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The Order of Saint Benedict

What Was New

April, May, and June 2009


June 2009


Federation of Saint Scholastica

Seventy-five Benedictine women representing 21 North American monasteries began meeting 19 June 2009 at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois. As elected delegates they will participate in four days of sessions preparing  for the General Chapter of the Federation of St. Scholastica to be held June 2010 in Atchison, Kansas. These sessions, along with next year's General Chapter, are aimed at providing resource materials and supportive guidelines to assist approximately 900 sisters in their ongoing efforts to deepen their commitment to the Benedictine way of life. Sacred Heart Monastery in Lisle and St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago will host the delegates. The Federation of St. Scholastica is one of the four largest federations of Benedictine women in the United States.

Richardton Re-Elects

The Benedictine Sisters of Richardton, North Dakota, have unanimously chosen Sister Ruth Fox OSB as their prioress administrator for the next two years. Sr. Ruth's term as prioress was to end June 2009, but the community asked her to delay her retirement because of the extensive renovation project recently undertaken at the monastery.  Sr. Joella Kidwell OSB, President of the Federation of St. Gertrude, blessed the inauguration of Prioress Ruth's short term on 3 June. Sr. Ruth has appointed Sr. Jill West OSB as sub-prioress to replace Sr. Kathleen Kuntz OSB, who served for the past four years.

Congress of Juniors

From 13 to 20 July 2009, the Congress of Juniors 2009 will be held at Sant'Anselmo. The congress is open to all monks of the Benedictine Confederation who are not in solemn vows. Like its predecessors, the Congress gives participants the opportunity to visit the places of origin of Benedictine monasticism and to reflect on the shared patrimony which unites us beyond our differences.

New Prioress for St. Paul Monastery

On Sunday, 14 June, the Benedictine women of St. Paul Monastery, Minnesota, will install Sister Lucia Schwickerath OSB as prioress. Until her election, Prioress Lucia served as director of development.

Green Benedictines

Holy Wisdom Monastery, Middleton, Wisconsin, is being constructed as an experiment in eco-friendly architecture. In fact, the goal of the Benedictine women is to create the greenest building in America. "There are solar tubes that bring in natural light; every window is custom-tinted, for ample sunlight and minimal reflection; the building will primarily be heated and cooled using geothermal energy; and solar panels on the rooftop will help generate 15 percent of the building's electrical needs" (WISCTV).

May 2009

Novena for Peace

The Peace and Justice committee of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie is sponsoring a nine week novena for peace that began Pentecost Sunday. The novena follows a simple format that is posted each week on the Sisters' blog.

US Ambassador to the Vatican Comes from Benedictine Schools

Benedictines are excited by the good news that Miguel Diaz PhD, professor of theology at the Benedictine School of Theology, and the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in Minnesota, has been nominated by President Barack Obama on 26 May 2009, to become the United States Ambassador to the Holy See. Dr. Diaz's appointment still awaits U.S. Senate confirmation. "Professor Miguel Diaz is a skilled Trinitarian theologian who is passionate both as a teacher and a scholar," said Rt. Rev. John Klassen OSB, Abbot of Saint John's Abbey and Chancellor of Saint John's University. "He is a strong proponent of the necessity of the Church to become deeply and broadly multi-cultural, to recognize and appreciate the role that culture plays in a living faith. Born in Havana, Cuba, he is a leading Hispanic theologian in United States."

The Holy Father Returns to Monte Cassino

On Sunday, 24 May 2009, in the course of a pastoral visit to Cassino, Italy, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Vespers of the Ascension with the monks of Monte Cassino Abbey where Saint Benedict died and was buried. In his address at the end of the service, the Holy Father spoke eloquently about his heavenly namesake, the men and women who follow his Rule, and the monasteries that "have become, over the centuries, centers of fervent dialogue, encounter, and beneficial union of diverse peoples, unified by the evangelical culture of peace" (Zenit).

Fr. Robert Koopmann OSB Named 12th President at Collegeville

On 18 May 2009, the Board of Regents of Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota, nominated Father Robert Koopmann OSB to become the 12th president of the university. Abbot John Klassen OSB appointed him president to take office 1 July 2009. "Fr. Bob is a quiet, humble and effective leader," said Interim President Dan Whalen. "He has a knack of getting difficult things done without drawing attention to himself. He is a true Benedictine."

Monastic Institute 2009

The theme of the 24th annual Monastic Institute, June 28 - July 2, 2009, is "Household Economics: Simplicity and Sustainability in Community." Online registration is possible or one can download a PDF brochure. Five or more registrations mailed together reduce the cost to $185/person. Contact: Bernadette Dunn <bdunn @>, Saint John's School of Theology· Seminary, Collegeville, Minnesota.

Abbot Cletus Re-elected

On Friday, May 15, the monks of St. Bernard Abbey, Cullman, Alabama, re-elected Abbot Cletus Meagher OSB, 64. Continuing as ninth abbot, he will serve a term of ten years. Abbot President Timothy Kelly OSB presided at the American-Cassinese election.

Election at Steinerkirchen

The Benedictine Sisters of Steinerkirchen, the primary house of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Congregation, elected a new prioress and council on 13 May 2009 during the tenth ordinary general chapter. On 11 July, Feast of Saint Benedict, Sr. Dr. Hanna Jurman OSB will succeed Sr. Gisela Radinger OSB for a term of six years. Since 1 September 2003, Sr. Hanna has served as chancellor of the Diocese of Linz, Austria, and as editor of the diocesan newspaper.

Evangelicals Blog about Monasticism

Chris Armstrong, preparing for the mid-May mega-conference of medieval studies this week in Kalamazoo, Michigan, writes "The Monks Did It" (6 May 2009) for the Christian History Blog, sponsored by Christianity Today. He has been following the development of the New Monasticism, a new communal lifestyle being forged in urban "abandoned places of empire," lived out in solidarity with the poor. He admits that reading Tolkein is another influence affecting his fascination with medieval monasticism. He identifies nine facets of medieval faith and life that can be helpful for evangelical Christians today.

Elesha Coffman also wrote an insightful entry about "Monks Making Money" (22 April 2009). "Contemplation and commerce" she notes, "have existed side-by-side since the beginnings of monasticism." Monastery Greetings is a popular and long established website that features exclusively products that have been created by monastic and other religious communities.

Elections in Austria and Bavaria

On Monday, 27 April, the monks of Admont Abbey re-elected Abbot Bruno Hubl OSB. His resignation had been announced on 23 March 2009 and became effective three days before his re-election.

On Sunday, 3 May, the monks of St. Stephan Abbey, Augsburg, Germany, elected P. Theodor Hausmann OSB as tenth abbot. For three years Abbot Theodor had been serving as Prior Administrator.

April 2009

Pope Benedict XVI Honors Saint Anselm

The Holy Father has written a letter to the Abbot Primate, the members of the Pontifical Athenæum of Saint Anselm, and the Benedictine Confederation in honor of the 900th anniversary of the death of Saint Anselm, born 1033 in Aosta, Italy. The letter was read at the opening of a symposium on the work of Saint Anselm of Canterbury on the solemnity of the saint, 21 April.

"Recalling with a devoted heart the figure of this saint," wrote the Pope, "we wish to exalt and illustrate the treasure of his wisdom so that the people of our time, especially Europeans, may draw close to him and receive his sound and abundant doctrine."

World's Oldest Benedictine Monk Dies at Saint Meinrad Archabbey

Fr. Theodore Heck OSB, the world's oldest Benedictine monk, died on Wednesday, 29 April 2009, at the age of 108. A monk and priest of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, St. Meinrad, Indiana, Fr. Theodore was a jubilarian in profession and priesthood, the senior member of the Swiss-American Congregation in profession, priesthood and age, and the senior in age of the entire Benedictine Confederation of monastic congregations throughout the world (News release).

The monks will pray the Office of the Dead on Friday, 1 May, 7 p.m., in the archabbey church followed by visitation until 9 p.m. On Saturday, the funeral Mass at 10 a.m. follows visitation. Burial will be in the archabbey's cemetery.

Bl. Bernard Tolomei Canonized

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI canonized Saint Bernard Tolomei on April 26, 2009, in St. Peter's Square. Saint Bernard is the founder of the monastic Congregation of St. Mary of Monte Oliveto. Houses of both men or women belong to the Olivetan Benedictine Congregation, united to the Benedictine Confederation in 1960. St. Bernard's feast day will be celebrated on 19 August.

+Father Stanley L. Jaki OSB

Oblate Paul Zalonski reports in his blog, Communio, about the death in Madrid on 7 April 2009 of Father Stanley Jaki OSB. Dom Stanley, 84, professed first vows as a monk of Pannonhalma Archabbey, Hungary, in 1941. He immigrated to the United States and became a distinguished professor of the history and philosophy of science and theology at Seton Hall University, New Jersey. "He was the last surviving co-founder, with six other Hungarian priests, of the Woodside Priory, Portola Valley, California. He served there as bookkeeper from 1957 to 1960. He later left the jurisdiction of that priory when it merged with another in Manchester, New Hampshire, but remained a Benedictine under direct supervision of the archabbot of Pannonhalma" (Seton Hall). May he rest in peace.

New Prior for Sant'Anselmo

Abbot Primate Dr. Notker Wolf OSB has named Father Elias R. Lorenzo OSB JCL to succeed Father Michael Naughton OSB as prior and superior of the monastic community at the Abbey of Saint Anselm in Rome. He will assume office in September 2009. As a monk of Saint Mary's Abbey, Morristown, New Jersey, Father Elias has served as the vocation director, liturgy director, and church rector. He also served as prior of the monastery for seven years. For the past two years, Father Elias has worked as canonical counsel for Praesidium, Inc., gaining a national reputation as a leader in child protection and prevention of abuse cases. As a founding member of the International Commission on Benedictine Education (ICBE), Father Elias will continue his leadership role in the organization.

Earthquakes in Italy

The 6.3 earthquake that occurred in Italy at 3:32 a.m. local time on 6 April 2009 has been followed by aftershocks and subsequent earthquakes measuring from 4.3 to 4.9. The Holy Father has expressed his concern for those affected, and Benedictines worldwide join him in prayer for those who have died, are recovering, have suffered the loss of loved ones, or have become homeless.

Abbot Donato Ogliari OSB of the Abbey of Madonna della Scala, Noci, Italy, sent the following report early Tuesday morning, 7 April, on the Celestine Benedictine nuns of L'Aquila, the medieval city near the epicenter of the major earthquake:

The Benedictine nuns of L'Aquila are fine, just tired and a bit shocked after spending a night in the vegetable garden and the following one under a tent. This morning our Father Michele, together with the Prioress of Castellana Grotte (a Benedictine community of "Celestines" near Noci) have left with a minibus for L'Aquila to fetch seven nuns and bring them to Castellana Grotte. The Abbess of L'Aquila and another nun will remain "in loco" to look after the monastery (damaged but not collapsed) and see how things are going to work out. Please, pray for all the people who have been striken by the earthquake and have lost their dear ones, besides the rest.

Abt Johnannes Jung OSB

Changes in Austria

On Friday, 3 April 2009, the 19 monks of Schotten Abbey elected Father Johannes Jung OSB, 56, to become the 72nd abbot of the monastery founded 1155 in the center of Vienna with Celtic monks. Native Benedictines inhabited the abbey in 1418. Father Johannes professed first vows 15 September 1982 and was ordained a priest 3 June 1988. He has served as administrator of the abbey since 2006. Es lebe hoch!

Elsewhere in Austria, the long-serving Abbot of Admont, Dom Bruno Hubl OSB, retires 27 April 2009.

+ Dom Henry Alban Boultwood OSB

Rt. Rev. Dom Henry Alban Boultwod OSB, 97, first abbot of St. Anselm's Abbey, Washington, DC, died on 25 March 2009. Dom Henry professed as a monk of Fort Augustus Abbey, Scotland, 1929. The monks of St. Anselm's elected him abbot in 1961. In retirement (1975), he held the title of Titular Abbot of the Royal Abbey of Dunfermline, Scotland. He was widely recognized as "a charming man, friendly, warm, witty, and a gifted homilist." The monks of the abbey received his body on Friday, 3 April. They celebrated the Liturgy of Christian Burial on Saturday. Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine.

What's New (Aktuelles) in the Austrian Congregation. Aktuelle Meldungen (Erbe und Auftrag).
What Was New (1995-; archive)

January, February, and March 2009.

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