Tag Archives: Trappists

East Meets West

On July 29, 2012, two 105 tear-old monks died on the same day, separated by an ocean, together part of the “two lungs” that are the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.  As Pope John Paul II said: “… the Church must learn anew to breathe with her two lungs, East and West.”

For Fr. Daniel Lenihan, his death came one one day after his 105th birthday and in his 66th year as a Trappist at New Melleray Abbey in Iowa. When another monk turned 80, he said, “He thinks HE’S old!” His duties over the years included construction work, laying concrete block, purchaser, guest master, spiritual director and Mass Secretary. A priest in Egypt wrote, “I have been receiving Mass intentions from Fr. Daniel for over 18 years, since the first month of my ordination. No month has ever been skipped. He always adds a note of greeting and encouragement in my missionary service.” Father’s advice to all who knew him was “Stay in love.”

I went on retreat once to New Melleray and it was a wonderful experience, especially joining in the community prayers.

On the other side of the ocean, Fr. John Hilandari, an Mount Athos monk in Greece, died the same day at age 105. If I am reading the obituary correctly, it says he became a monk after his wife died when he was over 70 years old! (A priest I know who was ordained in his 70’s said – It’s never too late to live.) Father was a Serbian native who was a gardener for the monastery. During a terrible fire in 2004, Father saved many precious icons and in 2009, he gave up his typewriter for a laptop. (It’s never too late to learn!) He went to sleep one day and went quietly to his eternal reward.

May God bless them both for their faithfulness and may they rest in His peace.


Vocations in the News

Some interesting vocation news items from this past week:

Founder of Vocationists is beatified (Zenit) Don Justino Russolillo formed “a religious family dedicated wholly to the formation and education of vocations to the ecclesiastical-religious state.”

African bishops say they need help forming flourishing vocations (Catholic News Service) We are well aware of the fact that vocations are flourishing in Africa, but they do have a “shortage” when it comes to having people qualified to form them. The African bishops have invited U.S. seminary professors to come teach in Africa. They also would like to send more seminarians to the United States, where some could remain for awhile after graduation, while others would return to Africa to teach.

Fr. Clemente Vismara, “Patriarch of Burma” to be declared blessed (Asia News) This new blessed was a missionary who lived for 64 years in the forests and mountains of Kentung.

KC young adult ministry offers many opportunities to deepen faith (Catholic News Agency/Catholic Key) Kansas City is known not only as the home of world-class barbecue and the AFC West champion Chiefs, but also for its fantastic outreaches to young adults that are making a difference for the good. Examples include City on a Hill, Catholic Challenge Sports, Theology on Tap, Tuesdays at the Boulevard, Reservoir (monthly holy hour for young adults), and Band of Brothers.

Opus Dei: The Good, the Bad, and the Albino (NCRegister blog)   Interesting discussion of real-life experiences (as opposed to Da Vinci Code-type caricatures) of Opus Dei, one of the most intriguing organizations in the Church today. By way of full disclosure, while not a member or “cooperator” of Opus Dei, I have benefited greatly from their ministry and everyone I know who is actively involved with it strives the best he or she can to be a faithful Catholic. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Relic of “Blessed” nun to return to Hawaii (Wall Street Journal) This week we celebrated the feast of St. Damien of Molokai, the “Leper Priest.” What many people don’t know is that shortly before his death Mother Marianne Cope and other Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse came to carry on his amazing work in the leper colony. Mother Cope herself was beatified just a couple years ago.

Preserving a way of life (Worcester Telegram) I suppose even Trappists have to make ends meet!

Catholic priest nominated as chaplain of the House of Representatives (Washington Post)  Jesuit Father Patrick J. Conroy was recently named to succeed another Catholic chaplain for the House, Fr. Daniel P. Coughlin. What seemed to be a non-partisan process got a little ugly, as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (a Catholic) and others opposed Fr. Conroy’s nomination for a time because his community has paid out a large sex abuse settlement. (Never mind that Fr. Conroy was not personally involved in the activity or any alleged “cover up” and in fact blew the whistle on one of the offending priests!) The issues have been resolved, however, and his nomination now looks secure. One does wonder how Fr. Conroy’s nomination can be opposed on moral grounds by the same people who are actively opposing efforts to cut government subsidies for Planned Parenthood. Mother of God, pray for us! 

The Mother of God is the defender of orthodoxy (Catholic Online)   Short, well-written article on Mary’s vocation as “Theotokos” by Fr. Dwight Longenecker.

Of Gods and Men

Of Gods and Men opened last week in several theaters across the United States. It’s a true story about a group of Trappist monks, stationed in an impoverished Algerian community under threat from fundamentalist terrorists, who must decide whether to stay or leave.

Catholic movie critic Stephen Greydanus  calls the French film “last year’s most profoundly and transcendently religious film—conspicuously not nominated [for an Academy award].” However, it has received other awards, including the grand prize at the Cannes film festival.

Of Gods and Men had a “monastic adviser” on the set to help the film makers realistically depict the hidden lives of the French monks who are at the main protagonists of the story. 

The film may be a little graphic and intense for children, but otherwise this beautiful, meditative film is highly recommended. Here are a couple reviews:

And here’s the official trailer: Of Gods and Men – official trailer HD