Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

May 2011

(1) Father Jeremy began his week as our Mass Hebdomadarian on this Second Sunday of Easter. By the sheer coincidence of scheduling, today is also Father Jeremy's feast day! 

+++  Father Donald celebrated his 94th birthday today. He sat at the abbot's table for the noonday meal, and we had colloquium in his honor. Happy Birthday, Father Donald, and ad multos annos!

(2) The monastery had a Chapter Meeting tonight after Vespers, in which we conducted some routine business for the monastery. 

+++  Father Jeremy continues what promises to be a busy week for him: this evening he began a retreat for 15 deacons and wives titled, "Diakonia/Service: The First Response to the Real Presence in the Eucharist."

(3) Today, on this feast of the Apostles Philip and James, we celebrate the feast day of Brother Philip. Brother Philip lives in Evansville and devotes his time to prayer and works of charity, for which we are most grateful. Happy Feast Day, Br. Philip!

(4) Our special dessert night was extra special this evening, as we honored our six Benedictine confreres from other monasteries who have been attending our seminary and living in our house this past year: Brothers Romain Botta (who was ordained to the diaconate April 30) and Philippe Tchalou (Monastery of the Incarnation, Togo, West Africa), Brothers Guerric Letter and Victor Schinstock (Conception Abbey, Missouri), Brother Anthony Baker (Assumption Abbey, North Dakota), and Brother Mauritius Honegger (Einsiedeln Abbey, Switzerland). Brother Mauritius will be returning to Einsiedeln soon; we're expecting his confrere, Brother Thomas, to move into his cell this August. The other five "visiting" Benedictines will be returning to their monasteries for the summer months; we look forward to their rejoining us for prayer, study and work at summer's end.

(5) Father Donald, who celebrated his 94th birthday the first of the month, was taken to the hospital in Jasper this morning. He was experiencing some discomfort in his chest, and so we took him over in a "non-emergency ambulance" as a precaution.

(6) Seventy-plus lay degree students have started to arrive for their weekend courses. Fathers Brendan and Tom Richstatter, and Drs. Ryan LaMothe and Clayton Jefford are the professors this time around.

(7) About 28 monks enjoyed the third and final "UnStable Lunch" of the semester. Father Prior Kurt and three seminarians prepared 11 large pizzas to perfection. 

+++  We'll be celebrating the golden and silver anniversaries of priestly ordination of four of our confreres at the end of the month, but today is the actual 50th anniversary day for Fathers Timothy and Meinrad. Father Timothy is out in the parish, but Father Meinrad is home and so sat at the abbot's table for our noonday meal. As is our custom, we enjoyed colloquium in his honor. Ad multos annos, Fathers Timothy and Meinrad!

+++  Father Donald returned from the hospital this afternoon. He seems in relatively good health-and joyful spirits that he's home again. 

+++  Greg and Mary Karn of Antioch, TN, were invested as oblates in the Archabbey Church shortly after Vespers. May God bless all our oblates and sustain them in their efforts to grow in holiness!

(8) Father Brendan is our Mass Heb for this Third Week of Easter.

+++  Our Archabbey Church was rather full this morning, as many of our weekend students joined our regular guests for the Eucharist. 

+++  Father Columba was the homilist at this afternoon's Marian procession and rosary at Monte Cassino. He spoke on "Mary, the Greatest Human Success."

(9) Father Abbot Justin gave a conference to the monastic community after Compline this evening. The topic was "The Discipline of Easter." 

+++  Father Gregory is into his fourth day at St. Mary's Hospital, Evansville, with a case of facial cellulitis. "A major annoyance," he says, "but not fatal." We pray for his rapid recovery.

(10) We invested Jeremy LaMastus of Evansville as an oblate in the Archabbey Church after Noonday Prayer.

(11) Today is the patronal feast day of Brother Hugh, as well as the actual 50th anniversary of Brother Dominic's profession of vows. As is our custom, Brother Dominic joined the abbot's table for supper, and we had colloquium in his honor.

(12) Final exams for the semester take place in our seminary today and tomorrow, with graduation following on Saturday the 14th. As is often the case, it's difficult to tell who is looking forward to Sunday more-students, or faculty and staff!

(13) Father Noël concluded his week-long retreat, "Modeling Jesus: The Priest as Servant Leader," which he has been offering to nine priests at our Guest House and Retreat Center beginning this past Monday. 

+++  And as one retreat ended, another began. Over the weekend, Father Eugene is offering "Reflections on the Book of Signs in the Gospel of John" to about two dozen participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(14) A day of celebration on the hill, as our Seminary and School of Theology awarded 10 deacons a Master of Divinity degree, 10 seminarians a Master of Arts in Catholic Philosophical Studies, 7 students a Master of Arts in Catholic Thought and Life, and 12 students a Master of Theological Studies. Congratulations to all our graduates! 

+++  St. Bede Hall is under renovation, so the graduation ceremony was held in the Archabbey Church. We were honored to have Abbot Martin Werlen, OSB, the 58th abbot of Einsiedeln, our Mother Abbey in Switzerland, deliver the graduation address to our students and their guests and our faculty and staff. Having him with us offered a unique reminder that graduations are a time both to honor our traditions and look toward the future!

(15) Father Sean began his tenure as our Mass Heb on this Fourth Sunday of Easter-"Good Shepherd" Sunday, as it is often called.

+++  Having given the graduation address yesterday, Abbot Martin of Einsiedeln is not through working for us! He presided at one of the Masses at the "downtown" St. Meinrad Parish, to the delight of the parishioners.

+++  Brother Zachary offered the reflection, "The Heart of Mary," at the Monte Cassino pilgrimage and rosary this afternoon.

(16) This evening following Compline, the monastic community enjoyed a social in honor of Father Abbot Martin. It has been a delight to have hosted Father Abbot Martin and Brother Alexander, his confrere from Einsiedeln, these past few days. Abbot Martin and Brother Alexander will be returning to Einsiedeln tomorrow. 

+++  Earlier this morning, Father Prior Bernard, of the Monastery of the Incarnation, Togo, West Africa, began his long return home. Father Prior Bernard joined us late last month for the ordination of the diaconate of one of his monks, Brother Romain Botta (April 30).

(17) On this last full day for Abbot Martin and Brother Alexander of Einsiedeln, they've been touring some local areas.

(18) Abbot Martin and Brother Alexander of Einsiedeln began their journey back to Switzerland this morning. We enjoyed having them here. 

+++  After Noonday Prayer, we received the oblation of Edward Penton of Otawa, Ontario, and Deacon Walton Jones and Mrs. Elizabeth Jones of Louisville.

(19) Beginning today and continuing on through Sunday the 22nd, your chronicler is relying upon notes made by Father Archabbot Bonaventure. 

+++  Work continues, on schedule, with the new generator that is being installed alongside our power plant.

  +++  Brother John concluded the midweek retreat, "Spiritual Heroes: Finding God's Word Alive in Our Neighbors," to about a dozen participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(20) Father John Buckel, an alumnus and priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, died today. Many of our alumni will know him as an extremely popular and effective teacher of New Testament, and the author of several outline-type books on the Scriptures that were carried by The Scholar Shop. John was ordained in 1980. After earning his doctoral degree in Scripture, he taught at Saint Meinrad from the late 1980s until 2002, when he left the priesthood. John continued with this decision for several years, but a few years ago he resumed his ministry as a priest in good standing. As many of my readers know, John had been battling Parkinson's Disease for well over a decade. May his soul, and those of all the faithful departed, know God's mercy and peace! 

+++  Brother Mauritius left today to begin his journey back to Einsiedeln. We certainly enjoyed having another monk from our mother abbey pray and work alongside us this past year. We look forward to welcoming Brother Thomas from Einsiedeln in a few months' time. He, too, will be taking a year of pastoral studies in our seminary.

(21) Father Adrian is halfway through his weekend retreat, "Practical Christianity," that he is offering to 16 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center. 

+++  The first two of our Seminary Class of 2011 were ordained to the priesthood today in their home dioceses: Father Jeffrey Estacio (Lexington) and Father Ryan Harpole (Owensboro). Congratulations, and may God bless their prayer and work as priests!

(22) Father Vincent is our Mass Heb on this Fifth Sunday of Easter, but his opportunities to preside at our Eucharist will be limited. The monastic community begins its retreat tomorrow, and so from Tuesday through Friday we will have different monks presiding and preaching at our Conventual Mass. 

+++  Brother Elijah, one of our junior monks, preached at the Monte Cassino rosary and procession this afternoon. Brother's topic was "Mary, Mother of Mercy."

(23) Our retreat began with a nine o'clock conference in the Chapter Room by Father Patrick Caveglia, OSB, of Conception Abbey, Missouri. Father will be speaking on a variety of monastic themes and concepts: individual growth and communal responsibility, conversation and conversion, prayer and work.

(24) As mentioned, we have various monks "hebdoming" at our Eucharist this week. This morning, Father Edward, home from his parish in Chicago, presided and preached at our 7:30 Conventual Mass.

(25) Father Patrick presided and preached at our Mass this morning. Halfway through our retreat, we enjoyed a "cookout/eat-in," featuring steak and trimmings, for our evening meal.

(26) Father Mark, home for our retreat from his neighboring parish of St. Mary's in Huntingburg, had to do some "extra projecting" in his presiding and preaching at our Eucharist this morning, as we were without power-that, having been disrupted around 10 o'clock last night in the midst of a severe thunderstorm. Our power company reports that about 26,000 of its customers are without power and, while they are tending to lines and generators as quickly as they can, we can expect to be without electricity for at least a few more hours. It is an inconvenience, of course, but it does serve to remind us in a very small way of the horrors the weather has inflicted upon our Midwest neighbors, most recently those of Joplin, Missouri. We prayed Vigils and Lauds this morning with the aid of pocket flashlights, and (on the part of some) keen memories, and our praying-as-usual-but-in-an-unusual-way gently reminded us of those who need our prayers. The power returned just before one o'clock this afternoon, and so we move back into the routine, trying-at least for a while longer this time-not to take everything for granted.

(27) Our retreat concluded this morning, with a morning conference followed by our Eucharist, at which our retreat director, Father  Patrick Caveglia, OSB, of Conception Abbey, Missouri, presided and preached. As is our custom, we renewed our vows after the gospel and homily. 

+++  Father Benedict went to the Jasper hospital early this morning for scheduled surgery: the amputation of his remaining leg. He came through the surgery fine and, after a few days in the hospital, should be returning to his room in our infirmary. Those who know Father know he has a ferocious and humorous spirit, and both are already in evidence as he begins his recovery from this major surgery. 

+++  Brother Luke, one of our junior monks, departed for our mother abbey in Switzerland this morning, via  Dulles International Airport, Toronto and, finally, Zurich. Besides being his first visit to Einsiedeln, this is also Brother Luke's first "long" flight and his first time in Europe. He'll be sharing in the prayer and work of Einsiedeln until early August. We wish him a splendid summer of many good and blessed "firsts."

(28) Many monks, alumni and Saint Meinrad seminarians found themselves at the same place, but some 200+ miles north of Saint Meinrad this morning. Fathers Prior Kurt, Godfrey and Denis were among a holy hill contingent witnessing the final oaths of two of our Glenmary seminarians: Crispine Adagio and Aaron Wessman. The ceremony, in the context of the Eucharist, took place at Sacred Heart Church, not far from Glenmary's headquarters in Fairfield, Ohio. An additional nine classmates and alumni traveled the distance to celebrate with Crispine and Aaron. May God bless them, and all who seek their vocation through the religious life!

(29) A fine day of celebration at Saint Meinrad today, as our monastic community and many of our friends celebrated the priesthood ordination anniversaries for four of our confreres. Fathers Timothy Sweeney and Meinrad Brune celebrated 50 years of ordination, and Fathers Subprior Guerric and Harry celebrated 25. Congratulations, jubilarians, and ad multos annos

+++  Father Denis gave this May's homily at the final rosary and procession at Monte Cassino: "Mary, Queen of Peace."

(30) Father Abbot Justin presided and preached at our jubilee celebration yesterday, and so Father Bede began his week's work as our Heb this morning. 

+++  On this Memorial Day, we remember in prayer and with gratitude those men and women who have served, and who serve now, in our country's armed forces. For those on active duty, we pray for their safety and for the peace of their family and friends. We remember also those priests and religious who have served or do serve as chaplains in our military. Our monastic community has a history of allowing a number of our priests through the years to serve our soldiers, sailors and airmen. God's blessings on them all, as we continue to pray for peace. 

+++  Father Benedict returned home to his infirmary cell this afternoon, minus a "few pounds of flesh" as he would say, but still full of enthusiasm and good spirits. We pray for a speedy recovery.

(31) Father Bede, our Mass Heb, presided and preached this morning on this memorial of the Visitation of Mary. 

+++  Anushka Fonseka, our newest candidate, has arrived and is in the process of getting some "introductory details" worked out: moving into his cell, getting measured for a monastic habit and the like. Anushka is from Sri Lanka, has been in contact with us for some time, has lived with us for short periods several times, and has been delayed in beginning actual residence with us due to passport and visa difficulties. Those have been resolved, and so we now welcome him into a formal period of candidacy lasting two months, with the hope that he will enter novitiate on August 5.

Quote of the Month

We ask God's blessings on our readers, and pray for a safe, peaceful and blessed summer for all of us! We conclude our monthly report with a quote from the Rule of St. Benedict:

"A wise old monk should be stationed at the gate of the monastery. He should know how to listen to people and also how to speak to them; his age should prevent him from wandering about…. Filled with the gentleness of the fear of God, he must quickly respond in the warmth of charity."

Chapter 66, "The Porters of the Monastery"
Translation by Fr. Terence Kardong, OSB, monk of Assumption Abbey

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.