This past weekend was the Seminary’s annual Family Weekend. The bulk of the festivities took place Saturday afternoon and evening. Fr. Etienne, freshmen chaplain and Kitchenmaster, organized the outdoor picnic and the food tent. He spent most of the day preparing some delicious ribs! The weather was very pleasant for late-September and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. We welcomed around 150 guests on campus for the weekend.
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Happy Feast of the Angels, Michael, Raphael and Gabriel! This is, in many ways, a secondary patronal feast for the monks of Conception Abbey. In celebration of the angels, the freshmen and sophomore seminary dormitory, St. Michael’s Hall had its annual open house. Monks and seminarians were invited to check out the living quarters of the seminarians and socialize for a while Thursday evening. Snacks and refreshments were provided.
This past Friday was our annual Alumni Reunion. There was a good showing from the Class of 1967, celebrating their 50th anniversary. The nice weather allowed the social hour to take place in the plaza area in front of St. Michael’s Hall.
This year’s speaker was Fr. Paul Turner. He was introduced by the new Director of Alumni, Br. Thomas Sullivan, OSB.
Br. Thomas (pictured above) introduces Friday afternoon’s speaker, Fr. Paul Turner (pictured below). Fr. Paul gave an excellent talk on the Eucharist and Holy Communion from the tabernacle. He is an engaging speaker and has a vast liturgical knowledge. We are happy to have him counted among our alumni.
Abbot Benedict celebrated the late afternoon Eucharist, which included the presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Service Award. This year’s award was given posthumously to Mr. Brian Bergkamp (Class of 2014). Brian exhibited heroic virtue in saving a woman from drowning. In the heroic act, he himself was swept away in the river.
The Bergkamp family receives the award.
Above: The alumni gather on the Basilica steps for a group photo.
Below: After Mass, Fr. Martin greets some of the alumni.
The social hour took place, which gave alumni, monks, and seminarians the opportunity to visit with one another.
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.