Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

May 2012

(1) Today we celebrated the patronal feast day of Fr. Jeremy. +++ In recent days, two guests have joined us for brief stays in the monastery-Br. Paul Richards, OSB, from St. John's Abbey in Minnesota, and Passionist artist Br. Michael Moran, CP, from West Hartford, Connecticut. +++ This past Sunday, Br. Maurus headed out from Saint Meinrad with a large contingent for a Benedictine pilgrimage to the Canadian Rockies. Fr. Sean, as chaplain, and Br. Dominic are accompanying him and the pilgrims on the trip, which will include rail travel and a tour of Westminster Abbey near Vancouver, British Columbia. +++ Meanwhile, tomorrow, Fr. Prior Kurt departs for some well-deserved vacation time. May God bless all travelers, near and far-after all, we are all pilgrims on this earth.

(2) Monks from other monasteries who stay with us while pursuing studies in the Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology contribute a great deal to our common prayer, work and community life in the monastery. As is our custom each year, we honored our visiting confreres in a special way this evening with colloquium (talking) during our main meal in the refectory, followed by special desserts and cordials in the monastery calefactory. This year, we tip our hoods-so to speak-to Brothers Romain (Monastere de l'Incarnation, Togo), Anthony (Assumption Abbey), Guerric (Conception Abbey), Victor (Conception Abbey), Macario (Conception Abbey), Thomas (Abtei Maria Einsiedeln, Switzerland), Philippe (Monastere de l'Incarnation, Togo), and Simon (St. Benedict's Abbey). Having completed their studies here, the first three, as well as Brother Thomas, are returning permanently to their communities after the school year. +++ Arriving today to begin his candidacy with us is Brad Jensen, who hails from the great state of Iowa. May God guide his discernment of the monastic way of life in the way of peace.

(3) Fr. Gavin, our "resident playwright," celebrated the 60th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood today. During the evening meal, he sat at the abbot's table and we had colloquium in his honor. Ad multos annos, Fr. Gavin! +++ Today was also the patronal feast day of our Br. Philip.

(4) This evening at the Placidium, the juniors, novice and candidate hosted a feast day party (held over from April 25) for Br. John Mark, who is the socius and assistant novice/junior master.

(5) Arriving today to begin his candidacy with us in the monastery is Matthew Sprauer, who hails from the great state of Ohio. May God guide his discernment of the monastic way of life in the way of peace. Please continue to pray for vocations to Saint Meinrad Archabbey, and for those who are discerning our monastic way of life here. We now have two candidates, one novice and three junior monks in temporary profession.

(6) The Fifth Sunday of Easter and Fr. Subprior Guerric, our Mass Heb, presided and preached at the 9:30 Conventual Mass. +++ The month of May's opening pilgrimage today at the Monte Cassino Shrine had a distinct Swiss flavor. Einsielden's Br. Thomas spoke on the topic: "Einsiedeln: Life at a Marian Shrine." Pilgrimages to the shrine one mile east of the Archabbey are held each Sunday afternoon in May and again in October.

(7) The last week of classes for the spring semester in the Seminary and School of Theology got under way today, with students and faculty (including a number of monks as students, teachers or administrators) busy with year-end projects, exam preparations, and making plans for graduation and beyond. Final exams will be administered later in the week. May God bless and guide all current and former students, teachers, and administrators in their work and studies.

(8) Candidates Bradley and Matthew are gradually becoming acquainted with life on the Hill. This afternoon, they were given a tour of Abbey Press by Br. Silas, the managing editor of the Publications Division. +++ Two monastic guests are joining us for brief stays in the monastery over the next few days: Br. John Patrick Arnett, OSB, of Assumption Abbey, who arrived today, and Fr. Volker Futter, OSB, of Christ the King Priory in Schuyler, Nebraska, who arrives in another couple days. Each is a guest of Br. Anthony and Br. Romain, respectively, for this weekend's graduation festivities.

(9) While birthdays in the monastery typically come and go without any official celebration (unlike patronal feast days recalling monks' profession dates), all that changes when a monk reaches his 90th birthday. Thereafter, each monk 90 or over gets some special recognition each year. Today, Fr. Simeon joined that elite group, and in keeping with our custom, he was seated at the abbot's table for the evening meal, where we honored him with colloquium, cake, a round of applause and our fondest wishes. Congratulations and ad multos annos, Fr. Simeon! +++ After Midday Prayer, Mainerd Sorensen of Cincinnati was invested as an oblate novice in the Archabbey Church. We ask God's blessings on all our oblates!

(10) After Midday Prayer, John Manzo of New Albany, Indiana, was invested as an oblate novice in the Archabbey Church. +++ This morning, the Nashville Children's 2011-2012 Touring Choir stopped in St. Meinrad on their way to Chicago and presented a 40-minute program in the Archabbey Church. The choir is part of Belmont Academy, a pre-college music program located at Belmont University in Nashville.

(11) Graduation weekend kicked off with a dinner, Mass and commencement ceremony this evening for all the seminarians receiving degrees. The Mass and commencement were held in the Archabbey Church, with Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne, bishop of Cheyenne, as the principal celebrant and commencement speaker. Another Mass, commencement, and luncheon will be held tomorrow for the lay degree students. Commencement exercises were split up this year because of the ongoing construction at St. Bede Hall and the limited space for graduates and guests in the Archabbey Church. At the seminary commencement, 36 degrees were conferred. Monks receiving degrees included Br. Philippe Tchalou (Monastere de l'Incarnation, Togo), Master of Arts in Philosophical Studies; Br. Anthony Baker (Assumption Abbey), Master of Divinity; Br. Romain Botta (Monastere de l'Incarnation, Togo), Master of Divinity; and Br. Guerric Letter (Conception Abbey), Master of Divinity. Congratulations to all the graduates! +++ Today we celebrated the patronal feast day of Br. Hugh.

(12) Thirty-seven degrees - either Master of Arts in Theology or Master of Theological studies - were conferred during the commencement for lay students in the Archabbey Church. In addition, five Certificates in Supervision (either in homiletics or pastoral care and counseling) were presented. Once again, Bishop Etienne was the principal Mass celebrant and commencement speaker. Two monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey were among the graduates, both receiving Master of Theological Studies degrees - Br. Francis Wagner and Br. Adam Edwards. Congratulations to all the graduates! +++ Meanwhile, in New Orleans, Fr. Cyprian received an honorary doctorate from Xavier University, where he has taught during the summer. Congratulations, Fr. Cyprian!

(13) The Sixth Sunday of Easter and Fr. Brendan, our Mass Heb, presided and preached at the 9:30 Conventual Mass. +++ Br. Angelo and Br. Flavian celebrated the actual 50th anniversary of their monastic profession. To honor them, they were invited to sit at the abbot's table for dinner, during which we had colloquium. Ad multos annos to both our confreres! +++ Fr. Harry was the featured speaker for today's pilgrimage at the Monte Cassino Shrine. His topic: "Madonna and Child: Imagining the Mother of God." +++ Late last evening and early this morning, we received word that Br. Adam was seriously injured in a car accident in the Louisville area. He has been hospitalized in Lexington, and had surgery today. He has a long road of recovery and rehabilitation ahead of him, so our prayers and support are with him.

(14) Feast of the Apostle Matthias, and the patronal feast day of our Fr. Matthias, who is chaplain at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove. Fr. Matthias is also rehabilitating from a compression fracture of the spine suffered last fall. Another expositus, Fr. Micheas, has joined us for a few days in the monastery. He serves as chaplain at the Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, N.C. Please keep in prayer all our monks who are doing good work while stationed away from the monastery!

(15) Fr. Thomas was welcomed back to the monastery today. He has been studying at the University of Louvain in Belgium, and is home for the summer. He has been missed - he's been abroad nearly two years. +++ We received the sad news today that Fr. Cyril Crawford, a Saint Meinrad alumnus, a monk of St. Joseph Abbey in Louisiana, and a classmate of Fr. Thomas at Louvain, died quite suddenly. He was only 46. We pray for the repose of his soul, for his confreres at St. Joseph, and for his family and friends. +++ Br. Andrew celebrated the feast of his holy patron.

(16) Br. Elijah, who made temporary vows in January 2011, left the monastery today. He plans to take up residence in the Louisville area and pursue a career in nursing. We are grateful for his time with us. May God go with him. +++ Prayers were offered for Fr. Brendan and Br. Adam on this day honoring their holy patrons. The latter remains hospitalized with serious injuries suffered in a weekend traffic accident. Several confreres have traveled to Lexington to visit briefly with him.

(17) Word was received from Aurora, Illinois, today that Abbot Gerald Benkert of Marmion Abbey died peacefully in the Lord last evening. He was 102 - the senior member of the Swiss American Congregation in both age and profession. Abbot Gerald was the founding abbot of Marmion Abbey (which was established by Saint Meinrad Archabbey), serving in that capacity from 1947 to 1969. The funeral will be held May 22. May he rest in peace.

(18) Please continue to keep our ill and infirm confreres in your prayers. In addition to Br. Adam, Fr. Stephen and Fr. Louis Hacker have been in the hospital this week (Fr. Louis remains hospitalized in Indianapolis) for heart-related procedures. Fr. Simeon also underwent an outpatient "upgrade" this week.  +++  Fr. Vincent concluded offering his five-day retreat, "Manly Strength: Priestly Virtues, Servant Virtues," to eight priests at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(19) A week after graduation ceremonies, the Hill has begun taking on its customary summer stillness in recent days. After next week's community retreat, a good number of monks will also be off for summer assignments or vacations. Even this week, departures have been the norm, as our visiting monks here studying in our Seminary and School of Theology head back to their own monasteries for the summer - or for good. Among the latter, we bid farewell and best wishes to Br. Guerric of Conception Abbey, Br. Anthony of Assumption Abbey, Br. Romain of Monastere de l'Incarnation in Togo, and Br. Thomas of Einsiedeln in Switzerland. Tomorrow, Br. Romain and Br. Philippe head back to Togo (Br. Philippe will return in the fall after making solemn vows).  +++  Fr. Eugene is offering the retreat, "Reading the Book of Deuteronomy," to 25 participants this weekend at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(20) Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, with Archabbot Justin presiding at our celebration of the Eucharist. Fr. Thomas delivered the homily. +++ Fr. Cyprian was the featured speaker for today's pilgrimage at the Monte Cassino Shrine, with his topic being "Who Is Mary?" 

(21) We welcomed the Most Rev. Christopher Coyne, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, as our retreat director this morning. After his first conference, we enjoyed special coffees and pastries in the calefactory. The resident monastic community, and a half-dozen or so of our expositi, will be on retreat through Friday noon. We'll have morning and afternoon conferences, and are having a special book read at table during our evening meal.  +++  And I thank Br. Francis for his most competent handling of "About the House" during my absence. I enjoyed my break. In keeping with St. Benedict's injunction about monks returning from a trip (our quote from last month): "Enough said."

(22) Fr. Louis Hacker and Br. Adam returned for their respective hospitals this afternoon. There is more work to be done toward further healing for both, of course, but we're glad they are again in the house with us.  +++  Fr. Anthony, one of our expositi home for the community retreat, presided and preached at our Conventual Mass.

(23) Today is the 30th anniversary of the blessing of our "new" monastery. It is showing its age a bit, and this year a number of projects have been under way, such as reviewing plumbing and electrical needs, the condition of individual cells and rooms, storage space and the like. As anyone who owns a house knows, there is always something that needs attention!  +++  Fr. Edward is one of our expositi able to join us for the retreat; he presided and preached at our Conventual Mass this morning.  +++  Halfway through our annual retreat, we enjoyed our customary "Cook Out & Eat In," thanks to the organization and work of our refectorians, Fr. Pius and Br. Martin. We enjoyed a social in the calefactory after Vespers, and then proceeded into the refectory for freshly grilled salmon and ribeyes.

(24) Fr. Raymond, home for retreat, presided and preached at our Conventual Mass this morning.  +++  For the next few days, 36 men of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Corydon, Indiana, are here for a retreat. We welcome all who come to Saint Meinrad for prayer and peace.  +++  Br. Zachary concluded offering a midweek retreat, "Revisiting the Rosary," to 17 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(25) Bishop Coyne gave the last conference of our retreat at nine o'clock this morning; we concluded the retreat with Conventual Mass at ten o'clock, during which we, as a monastic community, renewed our vows. We're grateful to Bishop Coyne for sharing his time and his insights with us.

(26) The 85-year-old brother of Fr. Damian Schmelz, Frank, died this past Monday. This morning Father Jonathan represented Saint Meinrad at his funeral Mass and burial. May Frank's soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.

(27) The solemnity of Pentecost saw us celebrating also the 50th anniversary of monastic profession of Br. Angelo, Br. Flavian and Fr. Matthias. Father Abbot Justin presided and preached at our Eucharist, and after the homily Brothers Angelo and Flavian stood before the community to renew their vows. (Fr. Matthias was not able to join us, as he is still recovering from some physical ailments.) Their guests joined us for a festive dinner in the Newman Dining Room. To our jubilarians: congratulations, and ad multos annos!  +++  Novice Anushka led the fourth and final Monte Cassino prayer and pilgrimage for May; he spoke on "Mary: A Perfect Response to God's Invitation."

(28) A quiet Memorial Day on the hill. We are grateful to the men and women serving in our Armed Forces, past and present, and include in our prayers and gratitude those serving as chaplains. May Christ, the Prince of Peace, reign in our hearts and in our world.

(29) Among guests to the hill today were 13 members of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish from Cincinnati, who are making a retreat for a few days.

(30) Every community suffers from tragic news, and we experience that now. This afternoon Terry Wahl, a co-worker in our Academic Computing and IT Department, took his own life. Over the years, Terry had been fighting depression and he seemed to be making progress. Sadly, his suffering seemed to prove too much for him. We remember him and his family in our prayers. And we pray for all those suffering in body, mind and spirit, especially those who feel there is no hope. May the Good Shepherd bring all of his flock to his resting place of perfect peace and joy.

(31) On this feast of the Visitation, Fr. Vincent, our Mass Heb, presided and preached. 

We will conclude with our customary quote from the Rule of St. Benedict but, before that, we congratulate our seminarians who have been ordained to the priesthood this month:

On May 17 - Br. Guerric Letter, OSB, Conception Abbey, Conception, Missouri

On May 26 - Crispine Adongo and Aaron Wessman, Glenmary Mission Society; Mauricio Carrasco, Juan Manjarrez and Alejandro Puello, Diocese of Little Rock; Stuart  Priddy, Archdiocese of Louisville.

Congratulations to our newly-ordained! And our prayers continue for their 13 classmates who will be ordained during the next few weeks.

And now, from St. Benedict's Rule...

A monk from a distant region may arrive for a visit and wish to live in the monastery as a guest. If he is satisfied with the local customs that he finds there and does not trouble the monastery with his excessive demands, he should be allowed to stay as long as he likes-provided he is satisfied with what he finds! If, however, he points out some shortcoming calmly and with loving humility, the abbot should consider the matter carefully. Indeed, the Lord may have sent him for that very purpose.

Chapter 61, "How Visiting Monks Are to be Received"
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.