Category Archives: Men’s communities

St. Procopius Abbey Welcomed as New Affiliate

We welcome St. Procopius Abbey as a new IRL affiliate!
st-proc-commSt. Procopius Abbey is a Benedictine monastery of monks comprised of priests and brothers who live in community, seeking God by a life of prayer, obedience, and conversatio morum (conversion of life), according to the Rule of St. Benedict. Prayer and conversion are at the heart of their life. At the same time, they serve in outside apostolates, especially in the schools that they founded and continue to sponsor—Benet Academy and Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois, where they serve on the faculty and staff. They also assist nearby parishes, especially with Sunday Masses.

St. Procopius Abbey was founded by monks from St. Vincent Archabbey (Latrobe, PA) in 1885 in order to pray and work among the Czech and Slovak immigrants. Benedictine Monks from St. Michael’s Archabbey in Bavaria, who arrived in America in 1846, were the founders of St. Vincent’s.

Over the next decades, the monks founded a high school, college, and seminary, and operated a press. They were also engaged in parish work. After 1901, the schools began operating in Lisle. In 1914, the Abbey too was transferred to Lisle.

Blessed by many vocations in the past, St. Procopius Abbey was able to found two new monastic communities: St. Andrew’s Abbey in Cleveland, OH, and Holy Trinity Priory in Butler, PA. The growth of the schools eventually led the monks to decide to build a new
monastic complex, that would give them a stronger Benedictine identity, enhance the contemplative character of their lives, and help
abbot-austinthem better serve the students and public. Planning began in 1959 and they moved into their new home in 1970.

Abbot Austin G. Murphy, O.S.B., was elected in 2010 as the 10th abbot. The motto on his coat of arms is beautiful: pariter ad vitam eternam (“all together to eternal life”).

 

Conyers Cistercians – New IRL Affiliate & New Abbot!

abbot-aug-ocsoAt the September Board of Director’s meeting of the IRL, we were pleased to approve the application of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, as our newest Affiliate community. This past summer has been a momentous time for the Trappist monks who on May 29, 2016, elected Father Augustine Myslinski, OCSO, as their eighth Abbot. On August 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta, conferred the abbatial blessing on Abbot Augustine in the Abbey church. “Today we bless and dedicate Abbot Augustine as he fully accepts his election as the abbot of the monastery of Conyers,” said Archbishop Gregory, “and places all of his trust in God’s fidelity which never forsakes.”

On the abbey website it states: The abbatial blessing of an abbot is a sacrament, having been established in the Western church since the eighth century. During the liturgy, Archbishop Gregory bestowed the church’s blessing upon Abbot Augustine to confirm him in his ministry. In the rite of blessing, the abbot promises to persevere in determination to observe the Rule of St. Benedict and to encourage the brothers in the love of God, the life of the Gospel and in fraternal charity.

Abbot Augustine is a Chicago native but moved with his family to Georgia when he was 11 years old. He initially entered a diocesan seminary but before his ordination as a deacon, discerned that God was calling him elsewhere. That elsewhere was the abbey in Conyers where he professed vows as a brother in 2005. Further discernment led to his ordination as a priest in 2011. “I resisted this call for many years.” He said. “When I first heard God calling me to monastic life, my response was, ‘Go pick on somebody else!’”

ocso-abbeyThe Monastery was founded in 1944, when twenty-one Trappist monks left Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky for the wilderness of rural Georgia. Together they built the magnificent Abbey Church, a massive concrete structure that took 15 years to complete. The last surviving member of original 21 Conyers monks died in 2014 at age 102.

Today, the community of 34 monks spanning several generations meets seven times a day for communal prayer of the Divine Office beginning with Vigils at 4:00 a.m. and ending with Compline at 7:30 p.m. As Cistercian monks, they profess the Benedictine vows of obedience, stability and conversatio morum (“Conversion of Life” as referenced in chapter 58 of the Rule of St. Benedict.)

abbey-church-aerialRetreat guests are invited to fully participate in the monastic schedule of the Divine Office. The Abbey Store provides visitors with the opportunity to purchase food products, such as fudge and biscotti, that are made at The Monastery Bakery by the Monks. The stained glass studios of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit have been in operation since 1957, first used for in the Abbey Church.

We pray for Abbot Augustine, his brother monks and all who come to their door seeking to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, that the Lord may bless them for their commitment to Christ, His Church and His people.

“God doesn’t need our prayers because He takes care of everything,” Abbot Augustine said. “Instead He wants our prayers. One reason He wants our prayers is because it draws us closer together in unity and love—united together in Christ Jesus.”

Conception Abbey Abbot Elected Abbot Primate

abbot-gregpryOn September 10, 2016, Abbot Gregory Polan, O.S.B., of Conception Abbey, Conception, MO, was elected 10th Abbot Primate of Benedictine Confederation.  The election took place in Rome, Italy, at the Congress of Abbots, held every four years. He is the fourth American and the second abbot from Conception Abbey to be elected to the Office of Abbot Primate.

Abbot Gregory Polan was born on January 2, 1950 in Berwyn, IL, to Martha and Edward Polan. During his high school years, he was deeply involved in studies, sports, and extracurricular activities—all dedicated toward building a community. Attending college seminary is where he was drawn to the common life, where his love for the liturgy and music would be central. He visited Conception Seminary College and said it was “love at first sight.” He knew he would spend the rest of his life there. Abbot Gregory was professed in 1971 and ordained in 1977. While at Conception Abbey for some time, his faith and commitment to the Benedictine community grew and the monks of Conception elected him as their 9th abbot in November of 1996.

Abbot Gregory has led Conception Abbey for the past 20 years as its abbot, and as president-rector of Conception Seminary College for ten years. He is a scholar in Scripture and Theology and has contributed to the translations for the New American Bible and a complete translation of the Psalms which will be used in the liturgy. He will resign as abbot of Conception Abbey and accept this new position with great solicitude and honor from the Conception community.

The ministry of the Primas, according to the Proper Law which governs the Confederation of Congregations of Monasteries of the Order of Saint Benedict, is defined as “the office of the Abbot Primate whose function it is to represent the Confederation and to do all he can to foster co-operation between the confederated monasteries.”  As the head of the world’s 7,000 Benedictine monks, he will become the abbot of the monastery Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, where he will reside and serve as abbot primate of the Benedictine community as its liaison to the Vatican and civil authorities. He will also become head of Benedictine University in Rome.

“Abbot Gregory brings many years of leadership experience and spiritual wisdom to the role of Abbot Primate. We are happy that his gifts, which he has given so freely at Conception Abbey for many years, will now be shared with the entire order and Church,” Fr. Daniel Petsche, O.S.B., Prior of Conception Abbey said on Abbot Gregory’s election. “I believe his gifts will reach fulfillment in this new role.”

“Angel of Dachau” to Be Beatified

fr unz picOn September 24, 2016, Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig will be beatified in Würzburg, Germany. Known as the “Angel of Dachau,” Father Engelmar died of typhoid fever, contracted while caring for the sick with this deadly disease in the infamous concentration camp. As it says in his short biography, “He volunteered to go to those doomed to death, thereby condemning himself to death.”

Father was born in 1911 in Czechoslovakia. Four of his six years as an ordained Mariannhill Missionary priest were spent in Dachau where he was imprisoned as a traitor for insisting that one must obey God more than man and for defending Jews. Dachau was known as the “largest monastery in the world” for there were 3000 clergyman detailed there, 95% of whom were Roman Catholic priests. Father was especially solicitous of the Russian prisoners, learning the language so he could he could bring them back to the Faith.

In late December of 1944, Father was one of 20 priests who volunteered to care for the victims of typhus who were dying at a rate of 100 per day. Like St. Maximilian Kolbe, OFM Conv., who gave up his life to save a married man, Fr. Engelmar knew he was marching to certain death.

fr unz iconA fellow prisoner-priest said that the help he gave was a “fruit of his priestly love of neighbor. He gladly heard the confessions of his poor sheep and comforted them in his kind and quiet way in the misery of the camp…He offered them more than just his time and selfless concern. He gave them his whole priestly love. That was his goal while death reaped its terrible harvest.”

In his last letter to his sister, Father Engelmar wrote, “Love doubles one’s strength, makes one inventive, renders one inwardly free and happy. It really has not entered into the heart of any man what God has prepared for those who love Him.” He died on March 2, 1945. The camp was liberated just one month later.

Because he was so highly esteemed, a priest contrived to have his body cremated alone and thus they were able to retrieve his ashes and secretly deliver them in a sewn linen bag to the Mariannhillers in Würzburg. Fr. Engelmar was declared venerable by Benedict XVI in 2009, and in January 2016, Pope Francis pronounced Father Unzeitig a martyr, killed in hatred of the faith.

Father Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig? He was a very dear, precious man. He was love in person. More than that I cannot say. That he was: love!”

A Triumph For the Sacredness of Life – Friars of the Sick Poor

fsp groupThe Friars of the Sick Poor are a relatively new community of men in Los Angeles, founded by Bro. Richard A. Hirbe, fsp, on December 12, 2001. Their mission is to give themselves to God in the service of the sick poor and marginalized, whom they receive in God’s name.

Many of you are aware that California recently passed the so-called Death With Dignity Act. Hence, we were thankful to receive this message from Bro. Richard recently: “I am pleased to forward you this memo from our CEO … St. Francis Medical Center (SFMC) has taken the stance, that although no longer under the sponsorship of the Daughters of Charity… will not participate in the California Death with Dignity Act…. Another triumph for the sacredness of LIFE!”

With hope as their charism, they help people to find meaning in their suffering and sickness as being redemptive, inviting them to a fuller life within the Church.

Bro. Cesar John Paul
Bro. Cesar John Paul

One of the most inspiring vocation stories that we have featured in Religious Life magazine was of a Friar of the Sick Poor – Br. Cesar John Paul Galan. Cesar, a young man growing up in a challenging neighborhood, found his life changed forever when both he and his brother Hector were the victims of a shooting. One of the first people Cesar met at the St. Francis Medical Center where he was in the ICU was the chaplain – Bro. Richard Hirbe.

Brother Richard told him that Hector was on life support and unable to survive. He also had break the news that Cesar that was now paralyzed and would never walk again. Cesar remembers grabbing Brother’s habit and saying: “Brother…If I am never going to walk again, then teach me to fly.” He wanted to turn something ugly into beauty, just as Jesus did on the Cross.

Brother did;  first, as a post traumatic stress chaplain at that same hospital, SFMC, then as a Friar of the Sick Poor, clothed in the habit in 2010. He is now studying for the priesthood so he can return to  SFMC and offer people the sacraments “during the most critical time of their lives.”

Brother had the blessing, with Brother Richard, to meet Pope John  Paul II who told him: “Never be afraid my son.” He began in that moment to see his infirmity as a gift for others. “Ever being ready to tell them the reason for our hope” (1 Peter 3:15).

For more information about the Friars, please visit their website: friarsofthesickpoor.org.

 

 

Thunderstruck: The Conversion and Life of St. Norbert

St._Norbert_Today the Church celebrates the feast of the founder of the Norbertines, St. Norbert of Xanten. St. Norbert grew up enjoying worldly pleasures, however, after experiencing a dramatic conversion went on to bring the light of Christ into the world through his life as a religious priest and bishop.

St. Norbert was born in the latter half of the eleventh century in present-day Germany. He was the son of a count and enjoyed worldly pursuits during his youth. One day, however, St. Norbert was thrown from his horse when a sudden bolt of lightning caused his horse to buck him off his saddle during a terrible storm. This incident spurred a great conversion within the young man and he sought the guidance of a local abbot.

Following his conversion, St. Norbert pursued a priestly vocation and was ordained in Cologne. He quickly became a well-known itinerant preacher and gathered disciples who joined him in working for the salvation of souls. This group grew large and St. Norbert was unsure of what the Lord wanted them to do.

20160213_solemn_profession_8327This uncertainty ended when, according to Bl. Hugh of Fosses, St. Augustine appeared to St. Norbert and said, “I, whom you see, am Augustine, bishop of Hippo. Behold, you have the rule which I have written, under which, if your confreres, my sons, fight well, they will stand secure before Christ in the terror of the last judgment.” Following the apparition, St. Norbert and his first disciples made their religious profession on Christmas Day 1121.

The order quickly grew and now the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey continue the work of their founder. The Norbertine Fathers lead lives of communal prayer and care for souls in Southern California. Their primary mission is to consecrate the entire day to God but also have many apostolates including running a preparatory school for young men. Steeped in 900 years of tradition, the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey continue to lead lives fashioned after their founder, St. Norbert of Xanten.

A Blessed May in Fort Wayne

FortWayneFriarsOne of the IRL’s youngest communities is quickly growing in northern Indiana. The Franciscan Brothers Minor of Fort Wayne, IN welcomed several men into their community this past month through profession of vows and are rapidly expanding after being founded just seven years ago.

The Franciscan Brothers Minor celebrated throughout the month of May with men in formation being invested with their habit and professing vows. They welcomed ten new novices when Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of the Diocese Fort Wayne-South Bend, invested them with their habits on May 18th. The celebrations continued that evening when four friars professed temporary vows. The friars then concluded the month with the solemn profession of vows by three friars on May 31st.

The Franciscan Brothers Minor have grown quickly since their founding as they have tried to grow in holiness by imitating Our Lady through their Marian vow. They strive to observe the Gospel according to the Rule, Testament and the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. It is appropriate that this young community that honors Our Lady welcomed ten novices, four friars in temporary profession and three in solemn profession in May, the month of Mary.

Pope Francis Addresses Mercedarians

odemThe National Catholic Register has a story on this week on the Mercedarians, those men who profess the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience but profess a fourth vow as well: to offer their lives in place of those who are in danger of losing their Faith.

A few years ago, this would seem to be a symbolic offering, that is,  they were men who offered their time and talent to help those who are struggling with modern forms of slavery such as pornography, addiction, imprisonment and greed. However, as the article points out, they are now collaborating with the Chaldean archbishop of Erbil to provide assistance to Iraqi Christians suffering persecution, slavery and death. The help includes prayer, fasting and sacrifice, as well as material support and public awareness.

“In the eighth centenary of the Order,” said Pope Francis in his address to the members of the General Chapter of the The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, “do not cease ‘to proclaim the Year of Favor of the Lord’ to all those to whom you are sent: to those held prisoner and persecuted because of their faith; to victims of trafficking; to the young people in your schools; to all those who are served by your works of mercy and to all the faithful you serve in the parishes and missions with which you have been entrusted by the Church.”

In 2018, the Mercedarians will celebrate the 800th anniversary of their founding in 1218 by St. Peter Nolasco. He founded the community to redeem Christian prisoners from their Muslim captors. May Christ our Redeemer assist the Mercedarians in their work of freeing people from whatever prevents them from serving Our Lord.

Pro Orantibus: The Order of the Most Holy Savior

CaptureThe IRL has begun a new series on Vocationblog.com featuring cloistered and monastic communities to raise awareness of the special gift to the Church which these religious men and women are and also to promote World Day of Cloistered Life. To find out more about the World Day of Cloistered Life which is now only a few weeks away click here.

The second community featured in this series is the Order of the Most Holy Savior, commonly known as the Brigittines. The monks of the Brigittine Priory of Our Lady of Consolation are affiliate members of the IRL and have a deep love of Christ, devotion to the fullness of liturgical worship, respect for learning and authentic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

St. Bridget of Sweden founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior in 1370 upon direct revelation from God. After wars ravaged Europe, the Brigittine monks dispersed in the middle of the nineteenth century.  Then in 1976, Brother Benedict Kirby founded a new male branch with their monastery now holding the canonical status of priory.

g3The Brigittine monks lead monastic lives following the Rule of St. Augustine. They sing the Liturgy of the Hours in choir and have specified times of prayer with the Eucharist being the apex of their day. They follow the ancient Brigittine tradition of continual prayer for the souls in purgatory and the conversion of sinners. As part of their work and in order to support themselves, the monks make gourmet confections.

The Brigittine Monks in Amity, Oregon are the continuation of a long tradition of contemplative men and women that dates back to the time of St. Bridget of Sweden. Through their extraordinary lives, they wish to create an atmosphere in which one can know and understand the joy of living this life in Christ.

IRL Welcomes New Affiliate: The Sons of Our Mother of Peace

Sons of Our Mother of Peace

The Sons of Our Mother of Peace are the newest affiliate to join the IRL after being approved at the September board meeting. The latest member to join the IRL family is from Missouri and strives to combine an eremitical and contemplative structure of life with a direct spiritual apostolate lived in the context of material simplicity and evangelical poverty.

The Sons of Our Mother of Peace is the religious priest and brother branch of the Society of Our Mother of Peace which was founded in 1966 by Fr. Placid Guste, SMP. Originally established in Oklahoma, the Society moved to Missouri and have since expanded to the Philippines and Nigeria.

CaptureEach member of the community occupies a simple and austere hermitage on their heavily-wooded grounds in Missouri. Their daily schedule includes six hours of solitary prayer divided into three segments. Each day they also come together to celebrate the Eucharist and chant the Divine Office of Morning, Midday and Evening Prayer with the Office of Readings and Night Prayer prayed privately.

Six hours are likewise dedicated to the work of their apostolate which includes making available the Truths of the Catholic Faith primarily to the poor and to all who have not had the Catholic Faith presented to them. Their apostolate finds expression in a two-fold manner. First, by helping persons deepen their spiritual life through individual direction, private retreats, conferences on the spiritual life and associate membership. Secondly, through the full evangelization of non-Catholics and fallen-away Catholics through door-to-door presentation of the Catholic Faith.

Spiritual apostolates and material simplicity are essential elements of the life of the Sons of Our Mother of Peace. Their primary purpose in life, however, is to seek union with God through prayer and penance and the total gift of self.