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The Order of Saint Benedict

What Was New

October, November, and December 2017

Rev. 01 January 2018


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December 2017

Reelection at Fiecht

The Ottilien monks of St. Georgenberg-Fiecht Abbey, Austria, reelected, 29 December 2017, Fr. Raphael Gebauer OSB as prior administrator for a period of five years.

Hill Museum and Manuscript Library

The Columbia Broadcasting System's long-running news program, 60 Minutes, broadcast on Christmas Eve 2017 a multi-part segment, "The Men Saving History from ISIS," with correspondent, Leslie Stahl. The segment features HMML's Fr. Columba Stewart OSB and the library's partner, Fr Nageeb Michaeel OP, on location in Iraq last May. Some footage shot at Saint John’s Abbey in June 2017 also appears. The broadcast will be accessible until Sunday, 7 January 2018, at the CBS News website using the link above.

Spain's premier newspaper, El Pais (Madrid) features the work of Father Columba Stewart OSB in a lavishly illlustrated article, "El monje que planta cara al Estado Islámico" by Matteo Fagotto.

 BBC WorldService: Outlook offers a 15-minute podcast highlighting the Timbuktu manuscripts, and SmartHistory produced a short video (6.5 min.) about their rescue.

Newark Abbey

The fall 2017 issue of U.S. Catholic Historian features a long article by Dom Augustine Curley OSB, "The Community and the community: The Newark Benedictines and the Changing Relationship to African Americans." The article traces the history of Newark Abbey and its schools. "By 1870 the Benedictine community of Newark, New Jersey, staffed St. Mary's Parish, its associated grammar school, and St. Benedict's College (later St. Benedict's Preparatory School). In the beginning, all three institutions had a preponderance of Germans. Over time as other immigrant groups came to the city, the ethnic composition of all three changed." After having been for many years an island of whiteness amid an African American community, the monks of Newark once again sought to become an integral part of the community by serving their neighbors' educational needs (USCH 35:4.133-161).

Benedictine Oblates

After the highly successful Fourth International Oblate Congress, Judith Valente suggests at Global Sisters Report that "Benedictine Oblates stand at a crossroads in monastic history."  Congress participants voted on a five-point vision statement for the future, culled from ideas that emerged in formal small-group discussions that took place over the course of the five-day conference.

Cultural Dimensions of Christian Spirituality

Online registration is now possible for the summer master's program at the Anselmianum, Rome. The program is entitled “The Cultural Dimensions of Christian Spirituality.” The registration deadline is 2 April 2018. In July 2014, the Pontificio Ateneo Sant'Anselmo launched a new short formation program (60 ECTS credits for participation and seminar papers). The academic program is aimed at members of monastic communities, clergy (ministers), oblates, professionals in religious or social areas, scholars, etc. Applicants are welcome from those who want to earn European Credits, as well as for personal formation or further education. The courses in English run in a two-year cycle, requiring presence in Rome for two weeks in each year. New enrolments are possible and welcome in every year.

November 2017

+ Abbot Emeritus Oscar Burnett OSB

Abbot Emeritus Oscar C. Burnett OSB, 91, seventh abbot of Belmont Abbey, died in Belmont, NC, on 21 November 2017. In December 1991, the monks of Belmont elected him abbot for an eight-year term. After his retirement from that office in 1999, he remained at Belmont Abbey, serving again briefly as prior, and continuing his service as mentor and spiritual guide for countless friends and alumni. The community celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial in the basilica at Belmont Abbey on Saturday, 25 November, with interment following in the abbey cemetery. May he rest in peace.

New Archabbot of Brevnov

Tuesday, 21 November 2017, the monks of the Archabbey of St. Adalbert and St. Margaret, Brevnov, Prague, elected P. Prokop Siostrzonek OSB as archabbot. Abbot President Edmund Wagenhofer OSB of the Slav Congregation presided at the election. P. Prokop had been serving as the elected prior administrator. The blessing of the new archabbot will be on Sunday, 14 January 2018. Ad multos annos!

Abbot Primate Emeritus Honored

Abbot Primate Emeritus Dr. Notker Wolf OSB was the focus of a solemn ceremony at Saint Ottilien Archabbey, November 2017, when the German-Korean Association presented him with the Mirok-Li Prize. The award honors not only Abbot Notker's tireless, diplomatic efforts to establish the National Catholic Hospital in North Korea in 2005, but also the 100+ years the Ottilien Congregation has spent in Korea. The ceremony included a tour of the Korean section of the Ottilien Missions Museum.

American Benedictine Academy

The American Monastic Newsletter (Oct. 2017; PDF) and The Monastic Researchers' Newsletter (Oct. 2017; PDF), both published by The American Benedictine Academy, are now online as PDF documents. The AMN provides preliminary information about the ABA biennial convention, Artisans of the Monastery, 19-22 July 2018, hosted by Saint Benedict's Monastery, St. Joseph, Minnesota.

St. Gregory's University Closes

The Board of Directors of St. Gregory's University, Shawnee, Oklahoma, voted Wednesday, 8 November 2017, to suspend operations effective at the close of the fall semester 2017. The immediate financial cause was the denial of their loan application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Without this component, it was impossible to sustain the university. "Rt. Rev. Lawrence Stasyszen OSB, Abbot and Chancellor of St. Gregory’s, expressed that, 'The monks of St. Gregory’s Abbey are deeply concerned by this turn of events. We are especially concerned for the families who will be impacted by this development. Our community has made one of our highest priorities the mission of education since coming to Indian Territory in 1875.' The abbey will continue serving the Catholic community."

Asian Translations of Rule

Translations of the Rule of Saint Benedict are now available at this website in both Thai and Vietnamese. Msgr. Andrew Vissanu Thanya-Anan, Deputy Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand, supplied the translation of the Rule into the Thai language.

New Abbot President in Austria

The general chapter of the Austrian Congregation elected Abbot Johannes Perkmann OSB, 49, (Michaelbeuern) to succeed Abbot Emeritus Christian Haidenger OSB (Altenburg) as abbot president. The term of the abbot president is six years. The Austrian Congregation consists of 12 abbeys and two independent priories. The congregation numbers about 300 monks. Abbot President Johannes became abbot of Michaelbeuern, 24 July 2006. Abbot Christian, 73, continues as head of the Austrian Conference of Major Superiors.

October 2017

Fourth International Oblate Congress

"A Way Forward: The Benedictine Community in Motion" is the theme of the International Oblate Congress that convenes in Rome, 4-10 November 2017. Benedictine oblates and oblate directors from all over the world will gather to discuss, to share, to celebrate, and to pray and work together.

+ Abbot Makarios Hebler OSB

Abbot Emeritus Makarios Hebler OSB, 67, died suddenly and unexpectedly, Sunday, 29 October 2017, while on pilgrimage in the Holy Land. He had served as abbot of St. Mauritius Tholey, Germany, from 1985 to 2008. Before his untimely death, Abbot Makarios served in the Diocese of Eichstätt, Bavaria, as leader, since May 2017, of Pfarrverband Seubersdorf that served five parishes (Eichstätter Kurier). The monks will celebrate a Requiem, 8 November 2017, 6:30 p.m., in the abbey church. May he rest in peace.

+ Abbot Lambert Dörr OSB

On the morning of World Mission Sunday, 22 October 2017,  Abbot Emeritus Lambert Dörr OSB, 1936-2017, died in the infirmary at Münsterschwarzach Abbey. For thirty years, Abbot Lambert had been the third abbot of Peraminho Abbey, Tanzania, 1976-2006. The great historian was known in the congregation as Præceptor Congregationis, Teacher of the Congregation. The monks of the Ottilien Congregation will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial, Friday, 27 October 2017, 2 p.m., Münsterschwarzach. May he rest in peace.

Five Monastic Podcasts from BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 has produced five “slow radio” soundscapes, featuring themes from monastic life. In the first in the series, 23 October 2017, monks from Downside, Belmont, and Pluscarden Abbeys meditate on the subject of silence, against a background of chant and sounds evocative of the peace and serenity of the monastery. The programs allow the listener to appreciate life at a monk's pace, reflecting the gentleness and calm of monastic life. Listeners will hear musings from the monks themselves, interspersed with their singing and sounds from the natural world. The series is available for download as a podcast. It accompanies the BBC 4 television series, Retreat: Meditations from a Monastery, which visits the monasteries in search of inner peace, presenting an alternative to the hectic pace of modern daily life.

New Prior for the Philippines

The monks of the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat, Manila, (Subiaco-Cassinese Congregation) installed Very Rev. Fr. Austin Cadiz OSB as the new prior-administrator, 7 October 2017.

News from Puerto Rico

Three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, making landfall as a category four only a few kilometers from Monasterio San Antonio Abad, Humacao, the monks have finally been able to send a message. Father Robert Medina OSB wrote that they still have no electricity, that there was great devastation in their area -- there are literally no leaves on the trees. The monks, however, are all safe, as are the Benedictine Sisters at Santa Escolástica monastery in town. The Sisters' school (on a hill outside of town), on the other hand, suffered severe damage. Abbot President Elias Lorenzo OSB is coordinating contributions of aid from American-Cassinese monasteries. Please keep the Benedictines of Puerto Rico in your prayers.

Good Sams Elect New Leadership 

The Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict completed their 26th Gathering in Chapter, 24 September to 2  October 2017. At the gathering in Sydney the Sisters elected Sister Patty Fawkner SGS to the position of superior and Sisters Meg Kahler SGS, Veronica McCluskie SGS, Catherine McCahill SGS, and Marella Rebgetzc SGS to the council. Further details can be accessed via the Good Samaritan website.

Abbot Primate Gregory Appoints New Officials

Abbot Primate and Grand Chancellor Gregory J. Polan OSB has appointed new officers of Sant'Anselmo Collegio and Ateneo: Reverend Paolo de Souza Silva OSB, Rector of the Church of Sant'Anselmo; Reverend Padre Jordi-Agustí Piqué OSB, Vice Rector of Sant'Anselmo Pontifical Ateneo; Brother Victor Ugbeide OSB, Assistant Gardener and Assistant Guestmaster of the Collegio Sant'Anselmo; Sister Anna Eichhorn OSB, Secretary to the Abbot Primate; and Reverend Olivier-Marie Sarr OSB, Vice Prior of the Collegio Sant'Anselmo, 6 October 2017.

The Abbot Primate wrote: “I wish everyone a fruitful performance of their duties for the future good of the Benedictine Confederation, the Badia Primaziale, the Ateneo, and the Collegio of Sant'Anselmo.”

Renovation of

Jeremias, Elias, and Richard
Jeremias, Elias, and Richard
Responding to a request from Abbot Primate Gregory J. Polan OSB, Abbots President Jeremias Schröder OSB (Ottilien) and Elias Lorenzo OSB (American-Cassinese), Bro. Richard Oliver OSB (webweaver), and Prior Mauritius Wilde OSB (via Skype from Sant'Anselmo) met, 23-24 September 2017, at St. Mary's Abbey, Morristown, NJ, to discuss renovation of this website: <>. Bro. Richard created the not for profit, Saint John's website in 1995, and it has served as a stable, reliable source of general information about the Order of Saint Benedict.

The two-day discussions concluded with the proposal that a renovated <> serve in future as the official website of the Benedictine Confederation of monastic congregations. "Six Steps for Planning a Successful Website Redesign" served as a guide for the preliminary conversations. It is to be hoped that the new website will express the diversity and multi-faceted reality of Benedictine life, directing visitors whenever possible to other, independent Benedictine websites of whatever primary language. The committee invites visitors and users of the present website to email your comments or suggestions <> about the nature and content of the proposed renovation before the next committee meeting in Rome, late November 2017. The Web team at <> is coordinating separately the assembly of a curial website. The Benedictine women will continue to maintain independently their CIB website.

What's New OSB
What's New auf Deutsch: Aktuelle Meldungen (Erbe und Auftrag, Monastische Welt).
What Was New OSB, July, August, and September 2017, and previous quarters (1995-; archive).

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

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