anselmo. His doctoral thesis for the Monastic Institute was entitled "Monastic Theology: the innovation and historiography of Jean Leclercq." Pater Alfredo currently serves as professor of Medieval Monastic Theology and the History of Theology at Sant'Anselmo and at the Gregorian University. He contributes regularly to Studia Monastica, Benedictina, and Revue d'Histoire Écclésiastique. His research concerns medieval monastic authors and contemporary theological methodology.
Sister Ruth Fox OSB of Sacred Heart Monastery, Richardton, North Dakota, has published a book called Wisdom Leadership: Reflections on the Ministry of Monastic Leaders. Her reflections on leadership are based on the model of Christ as the embodiment of Wisdom. Although addressed to prioresses, the principles of leadership from the Rule would also apply to abbesses, abbots, and other Christian leaders. The book was commissioned by the Federation of St. Gertrude of which Sr. Ruth is a past-president.
Benedictine New LCWR President
Sister Christine Vladimiroff, OSB, prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA, began her term as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) at their annual assembly 19-22 August held in Fort Worth, Texas. Sister Christine, who earned a doctorate in Latin American Studies from the Universidad International, Mexico City, has been prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie since 1998. Prior to 1998 she served for seven years as President and CEO of the Second Harvest Food Bank Network in Chicago. From 1981-91 she worked in the diocese of Cleveland, including eight years as Secretary of Education.
For the first time, the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) and the CMSM (Conference of Major Superiors of Men) will meet together from 19 to 22 August in Forth Worth near Dallas, Texas, to reflect on the theme "Creating Peace in Violent Times."
Among the speakers will be Mary Robinson, the ex-President of the Republic of Ireland who will give the keynote address on Friday, 20 August. There will discussions in study groups. There will be an opportunity to discuss the situation in the Middle East, peace, and American politics toward Latin America.
The Benedictine Sisters on the island of Pag, Croatia, in the Adriatic Sea have maintained a website since late 2003. It can be found at <www.benedictus.info/>. On its pages are published daily liturgical meditations, articles about the Benedictine Order, history, spirituality, and the 700-year-old monastery. For now, it is the only Benedictine website in the Croatian language. Sister Benedikta Halilovik OSB and Father Anton Pecar maintain the website. The monastery, dedicated to St. Margaret, was founded in Terravecchia in 1318, but transferred to Pag in 1483. The monastery belongs to the Croatian Federation that was founded in 1997.
Wharton on Monreale
In November 2004 will be published The Cruise of the Vanadis (Bloomsbury, £16.99) by the American author, Edith Wharton, 1862-1937. The Guardian Unlimited has published an extract of the book that contains Wharton's description of the cathedral and monastery of Monreale, the Pearl of Sicily. The Benedictines of Cava dei Tirreni built "the most superb monastic building of the Benedictine Order in Europe, famous for its cloister and its graceful Moorish colonnade" (Cath. Enc.). The Abbey of Saint Martin (Cassinese Congregation), a few kilometers away, was founded ca. 700 by Pope St. Gregory the Great, author of stories about Saint Benedict.
Neue Äbtissin für Herstelle
On Tuesday, 3 August, the 56 nuns of Holy Cross Abbey, Herstelle, Germany, elected Sr. Sophia Schwede OSB, 44, to a 12-year term as the monastery's fourth abbess. In 1986 she earned a doctorate in medicine from Tübingen University. After her internship, she entered the Abbey of the Holy Cross (Beuronese Congregation). She professed first vows in 1988. Besides having worked in the ceramics studio, she has served as the infirmarian responsible for the sick and retired Sisters since 1994. Most Rev. Hans-Josef Becker, Archbishop of Paderborn, will impart the abbatial blessing on 18 September 2004. Abbess Sophia has chosen "... ut habeant vitam" ("that they may have life," John 10:10) as her motto.
The CIB - Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum, the network of all Benedictine Women's Communities, is now online at <www.benedictines-cib.org/>. There you can find multi-lingual information about the network and about particular regions. The next meeting of the Conference of the CIB will take place in the monastery of S.Giuseppe in Assisi, 16-20 September 2004. The Conference precedes the Congress of Abbots that will convene 20-29 September 2004 at Sant'Anselmo, Rome.
On 5 August the Ottilien Benedictine community of Incarnation Priory at Agbang, Togo, elected Fr Boniface Tiguila OSB its first Conventual Prior, for a period of six years. Fr Boniface is 46 years old. He founded the Community of the Incarnation in 1985. On Friday, 6 August, Transfiguration of the Lord, the monastery was elevated to the rank of a Conventual Priory. Agbang has 15 monks in solemn vows, of which 2 are priests, 3 are juniors and one is a novice. The community and the prior appreciate your prayers and solidarity.
Dom John Bede Brewer OSB, President of the English Benedictine Congregation (1799-1822) and a founder of Ampleforth Abbey (UK) has been returned with his confreres to Ampleforth Abbey. The Abbot-President has been interred in the Abbey Church. St. Peter's, for over a century the oldest Roman Catholic parish in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, to which Dom John Bede was assigned at the age of 80, passed in the course of time from the Benedictines to the Archdiocese. During development of the property into office blocks, workers discovered a vault containing the bodies of Abbot-President Brewer OSB, other English Congregation monks and members of St. Peter's Parish. Dom James Calderbank OSB, Dom Denis Allerton OSB, Dom Benedict Glover OSB, Dom Francis Fairclough OSB, Dom Gregory Robinson OSB and Dom Joseph Glover OSB, all of whom died in the early 19th century, were re-buried in the monks' cemetery at Ampleforth.
After forty years of disuse, Saint Meinrad Archabbey's sandstone quarry is again in operation. The Indiana monastery will use some of the quarried stone in the building of a new guest house. The rest will be marketed locally and throughout the nation by Mansfield Stone, an affiliate of American Limestone. First opened around 1870, the quarry yielded richly veined stone that "found its way into many churches, post offices and homes in Indiana and nearby states. Some of the stone was shipped as far south as Florida" (Perry County News).
The Benedictine Sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude maintain an Historical Museum devoted to the history of central Idaho. The library, containing over 10,000 volumes, is rich in genealogical resources and historic photographs. Each August the Raspberry Festival attracts many visitors and is the chief means of support for the museum.
Young Monks and Nuns Convene
From 13 to 16 July young monks and nuns of Italy convened at the Sylvesterine monastery of S. Vincenzo Martire, Romano Bassano (VT). The theme of the convention was: "The Way between Person and Community; relationships between autonomy and concern for others." Among the presenters were Rev. Giuseppe Sovernigo, a teacher on the Theological Faculty of Padova, and Dr. Maria Smajato Grace. The encounter was organized by CISB, the Conference of Major Benedictine Superiors that, starting this year, also includes superiors of the Cistercian Order (CISB-OC), Approximately 80 young monks or nuns participated; they came from all over Italy.
The initiative was coordinated by Dom Donato Ogliari OSB, Prior Administrator of Abbazia Madonna della Scala, Noci, in his capacity as President of the Commission for Studies of the Subiaco Congregation. The convention, however, involved all of the Italian Benedictine and Cistercian Congregations. The inter-congregational convention is organized biennially. The next gathering, then, will take place in 2006. It is to be hoped that, at future meetings, the number of participants will increase.
Brazilian Monks Elect 86th Abbot
On Tuesday, 13 July, the Abbot President of the Brazilian Congregation confirmed the election of P. Robert Lopes OSB and installed him as the 86th abbot of the Monastery of Saint Benedict, Rio de Janeiro. Abbot Robert, 47, professed vows on 24 November 1984 and was ordained a priest on 10 December 1988. His Eminence Eusebius Oscar Cardinal Scheid SCJ, metropolitan archbishop, will confer the abbatial blessing on 21 August 2004.
Father Anselm Bilgri OSB
The Tablet (UK) comments in the issue for 17 July about the situation at Andechs Monastery, a dependency of St. Boniface Abbey, Munich. Father Anselm Bilgri OSB in his long career as Prior and Cellerar has made such a commercial success of Andechs that he serves also as a Docent in Management at the University of Eichstätt.
In early July the story appeared in the German press about the Prior's decision to leave the monastery. In response to some fanciful media speculation, on 5 July both the recently elected Abbot Johannes Eckert OSB and Father Anselm delivered statements to the press. The Abbot confirmed that Andechs would continue to be a center of Benedictine hospitality and retreat, and Father Anselm announced that, after long deliberation, he would not be returning to the monastic community at the end of his sabbatical.
From 14 to 18 July 2004, St. Gregory's Abbey and University, Shawnee, OK, and St. Joseph's Monastery, Tulsa, OK, are hosting a Benedictine Colloquium. The topics for discussion will focus on education.
Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB will be celebrating the Opening Mass at 5 p.m., Wednesday, 14 July, and he will be giving the keynote speech on Thursday, July 15, at 8:30 a.m. Abbot Jerome Kodell OSB of Subiaco Abbey, Arkansas, will be speaking at St. Joseph's, Tulsa, on Friday, 16 July.. Other monks and sisters from the sponsoring communities will also be giving talks. More information online.
In most places of the world, the 15th Sunday of the Year on 11 July supersedes the annual celebration of Saint Benedict, Patriarch of Western Monasticism and Co-Patron of Europe. Some monasteries, however, for whom the date has long been Profession Day, celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Benedict at the conventual Mass rather than the Sunday.
Fr. Joel Rippinger OSB, Marmion Abbey, delivered one of the papers last month at the meeting of the Association of Benedictine Colleges and Universities. He provided an overview of Benedictine scholarship throughout the ages. His paper shows how Benedictines in every age were influential in grounding Europe in the Christian tradition that the framers of the new European Constitution so cavalierly overlooked.
What Was New (1995-; archive)
April, May and June 2004.
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