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The Order of Saint Benedict

What Was New

July, August and September 2005

Rev. 30 September 2005

September 2005

Hurricane Rita

Holy Cross Monastery is a diocesan Benedictine monastery in Beaumont, Texas, located directly in the path of the eye of Hurricane Rita that made landfall after midnight on Saturday, 24 September. By happenstance both monks were in Massachusetts at the time of the disaster. Beaumont and nearby Port Arthur experienced extensive flooding and wind damage.

World Congress of Oblates

On Monday, 19 September, the first World Congress of Oblates convened in Rome. Enthusiastically welcomed by Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB, the 300 delegates will be housed at the Salesianum hospitality center until Sunday. Father Luigi Bertocchi OSB, guest master of Collegio Sant'Anselmo, served as the local coordinator. The participants will make pilgrimage to Monte Cassino to pray at the tomb of Saint Benedict and to Castel Gandolfo to receive the Holy Father's blessing. The theme of the congress is  "Communion with God -- Communion with the World." According to the latest statistics, there are 24,229 oblates worldwide.

Election in Puerto Rico

The Benedictine Sisters of Humacao, Puerto Rico, announce the successful completion of the process of election of 16 and 17 September 2005. They chose Sister Angela Berríos OSB to be the next prioress. Present during the election was Sister Michaela Hedican OSB, president of the Federation of Saint Benedict. Sister Christine Vladimiroff OSB, prioress of Mount St. Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pennsylvania, facilitated the process of discernment.

Prioress Angela succeeds Sister Mary Ruth Santana OSB, who completed her term of service. The Sisters of Monasterio Santa Escolastica ask your prayers for the community and for the newly elected prioress. The ceremony of installation will be held on Saturday, November 19, 2005.

Benedict XVI Recommends Lectio Divina

In an address to a congress of Biblical scholars meeting in Rome to discuss "Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church," the Holy Father recommended the monastic practice of lectio divina, the prayerful, meditative reading of the Bible. "Assiduous reading of sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer makes that intimate dialogue possible in which, through reading, one hears God speaking, and through prayer, one responds with a confident opening of the heart," the Pope said (zenit.org). The scholars recalled the publication forty years ago of the Second Vatican Council's dogmatic constitution on divine Revelation, "Dei Verbum."

Ecumenical China Conference

Vatican Radio reports the opening in Rome on Saturday, 16 September, of a large ecumenical conference about China organized by the German Ecumenical China Committee. Former congresses had been held in England and Norway. The Christian churces in Europe want to expand contacts to brothers and sisters of the faith in China. Participants come from 16 European countries, from the People's Republic of China and from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao. The meetings are being held in the Benedictine Abbey of Saint'Anselmo on the Aventine. On Sunday, Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB and the Lutheran Bishop of Hamburg, Maria Jepsen, will lead an ecumenical service in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

Election in Belgium

On Wednesday, 7 September 2005, the monks of Saint Andrew Abbey, Zevenkerken, Brugge, elected Father René Fobe OSB. Abbot René, 65, had served as prior before the election. He made first vows on 27 September 1965 and was ordained a priest on 12 July 1969. "Danken we God, wijd en zijd!"

Monasteries in Louisiana

On Saturday, 3 September, ca. 4:30 p.m., electricity returned to Our Lady Queen Monastery in Tickfaw, LA. The two Benedictine Sisters evacuated to Baton Rouge returned on Sunday. The monastery, located about 25 miles WNW of Covington, suffered no damage. The website is down, and phone service was sporadic for several days. The monastery is a dependency of Saint Scholastica Priory, Petersham, MA.

Four days after the arrival of Hurricane Katrina on 29 August, Benedictines were without news of our brothers of Saint Joseph Abbey that is located near Covington about 65 km north of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. Phone service to Saint Benedict, Louisiana, was unavailable, and the monastery's website is not online. Let us remember in prayer all those so severely affected by the unprecedented natural disaster along the Gulf Coast. Message from Abbot Justin Brown OSB.

August 2005

Benedictine Hospital in Remote Northern Korea

On Sunday, 28 August, Bavarian television will document Abbot Primate Dr. Notker Wolf's visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Since 1994 the Missionary Benedictines of St. Ottilien, in concert with the Catholic Church in Korea, have negotiated the construction of the hospital located near the border with the Republic of China. Abbot Notker traveled to Korea in early August to open the 100-bed hospital in Rajin. His desire is that the hospital will be recognized as "a sign of hope for peace and cooperation" (Radio Vaticana).

Ferdinand Benedictines Dedicate Restored Church

The Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, Indiana, dedicated the newly restored Monastery Immaculate Conception Church on Sunday, 21 August. Archabbot Justin DuVall OSB of Saint Meinrad Archabbey presided at the liturgy. The dedication was the culmination of a $7 million restoration process that began nearly four years ago. The restoration was undertaken in two phases: restoring the church exterior, which took place from September 2001 to September 2002, and restoring the interior, that began March 2004. The sisters delayed interior restoration of the Romanesque church (erected 1915-16) for 18 months to raise sufficient funds to complete the work. The restoration was funded by contributions from more than 5,300 donors.

"The monastery church has been a great blessing not only for generations of sisters, but also for our families and friends, our guests, and this area of Southern Indiana," said Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau OSB, prioress. "Because of the generosity of our donors, this place of beauty and symbol of faith has been preserved for generations to come. This sacred treasure will continue to stand as a beacon of light and hope for all God's people."

New Abbot in Trier

On Tuesday, 23 August, the monks of St. Matthias Abbey, Trier, elected Father Ignatius Maaß OSB, 47, to an eight-year term as abbot. Abbot Ignatius had studied at Munich and Trier before his ordination in 1984 as a priest of the diocese of Trier. He professed monastic vows at St. Matthias Abbey on 1 December 1988. Former Abbot Ansgar Schmidt OSB now serves as President of the Congregation of the Annunciation.

Dutch Congregation Dissolved

The Dutch Congregation, erected in 1969 by Pope Paul VI, consisted of monasteries of the Solesmes Congregation in its Province of The Netherlands. The abbeys of Saint Paul, Oosterhout, and St. Willibrord, Doetinchem (Slangenburg), belong now to the Congregation of Subiaco. St. Adelbert Abbey, Egmond-Binnen, has been accepted into the Congregation of the Annunciation.

ABECCA Regional Meeting

From 15 to 20 July 2005, most of the Caribbean members of the Benedictine-Cistercian Association of the Caribbrean and the Andes (ABECCA) assembled in Santa Lucia to discuss the results of a questionnaire exploring the contributions and challenges to monastic life in the Caribbean. The final report and a chronicle of events written by Brother Antonio Hernández Gierbolini OSB and Sister Angela Berríos OSB have been translated from Spanish into English by Father Eric Buermann OSB.

Taizé Founder, Brother Roger, Slain

Roger Schutz at funeral for JPIIA Romanian woman, 36, attacked and killed Brother Roger Schutz, 90, the founder of the ecumenical Taizé Community in France during vespers on Tuesday, 16 August. About 2,500 international youths were present for the service at Taizé (Saône-et-Loire), near Cluny, in Burgundy.

"The Taizé movement started during World War II, when Swiss-born monk Roger Schutz, living in Taizé, provided a refuge for those fleeing the conflict, irrespective of their religion. Prior Roger, a Protestant with a degree in theology, devoted his life to the reconciliation between Christian denominations" (Zenit.org). Frère Aloïs, 51, a German Catholic, left World Youth Day in Cologne to assume the office of Prior according to the constitutions of the order. Prior Roger shortly after the attack from stab wounds to the neck and back. At midnight the young people returned to the church for a prayer service ( Spero News). The funeral of Brother Roger will take place at Taizé on Tuesday, 23 August, at 2 p.m.

Benedictines at 20th World Youth Day

photoThe excellent Romanesque church of Great Saint Martin, near the Rhine in Cologne will serve as the center of Benedictine participation in World Youth Day. Founded around 960, St. Martin was built for a Benedictine monastery on what was then an island in the Rhine. Until the 19th century its tower, along with that of the unfinished Cathedral (Dom), was a symbol of Cologne. Father Nicolaus Nonn OSB, monk of Königsmünster, is coordinating the Benedictine presence. "The large and quiet interior of the church", he says, "will be the place of our Divine Office, a crypt with walls from Roman times the place of adoration, and a tent and the beautiful atrium of the church will serve as places of encounter, dialogue and hospitality for those who will visit us." 112 Benedictine men and women have registered for the event. They will be living rough, some in sleeping bags at the church from 15 to 20 August. Fr. Nicolas warns the participants, "As our experiences with other projects and ecclesial events have shown us, it might also be important to be ready for improvisation and spontaneity. The simple living conditions will be a challenge in this respect, too." World Youth Day concludes with the Vigil and Final Mass with the Pope on Sunday, 21 August.

Tragic Accident

On Thursday afternoon, 11 August, Sister Marcia Bosch OSB, 82, and Sister Sheila Sweeney OSB, 77, died after a traffic accident near Mother of God Monastery, Watertown, South Dakota. Prioress Ramona Fallon OSB asks Benedictines to "please remember all of us at Mother of God Monastery, as we grieve the loss of our sisters." The driver of the other vehicle survived in shock and emotional distress.

International Benedictine Youth Congress

On Thursday, 11 August, the Third International Benedictine Youth Congress opened at Königsmünster Abbey in Meschede, Germany. Over 330 students and teachers from Benedictine and Cistercian schools are participants. The event will run until 15 August when many will proceed to Cologne to participate in the World Youth Day. Other monasteries engaged in the event that fosters tolerance and cultural awareness under the motto, "You'll never walk alone," are Marienstatt, Königsmünster, Münsterschwarzach und Waldsassen as well as the Benedictine Sisters' priory in Cologne. The event is sponsored by the International Commission for Benedictine Education (ICBE).

Mission Election

On Monday, 8 August 2005, the monks of Westminster Abbey, Mission, British Columbia, elected Fr. John Braganza OSB, 43, to become the monastery's third abbot. Until his election, Abbot John taught classes in French, Choral Music, Dogmatic Theology, and Elocution at the secondary and college levels. He served as a prefect in the high school seminary and tended the abbey's orchards.

Quiet Light: a CD by Benedictine Sisters

The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration include on a music CD both original melodies by two or their composers and a few new arrangements of familiar hymns. The harp music played by S. Theresa OSB was recorded in the chapel at Clyde, MO. The piano music played by S. Theresa and S. Ruth Elaine OSB was recorded at the Christian Church in Maitland, MO. The title track was composed and recorded by S. Theresa. She says, "It's that insight here or there that keeps you going, that quiet presence throughout your life. S. Ruth Elaine's favorite track is "There's a Place in My Heart." S. Ruth tells us, "It's in remembrance of all those people who touch our lives." Quiet Light is available online at the Sisters' recently renovated website: <www.benedictinesisters.com>.

Two elections of Prioresses in the Congregation this summer resulted in the return to office of S. Lupita Barjas OSB at Tucson, AZ, and the installation of S. Pat Nyquist OSB at Clyde, MO. Both will serve terms of four years.

Inside Tyburn Convent

Responding to the great interest in Benedictine life spawned by the BBC series, "The Monastery," BBC News offers a glimpse into a community of Benedictine nuns living enclosed in the heart of London. "Behind the locked doors of Tyburn" by Claire Heald includes a slideshow of interior spaces usually off limits to outsiders. "Tyburn sits at the top of Hyde Park, by Marble Arch, a public execution site from 1196 to 1783.... Frenchwoman Marie Adele Garnier founded the convent in 1901. Relics of bones and clothing from Tyburn's Catholic martyrs remain downstairs in the crypt.... It is steps away from the capital's busiest shopping strip, Oxford Street. Yet the 26 nuns do not set foot outside." The Congregation of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Montmartre supports 24 women in various stages of formation.

Dalai Lama Visits Einsiedeln

KIPA, the Catholic Press Agency, reports on the vist of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, to Einsiedeln Abbey, Switzerland, on 2 August 2005. The motto for the public meeting between His Holiness and Abbot Martin Werlen OSB in the Abbey Church was "The Search for the Fullness of Life." Kath.net provides a transcription of Abbot Martin's address.

Benedictines Train Chinese Formators

On Friday, 5 August, twenty-two rectors and spiritual directors of major seminaries in mainland China returned from Europe to their home country after a three-week course in spirituality and psychology. The program took place in St. Ottilien and Münsterschwarzach in Germany and Camaldoli, Italy. The participants also visited Fiecht, Cologne, Florence and Rome. Principal lecturers for the course were Father Joseph Wong OSB of Big Sur, CA; Father Gregory Collins OSB of Glenstal, Ireland; Sister Baulu Kaun OSB of Saint Benedict's Monastery, Minnesota; and Dr. Wunibald Müller of the Recollectio-Haus in Münsterschwarzach.

On Wednesday, 3 August, they attended Pope Benedict's general audience, presented a Bible in Chinese and were greeted by the Holy Father who spoke of his special affection for them. The priests also met Friedrich Cardinal Wetter, Archbishop of Munich and Friesing; the former Abbot Primate, Bishop Emeritus Victor Dammertz OSB; Fr. Sergianni of the Propaganda Fide and many others.

July 2005

Biography of Basil Cardinal Hume OSB OM (1923-1999)

Ned Temko writes for The Observer (24 July 2005) about Anthony Howard's recent biography, Basil Hume, the Monk Cardinal (Headline, £20). Howard follows Hume from boyhood in Newcastle to Ampleforth Abbey, to a final meeting with the Queen: "On returning to his hospital bed from Buckingham Palace, where the Queen had awarded him the Order of Merit, two weeks before his death, Archbishop Hume was asked what he and she had talked about, to which he replied: 'Oh, death, suffering, the after-life -- that sort of thing.'"

Archbishop Hume's final public statement was addressed to participants of the Jubilee 2000 gathering in London: "I am sorry I am unable to be with you, but I will be there in spirit. Taking decisive action to remove the burden of unpayable debt is a wonderful aim for the Millennium Jubilee which has inspired many of all faiths. I hope and pray that political leaders will act boldly and generously and seek to ensure that the benefits reach the poorest of the poor."

Benedictines Care for Trier's Oldest Christian Cemetery

Prof. Dr. Winfried Weber, diocesan archaelogist, revealed on 20 July that renovation of the space below the altar of Saint Matthias Abbey, Trier, revealed the oldest Christian cemetery north of the Alps, ca. 270. Bishop Cyril established a mausoleum around 450 to honor the first bishops of Trier, Eucharius and Valerius. In the tenth century, the mausoleum developed into a church with crypt that has also been examined. Since the bones of the Apostel Matthias were discovered in 1172, the Abbey Basilica has perennially attracted pilgrims. Abbot Ansgar Schmitt OSB hopes that by extending the crypt closer to its original limits, the early bishops will be drawn into the veneration by the faithful for the Apostle.

Circular Letter

Abbot Primate Dr. Notker Wolf OSB issued a second Circular Letter for 2005 on 1 July. In it he comments on the election of the Holy Father; reports on developments and changes at Sant'Anselmo and Saint Paul Outside the Walls; refers to planned and recent publications, including the long awaited Anthiphonale Monasticum (Solesmes, 608 p., ca. €35); and mentions some recent guests at the Collegio.

Saint Benedict, Patriarch and
Saint BenedictCo-Patron of Europe

Benedictines are delighted to celebrate the name's day of the Holy Father on 11 July. The feast honors Saint Benedict as Patriarch of Western Monasticism and as one of the Co-Patrons of Europe. Born in 480 A.D., his Rule for Monasteries brought order and creativity to a world of decadence and corruption. What we know of Saint Benedict comes from the Second Book of the Dialogues written by Pope St. Gregory the Great. The office hymn, Gemma caelestis, and the sequence, Laeta quies, poetically recall incidents of Benedict's life.

150 Years for Erie Benedictines

The Benedictine Sisters of Erie began a year-long jubilee celebration that marks 150 years of community, prayer and ministry in the Diocese of Erie. The celebration began at solemn vespers on Thursday, 23 June. Diocese of Erie Bishop Donald Trautman formally blessed an icon of S. Scholastica Burkhard OSB, first prioress of Mount Saint Benedict Monastery. Prioress Christine Vladimiroff OSB offered reflections on the meaning of the sesquicentennial. The jubilee year of celebration runs through 25 June 2006.

Vatican Confirms Election

Father Mark Sheridan OSB, a monk of St. Anselm's Abbey, Washington, DC, took office as rector of the Athenaeum of Sant'Anselmo, Rome, on 1 July. The faculty of the Athenaeum elected him on 5 March to succeed P. Albert Schmidt OSB who served two terms. The Congregation for Catholic Education confirmed the election in a letter dated 4 June. Father Mark earned a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University in 1960. He was ordained a priest in 1965 and earned advanced degrees in theology, Scripture, and Coptic language and literature.

He served as prior of the monastic community at Sant'Anselmo from 1983-1992. In 1990 he became professor of early monastic literature and coordinator of the Monastic Institute of the Faculty of Theology in the Athenaeum. In 1998 he was elected dean of the same faculty and in 1999 became full professor. Father Mark is a member of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches (Zenit.org).

 

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