Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

September 2013

Each day the monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey help write another page in the long history of Benedictine monks throughout the world. As in the life of any family, life in a monastery is made up of events big and small. Father Prior Kurt reports on some of this month's happenings (NB: Fr. Mark, the acting prior, is reporting through November 6 as Father Prior Kurt enjoys a well-deserved sabbatical).

(1)  It is Fr. Subprior Guerric's week as Mass celebrant for the monastery, but he went to Fort Wayne for a Saint Meinrad Sunday, requiring his Spanish skills. Fr. Vincent presided and preached for this 22nd Sunday of the Year. Last night, lightning hit a main hub of the local phone company, and so we were without external phone connections for the day (except, of course, for cell phones… though cell phone reception is not always the best, especially from within these thick sandstone walls). This evening, the Archabbot began the Day of Recollection that he is leading for the seminary community as it begins the school year. Today is the patronal feast day of Br. Giles. He is doing well, though he lives in the infirmary. He is nonetheless of good cheer, and he gets around in his wheelchair.

(2) Today is the 126th anniversary of the Great Fire that destroyed the monastery buildings in 1887. It is also Labor Day. Fr. Subprior Guerric presided and preached at Mass, noting that Church encourages us to take the opportunity to ponder the sanctification of our work. The monk students joined the other seminarians for the Day of Recollection, given by the abbot.

(3) Today is Fr. Gregory's feast day. He continues to reside at St. Benedict's Cathedral in Evansville, where he served as pastor for many years. He has had a number of significant health issues in the last few years. Today was the opening Mass and Convocation of the school year. Classes have begun.

(4) The Archabbot gave a conference to the monks at 3 p.m. in the Chapter Room. He had announced some time ago that we would move our community meeting time from Monday evenings after Compline to Wednesday afternoon. This is an important slot precisely for things like abbot's conferences, chapter meetings, Lent and Advent conferences, and community discussions. Life is often busy, even for monks, and so it can be difficult to find a time when the monks can come together for important meetings.

(5) After Vespers, the Archabbot and several other monks attended a reception and dinner for benefactors from the Jasper, Loogootee, Washington area. It is an opportunity to meet, thank and update those who so generously support our work.

(6) Today is Archabbot Bonaventure's 95th birthday! He is still going strong. In fact, he just recently renewed his driver's license! Birthday cake and talking at the evening meal! A young man who had been a participant and then a college intern for our summer "One Bread, One Cup" conferences is visiting the monastery this weekend to observe our life.

(7) The abbot encouraged the monks to respond to Pope Francis' recent call to observe today (the vigil of the Feast of the Birth of Mary, Queen of Peace) as a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East and other parts of the world. Prayers for peace were included at the conventual Mass and Divine Office.

(8) Fr. Germain presided and preached at the conventual Mass for the 23rd Sunday of the Year. Today-which would be celebrated as the feast of the Birth of Mary if it didn't fall on Sunday-is the feast day of Br. Mario. Brother is one of the Archabbey's painters. For many years, he was on our grounds crew.

(9) Today we observed the Thirtieth Day after the death of our Fr. Richard. He was remembered especially through the intention, opening prayer and petitions at Mass. This ends a 30-day period in which we offer a petition every day for the deceased.

(10) Many of the monks attended the annual Dolle Lecture in the school this evening. The speaker was alumnus Fr. Jerry Eifler from Louisville. His topic was "A Priest's Personal Adventure in Art and Architecture." It was very well received.

(11) The novice and juniors hosted an open house at the Placidium, their recreation building below the monastery garage, which was recently given a much-needed repair and renovation: a new roof, flooring, furniture, etc. This was an opportunity to show off the results and to thank the co-workers on our Physical Facilities crew who do such a fine job.

(12) A basically "normal" day. Hot, a little rain, humid.

(13) The novice and juniors hosted a little belated feast day party for their superior, Fr. Guerric. It is another opportunity to show off the renovation of the Placidium to those monks who could go to the celebration. A beautiful, clear, cool day.

(14) Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Fr. Mark, pro-prior, presided and preached. It is the feast day of Br. Simon Baker, a student monk from St. Benedict's Abbey, Atchison, KS. A beautiful, sunny day. About 30 monks signed up for one of our regular pizza lunches at the UnStable today. The pizzas were prepared by a couple of monks and seminarians. Br. Luke was driver for those monks who were unable to walk down and back.

(15) 24th Sunday of the Year. Fr. Sean presided and preached at the conventual Mass. In addition to weekend courses in the school, Fr. Harry is giving a retreat at the Guest House on the Rule of St. Benedict to about 30 participants.

(16) Today is Fr. Cyprian's feast day. He is 83 years old. He moves a little slow and his voice has become soft, but he presided and preached at the conventual Mass. We had our weekly Monday dessert in the calefactory (community room) after supper and before Compline. It is always a nice to time chat with the other monks.

(17) Today is Archabbot Lambert's feast day. He is currently based in Chicago, as he is substituting for our Fr. Edward at St. James Parish. Fr. Edward is on a Lilly Endowment-funded sabbatical for a semester. Of course, Archabbot Lambert had many previously planned speaking engagements, so he is in and out.

(18) A quiet day. Many of the seminarians start their ministry assignments for the school year today. This includes, of course, the monk-students who are assigned to help out in various kinds of ministries in preparation for ordination.

(19) Cloudy and muggy. The abbot and several monks attended the Evansville area benefactors/alumni dinner. About 170 were expected!

(20) Today is Br. Kim's feast. He is the custos of the Archabbey Church, which means that he oversees the scheduling, decoration and furnishings of the church. He is also the sacristan-preparing the necessary items for the celebration of Mass. In addition, he is the one who turns on the lights and microphones, locks and unlocks the church, makes vestments, among many other things. In fact, he is the "go to" guy for questions about feasts and ceremonies.

(21) Today is Br. Matthew's feast. He is in Toronto, pursuing a doctorate in Church history. Br. Zachary is leading a retreat at the Guest House this weekend, titled "Women in the Word," with 24 participants.

(22) Fr. Jeremy presided and preached at the conventual Mass for this 25th Sunday of the Year.

(23) A glorious day!

(24) The archabbot and several monks went up to Indianapolis for the friends/alumni dinner.

(25) A quiet day.

(26) Today is Fr. Damian's feast day. At 81 years old, he continues as the pastor of St. Henry Parish in St. Henry, IN, where the people are quite devoted to him.

(27) Today is the beginning of a three-day weekend for the seminarians, which the student-monks are enjoying as a time to relax and to try to get ahead a little. The faculty-monks attended the annual overnight faculty retreat at New Harmony, IN.

(28) A quiet Saturday on the Hill. No big retreats or weekend courses.

(29) A rainy, dreary day. Fr. Colman presided and preached at the conventual Mass for the 26th Sunday of the Year. We celebrated First Vespers of the Solemnity of the Dedication of the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln. The Archabbot presided.

(30) Archabbot Justin presided at the conventual Mass for the Solemnity of the Dedication. We followed the weekday schedule, allowing the monk-students and faculty to follow the regular class schedule in the seminary (though a bit delayed for them because of the grand liturgy). It is also the feast day of Br. Jerome. At 84, he remains active, cleaning the church and overseeing our wine on the days that it accompanies our main meal. He has a number of other small, unseen tasks. An early riser, he can be seen roaming the corridors at about 3 a.m., silently praying his rosary.

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.