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The Order of Saint Benedict

What Was New

January, February and March 2005

Rev. 04 April 2005

March 2005

Reports of Elections and Appointment

On Sunday, 20 March 2005, the Benedictine women of Mother of God Monastery, Watertown, South Dakota, elected Sister Ramona Fallon OSB to succeed Sister Judith Fischer OSB as prioress. Presently S. Ramona serves as the principal of John Ireland School, St. Peter, Minn. In August 2004, members of the American Benedictine Academy elected Prioress Ramona to be a Member-at-Large on the Board of the Academy. She will be installed as prioress on 12 June 2005, in a ceremony held in the Monastery Chapel.

On 8 March 2005 the Abbot General of the Sylvesterine Congregation presided over the election of Don Felice Poli OSBSilv, 65, as the Conventual Prior of Monastero San Vincenzo Martire, Bassano Romano, IT. At the same time, according to the constitutions of the congregation, two councilors were also elected: Don Giacinto and Don Ambrogio.

On 7 March 2005 the Abbot President of the American-Cassinese Congregation, with the consent of his council, appointed Father Domingo (José Juan) Espíndola Lázaro OSB, 36, Administrator of Abadía del Tepeyac in México for a period up to three years. This appointment followed the voluntary resignation of Abbot Jorge Acuña Herrera OSB, 58.

On 15 February 2005 the monks of Ampleforth Abbey, Yorkshire, UK, elected Dom Cuthbert Madden OSB, 50, to be the monastery's eighth abbot. He succeeds Abbot Timothy Wright OSB.

"Murder in the Monastery"

Stift Lambach, Austria, is the filming location for the first episode of a popular crime series on Austrian television, Agatha Has Yet to Determine. Abbot Godhard Schafelner OSB is donating the 14,000 € check for allowing the filming of "Murder in the Monastery" to establish a new foundation in the Republic of Chad by the Conogolese Benedictine Sisters of Lubumbashi (Elizabethville). The detective story concerns two murdered monks and the discovery and disappearance of an unknown music manuscript written by W.A. Mozart.

St. Gregory's Celebration

On 17 March St. Gregory's Abbey and University ended their year long celebration honoring the 1,400th anniversary of the death of their patron, St. Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome from 590 to 604. At a community gathering on campus there were singing, prayers and presentations during the celebration. A new song in honor of St. Gregory premiered. St. Gregory the Great was the first monk to become pope. He also wrote the Dialogues that includes the earliest information about St. Benedict and St. Scholastica. Two of St. Gregory's other works are classics of Western theology: a commentary on the Book of Job called the Moralia and the Pastoral Rule, an insightful instruction to pastors and bishops. Many of his sermons are used in the Liturgy of the Hours, and Gregorian Chant is named after him.

St. Gregory's Abbey and University are in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The University is the only Catholic college in Oklahoma, and it is the oldest continuously operating college in the state. St. Gregory's University also maintaines a campus in Tulsa, Oklahoma, mainly for working adults. The monks of the Abbey number 30 aged between 90 and 31. St. Gregory's Abbey also owns the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art that houses the "official" portrait of Pope St. Pius X by Fr. Gregory Gerre OSB. The museum mounts important exhibitions regularly. St. Gregory the Great, pray for us!

Election at Sacred Heart

On Sunday, 13 March 2005, the Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery, Richardton, North Dakota, elected Sister Ruth Fox OSB to be their new prioress. Sister Ruth served previously as prioress from 1973 until 1981 and as president of the Federation of St. Gertrude from 1990 to 1999. From 1986 to 1988 Sister Ruth was president of the American Benedictine Academy and serves on the editorial board of the American Benedictine Review. In 2003 Sr. Ruth published Wisdom Leadership: Reflections on the Ministry of Monastic Leaders, a book commissioned by the Federation of St. Gertrude. Sister Ruth succeeds Prioress Marie Hunkler OSB at Sacred Heart Monastery.

International Medieval Congress

The theme of "Youth and Age" will occupy participants at the International Medieval Congress, 11-14 July 2005, in Leeds, UK. The annual Congress is the largest medieval conference in Europe. Hosting over 1,300 medievalists from over 40 countries across the globe, it provides a unique forum for interdisciplinary discussion and the dissemination of new ideas concerning the Middle Ages. Many of the individual sessions are devoted to monastic topics.

February 2005

Anglican Abbot Re-elected

On Friday, 21 January 2005, the Anglican Benedictine monks of St. Gregory's Abbey, Three Rivers, Michigan, re-elected the Rt. Rev. Andrew Marr OSB to a third eight-year term. The abbey's episcopal visitor, the Rt. Rev. Arthur Williams, retired Bishop Suffragan of Ohio, conducted the visitation and presided at the abbatial election. Rt. Rev. Martin Lugo OSB, Abbot of Saint Gregory's Abbey, Shawnee, Oklahoma, assisted Bishop Williams at the visitation (Abbey Letter, 211, Easter 2005).

New Prioress Elected in Minnesota Photo

On Sunday, 27 February 2005, the Benedictine Sisters in St. Joseph, Minn., elected Sister Nancy Bauer OSB JCD as the new prioress of their monastic community. Sister Nancy is currently the vice chancellor for the Diocese of St. Cloud. Previously, she worked at the St. Cloud Visitor, the newspaper for the diocese, for two decades, first as a photographer and reporter, then as editor.

Sister Nancy succeeds Prioress Ephrem Hollermann OSB who has served two terms as prioress of Saint Benedict's Monastery since 1995. Sister Nancy will serve one six-year term as the 15th prioress of Saint Benedict's Monastery. The installation ceremony will take place in the monastery's Sacred Heart Chapel on Sunday, 12 June 2005.

Religious Life

Two Benedictine women have made significant contributions to the latest issue of the National Catholic Reporter in a section on "Religious Life." S. Antonia Ryan OSB, Mount St. Scholastica Monastery, Atchison, KS, writes about her personal life journey and her participation last summer in the Sixth Triennial Meeting of the Conference on the History of Women Religious. In the same issue, S. Antonia, a regular contributor to the newspaper, also writes about "Mystics: Standing before the Light."

Another Benedictine, S. Judith Sutera OSB, Atchison, writes a detailed review of Convent Chronicles: Women Writing about Women and Reform in the Late Middle Ages, by Anne Winston-Allen, (Pennsylvania State University Press, 345 pages, $55). S. Judith edits Magistra, successor to Vox Benedictina, and the American Monastic Newsletter. Other articles on religious life in the 23 February 2005 issue of NCR might appeal to regular readers of "What's New." [The NCR articles are available only to subscribers.]

Queen of Peace Monastery

A new monastery is taking root in Naples, Florida, near the campus of Ave Maria University. Benedictine Sisters Gertrude Gillette OSB and Theresa Scheuren OSB came together in Florida in August 2003. The attractive website at <> provides information about the Sisters, their vision, vocations, plans for monastic buildings, issues of the newsletter, and an invitation to send prayer intentions.

Dom Bede Griffiths OSB (1906-1993)

Arthur Jones, editor-at-large for the National Catholic Reporter, reviews two new books about the English Benedictine monk who spent 38 years in India and championed mysticism as an essential element of Catholic belief and practice. Thomas Matus OSBCam writes an informed introduction to his selections for Bede Griffiths: Essential Writing (Orbis) and Beatrice Bruteau sketches a biography of Griffiths for her compilation of essays and stories inThe Other Half of My Soul: Bede Griffiths and the Hindu-Christian Dialogue (Quest).

Monastic Librarian Released by Spanish Police

Dom Juan Jose Agirre OSB, 75-year-old librarian at the Abbey of Saint Theresa Abbey in the town of Lazkao, in Spain's northern Basque region, denied any connection to ETA during questioning in the monastery by 10 to 15 policemen. He defended keeping copies of Zutabe, an ETA internal bulletin, saying "As an archivist I keep my doors open to all ... My mission is to gather material and I'm anxious to have it from all sides, all parties ... left and right, because this is history. If we don't keep it, tomorrow we will have nothing" (Reuters). The BBC reports that Dom Marcel Etchehandy OSB, 72, a monk of Belloc Monastery, Urt, France, was also detained for having links to the alleged Eta leader, Mikel Antza, who was arrested in France in October. Both the European Union and the United States list ETA as a terrorist organisation.

Benedictine Peace Statement 2005

In October 2002, the presidents of the federations of Benedictine women and the congregations of Benedictine men composed a statement of concern about the impending plans of the US administration to begin, at that time, a preemptive war against Iraq.

At their biannually joint meeting in October 2004, the elected men and women leaders of Benedictine consortia decided that another statement was needed in response to consequences of what has happened since the War on Iraq. Consequent to issue of the 2002 statement, thousands signed their support. The Benedictine leaders invited signatures to the final draft of the 2005 Benedictine Peace Statement as well.

The Benedictine Peace Statement 2005 was sent to President Bush and to Dr. Condoleezza Rice on 21 March 2005 with 2,357 signatures from Benedictine men and women and Oblates of Saint Benedict and others as an expression of Christian monastic concern about the US President's current foreign policy.

[St. Scholastica, vestment needlework]Saint Scholastica

On Thursday, 10 February, Benedictines honor Saint Scholastica of Nursia, religious founder. Pope St. Gregory the Great writes about the spiritual friendship between Saint Benedict and his twin sister in chapters 33 and 34 of the Second Book of Dialogues. The Monastic Liturgy Forum presents a new document in the "Scholastica Project." Offered for consideration and comment are provisional texts appropriate to Saint Scholastica.

Online Oblate Chapter

Sister Bonita Gracnik OSB <bgacnik @>, Yankton, South Dakota, has created a Benedictine Online Oblate Chapter for the monastery's Oblates who do not live nearby. She presents an opportunity to study Benedictine spirituality online for all: potential Oblates, professed Oblates and Oblates in formation at any monastery. Laity planning to affiliate with the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton already participate actively.

Lakota Benedictine Experience

The Rev. Martin Brokenleg, PhD, OblSB, will lead the Lakota Benedictine Experience, 12-17 June 2005, 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 common but differing perspectives on kinship and community, spiritual practices and reverence for the land.

January 2005

Veteran Tutzing Sister Dies in Korea

One of the last two German Benedictine Sisters who endured years in communist North Korean camps was buried on Wednesday, 26 January, after a service attended by deaf-mute people she helped during more than six decades on the peninsula. Sister Caritas Hopfenzitz OSB worked notably in Wonsan on the east coast, from the mid-1930s until the North Koreans imprisoned the Sisters before the 1950-53 Korean War. Subsequently they were sent to desolate labor camps that cost the lives of many of their compatriots. Sister Gertrude Park OSB, the head of Taegu Priory, told Reuters, "Sister Caritas died unexpectedly but peacefully on Monday whispering 'Guardian angel, guardian angel.'" Sister Caritas was 91.

Heloise and Abelard

Sister Antonia Fraser OSB reviews Heloise & Abelard: a new biography by James Burge (Harper, $24.95) for the National Catholic Reporter (28 January 2005). The ill-fated lovers both ended their days in Benedictine monasteries. "What makes Heloise & Abelard 'new' is that it references 113 short letters that many now think were written back and forth between the couple during the course of their liaison."

History of Holy Angels

Sister Henrietta Hockle OSB has written a history of the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters at Holy Angels Convent where Sister Henrietta formerly served as Prioress. On High Ground is fascinating reading. Sister Henrietta draws from historical sources, journals, corporate records and eyewitness accounts. Numerous previously unpublished photographs bring the Jonesboro, Arkansas, Benedictines of old to life.

Oklahoma Centennial

In 2005 the Church in Oklahoma is celebrating its centennial. On 17 August 1905 Pope St. Pius X raised the present-day state of Oklahoma (Oklahoma and Indian Territories) from the rank of vicarate apostolic to that of diocese. The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has designated places as pilgrimage centers during the celebration. St. Gregory's Abbey and Sacred Heart Mission/Abbey ruins are two of these sites. A person can gain an indulgence by visiting these and other sites.

While the Church in Oklahoma is celebrating its centennial the Benedictine community of St. Gregory's Abbey will be celebrating its 130th anniversary. On 17 August 2005 the clergy and religious of Oklahoma will gather at St. Gregory's Abbey and University to celebrate the centennial with prayer and a special meal.

Ad multos annos!

Fr. Theodore Heck OSB, monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, celebrated his 104th birthday on Sunday, 16 January. He is the oldest Benedictine monk in the world, and the oldest Swiss-American monk by profession and ordination. Fr. Theodore was born in 1901, in Chairton, IA. He professed vows as a Benedictine on 8 September 1923, and was ordained to the priesthood on 21 May 1929. He was the first Saint Meinrad monk to earn an academic doctorate degree, receiving a PhD in education from The Catholic University of America in 1933. In 1935, he published a study on seminary curriculum that prompted a change in the curriculum of major seminaries throughout the United States. Fr. Theodore was president of the American Benedictine Academy from its inception in 1947 through 1957.

New Year's Honours

The North American Academy of Liturgy presented the 2005 Berakah Award to Father R. Kevin Seasoltz OSB JCD, a monk of Saint John's Abbey, on Friday, January 7. Father Kevin is the editor of Worship magazine. The award's citation, read by Gordon Lathrop, lauds Father Kevin as "intrepid editor, wide-ranging teacher, wise administrator, faithful pastor and Benedictine Anglophile." Professor Father Kevin, teaches canon law and liturgy at Saint John's University School of Theology.

On Friday, 14 January, the Apostleship of the Sea USA awarded posthumously the Star of the Sea Award to Brother Marinus Panet LaRue OSB (1914-2001). Born in the port city of Philadelphia, Captain Leonard P. LaRue, serving as skipper in 1950 of the gallant ship SS. Meredith Victory, rescued 14,000 refugees from Hungnam, Korea. Captain LaRue and his crew thereby affected the greatest maritime rescue in history. In 1954 the Captain became an Ottilian Benedictine as a brother at St. Paul's Abbey, Newton, NJ.

Oblate Pilgrimage 2005

The Rev. Douglas and Norvene Vest, noted authors and retreat leaders, and Fr. Francis Benedict OSB, Abbot of St. Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, CA, are leading a two-week pilgrimage in Italy following the Oblate World Congress in Rome and emphasizing Benedictine and Franciscan sites, from Friday, 30 September, through Saturday, 15 October 2005.

As usual with the Vest pilgrimages, days "out" alternate with days "in" when participants have time for personal reflection, group lectio, lecture/discussions, and walks. The first three days in Rome (near the Coliseum) emphasize the pilgrimage basilicas; seven days at a private Villa on Lake Albano offer opportunity to visit Subiaco, Monte Cassino and Ostia Antica; and five days in Assisi to focus on St. Francis. Cost (per person, double occupancy, without airfare) is $2300. For more information, contact the Vests at 626-794-9960 or <vest @>. See the Vests' website at <>.

Christian Unity Week, 18-25 January 2005

from The Icon Book by Boojamra, Essey, McLuckie, and MatusiakThe annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins on Tuesday, 18 January. As always in Rome, it culminates in the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Paul's Abbey on 25 January, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Solemn Vespers will be celebrated at 17.30 by the Benedictine monks of St. Paul's, assisted by monks of the primatial abbey of Sant'Anselmo on the Aventine as well as by the choir attached to the office of the papal master of ceremonies. The theme of Church Unity Week 2005 is "Christ, the one Foundation of the Church" (1 Cor 3:1-23).

In recent decades, the Holy Father established the tradition of presiding personally at the evening celebration, thereby underlining the importance of Christian unity in the life of the Church. Unfortunately, poor health prevents the Bishop of Rome from doing so this year. He will be represented by Walter Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.

In the patriarchal basilica the week will be marked by a series of evening celebrations, all but the last at 17.00:

Tuesday, 18 January:
Vespers and Mass with the participation of priests and religious of the Madonna del Divino Amore;
Wednesday, 19 January:
Vespers assisted by the Anglican parish of All Saint's, Rome;
Thursday, 20 January:
Vespers and Mass, assisted by the Combonian Missionaries;
Friday, 21 January:
Vespers and Mass, assisted by the Pontificio Collegio Beda (the English College);
Saturday, 22 January:
Vespers and Mass, assisted by the Famiglia Paolina;
Sunday, 23 January:
Vespers, assisted by members of the Orthodox churches;
Monday, 24 January:
Solemn First Vespers of the Conversion of St. Paul, celebrated by P. Paolo Lunardon OSB, Abbot Ordinary of San Paolo fuori le Mura;
Tuesday, 25 January:
Pontifical Mass at 10.30, celebrated by P. Notker Wolf OSB, Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation.
Solemn Vespers at 17.30, assisted by the papal choir. Walter Cardinal Kasper presides.

Benedictine monks have served the patriarchal basilica for more than 1,300 years. In recent months the local community at St. Paul's has been supplemented by new members. They are presently building up their spiritual and pastoral presence in the basilica, as well as preparing for the ecumenical task entrusted to them by the Holy Father. As the traditional custodians of the shrine of St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, they seek to live by his example: in Christ and with a constant care for the needs of all the churches.

850 Jahre

On Thursday, 13 January, an ecumenical service at 10 a.m. began the yearlong celebration of the founding of Schotten Abbey, Vienna, in 1155. Celtic monks were summoned from Regensburg by Duke Henry Jasomirgott to establish a center for prayer and culture. A fire and two earthquakes leveled the Romanesque church built by the Celts. By 1420, the Celtic monks had been replaced by Benedictines of the Melk Reform, but they linger in the name, "Schotten." The new church erected mid-15th c. was completely renovated by 1648, and the rest of the monastery was also transformed in the Baroque style seen today.

Today the 24 monks of Schottenstift offer hospitality; staff 11 parishes; manage acres of fruit trees, forests, and related industries; conduct a Gymnasium; and rent inner-city properties. Abbot Heinrich Ferenczy OSB paints a bright picture of Schottenstift's present and foreseeable future. In May the Stift Museum will reopen with a special exhibition tied to the anniversary celebration.

Tools Matter

Sr. Mary Margaret Funk OSB with Sr. Sharon Richardt DC will conduct a workshop, "Tools Matter for Spiritual Direction," 16-21 January, at Benedict Inn, Beech Grove, Indiana. The week at the monastery will be an opportunity to "practice" guard of heart, manifestation of thoughts, Jesus Prayer, The Little Way, Colloquy, manual labor and the Emptiness Practice of the Cloud of Unknowing. Sr. Mary Margaret is the author of four books, Thoughts Matter, Tools Matter, Islam Is, and Humility Matters. Former prioress of her religious community, Sr. Mary Margaret is the former executive director of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue.

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 yearlong celebration of the sesquicentennial of the founding of Saint Meinrad Archabbey from Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland.


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