Tag Archives: Benedictine

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”).


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.”

Benedictine Nuns and Ranchers?

walburga 2Featured in NBCNEWS.com is a short featurette on the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburga in Colorado. Between praying the full Divine Office every day, they also find time to raise highly sought-after cattle. The story behind these cattle ranching nuns is told in this short video.

Their pioneering Sisters started the cattle farm, which supplies the sisters with sustenance and also is sold locally. Llamas are used as watch”dogs” because apparently they really intimidate mountain lions! Their menagerie also includes chickens, pigs, dogs, and numerous barn cats. The nuns do most of the farm work, with occasional help from neighbors and friends.

walburgaIn 1986, the abbey was granted its independence from the motherhouse in Eichstätt, Bavaria, Germany. As an autonomous house, they are a member community of the Federation of Bavarian Monasteries of Nuns. They profess three vows: obedience, stability, and fidelity to the monastic way of life.

Guests are welcome to stay and make a retreat. They also have a gift shop and a popular Way of the Cross.

Visit their website for more information!



Conception Abbey Welcomed!

osbConception Benedictine Abbey is welcomed as a new IRL Affiliate. They are perhaps one of the best-known abbeys in the US for a variety of reasons. First, they have a printing house that supplies beautiful Christmas cards, icons, note cards and other Christian gifts. Secondly, they have a thriving seminary college, one of the largest of the 40 college seminaries in the US. Thirdly, they have a bustling retreat house. And finally, they are a large community of monks – almost 60 in number!

The abbey was founded in 1873 when Abbot Frowin Conrad and seven novices arrived from Engelberg, Switzerland, to establish a monastic community in Missouri. I like what the abbot wrote in his diary after the founding, in 1883, of a fledgling high school at the monastery: “Omme initium durum,” – All beginnings are hard!! The seminary college was founded in 1887. Currently, 25 dioceses in the U.S. send students to Conception, and student enrollment has increased nearly 75 percent since the mid-’90s to over 100 students.

03_Presentation_of_MaryThe magnificent basilica houses the famous Beuronese murals that were painted by the monks between 1893 and 1897. They depict scenes from the life of Mary, Jesus and Sts. Benedict and Scholastica (See Presentation of Mary at right). Some of the murals are replicas of ones done in Europe that were destroyed during World War II and as such are precious mementos of lost treasures. Many of these images are reproduced on the note cards.

St. Benedict said that “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for He himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” The retreat house welcomes guests for private and group retreats. You can also become a Benedictine oblate, that is, a Christian who shapes his or her life in the wisdom of Christ as interpreted by the great St. Benedict.

Young men between the ages of 18-35 who are discerning their vocation may be interested in their Monastic Experience weekend retreat. The next one scheduled is October 31-November 2, 2014.


Benedictine Brother Bede

Abbot Charles
Abbot Charles

Abbot Charles of Oceanside Abbey in California, recently celebrated 50 years of his Profession of Vows. That is, the vows of Stability, Fidelity to the Monastic way of life (Conversatio Morum), and Obedience.

He also gave a beautiful homily on the occasion of the final profession of Br. Bede, who at age 39, begins a new chapter in his Benedictine of life. The homily was a fresh look at the vows, which he described as Stability of Feet, Stability under Obedience, Stability under the Rule and Stability in and to the Community. As the Abbot reminds us, the vow of stability is unique to monastic orders. It can all be summarized as stability of heart in which the monk binds himself to God. “The more one remains rooted in God, the more he progresses in virtue.”

Stability of Feet: “As the tree which is often transplanted brings no fruit, so the monk who wanders can bring no fruit.” This also means perseverance in ones’ obligations, as a contrast to acedia (listlessness, torpor, diversion from the task at hand).

Stability under Obedience: When obedience is seen as a negative, one will always hold something back. When you do someone else’s will (as long as it is not sinful), you are free of your own self-will. “That is following Christ who came to do not His own will but the Will of Him who sent Him.”

br bede
Brother Bede, OSB

Stability under the Rule: “From this day, he is no longer free to leave the monastery, nor shake from his neck the yoke of the Rule” which after a long “period of reflection, he was free to reject or accept.”

Stability in and to the Community: The bond is not so much to a place as to a community. “The one who is to be received comes before the whole community” (RB 58.17). Like the apostles and first disciples, Br. Bede has given up body, soul, will and possessions to follow Jesus.

Said Abbot Charles: Brother Bede, you have given up all and die symbolically today by having the pall placed over you. This powerful and poignant symbol indicates that you are giving up your old life of individuality and are donating the new man, as it were, to the Lord and to the community.

Joy is the Fruit of Not Having

osb norcia

“A life spent seeking God is to many the most useless of occupations. But that, of course, is the great reason for the monk’s joy. The more he seeks God, the less he needs to know why he does so. The answer takes away the question. Joy is the fruit not of having, but of no longer needing to have.

 —Fr. Benedict, O.S.B., Monastero di San Benedetto, Norcia, Italy

Two Communities, One Act of Praise

Something you don’t find everyday in the modern world, much less in the U.S., is a twin community of nuns and monks. Such a community of Benedictines exists in Petersham, MA. The St. Scholastica Priory houses a group of nine nuns and the Monastery of St. Mary, a group of seven monks.  Both live a contemplative life of prayer in service to God, the Church and world.

St. Scholastica Priory is an independent priory of Pontifical Right. St. Mary’s is a dependent house of the Abbey of Pluscarden in Scotland. When there are enough members in the men’s community, they will become an autonomous community as is typical for Benedictines.

The nuns and monks live a monastic life according to the Rule of Saint Benedict and pray the office in Latin using Gregorian Chant , except for Matins and Vespers. Monks from St Mary’s serve as the sisters’ chaplains. The monks’ Novus Ordo Mass is in English with sung parts in Latin and Greek.

As it says on the St. Scholastica website: The Benedictine life is both ordinary and human, extraordinary and divine. It is ordinary and human because St. Benedict in his Rule encourages us to get on with the business of monastic life; it is extraordinary and divine because it is a response to a call from God and it is a life lived for others.

The sisters will hold a Monastic Experience weekend for young women who may be called to this life from February 15-17, 2013.  Please email smangkloss333@aol.com or call 978-724-3213 for more information.

To thee, therefore, my speech is now directed, who, giving up thine own will, takest up the strong and most excellent arms of obedience, to do battle for Christ the Lord, the true King. Rule of St. Benedict



St. Benedict & the New Evangelization

The Benedictines have always been in the forefront of evangelization, most notably in Europe where “with the cross, the book and the plow,” they carried Christianity to scattered people (Pope Paul VI).  When the Holy Father declared Saint Benedict the Patron of Europe, he called him the man who “dispelled the darkness by the light of Christian civilization and radiated Christian peace.”

There are shining examples as to the rebirth of Benedictine life. Just look at the growing community at the birthplace of St. Benedict in Nursia, Italy, founded by an American. Then there are the Benedictines of Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma, and the Benedictines of Mary in Gower, MO.

There is also a group of Anglican nuns in England who have crossed the Tiber. Their community, the Community of St. Mary the Virgin in Wantage, Oxfordshire, was founded in 1848 and has always been “at the heart of the Church of England’s religious life” since it was founded.

The current community comprises 40 or so members, of which 10 have left to join the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, organized to allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while retaining their beloved forms of liturgy and prayers. They sisters plan to follow the Rule of St. Benedict.

One of those joining the Church is the Mother Superior while another sister was a “priest” in the Anglican Church. They will be leaving their monastery, fellow sisters and all means of support behind. Three of the sisters are in their 80’s. They are courageous women. Mother Winsome says, “We are doing this because we truly believe this is God’s call. The Bible is full of people called to step out in faith not knowing where they were going or how they will be provided for and that truly is the situation we are following.”

Mother Winsome adds: “We believe that the Holy Father’s offer is a prophetic gesture which brings to a happy conclusion the prayers of generations of Anglicans and Catholics who have sought a way forward for Christian unity.”

May Saint Benedict’s intercession bring more monastic communities under the Vicar of Christ.

See the full story in the Catholic Herald.co.uk.

The Contemplative Life Today

In an article in Religious Life magazine, Very Rev. Cassian Folsom, O.S.B. was asked about the resurgence of men entering contemplative Benedictine life. What is drawing them, specifically, to his monastery San Benedetto? It is, he said, the experience of a radical faith in God lived out among like-minded brothers.

Father Cassian views monastic life as the perfect instrument for the New Evangelization. It is the best medicine for the God-lessness that pervades society for it is a life imbued with God at every turn, a life filled with His presence and beauty.

Over and over again, people have come into San Benedetto “by chance” and have emerged changed by their experience of the liturgy, reverently celebrated. The Benedictine’s witness of prayer and awe-inspiring liturgy is the contribution the monks can make to the New Evangelization.

Father also mentions the eight vices that are part of the pre-Benedictine tradition: gluttony, lust, avarice, acedia, vainglory, anger, pride and sadness. It is interesting that sadness is mentioned because there is a lot of sadness and aimlessness in the world today. It seems to me that this is the age-old sadness with the age-old answer: Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.


The Power of Truth

Fourteen years ago, Benedictine monks from the French Abbey of Notre-Dame de Fontgombault (a member of the Solesmes Congregation) arrived in Oklahoma to start the new foundation of Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey. In 1998, Most Rev. Edward Slattery welcomed the 13 monks  who began a new chapter of Benedictine life in the United States. It was a long journey home for some of them who had actually left America years before in search of “the purely contemplative form of Benedictine monastic life that seemed to be missing in their homeland.”

It all started in the 1970’s at the University of Kansas when some professors inaugurated the Integrated Humanities Program, a study of Western Civilization as expressed in the Great Books. I know of what they speak for I was a Humanities Major in college taught by a professor dedicated to the classic truths and legacy of Western Civilization. I like to say that my Business major got me a job but my Humanistic Studies major prepared me for life. I am very grateful to my professor.

Anyway, as the students read such things as The Aeneid and The Confessions of Saint Augustine, conversions to Christianity, especially to Catholicism, abounded. A couple of the students went to Europe in search of a monastery that used the ancient Latin liturgy. They found a home at Fontgombault. In 1999, several of the Americans along with some Canadians and Frenchmen, arrived in Tulsa to found Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey under the Patronage of Mary’s Annunciation. Today, there are forty-one monks in residence living in buildings built to last the ages.

Today is a special day at the abbey as His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, will celebrate Holy Mass with the monks in Oklahoma.

If you would like to support the Benedictine monks, please visit their website. You can order Gregorian chant CDs, books, rosaries and other items. They have a beautiful monastery partially completed but more is planned to handle the growth of this young community.