The Infirmary addition construction is coming along nicely. This past week workers sprayed on a foam insulation on the exterior of the building.
Below: On Sunday morning there was a fog descending upon the Abbey. One of our neighbors took this picture and shared it with me.
We are blessed to have Abbot Christian Meyer of Engelberg as our guest this week. Since 2010 he has been the 59th abbot of our 900 year old mother house and this is his first visit to the United States. He will attend the meeting of Abbots President at St. Meinrad Archabbey next week and then visit the other daughter house in Mount Angel after that. Tuesday he celebrated Mass for the Clyde sisters on “Founders’ Day” and preached beautifully on the prophetic vocation of the founders of that community from Maria Rickenbach in Switzerland. The sisters celebrated with a beautiful banquet afterward and he spoke to them of the Benedictine communities of nuns and sisters in Switzerland. Later he visited with the sisters at Our Lady of Rickenbach and he shared more stories with them.
Tuesday evening Abbot Christian spoke to the monks during our community meeting time after Vespers. He spoke about the school at Engelberg, which is really three schools: their college preparatory religious school, the town high school and a specialized high school for winter sports athletes—all of which share their facilities.
He also spoke at length of their daughter-house in Cameroon, where he spends one month a year to assist. They have seventeen African members and many challenges and opportunities.
One of the enjoyable annual events where the monastic and seminary communities interact is at the Labor Day Picnic. The seminarians just concluded a Day of Recollection (day of silence and prayer) and they were ready to visit and enjoy some brats and burgers. Monks and seminarians gathered near the picnic tables behind St. Benedict Hall and relaxed and visited on a beautiful day.
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I finished editing some more video. This brief video features Abbot Benedict Neenan sharing his vocation story and call to monastic life.
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On Saturday, August 19, I attend the Family Vocation Day for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. It was held at St. Theresa’s parish in Parkville, Missouri. The day began with Mass with Bishop Johnston. My role was to set up our vocation booth and help with the “Monastic Day” sessions for the boys attending the vocation day.
Br. Leven from St. Benedict’s Abbey (Atchison, KS) and I had the task of leading three sessions: one with 7-8th graders, one of Kindergarten to 3rd grade, and 4-6th grade boys. We gave them an experience of Benedictine ora et labora (prayer and work). We had them pray the Psalms alternating sides of choir, then they had their morning and afternoon “work” (which ended up just being two fun activities).
The first activity involved copying manuscripts. They boys sat at the tables (while Gregorian chant was playing in the background) and they copied a verse of the Bible, using their best hand-writing, and then they decorated the works with gold and silver crayons.
The second activity was more popular, and understandably so. The boys had the task of building a monastery out of Legos. They had several bins full of Legos and they had to construct the monastery church, dining room, monk rooms, barn, and other parts as well. The first group started the project and the later groups added to the project. By the end of the day there was a fairly impressive monastery building.
I enjoy attending these events because I am able to witness to the Benedictine way of life and encourage young people to be open to God’s call. It was a well-organized event, and our sessions were just one of many things going on throughout the school building. I also participated on a Vocation Panel during the lunch period with other priests and Vocation Directors.
Please continue to pray for vocations!
It ended up being a most cloudy day- not the ideal conditions for viewing the eclipse. We happened to be just within the path that would get about 16-20 seconds of total eclipse.
Below: Monks, seminarians, and faculty watch the eclipse.
The rays still shined through the mostly cloudy sky. With the glasses one could see the moon blocking out a significant portion of the sun, but as the time for total coverage came close, then thick clouds prevented us from seeing it.
It was still a great experience and the best thing was that we didn’t have to travel to see it! It was remarkable how dark then light it got as the moon was blocking out the sun.
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On Monday, August 14, the novice master Fr. Xavier Nacke, O.S.B., led the three postulants from the entrance of the Abbey Basilica to the altar where they were met with this question: “What is your request?” Standing before Abbot Benedict Neenan, OSB, and in the presence of the entire monastic community, the three postulants responded in unison, “I seek the mercy of God and fellowship in this community.”
These three men came before the monastic community and before God because they seek God. And, by God’s grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, this “seeking” in their life has led them to discern their vocation as a Benedictine monk of Conception Abbey.
During the brief ceremony Monday afternoon, Abbot Benedict instructed the novices on how they should go about seeking and serving the Lord. He said, “You have the promise of God to help you if you trust Him. You also have our promise as brothers to support you with our prayer and encouragement.”
At the conclusion of Abbot Benedict’s admonition, the postulants were clothed in the traditional habit for novices, which includes the tunic, belt, and short scapular. The ceremony concluded with the Kiss of Peace, as all of the members of the monastic community welcomed these men and assured them of their prayers and fraternal support.
The novitiate lasts one year and is an intensified period of discernment of one’s monastic vocation. During this year, the three novices will study the Rule of St. Benedict, Sacred Scripture, Monastic History, grow in the practice of lectio divina and engage in a variety of work around the monastery. In observing the novices throughout the course of the year, the Novice Master, Fr. Xavier will discern if each novice is docile and teachable. He will use the criteria that St. Benedict outlined in his Rule and ask: Does the novice truly seek God?
With great joy, the monks of Conception Abbey welcome Arturo Hernandez (Overland Park, KS), Justin King (Olathe, KS), and Walter Pugh (Sac City, IA).
Above from left to right: Fr. Xavier, Novice Arturo, Abbot Benedict, Novice Justin, Novice Walter, Br. David
On August 15, the Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For the monks, it is a special feast day for another reason. Many of the monks professed vows on this day.
Here is a list of the monks who celebrated the anniversary of their profession on August 15.
Br. Thomas, 1969
Br. Bernard and Fr. Martin, 1970
Br. Justin, 1973
Br. Jude, 1986
Br. Jeremiah, 1997
Br. Elias, 1998
Fr. Pachomius, 2002
Fr. Guerric, 2003
Fr. Macario, 2004
Br. David and Fr. Victor, 2005
Fr. Paul, 2006
Br. Placid, 2008
Br. Maximilian, 2009
Br. Etienne, 2010
Br. Luke, 2015