Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

March 2012

(1) This first day of the new month was a rather calm one-both weather- and event-wise. We're hoping it has set a good tone!

(2) Today is the actual 25th anniversary of the episcopal ordination of Archbishop Daniel. Several of the archbishop's brother bishops helped him celebrate. Bishop Charles Thompson of Evansville presided at a Mass in our Infirmary Chapel, at which Archbishop Daniel concelebrated, along with Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle and Bishops Timothy Doherty (Lafayette-in-Indiana), Paul Etienne (Cheyenne), and Bishops Emeriti William Higi of Lafayette-in-Indiana and Gerald Gettelfinger of Evansville. The bishops joined us in choir dress for Vespers, and Archbishop Sartain offered a special homily. After prayers, the archbishop and his brother bishops and a number of his family adjourned to the President's Dining Room in our seminary for a special supper. We welcome the archbishop's friends and family, and we congratulate Archbishop Daniel on his faithful service to our Church!

(3) After Midday Prayer we invested Jim Calabro of Kokomo, Indiana, as an oblate novice. God's blessings on all our oblates!

(4) Father Julian presided and preached at our Conventual Mass this morning, although Father Jeremy is assigned for the rest of the week. Due to retreats and groups, we had an especially large crowd join us for the Eucharist. +++ Father Harry concluded his weekend retreat, "Praying the Psalms," which he offered to 29 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center. ++ A Jesuit novice from Louisiana, making his "novitiate pilgrimage," joined us for Mass and the noonday meal. He's on his way to Creighton University, Omaha, and then on to Dallas. We wish him safe travels!

(5) Abbot Justin returned from Indianapolis today, where he was attending a meeting of the Indiana Bishops and Religious Superiors. +++ Father Denis gave the second of our Lenten Conferences in the Chapter Room after Compline this evening.

(6) The seminarian community began one of their bi-annual Formation Days this evening; the topic is on the establishing and maintaining of professional boundaries.

(7) Mass Heb Father Jeremy preached at the 7:30 a.m. Conventual Mass this morning. +++ This was a "classic March day," with the temperature reaching 60 degrees and a breezy 20- to 25-mile per hour wind.

(8) We've received word from Einsiedeln Abbey that, almost eight weeks after his accident, Abbot Martin has returned to the abbey. Brother Thomas, a monk from Einsiedeln who is spending the year with us, reports that "after an exhausting time filled with therapies, the plan is for him to have some quiet rest and take his time to come back, step by step, to the daily life." We continue our prayers for a full recovery for Abbot Martin!

(9) It's a "long weekend" in the seminary, and so faculty and students alike have a bit of extra time on their hands-to relax, recover, catch up or get ahead! +++ Nine priests, approaching the first anniversary of their ordination (five of whom are alumni), concluded their week-long "Settling into Priesthood" retreat today, sponsored by our Institute for Priests and Presbyterates. We pray they return to their parishes with grace and enthusiasm renewed!

(10) Lots of cell-cleaning going on in the house this Saturday morning: Father Abbot began a "Lenten inspection" of each monk's room this past week, and those visits will continue throughout the coming week. It's a chance for each monk to take a look around and see what he doesn't need or what someone else might be able to use more, and offers always the embarrassing reminder of how easy it is to accumulate "stuff" over a year's time.

(11) Father Jeremy presided and preached at our Eucharist on this Third Sunday of Lent. Father Julian will assume the Mass Heb duties tomorrow.

(12) Father Brendan gave the third of our Lenten Conferences in the Chapter Room after Compline this evening.

(13) Archbishop Daniel is back in his infirmary cell. Around noon yesterday he fell, and because he hit his head and had some bleeding, he was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Jasper. He had five staples put into his scalp to suture the wound, and is now under the excellent care given by our nurses.

(14) Father Vincent is halfway through offering the midweek retreat, "To Jerusalem and Beyond," to 20 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center. +++ Father Cyprian and Brother Benjamin drove to Indianapolis to visit Father Boniface, who has been moved back to the rehab center from an Indianapolis hospital. There's no significant change in Father's condition, but the care he needs is better provided at the center.

(15) It's the Ides of March, but all seems safe and secure on the hill!

(16) This evening Brother Adam began offering his weekend retreat, "Searching for What's Missing," to 25 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(17) A busy weekend on the hill. Among the groups visiting: 13 individuals from Our Lady of Grace, Noblesville, Indiana, on a RCIA retreat; 49 guests from the New Hope Academy Youth Retreat, Franklin, Tennessee; and 18 youngsters from St. John Catholic Church, Loogootee, Indiana, preparing for their Confirmation. +++ St. Patrick's Day, and so we wish Father Patrick-and all who claim a part of the green-God's blessings! +++ Our visiting Benedictines spent a good part of the day in Evansville-an outing, which no doubt allowed a pleasant change of place, scenery and activity. +++ After Midday Prayer in the Archabbey Church, we received the oblation of Eric and Diane Batsie of Deland, Illinois. God's blessings on all our oblates!

(18) Fourth Sunday of Lent-or, as it is officially called, Laetare Sunday. Father Vincent presided and preached at our 9:30 a.m. Conventual Mass. +++ This evening the St. Mark's Formation House of our seminary joined us for Vespers, and then supper in our refectory. Father Julian is the dean of the house, and seminarian Dexter Noblefranca, a deacon studying for the Diocese of Memphis, is prefect. +++ We offer feast day greetings to Father Christian, who is at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., pursuing graduate studies. Fr. Christian is one of five our monks currently off on "educational assignment."

(19) We celebrate this Solemnity of St. Joseph as an O.P. (Officium Prioris), but follow our weekday schedule. Father Prior Kurt presided at our 7:30 a.m. Eucharist, and Deacon Brother Romain Botta, a monk from Togo, Africa, preached. +++ We ordinarily abstain from wine at our main meals during Lent, except on Sundays, but on this feast we enjoyed the fruit of the grapes along with our food. +++ Father Prior Kurt gave the fourth and last of our Lenten Conferences in the Chapter Room after Compline this evening.

(20) Father Timothy returned from his assignment at Blue Cloud Abbey, South Dakota, to begin offering the oblate retreat this evening. About 70 of our oblates are participating in "Come Away by Yourselves to a Deserted Place and Rest Awhile: Mark 6:31."

(21) On this Solemnity of the Passing of our monastic father, St. Benedict, we followed our Sunday schedule: Vigils and Lauds at 7 a.m., and the Conventual Mass at 9:30. Archabbot Justin presided and Deacon Brother Guerric Letter of Conception Abbey who, as is Brother Romain (who preached on St. Joseph's Day), finishing his last year of seminary studies with us, preached. (Our third visiting deacon and monk, Brother Anthony Baker of Assumption Abbey, North Dakota, will offer the homily this coming Monday, the transferred feast of the Annunciation.) +++ The monastic community enjoyed a social after Midday Prayer and then settled down to a fine meal. +++ After Vespers this evening, we joined many of our oblates for a supper buffet in the Newman Dining Room.

(22) Saving a bit of past, but unique, news for a "slow news day": this past weekend saw the razing of the Esser and Ritter Houses-two stand-alone, six or so room houses about 150 yards southwest of the Guest House and Retreat Center. The Esser House was "deconstructed" first, to allow some "working space" for the Ritter House to be set afire and used for practice by our volunteer fire department. We'll soon begin construction of a "House of Reflection" on that site-a facility designed and designated especially for the families of monks who come for a several-day visit, and also for monks who may wish to use it for a day of recollection or even some of their vacation time.

(23) This evening Father Godfrey begins offering a weekend retreat to 30 members of the St. Bartholomew's Parish (Columbus, Indiana) Woman's Group at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(24) We received word that our Father Boniface Hardin, OSB, died in the rehab center in Indianapolis late this morning. Regular readers of "About the House" may recall that Father suffered a stroke this past August, and has been in and out of hospital and rehab since then. Father Boniface spent most of his monastic life with and at the Martin Center, which he founded in 1969, and Martin University, of which he was co-founder in 1977. Because of his long-standing work and relationships with the Indianapolis community, some services and memorials will be held there before we receive his body for burial at Saint Meinrad later in the week.

(25) Father Meinrad is our Heb on this Fifth Sunday of Lent. +++ It's a busy week for many of our students. About 70 lay degree students are here for weekend courses taught by Fr. Tom Richstatter, OFM ("Sacraments of Initiation"), Sisters Maria Tasto, OSB, and Kathy Huber, OSB, from Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand ("A Transformed Life"), and Dr. Alexander Hwang ("Medieval Church History").

(26) Monday, and we celebrate the (transferred from yesterday) Solemnity of the Annunciation. An O.P.-ranked feast, Father Prior Kurt presided and Deacon Brother Anthony Baker, from Assumption Abbey, South Dakota, who is concluding his seminary studies with us this spring, preached.

(27) Arrangements are being completed for the memorial services, funeral Mass and burial of Father Boniface. Tomorrow at Martin University in Indianapolis there will be an all-day viewing, concluding with a Community Prayer Service in the evening. On Thursday the 29th, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese Christopher Coyne will preside at a funeral liturgy at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, after which Father's body will be brought to Saint Meinrad.

(28) About 36 students from Trinity High School, Whitesville, Kentucky, arrived; they're making a short retreat and will conclude tomorrow.

(29) We received the body of Father Boniface at our entry way at seven o'clock this evening and, after a brief ceremony of blessing and prayer, took him in procession into the Archabbey Church. Father Prior presided at the Office of the Dead; Father Cyprian, a long-time friend and co-worker of Father Boniface, and Father Vincent, Father Boniface's profession classmate (1954), served as assistants. Father Abbot Justin offered the remembrance.

(30) Father Abbot Justin presided at the 10 o'clock funeral Mass for Father Boniface; Father Cyprian delivered the homily. Burial followed in the Archabbey Cemetery. Father Boniface was 78 years old, in the 57th year of his monastic profession, and the 52nd of his priesthood. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace!

(31) We have two retreat groups with us on the hill this weekend, both of which began their programs yesterday and will conclude tomorrow. Eleven participants from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis Youth Ministry Certificate Program are here, and 19 guests are taking part in Brother Maurus' weekend retreat, "St. Benedict's Way."

 We end March's entries with a quote from the Rule of St. Benedict:

As often as important questions have to be dealt with in the monastery, the abbot should convene the whole community and himself tell them what is involved.… The brothers, however, should offer their advice with all deference and humility, and not presume to assert their views in a bold manner.

Chapter 3, "On Calling the Brothers for Counsel"

Translation by Fr. Terence Kardong, OSB, a 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.