Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

December 2011

(1) Today was Father Richard's feast day, and our prayer for him was that his patronal saint would intercede on his behalf, asking God to give him peace and consolation. Father celebrated his 89th birthday in July. He suffered a fall at the end of August, which eventually led to his complete loss of vision. Father is much less aware of what is going on around him and with himself now; he continues to receive the excellent care our infirmary staff provides.

(2) This evening Father Adrian began offering a weekend retreat, "Deliberate Christian Living," to 39 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(3) After our Midday Prayer, we invested Ann Tully of Indianapolis as an oblate novice. May God bless her in her prayer, work, and witness in and to the world! 

+++  Many guests on the hill this weekend. They include about 25 students from Greenville College, Greenville, Illinois, on retreat, and about 20 members of Young Adult Ministry from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

(4) On this Second Sunday of Advent, Father Vincent began his duties as our Mass Heb. 

+++  We invested Maria Russell of Louisville as an oblate novice, following our Conventual Eucharist this morning. Once again, we welcome a new oblate and ask God's blessings upon them! 

+++  The Tri-State Harp Ensemble presented a concert in our Archabbey Church this afternoon. It brightened up what was a dark, rainy day.

(5) Father Subprior Guerric presented an Advent Conference to the monastic community in the Chapter Room after Compline this evening.  

+++  We welcomed another large group to the hill yesterday: about 40 junior high boys from Bishop Chatard High School, Indianapolis, who concluded their retreat today.

(6) Students, faculty, and administrators are especially busy this week, of course: last class meetings of the semester, papers due, exams to give, take, and grade. . . 

(7) This evening we celebrated I Vespers of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, with Father Archabbot Justin presiding.

(8) We followed our Sunday schedule this Thursday, as we celebrated the Immaculate Conception. Father Archabbot presided at the Conventual Mass, Father Vincent preached, and Deacon Brother Romain, our visiting confrere from Togo, sang the gospel. 

+++  Father Prior Kurt left shortly after Mass to begin a week's worth of vacation prior to the great feasts just around the corner. Father Archabbot Bonaventure will be taking notes for this Chronicle in his absence.

(9) More than a hundred men and women are making the Oblate Advent Retreat, "Living under a Rule and an Abbot," presented by Archabbot Justin.

(10) An exhibit of Christmas crèches from around the world is on display in the library. The display features crèches from the monastery collection, as well as from the Catherine A. Smith Nativity Collection, donated to our School of Theology in 2002 in memory of Charles Patrick Smith. 

+++  After noonday prayer, Teresa Stricklen was invested as an oblate novice. We also received the final oblations of Helen Burris, Shirley Casebolt, Lee Cooper, Sally Gravatte, Timothy Mattingly, Racine O'Connell, Catherine Russell and Kelly Sollinger. And we celebrated the 25th anniversary of oblate Margit Sanders, and the 50th of oblate Ted Waflart. Congratulations-and our continued prayers for all our oblates!

(11) Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday. Father Eugene is our Mass Heb.

(12) Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Fr. Eugene preached. 

+++  This past Saturday evening, St. Mary's Parish in Huntingburg hosted a special Mass in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe; Evansville Bishop Charles Thompson presided, and Fathers Archabbot Bonaventure and Noël, and St. Mary's pastor, Father Mark, concelebrated. The homily was delivered by Father Noël. 

+++  Brother Martin presented the second Advent Conference for the monastic community this evening in the Chapter Room.

(13) Brother Terence has left to be with his family, who are keeping watch over their 87-year-old sister who is dying.

(14) We received word that the Most Rev. Thomas C. Kelly, Archbishop Emeritus of Louisville, died in his sleep during the night. Archbishop Thomas, a great friend of Saint Meinrad, was 80 years old.

(15) Madeline, Brother Terence's sister, died. We offer our prayers for her, and for all the faithful departed. May the Prince of Peace, whose birthday we prepare to celebrate, grant her and all those who have gone before us eternal rest.

(16) The mother of Ann Rohleder, our Director of Health Services, died quite unexpectedly today. Margaret was only 73 years old and had just returned from a trip with her family to Virginia, which included some volunteer work laying wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. May she rest in peace, and may those who mourn know the support and friendship of many.

(17) Father Prior Kurt returned from his vacation this evening, and so the keeping of the Chronicle reverts to him!

(18) Father Brendan is our Mass Heb for this Fourth Sunday (and week) of Advent. 

+++  Father Eugene concluded offering a weekend retreat, "Reflections on the Infancy Narrative of St. Matthew's Gospel," to 21 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(19) Father Sean presided and preached at our Advent Penance Service in the Archabbey Church this evening. He and Fathers Sebastian, Vincent, Meinrad, and Joseph served as confessors for the community.

(20) Several confreres, including Archbishop Daniel, attended the funeral of Archbishop Kelly in Louisville this afternoon. 

+++  We enjoyed our annual Christmas Tree-Trimming Party in the calefactory after Compline this evening. Organized by our junior monks, novice and candidate, various versions of eggnog and other assorted Christmas treats sustained those straining to string lights and hang ornaments.

(21) During our praying of Vespers this evening, we also celebrated the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. As Father Archabbot is on the road today, Father Prior Kurt presided and preached in his stead. Six monks were anointed in the church during Vespers; after Vespers Father Prior went to our infirmary wing to anoint nine confreres waiting for him there. 

+++  While "on the road," Father Archabbot was also very involved in ministry to the sick: in his travels, he spent time visiting Father Boniface and Father Matthias, presently in hospitals in Indianapolis.

(22) It has been announced that John Wilson will retire on July 1 as the general manager of Abbey Press, a position he has held since 2009. Mr. Wilson began his work for Saint Meinrad in 1978 as assistant treasurer of the Archabbey. He served as treasurer and business manager from 1989 until 2010, when he was named Abbey Press general manager. Mr. Greg Tate, who joined Abbey Press in 1992 and, since 2003, has been the Director of Marketing Services, will assume the responsibilities of general manager on July 1. We thank Mr. Wilson and Mr. Tate-and all our co-workers-for their fine and faithful service to Saint Meinrad Archabbey!

(23) A very quiet day. A persistent drizzle is keeping most people inside, encouraging the final arrangements and preparations for Christmas.

(24) The celebration of Christmas officially began with I Vespers at five o'clock. After supper, we prayed Vigils at seven, then spent a few hours relaxing or quietly recreating until our "Midnight Mass" at 10 o'clock, at which Father Archabbot Justin presided and preached. Eggnogs and cookies were waiting for us in the refectory after the liturgy.

(25) Christmas Day brings our latest rising of the year! Breakfast at seven, Lauds at eight, and the Christmas Mass "in die" (in the day) at 9:30. Father Archabbot Justin presided and preached. 

+++  After Midday Prayer many monks enjoyed one of the very few "cocktail half-hours" we have during the year, before enjoying a fine Christmas dinner prepared by our kitchen.

(26) The feast of St. Stephen, first martyr of our Church, and the feast of our confrere Father Stephen, who serves as pastor of St. Augusta Parish in Lake Village, Indiana. Father plans to arrive here tomorrow to spend a few days with us. 

+++  This is an OP-ranked feast, and so Father Prior Kurt presided and preached. 

+++  Christmas cookies, cakes and candies continue to appear on the tables in our refectory: a 24/7 (but not 365) opportunity.

(27) Feast of St. John the Evangelist, and the feast day of our Brother John, who is with us during these days, taking a break from his studies at Fordham University. 

+++  This day is ranked as an OS-Order of the Subprior (one of only two of those rankings)-but as Father Subprior Guerric is away, Father Prior Kurt presided at the Conventual Eucharist and Father Tobias preached. 

+++  We welcome six young men who begin a several-day "Monastic Observance" with us. They'll get an inside look at our prayer and work this week, as they have the opportunity to join us in the house for meals, work and recreation.

(28) The feast of the Holy Innocents. The house and the hill continue to be quiet. Some of our co-workers are back in their offices and at their jobs; others are enjoying a longer break.

(29) Father Timothy left last week for Blue Cloud Abbey, Marvin, South Dakota, where he will be spending the next six months participating in community discussions about their life and work. Blue Cloud was founded by Saint Meinrad in 1950, erected as a priory in 1952 and raised to an abbey in 1954.

(30) Father Tobias, our Mass Heb, presided and preached on this Feast of the Holy Family. 

+++  Our six "monastic observers" were touring some of the surrounding neighborhood this morning, including the chapel at Monte Cassino and Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand. 

+++  Father Ephrem arrived from Rome this afternoon to spend some time with us. Father resides at Sant' Anselmo in Rome, the International Benedictine Residence/University, where he teaches and serves as the president of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute.

(31) Today, the seventh anniversary of the election of Father Archabbot Justin. No celebrations-we reserve those for the anniversary of blessing (January 21), although we did suspend our customary table reading at our evening meal and, instead, listened to some fine sounds composed by J. S. Bach and performed by The Hilliard Ensemble. And, as has been his custom, Archabbot Justin did offer the community a conference in the Chapter Room after Compline. Undoubtedly, a few monks did stay up to welcome in the new year but, for the most part, the hill was dark and quiet well before midnight!

New Year Blessings

We end this year with gratitude and with confident hope. We are grateful for the many blessings the Lord has shown us. And we confidently pray that He will continue to guide, inspire and bring to completion all that we have begun through our prayer and work. And may God bless the readers of this Chronicle. May you know God's peace and strength throughout the new year. May the Lord cause the light of His face to shine on you and give you peace!

Each day the monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey write another page in the long history of Benedictine monks throughout the world. Here Father Prior Kurt reports on some of last month's events at Saint Meinrad.