Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

August 2012

(1) We start this month of August with notes taken by Abbot Bonaventure, filling in for our usual chronicler who is on the road. More about that later.  +++  Our two candidates, Bradley Jensen and Matthew Sprauer, began their retreat for entrance into the novitiate this afternoon. Brother Francis is directing them.  +++  Today was the actual 60th anniversary of profession for Fathers Sebastian, Aelred, and Aurelius, and the actual 65th anniversary of profession for Father Gavin. Following our custom, they joined the Abbot’s Table for the evening meal, and we had colloquium in their honor. Congratulations, confreres, and ad multos annos!

(2) This afternoon Novice Anushka began his retreat for his first profession of vows, which he will make this coming Monday, the sixth, the feast of the Transfiguration.

(3) Father Abbot Justin is en route to Blue Could Abbey, South Dakota, for their official closing. Their last public liturgy will be celebrated tomorrow.

(4) Father Prior Kurt is at Saint Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison, Kansas, representing Saint Meinrad at the solemn vows of their Brother Simon Baker. This past year Brother Simon completed his first year of seminary studies at Saint Meinrad; he will be returning to the hill in a few weeks for his second year of theology. Congratulations and God’s blessings, Brother Simon!

(5) On this Eighteenth Sunday (and week) in Ordinary Time, Father Sean is our Mass Heb.  +++  Father Prior Kurt returned from Kansas to stand in for Abbot Justin and preside over the clothing ceremony of our two new novices, Bradley and Matthew. Congratulations to these two young men (both in their late 20s). After Compline we enjoyed a modest reception in the Alumni Commons for them and their guests.  +++  Father Abbot is en route to the hill, returning from Blue Cloud Abbey.

(6) On this feast of the Transfiguration, Abbot Justin presided at Second Vespers, during which Novice Anushka Fonseka made his temporary profession of vows (three years), taking the name Brother Peduru. In Sinhala, the first language of Brother’s native Sri Lanka, “Peduru” is “Peter.” He will celebrate his feast day on June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Congratulations, Brother Peduru!

(7) We welcome 60 guests from Grand Rapids, Michigan, here on the hill for a youth retreat.

(8) During Vespers this evening, Archabbot Justin bestowed the special blessing on Father Godfrey, who this Friday assumes his new responsibilities as pastor of St. Mary Parish, Huntingburg. May God guide Father Godfrey in his new work for the community and the Church.  +++  Father Mark O’Keefe, who has been pastor of St. Mary’s the past four years (and president-rector of our Seminary the 13 years prior to that) will be returning to the monastery, and continuing his teaching and spiritual direction in our Seminary and School of Theology. 

(9) We have 11 Dominicans with us for the next few days, making their annual retreat. They are joining us in choir for Vespers.  +++  We also have a large group—52 guests—from the Archdiocese of Louisville, taking part in a Multicultural Ministry Youth Retreat through the weekend.

(10) This evening Father Bede began offering a weekend retreat, “Benedictine Approaches to Hope and Love,” to 17 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.  +++  Also on the hill are 14 retreatants from St. Patrick Catholic Church in Louisville.

(11) Eighteen candidates for the permanent diaconate from the dioceses of Belleville, Illinois, and Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, are concluding their Homiletics Formation Week today, and will be returning to their home dioceses. Our seminary’s professor of homiletics, Dr. Rick Stern, and Fr. David Scotchie, an alumnus of our School of Theology (1993) and priest of the Diocese of Orlando, were their instructors for the week.

(12) Father Colman is our Mass Heb on this 19th Sunday and Week in Ordinary Time.

(13) Father Jeremy is offering a midweek retreat to a dozen couples at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(14) Eleven permanent deacon candidates from the Diocese of Wilmington are halfway through their “Homiletics Week” here on the hill. Alumnus Fr. Jeff Nicolas (College 1988, Theology 1993) is their instructor.

(15) Father Archabbot Justin presided at the Conventual Eucharist on this Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Father Colman preached. Special non-liturgical features of our celebration included a later rising (Vigils & Lauds at 7:15 a.m.) and colloquium at our main meal.  +++  Former Abbot Lambert Reilly returned from his most recent stay at Carmel Des Plaines (outside Chicago), to again take up residence in the monastery. He will continue his retreat and mission work.

(16) This afternoon we welcomed the first of the monks from Blue Cloud Abbey, who are in the process of formally transitioning to us. Abbot Alan Berndt is the second abbot in Blue Cloud’s history, having served from 1970 to 1986. He is 92 years old and neither looks nor acts like he’s over 70. He is joining us for prayers, meals and recreations, and is busy exploring his new home.  +++  There are 96 participants here on the hill today, part of the San Damiano Scholars Program from Marian University in Indianapolis. 

(17) Late yesterday evening, two European Benedictines arrived to begin their special year of studies with us. We welcome Br. Matthias Balz, a monk of Münsterschwarzach Abbey in Germany, and Br. Philipp Steiner, a monk from our mother Abbey of Einsiedeln, Switzerland. Brothers Matthias and Philipp continue a tradition that is almost 40 years old now: a monk from a European monastery enrolling in our seminary for a year of special studies. They’ll live with us and follow our monastic observance these next nine months, while they learn some pastoral skills and rapidly improve their already-very-fine English. We welcome them to our country and our house!

(18) Father Eugene is halfway through offering his retreat, “Letter of James,” to 25 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.  +++  Father Gregory was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital, Evansville, with jaundice. He has received a stent to drain off the bile and the jaundice is lessening. The results of a biopsy have indicated the probability that a relatively small tumor on his pancreas is malignant. Tests and treatment continue.

(19) Father Joseph is our Mass Heb on this Twentieth Sunday (and week) in Ordinary Time.  +++  And today we celebrated the feast day of Father Subprior Guerric. He “exercised his feast-day option” by leading us at Vigils & Lauds; we continued the celebration by having colloquium in his honor at our midday meal. Today was actually the second celebration for him. This past Friday evening, the juniors and novices hosted a party for him at the Placidium, a small sandstone “fraternity house” kind of structure, used by our junior monks for recreation, meetings and shared lectio sessions. Our two European monks had arrived the night before, as had Abbot Alan, and so it was a good opportunity for our three newcomers to enjoy some special hospitality and learn a few more names.

(20) We had a community meeting in the Chapter Room after Compline this evening, with our discussion focusing on the report compiled in preparation for the upcoming visitation of our monastery in October. (Every four years, three monks from other monasteries spend a few days with us, interviewing every member of the community as regards our strengths, weaknesses, challenges, etc.). Our report this evening, prepared through meetings and in-house interviews over the past five months, dealt with six areas of our common life: the officials of the monastery, monastic relationships, work and apostolates, care of the sick, vocations/formation, and liturgy/spirituality.

(21) Brothers Philipp and Matthias, our two visiting Benedictines from Europe, have a bit of time on their hands before school starts (six days to go!). Today Brother John took them on a tour of New Harmony, the site of a communal experiment in the mid-19th century, about a 90-minute drive from the abbey.

(22) Brother Maurus, our director of retreats, is himself giving a midweek retreat at our Guest House and Retreat Center. His topic is, “Pray Your Way to Happiness.”

(23) Father Prior Cassian arrived mid-afternoon, to spend a few days with us before returning to Italy. Prior Cassian, a monk of Saint Meinrad who professed his vows in 1980, is the founder (and prior) of Monastero di San Benedetto in Norcia, Italy. He also teaches at the Collegio di  Sant’ Anselmo, the international Benedictine university in Rome. We welcome him back. His last visit was about 18 months ago, so there are quite a few new “walls and spaces” in our buildings for him to inspect.  +++  Our new seminarians arrived today. In addition to unpacking and starting to get settled, they enjoyed a reception in the Alumni Commons after Compline. A number of monks took the opportunity to introduce themselves and welcome them to the hill.

(24) On this feast of St. Bartholomew, Father Joseph presided and preached.  +++  Today was the first full day of orientation for our new seminarians. Once again, we’re blessed with full enrollment—and then some.

(25) This weekend Brother Luke is presenting the retreat “Tools for Good Works” to eight participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center. The title is taken from the fourth chapter of St. Benedict’s Rule for monks.  +++  Thirty-one guests are on the hill from Nativity Catholic Church in Evansville, making a parish retreat.

(26) Father Harry, Mass Heb, presided and preached at the Conventual Mass on this Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time. Our new seminarians have settled in, our veteran seminarians have returned and the classrooms are being unlocked. The first day of classes for the new academic year is tomorrow, and all seems to be in order.

(27) Father Abbot Justin gave a conference to the monastic community this evening in the Chapter Room after Compline. He chose as his reading the 34th chapter of St. Benedict’s Rule, “The Distribution of Goods According to Need.”

(28) Father Harry, our Mass Heb, preached at the Conventual Mass this morning on this memorial of St. Augustine. Father used his experience on the Archabbey Church Renovation Committee 15 years ago to comment on the panel of St. Ambrose baptizing St. Augustine, one of nine panels designed and produced by Nick Ring, son of Gil Ring, a well-known philosophy professor in our seminary.

(29) Father Gregory remains in St. Mary’s Hospital in Evansville. Unfortunately, the tumor on his pancreas has been confirmed as cancerous. He hopes to return to his parish, St. Benedict’s in Evansville (the cathedral), very soon. The parishioners have remodeled a downstairs room for his use as a bedroom. He is not certain at this point when his course of chemotherapy will begin. We ask you to join your prayers to ours and his.

(30) Fr. Harry preached at our Conventual Mass this morning.  +++  Father Gregory took a bit of a bad turn this afternoon, as his temperature spiked at 102. He has been transferred to ICU. The hospital tells us this is “a concern, not an emergency.”

(31) Father Gregory is doing better, and expects to be returned to his regular room at St. Mary’s Hospital this afternoon.  +++  Today we welcomed Mr. Matt Eckert to Saint Meinrad Archabbey, who assumes the responsibilities of our treasurer and business manager. Matt has been general manager of Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari in our neighboring Santa Claus, Indiana, since August 2007. Before that, he served as the company’s controller for seven years. Matt was also a senior auditor for Arthur Anderson LLP of Indianapolis. We welcome Matt to his new job on the hill!  +++  At exactly three o’clock this afternoon, we here in Southern Indiana got our first taste of the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac. It poured cats and dogs, as the cliché goes—for about 15 minutes. Shortly thereafter, the sun continued to do what the sun does, and all became bone and whisker-dry rather quickly. The weather people tell us we’ll be rain on-and-off throughout the coming week.

As we conclude this month’s report, we again congratulate our two new novices, Bradley and Matthew, and our newly professed Brother Peduru! May God continue to guide and bless their discernment.

And now, from St. Benedict’s Rule...

"So the one who needs less should thank God and not be sad. And whoever needs more should be humble about his weaknesses and not gloat over the mercy shown him."

Chapter 34, “Whether All Should Receive Necessities in Equal Measure”
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.