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The Order of Saint Benedict

What Was New

October, November and December 2004

Rev. 30 December 2004

December 2004

Election in Indiana

On Friday, 31 December 2004, the monastic chapter of Saint Meinrad Archabbey elected Father Justin DuVall OSB, 53, as the ninth abbot (sixth archabbot) of Saint Meinrad Archabbey. Archabbot Justin professed first vows on 24 August 1974. He was ordained a priest on 30 April 1978 and earned a master of arts degree in library science in 1979. Father Justin served as Prior from 1984 to 1995. The blessing of the new archabbot is scheduled to take place on Friday, 21 January 2005, in the Archabbey Church. The Most Rev. Daniel Buechlein OSB, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, will preside at the ceremony.

Archabbot Justin succeeds Archabbot Lambert Reilly OSB, who announced in the spring that he would resign the position on December 15. Father Lambert's resignation coincided with the end of the year-long celebration of the sesquicentennial of the founding of Saint Meinrad Archabbey from Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland.

Sadao Watanabe

In "The Art of Sadao Watanabe" Sister Antonia Ryan OSB writes about the Japanese printermaker for the National Catholic Reporter (24 Dec. 2004). The article is illustrated with prints from the Arca Artium Collection, Collegeville, Minnesota, assembled by Brother Frank Kacmarcik OblSB (1920-2004). Mr. Watanabe came to know the Collegeville Benedictines when they staffed Saint Anselm Parish, Meguro, Tokyo.

Mother Mary Garson OSB MBE

H.M. Queen Elizabeth II honored Mother Mary Garson OSB, 83, for the care of others as the Prioress-General of the Benedictine Sisters of Our Lady of Grace and Compassion. The Queen made her a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the Birthday Honours List (12 June 2004). Unable to attend the investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, 9 December, Mother Mary, visiting convents in India, said,

"I am of course happy to be acknowledged and feel the MBE reflects not just my work but that of my sisters and all our helpers. I'm delighted it matches the one given to my late father for his services as harbour master at Invergordon, Scotland, where I grew up. I'm particularly proud of the growth of the congregation since we started in Brighton 50 years ago."

The congregation's 200 sisters run five residential homes, a nursing unit and 13 schemes of retirement flats in Britain, four foundations in India, three in Sri Lanka and a home in Kenya (

Abbot Primate Appointed

On Saturday, 11 December, the Holy Father named Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB, 64, a member of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Abbot Notker was elected Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation by the Congress of Abbots on 7 September 2000. Professed as a monk of St. Ottilien in 1968, he was elected Archabbot and President of the Ottilien Congregation on 10 October 1977. The Abbot Primate resides at Sant'Anselmo, Rome.

November 2004

Cities for Life

A network of prayer is under way in Benedictine monasteries worldwide for prisoners condemned to death. They are participating in the campaign, "Cities for Life -- Cities Against the Death Penalty," promoted by the lay Community of Saint Egidio. 339 Benedictine monasteries and 60 Benedictine convents are each "adopting" in their prayer one prisoner facing capital punishment. On 30 November more than 300 cities worldwide joined Rome in saying "no"to the death penalty by promoting a series of activities and illuminating civic monuments (

Monks in the West

In October 2004 the first gathering of "Monks in the West" took place at the "City of Ten Thousand Buddhas," Talmage, California. Fourteen Benedictine, Buddhist, Cistercian and Zen participants employed the "first person" narrative technique popularized in the summer "Consultations" at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, Minnesota. Many of the participants had been at the second Gethsemani Encounter in 2002 sponsored by the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue of North America. A second gathering is tentatively planned for May 2006 when the topic will be "Authentic Practices of Celibacy and Intimacy in Monastic Communities of Men."

Roman Renewal

Father Jacques Coté OSB, director of the Monastic Renewal Experience Program (Récyclage) at Sant'Anselmo, Rome, announces the dates for the next program: 23 April - 24 May 2005. The program is designed for, and limited to, 8 to 12 senior English-speaking monks in good health belonging to Benedictine or Cistercian monasteries. The program includes, among other activities: lectures -- all in English -- by Benedictines or other experts on subjects such as Sacred Scripture, the Rule of Saint Benedict, early monasticism, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue; pilgrimages to Monte Cassino, Subiaco, Norcia and Assisi; and visits to the Vatican excavations and museum. Registration closes 31 January 2005. Contact: jcote @ .

Entente Cordiale Catholique

The Benedictine monks of Douai Abbey in Berkshire, UK, have decided to re-establish a presence in France, 100 years after their departure in 1903. In autumn 2005 two members of the community will be setting up a small monastery in Douai, 25 miles from Lille, France, at the invitation of the parish and people of the town with the blessing of Mgr. François Garnier, Archbishop of Cambrai.

In the sixteenth century, when it was illegal to be a Roman Catholic priest in England, there were a handful of British colleges and communities in the town of Douai in northern France, attracted there by the establishment of the English College for secular priests in 1658. In this historical center of English Catholicism, the English monks look forward to celebrating mass for the Carmelite nuns, helping in chaplaincy work in the town's Catholic secondary schools and university colleges and providing a place of retreat for local priests. Abbot Geoffrey Scott OSB, Abbot of Douai, said, "This venture is our small way of marking the entente cordiale between England and France whose centenary has just been celebrated."

Bishop Christopher Butler OSB

Sunday, Feast of Christ the King, saw the opening of a new website honoring Bishop Christopher Butler OSB (1902-1986) and Vatican II – Voice of the Church. Basil Edward Butler entered Downside Abbey in 1929, taking the name Christopher. He became a priest in 1933. Dom Christopher was head master of Downside from January 1940 until his election as seventh abbot of Downside on 12 September 1946. He was reelected twice, remaining abbot until 1966. As President of the English Benedictine Congregation he participated in all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council. The Vatican Council made him a public figure. In 1966 he left Downside to go to Westminster as auxiliary bishop to Cardinal J. C. Heenan. In later years he was a prominent member of the Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission. Besides essays from numerous authors, the website includes the complete bibliography of Bishop Butler compiled by Sister Anne Flood SC PhD.

Mount Saviour

Derrick Ek writes about the bucolic peace of Mount Saviour Monastery, located between Elmira and Corning, New York, for The Leader Online (15 Nov. 2004). Home to 12 monks, Mount Saviour was recently aggregated to the American-Cassinese Congregation. About 1,000 visitors come to the monastery each year. "Some are day visitors who come to join the brothers in prayer, usually for Sunday Mass. Often, they are members of different faiths. There is a gift and religious book shop. Mount Saviour also operates guest rooms and houses for retreats, which last several nights, or sometimes a week or longer."


The October 2004 issue of The American Monastic Newsletter has been sent to members of the American Benedictine Academy and is also available online. The issue features reports from the convention in August, news of grants and awards, book reviews and an article about AIM-USA support for the education of Benedictine Sisters from Tanzania.

The Association of Benedictine Colleges and University has achieved its own domain name. The website features essays presented at the association's June 2004 meeting, an updated members' directory, links to members' libraries and online catalogs, a search form, and preliminary information about the June 2005 meeting at Saint John's University, Collegeville.

Pope Honors African Benedictines

During the Ninth Public Session on 9 November of the Pontifical Academies on the theme: "Via Pulchritudinis a Privileged Itinerary for the Encounter between the Christian Faith and the Cultures of Our Times" the Pope awarded a special prize for sacred music to the Benedictine Abbey of Keur Moussa in Senegal. The Holy Father, in his discourse read by Bishop Leonardo Sandri, explained that the annual Pontifical Academies Prize had been awarded to the monastery "where the Benedictines coming from the mother abbey of Solesmes have been attentive to the traditions of Africa, and faithfully preserving, at the same time, the liturgical patrimony received by the tradition of the Church" (Vidimus Dominum).

Better Business with Benedict

John Mount reviews for the latest in a series of books about lessons to be learned from the Rule of Saint Benedict for business management. The Benedictine Rule of Leadership: Classic Management Secrets You Can Use Today (Adams Media, $9.95) imitates Benedict's appreciation for brevity and clarity. In less than 200 pages, Craig and Oliver Galbraith examine "the development of Benedict's system in light of personal and historical circumstances.... The Rule is presented in three main elements, with individual chapters devoted to each aspect of each element."

+ Abbot Willibrord Van Rompaey OSB

Abbot Willibrord, 68, died on 5 November 2004, at the Blessed Gérard Care Centre in Mandeni, South Africa. Born in Morstel, Belgium, he joined the Benedictines at the Abbey of Steenbrugge in 1956, but professed stability to Affligem in 1961. From the time he arrived in South Africa in 1962, Father Willibrord became involved in missionary work among the Suthus and Tswanas in the northern regions of South Africa. In 1989 the Belgian Benedictines chose Father Willibrord as fourth abbot of Subiaco, Pietersburg.

Ill health led him to resign as abbot of Subiaco on 20 July 1998. His close contact with Inkamana Abbey in Zululand, the home of the Missionary Benedictines of St. Ottilien, led him to transfer his stability to Inkamana on 13 May 2002. In March this year, he suffered a stroke which left him severely handicapped. The monks of Inkamana Abbey will celebrate the Liturgy of Christian Burial on Monday, 8 November. Abbot Willibrord's body will be laid to rest in the abbey cemetery.

"Soul Searching"

Ebony Windom profiles the discernment process at Holy Name Monastery, St. Leo, Florida, for the St. Petersburg Times (1 November). The program is similar to those established at most men's and women's monasteries. The article, "Soul Searching," provides a good introduction to contemporary Benedictine life.


On 29 November a CD produced by the Monks of Glenstal Abbey, Ireland, will be available for purchase online. Biscantorat - Sound of the Spirit traces the course of the liturgical year from Advent through Pentecost. The recording features the Monastic Schola; singer Marie-Bernadette; Nóirín Ní Riain, world renowned theologian and musicologist; along with the spoken word of John O'Donohue, spiritual writer, poet and philosopher; Brother Mark Patrick Hederman OSB, philosopher and educator; and other soloists and choirs.

+ Father Neal Lawrence OSB

Father Neal Henry Lawrence OSB died at Holy Trinity Monastery, Fujimi, Japan, on 3 November 2004. His lifetime encompassed several careers that included diplomatic service and many years as a monk and missionary in Japan. Assigned to General MacArthur's headquarters in Tokyo, Neal Lawrence was the first American diplomat officially to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He pioneered the writing of tanka poetry in English. The emperor and government of Japan in 1993 honored his meritorious service to the nation in higher education with the Order of the Rising Sun. His ashes will be interred in the columbarium of Saint Anselm's Parish Church, Meguro, Tokyo, where he had been pastor or associate pastor from 1966 to 1999. A memorial mass will be celebrated at Meguro Catholic Church in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, from 6 p.m. on Wednesday, 17 November.

ABA 2002

Although the printed copies of the Proceedings of the 2002 Convention of the American Benedictine Academy are out of print, all of the presentations are now available for a modest price on a CD-ROM. The theme, "Monastics and Mentoring," was well received by the large number of participants at the convention in Bismarck, North Dakota.

October 2004

Canadians Visit Monte Cassino

Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and about 80 Canadian veterans visited the scene of the bloodiest battle of World War II on 25 October. Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Italian Campaign, they are tracing the route of the Allies through Italy. More than 100,000 Canadians served in the 20-month campaign. "The Allied advance quickly stalled, nowhere more so than at Monte Cassino. The battle for the mountaintop, involving Britons, Americans, Poles, New Zealanders, Moroccans and others, began in January, 1944." More than 60,000 German and Allied soldiers died.

"We're always finding bones," says Don Germano Savelli, 74, a Benedictine monk from the mountaintop monastery on Monte Cassino. "The other day a villager brought me a skull; another unknown soldier, no doubt. All we can do is give them decent burials." The Allies took the mountaintop on 18 May 1944, but only because by then the Germans had retreated.

Blue Cloud Abbey

Blue Cloud Abbey, Marvin, South Dakota, and twelve of the monks are profiled by the Argus Leader. Although the monks staff a mission in Coban, Guatemala, and assist at two parishes, the chief work of the monastery is to offer hospitality and spiritual guidance through a retreat center at the abbey.


Tom Roberts, editor of the National Catholic Reporter, writes his impressions of the 60th and 50th jubilee celebrations of some Erie Benedictines. Invited by Sister Joan Chittister OSB, a regular columnist for the paper, he appreciates how the community's "Ministries with the poor -- ministries the sister run, own and fund -- strike deep at the kind of urban weariness that can cause despair. They uplift, they renew, they educate and feed. They have fun" (NCR 40:44, 15 Oct 2004).

Middle-aged Monks

The Abbey of Noci, Italy, sponsored a special conference for solemnly professed monks in their middle age (30-50 years). From 4 to 9 October Father André Louf OCSO investigated the theme, "Middle Age: between idealism and disenchantment."

The Virgin Consort

In order to make more widely know the work and mission of the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy Foundation, The Virgin Consort will perform on Friday, 29 October 2004, at 8 p.m., in the Church of St. Jean Baptiste, 184 E. 76th Street, New York City. The concert will honor Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB, Chancellor of Saint Anselm University, Rome.

The Virgin Consort, directed by Kyler Brown, will perform a program of music that explores some of the great texts and chants of the Western Church through contrasting musical settings by different composers. Some of the composers represented include Tomás Luis de Victoria and Josef Rheinberger; Colin Mawby and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; William Byrd and Olivier Messiaen; and Maurice Duruflé and Morten Lauridsen.

+ Abbot Gilbert Jones OSB

Former Abbot President of the Subiaco Congregation, Abbot Gilbert Jones OSB, died on 5 October 2004 at his residence, Saint Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate, England. Born at Chester in 1926, he professed vows at Ramsgate in 1964 following a career as a stage and television actor in England. He became abbot of Ramsgate in 1972 and was elected Abbot President of the Subiaco Congregation in 1988. During his time as Abbot President he lived at Sant'Ambrogio in Rome, but visited monasteries of the Congregation on every continent from Vietnam to Burkina Faso. His regular feature, "Ask the Abbot" was a highlight of Vatican Radio. Listen to him in a recent radio interview.

Abbot Gilbert always encouraged diversity within the Benedictine tradition. He was ever a kind and compassionate superior. He retired as Abbot President in 1996 and spent the last years of his life at Ramsgate, but maintained the appellation, "Abbot of Tours," by visiting and assisting monasteries of the Subiaco Congregation in the United States, Mexico and England. Until his death, he served as Prior of Saint Augustine's Abbey. He will surely be missed by his many monastic and non-monastic friends around the world. May he rest in peace.

Wangari MatthaiBenedictine Alumna Wins Nobel Prize

Wangari Matthai, a 1964 graduate of Mount St. Scholastica College, Atchison, Kansas (since 1971 Benedictine College), won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and $1.3 million in Oslo. Maathai graduated from the Mount College with a degree in Biology when it was a college for women conducted by the Benedictine Sisters. Born in April 1940, Maathai was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree.

Matthai is the founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. On World Environment Day in 1977, Wangari Maathai began urging Kenya's farmers (70 percent of whom are women) to plant "greenbelts" of trees, which would stop soil erosion, provide shade, and create a source of lumber and firewood. It was the culmination of numerous public forums, which identified environmental degradation as a pressing concern (World Learning).

In Kerry Kennedy Cuomo's 1999 book, Speak Truth to Power, Wangari Matthai was profiled alongside the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and other Nobel Peace Prize winners, as one of the world's 50 leading human rights defenders. Mount St. Scholastica conferred its highest honor, the Offeramus Medal, on its distinguished alumna.

Election in Tanshui, Taiwan

On 20 September 2004, the Sisters of Saint Benedict Monastery, Tanshui, Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C., elected Sister Austin Chang OSB prioress for a six year term. Prioress Austin succeeds Sister Luca Chin OSB. The community in Tanshui belongs to the Federation of Saint Benedict.

Benedictines Pray for the Vatican

On Friday, 8 October, Benedictine Sisters will succeed the Carmelites at Mater Ecclesiae Convent in Rome. Every five years a different congregation supplies a community to pray for the Pope and his curial officials. The convent was founded by John Paul II in 1994. The original nuns were Poor Clares.

Presbyterian Minister Professes Final Vows

Having served as a minister in the Presbyterian Church since 1982 in Kansas and Iowa, Rev. Lynne Smith OSB will profess final vows as a Benedictine Sister in Madison, Wisconsin, at Saint Benedict Center, on Saturday, 10 October. She will continue her ministry in the Presbyterian Church. Sister Lynne explains her unique vocation by saying that "she was attracted to the sacraments and regular prayer of Catholic monastic life, but did not have a way of living that life within the Protestant tradition" (Wisconsin State Journal).

Blessed Karl I

On Sunday, 3 October, the 18 years that Brother Nathan Cochran OSB devoted to the cause of Emperor Karl I, were fulfilled when the Holy Father beatified Karl Habsburg (1887-1922). The last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary is the first male monarch to be declared Blessed since the formal process began in 1588. Brother Nathan's abbot, Rt. Rev. Douglas Nowicki OSB, acknowledged the Emperor's qualities:

In an age where the family experiences many stresses, it is encouraging to know that someone who dedicated his life emphasizing the importance of the family to civilization will be honored by the Universal Church for his devotion to the family. Brother Nathan honors us all by joining in this effort (Tribune Review).


What Was New (1995-; archive)

July, August and September 2004.

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