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The Order of Saint Benedict

January, February, and March 2012

Rev. 1 April 2012

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March 2012

+ Abbot Luke Rigby OSB

Abbot Jerome Luke Rigby OSB, first abbot of Saint Louis Abbey, Missouri, died 17 March 2012. Born in Surrey, England, 17 August 1923, Jerome Rigby became a monk of Ampleforth Abbey in 1941 and a priest in 1950. In 1955 he was a founding monk of Saint Louis Priory, serving as prior from 1967 to 1989. When the priory was raised to the status of abbey in 1989, the monks elected him first abbot. He served until 1995. After his retirement the English Benedictine Congregation named the beloved founder Titular Abbot of Whitby. The monks, family, and friends celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for Abbot Luke, Saturday, 24 March. May he rest in peace.

Music, Liturgy, and the Arts

For You & For Many: Unity across Cultures, Generations, and Worship Styles is the title of this year's Collegeville Conference on Music, Liturgy, and the Arts, 18-21 June 2012. The conference, sponsored by the School of Theology·Seminary, Saint John's University, Minnesota, "looks at cultural diversity (how do we include 'the other'?), generational diversity (where are the youth?), liturgical diversity (are we going backward or forward?), and diversity in architectural and musical styles." For more information or to register visit <>.

+ P. Marie-Bernard de Soos OSB

Father Marie-Bernard de Soos OSB, 87, died at his monastery in Dourgne, France, (L'Abbaye d'En Calcat) on 17 March 2012. Born 23 August 1924, he professed monastic vows in 1944 and became a priest, 11 June 1949. From 1982 to 1997 Fr. Bernard served as Secretary General of AIM International, Vanves, France. During these 15 years of service he worked diligently on behalf of the young monasteries in developing countries and was instrumental in promoting the AIM Monastic Bulletin as a medium of exchange and dialogue between the individual monasteries and AIM International. Before accepting the position with AIM, he spent twenty years as prior at the Monastery of the Ascension, Dzogbegan, Togo. The monks celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial at Dourgne, Tuesday morning, 20 March 2012. (Death Notice, PDF.)

Transitus of Saint Benedict

Wednesday, 21 March, commemorates the death of Saint Benedict. The serenity of his death among his confreres makes him a special advocate for the dying -- like the great Saint Joseph, devotion to whom was fostered at Monte Cassino. The prayers of the liturgy recall this patronage. On the margin of the Benedictine Medal, encircling the figure of Benedict, are the Latin words: Eius in obitu nostro præsentia muniamur (May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death)!

Six days before he died, Benedict gave orders for his tomb to be opened. Almost immediately he was seized with a violent fever that rapidly wasted his remaining energy. Each day his condition grew worse until finally, on the sixth day, he had his disciples carry him into the chapel where he received the Body and Blood of our Lord to gain strength for his approaching end.

Then, supporting his weakened body on the arms of his brethren, he stood with his hands raised to heaven and, as he prayed, breathed his last.

--Gregory the Great, Dialogues, book 2, c. 37.

Dr. Rowan Williams Visits Monte Cassino

The Archibishop of Canterbury visited Monte Cassino, 12 March 2012, and praised the English Benedictine Congregation. Archbishop Williams said what makes a community effective in mission, drawing converts to the Christian faith, is poverty and prayer, modelling the way of life of the apostles in the early Church. This same model of radical poverty and dependence on the Word of God can be a vital tool for mission today. Philippa Hitchen reports for Vatican Radio: LISTEN .MP3

Camaldoli Celebrates First Millennium

Camaldolese Benedictines are commemorating the 1,000th anniversary of the foundation of their motherhouse in Camaldoli, Italy, where St. Romuald encouraged the vocation of some monks to live in solitude as hermits. In recent years, the motherhouse has become a center for ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

On Saturday, 10 March 2012, Pope Benedict XVI and the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, will celebrate Vespers in the church of St. Gregory on the Caelian hill, site of a Camaldolese community since the 16th century. From this church Pope St. Gregory the Great sent the Benedictine monk, Augustine, to evangelize Anglo Saxon England at the end of the sixth century. Listen to an interview with Fr. Peter Hughes OSB Cam., Prior of St. Gregory Monastery.

+ Abbot David Nicholas Geraets OSB

Abbot David Geraets OSB, 76, died Friday, 2 March 2012. He joined St. Benedict's Abbey at Benet Lake, Wisconsin, and professed first monastic vows in 1957. He was ordained a priest on 29 September 1962. His thesis on catechetics and music helped earn a doctorate in Missiology from the Gregorian University, Rome, 1968. In 1969 he began retreat ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery, Pecos, New Mexico. The monks elected him prior in 1971 and their first Abbot in 1973. Abbot David's unique vision of community included men and women sharing equally in the life of the community and living fully the life of God's Spirit in Christ. In 1974, he invited Dr. Morton Kelsey to Pecos to begin the integration of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal with Jungian depth psychology. This led to founding a school for spiritual directors.

In 1992, with several other members of the Pecos Benedictine Community, he made the journey to San Luis Obispo, California, to join the sister community of the Monastery of the Risen Christ. At that time, the community elected Abbot David as the conventual prior of the monastery. The community celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial, Friday, 9 March 2012, the Feast of St. Frances of Rome, Co-Patron of Benedictine Oblates. Abbot David will be buried in the monastic cemetery at St. Benedict's Abbey, Benet Lake.

+ Abbot Georg Holzherr OSB

Dom Georg Holzherr OSB, 85, the former Abbot of the territorial Abbey of Einsiedeln from 1969 to 2001, was born 22 January 1927 in the Canton of Solothurn, Switzerland, and died 26 February 2012. His studies in Rome led to a doctorate in canon law and lectures in Moral Theology in Munich, but he maintained interest in a wide spectrum of the human sciences. In October 1969 he became the 57th abbot of Einsiedeln. Throughout his time as abbot and as a member of the Swiss Bishops' Conference, he fostered the renewal and celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the spirit of Vatican II. After resigning from the abbacy in 2001 Abbot Georg served as chaplain and spiritual director publishing several books and articles on Benedictine themes. He dedicated his own website to the liturgy. The Mass of Christian Burial took place at Einsiedeln on Thursday, 1 March 2012. Herr, gib ihm die ewige Ruhe.

Monastic Institute 2012

Saint John's School of Theology·Seminary, Collegeville, Minnesota, announces Prayer and Community as the theme for the 27th annual Monastic Institute, 24-28 June 2012. The presenters are Sr. Irene Nowell OSB, Sr. Genevieve Glen OSB, Abbot Brendan Freeman OCSO, and Fr. Dale Launderville OSB. More information and registration are available online.

February 2012

+ Dom Wulstan Hibberd OSB

The oldest monk of St. Michael's Abbey, Farnborough, UK, died on Saturday, 18 February 2012. Dom Wulstan Hibberd OSB was 99 years old, more than 79 years a Benedictine monk, and almost 70 years a priest. With him dies a great portion of the history of the Farnborough community. Born in 1912 into an Anglican family, he entered the Catholic Church in May 1928. After some little time spent with the Capuchins and more with the monks of Prinknash Abbey, Dom Wulstan made St. Michael's Abbey his life-long home in 1947. The monks will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial at the abbey, Friday, 2 March 2012, 2 p.m.

Ash Wednesday

The Holy Father began the holy season of Lent by going to the Abbey Church of Saint Anselm (Benedictines) atop the Aventine Hill where he was welcomed by Abbot Primate Dr. Notker Wolf OSB. After a brief prayer, the Bishop of Rome joined the congregation in procession to the Basilica of Saint Sabina (Dominicans) for Mass. In his homily Pope Benedict spoke about the origins of humankind and prayed that we, penitent and redeemed by God's mercy, may return to our true home.

The American Monastic Newsletter

The latest issue of The American Monastic Newsletter (February 2012) of the American Benedictine Academy features information about the biennial Convention, 2-5 August 2012, Saint Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, Minnesota. The  registration form is available as an MS document to be downloaded and printed. Other features include a report from the most recent meeting of "Nuns of the West," concise book reviews, plans for the next World Oblate Congress and other newsworthy items.

+ Father Andrew Britz OSB

Father Andrew M. Britz OSB died suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday morning, 14 February 2012. He had suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for a decade previous to his death and was limited in mobility. Born 12 March 1940, Murray Britz joined the monastic community of St. Peter’s Abbey, Canada, in 1959, taking the name of Andrew. He was ordained priest 10 June 1966. Fr. Andrew served as editor of the Prairie Messenger from 1983 to 2004. He had a great passion and love for the faith and entered into the renewal of the Second Vatican Council, especially the liturgy, with zeal. Abbot Peter Novecosky OSB and the monks buried Father Andrew at St. Peter's Abbey Cemetery, 17 February 2012.

Abbot of Neresheim Retires

On Tuesday, 21 February 2012, Abbot Norbert Stoffels OSB ends his term of office as Abbot of Neresheim Abbey, Germany. Having reached the age of retirement in the Beuronese Congregation, Abbot Norbert was re-elected at 70 for a term of six years, 21 February 2006. The six fathers and five brothers of Neresheim will elect his successor, 7 March 2012, in the presence of Abbot President Albert Schmidt OSB, Beuronese Congregation.

Saint Scholastica

On Friday, 10 February, Benedictines celebrate the holy life of Saint Scholastica of Nursia. Her twin brother, Saint Benedict, is the Patriarch of Western Monasticism.

The Last Meeting

"Whether or not the great Patriarch established a nunnery, it is certain that in a short time he was looked upon as a guide and father to the many convents already existing. His rule was almost universally adopted by them, and with it the title Abbess came into general use to designate the superior of a convent of nuns" (Cath. Encyclopedia).

Pope Saint Gregory, in Chapter 33 of Book II of his Dialogues, tells the story of the last meeting between the two siblings. He uses it to teach a lesson in the efficacy of prayer and the primacy of love. The visit Benedict made to his sister suggests that their monasteries were not far distant. Such has remained the pattern, and many Brother/Sister monasteries are geographically close. Through collaboration in the apostolate and in prayer, men and women Benedictines support each other in fidelity to the Holy Rule.

In the next chapter of the Dialogues, Gregory recounts how three days later Benedict, "lifting up his eyes to heaven, beheld the soul of his sister that had departed her body ascend into heaven in the likeness of a dove." He gave orders that they both should be buried at Monte Cassino. Saint Benedict was soon thereafter laid to rest beside her in the crypt of Monte Cassino Abbey. "As their souls had always been one in God while they lived, so their bodies continued together after their deaths."

January 2012

World Day for Consecrated Life

In 1997, Pope John Paul II instituted 2 February as a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. In the US the celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life is transferred to the closest Sunday in order to enable as much participation as possible.

Olivetan Monks to Leave Christ the King, London

The Olivetan Benedictines are planning to leave Cockfosters Parish of Christ the King, in north London, it was announced on Sunday, 29 January 2012.

Bishop John Arnold visited the parish to break the news. He said in a statement: "the Abbot General of the Olivetans, Don Diego M. Rosa OSB, with his Council, has determined that, regrettably, there are no additional monks available to send to Cockfosters to assist in the parish. They further determined that Cockfosters does not at this time form a viable monastic community, being only two resident monks. Don Diego has therefore decided that the parish here at Cockfosters must be placed under the direct care of the Diocese [of Westminster], and the monks withdrawn" (ICN). Althought no date is set, the monks will probably depart in summer 2012.

The Olivetans are a monastic order formally recognised in 1344. The Olivetan Congregation affiliated with the Benedictine Confederation in 1960.

New Camaldoli Hermitage Elects New Prior

The monks of New Camaldoli Hermitage, Big Sur, California, elected Father Robert Hale OSB Cam., 20 January 2012. Prior General Alessandro Barban OSB Cam. will bless the new prior at the hermitage, 25 January 2012, 11 a.m. Prior Robert had served as prior from 1988 to 2000. He succeeds Father Raniero Hoffman OSB Cam. who was prior for 12 years and elected not to stand for re-election.

Prior Robert professed solemn vows as a Camaldolese monk in 1965. He was ordained a priest in 1966. He earned a masters degree at the School of Theology, Saint John's University, Minnesota, and a doctorate in Spiritual Theology at Fordham University. Before his election, Prior Robert served as Director of Oblates. Ad multos annos.


Hildegard of Bingen to Become Saint and Doctor

Several sources report that in October 2012 the Holy Father will canonize Abbess Hildegard of Bingen OSB (1098-1179) and proclaim her a Doctor of the Church (Vatican Insider). "Hildegard's story attests to the cultural vitality of female monasteries at that time and helps to undo certain prejudices about the Middle Ages. She was a nun, theologian, cosmologist, botanist, musician -- she is considered the first woman composer of Christian history." Of the Church's 33 doctors, only three are women: Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Sienna, and Therese of Lisieux; the first two proclaimed by Pope Paul VI in 1970, the last by John Paul II in 1997.

National Vocation Week

Monday, 9 January, launched National Vocation Awareness Week in the US. The USCCB vocation website was reconfigured last year.

Nový Dvur Becomes an Abbey

On 8 December 2011, following the decision of the General Chapter of the Trappists in September 2011, the monastery of Our Lady of Nový Dvur, Czech Republic, was raised to the status of abbey. The monks elected Prior Samuel Lauras OCSO to be the first abbot; Abbot Samuel received the abbatial blessing, 12 December 2011. The abbey lies about 20 km south of Karlsbad.

The New Hungarian Constitution Affects Religious Orders

"With the new year, as the new constitution goes into effect, all petitions to the [Constitutional] Court lapse and it becomes much harder for anyone to challenge this law -- or any other.

"But it is worth lingering on the newly re-enacted law on the status of churches because it is one of the places where we can clearly see the effects of the new constitutional order on the protection of constitutional rights. What does the law on churches do? It creates 14 state-recognized religions, and decertifies the rest. On January 1, over 300 denominations lose their official status in Hungary -- including their tax exemptions and their abilities to run state-funded schools. While most of the denominations are tiny, many are not. Among the religions that will no longer be able to operate with state approval are all versions of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Baha'i, as well as many smaller Catholic orders including the Benedictines, Marists, Carmelites, and Opus Dei, and a number of major Protestant denominations including Episcopalians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Methodists, and all but one of the evangelical churches. One each of the orthodox, conservative, and liberal Jewish synagogues are recognized; but all other Jewish congregations are not" (The Unconstitutional Constitution).

A Benedictine from Hungary writes that "religious orders are still part of the Catholic Church in my country and being as such they will maintain their legal status -- all other problematic constitutional points nothwithstanding."


What's New OSB
What's New (Aktuelles) in the Austrian Congregation. Aktuelle Meldungen (Erbe und Auftrag).

What Was New OSB (1995-; archive). October, November,and December 2011.

The monks of Saint John's Abbey welcome comments, questions and suggestions from readers at the Pilgrim's Parlor. Send items for inclusion in "What's New" to the <Webkeeper>.


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