Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

May 2013

(1) Unseasonably warm temperatures, brilliant sunshine, and bright blue skies greeted the Hill on this first day of May. The high reached 84, and a good number of students, monks, guests, and others took advantage of the opportunity to soak in the beauty of spring. A few even ventured down the Hill a bit to take a dip in Lake Fintan. Judging by the divers' resounding exclamations, the water was a bit cooler than the air! While it is still too early to expect sunny, 84-degree weather every day, spring is definitely in full blossom on the Hill.

(2) In addition to our "daily rounds" of prayer in the Archabbey Church, our times of personal prayer and lectio divina, and our common life together, the monks of this house attend to a wide variety of assigned works, crafts, and chores. No one, it seems, has less than a handful of "jobs," which are part of our daily life of ora et labora, and over the course of a lifetime, each confrere may serve in a number of different capacities. In line with all this, Father Abbot recently posted a list of appointments and assignment shifts (too numerous to list here) concerning several monks. May God bless the prayer, work, and study of all the monks of Saint Meinrad so that God may be glorified in all things. 

(3) Father Pius has been admitted to the hospital in Jasper, where he has undergone heart surgery. We keep Father Pius and all our ill and infirm confreres in prayer. +++ Brother Zachary began offering a weekend retreat on the rosary titled "From Our Hands to Our Hearts" to eight retreatants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(4) Dane DeDecker, from the great state of Illinois, is here with his family for a few days before he officially begins his candidacy to become a monk of Saint Meinrad. With Dane's addition, we now have five monks in formation. Please continue to pray for those men and women who may be called to religious life in the Church, and in particular for those whom God calls to our monastic way of life.  +++  It has been a soggy day on the Hill, with steady rain falling throughout. The rain made for a muddy - but still exciting - finish at the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby about an hour east of here in Louisville.

(5) The first Sunday in the month of May can mean only one thing - the inaugural pilgrimage to Monte Cassino Shrine! During May and October - months traditionally devoted to the Blessed Mother, public pilgrimages are held each Sunday. The featured speaker on this day was Brother Philipp Steiner, a monk of Maria Einsiedelen in Switzerland (from which Saint Meinrad Archabbey originated), who has been studying here the past year. His topic was "Living in the House of Mary."  +++  Father Subprior Guerric was our Mass Heb on this Sixth Sunday (and week) of Easter. He was assisted by Deacon Will Thompson, newly ordained from the Diocese of Owensboro. Serving as Heb for the Divine Office this week is Brother Raban.

(6) Most of us learned early this morning that late the previous night (11:30 p.m.), our Br. Terence Griffin passed on to his eternal reward at the age of 84. Although Brother Terence served in many capacities during his monastic career, more recent guests and employees of the Hill likely encountered him as assistant guest master in the Archabbey Church and as custodian of the Monte Cassino Shrine's rosary pilgrimages. He was also quite a singer (a tenor to the max), and his gentleness, generosity, and sense of humor will be missed by many. May Brother Terence, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace. To read the full obituary, visit:

(7) Father Pius returned to the monastery after being hospitalized last week and undergoing heart surgery. He will be temporarily stationed in the infirmary as he recuperates. +++ Gathered in the Archabbey Church with family members, friends, and former colleagues of Brother Terence, the monastic community prayed the Office of the Dead this evening. Father Abbot delivered the remembrance.

(8) Monks, students, and co-workers, along with family members and friends, nearly filled the Archabbey Church this morning during the funeral liturgy for Brother Terence. Father Abbot presided, and Father Sean was the homilist. After the Mass, with the tower bells tolling - and then pealing - the crowd emptied out of the church and processed to the cemetery to lay Brother Terence to rest. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

(9) Repair work continues to the plumbing in and around the monastery refectory and pantry. In the last few days, heavy equipment has been brought in through the courtyard to break up and haul away large segments of the concrete patio and to dig a large trench. Inquisitive sorts that we are, a good number of monks pause periodically throughout the day to peer into the gaping hole just beyond the glass-enclosed corridor leading into the refectory. +++ About 50 youths from The Oaks Academy in Indianapolis, along with their adult leaders, are on the Hill for retreat, and they have joined us for prayer in the Archabbey Church.

(10) It was with heavy hearts that we received news this morning of the death of Saint Meinrad seminarian Scott Carroll, 46, of Maumee, Ohio. He had been battling cancer and was in and out of the hospital in recent weeks. Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair had ordained him a priest on Wednesday, May 8, at his parents' home. Although Father Scott had been scheduled to be ordained along with his classmates on June 22, an earlier ordination was considered prudent. Father Scott had also been named associate pastor of his home parish of Maumee St. Joseph, thus fulfilling his hopes to be ordained and receive his first assignment before meeting his eternal reward. May he rest in peace as a priest forever!

(11) Today was graduation day for Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. The commencement address was delivered by alumnus Most Reverend Patrick C. Pinder, archbishop of Nassau, Bahamas (Archbishop Pinder remained a few extra days, joining the monastic community for worship in the church and meals in the monastery refectory). A total of 49 seminarians and lay degree students received master's degrees. Congratulations to all the graduates!  +++  On this feast of the Holy Abbots of Cluny, we celebrate the patronal feast of Brother Hugh.  +++  Also on this day, Candidate Dane received his monastic tunic. God willing, he will receive the scapular for his habit (as well as a fresh-cut corona!) in a few months upon reception into the novitiate. May God bless and guide Dane during his discernment with us.
(12) Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, with Father Abbot presiding at Mass and the Divine Office for this O.A.-ranked feast.  +++  Father Columba has returned to the monastery after conducting a chant workshop, along with Brother John Mark and Brother Silas, at Pepperdine University in California much of the previous week. Unfortunately, it was not an accident-free experience, as a motorized scooter mishap while at Pepperdine resulted in severe bruising and contusions for Father Columba. Thankfully, there were no broken bones or more serious injuries, and we pray that those that did occur heal quickly.  +++  Father Joseph was the featured speaker for today's pilgrimage at the Monte Cassino Shrine. His topic: "Mary, Our Mother."

(13) With another academic year behind us, the Hill is slowly emptying of graduates and undergraduates headed off to whatever the summer may hold for them: ordination, pastoral assignments, internships, travel, or vacation and "down time" with family and friends. As noted by Father Prior in April's "About the House," there are three monks from other monasteries who have been staying here while studying in the school who will return once again in the fall. Three others, however, are moving on in more long-term fashion: Br. Victor Schinstock, of Conception Abbey, Missouri; Br. Philipp Steiner of Einsiedeln Abbey, Switzerland; and Br. Matthias Balz, of M├╝nsterschwarzach Abbey, Germany. Br. Victor, who left the Hill yesterday, will be ordained shortly at Conception Abbey. Meanwhile, Br. Philipp and Br. Matthias departed the Hill this morning - the former straight home to Switzerland, and the latter to a couple other destinations in the U.S. before heading back to Germany. Godspeed to all!  +++  About 60 priests from the Diocese of Lexington are on the Hill for their presbyterial assembly. +++ Father Sean is our Mass Heb for this Seventh Week of Easter, while Fr. Joseph is Heb for the Divine Office.

(14) On this Feast of the Apostle St. Matthias, we pray for our confrere Father Matthias, who honors the memory of his holy patron this day.

(15) The young monks in formation have been busy mowing, planting, and weeding to get the monastic courtyard in top shape for the summer months. Since use of the patio outside the refectory is temporarily unsuitable due to the water line work currently under way nearby, they have attractively arranged the furniture in a couple corners of the courtyard to invite outdoor seating. +++ Today we celebrate the patronal feast of Brother Andrew.

(16) We extend our congratulations and warmest wishes to Fr. Victor Shinstock and Br. Macario Martinez, both monks of Conception Abbey in Missouri. The two were ordained this week at Conception - Father Victor as priest, and Brother Macario as transitional deacon. Both have been students here in recent years, and Brother Macario will resume his studies at Saint Meinrad in the fall. +++ Today we also celebrate the patronal feast day of our own Father Brendan.

(17) Although seminarians and graduates are gone, the Hill is full of people this weekend. About 70 lay degree students are here for weekend courses. (Subjects and instructors are "Creed in History and Theology" by Dr. Richard Collins; "Book of Genesis" by Fr. Damian Dietlein, OSB; "Servant Leadership for Ministry" by Ms. Chris Urbanowski; "Ministry to Families" by Dr. Ryan LaMothe; and "Adult Religious Education" by Dr. Thomas Walters.) In addition, Father Eugene is giving a retreat to 20 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center on the topic "The Biblical Story of David: Tales of an Over-Liver." A handful of other small groups and individual guests are here as well for at least parts of the weekend.

(18) Three young men have joined us in the monastery for a few days, discerning God's will for their lives and whether the monastic way of life may be part of it. May God draw many others to join us in the monastic way of life, and give to those who are called ears with which to hear.
(19) Father Abbot presided today at Mass on this O.A.-ranked Solemnity of Pentecost. +++ Novice Matthew was the speaker for this afternoon's Monte Cassino Shrine pilgrimage. His topic was: "Mary, Model of Hospitality." +++  Fr. Prior Kurt and Br. Maurus - along with all the pilgrims entrusted to their care - have returned from their Baltic Sea excursion. Accounts suggest that it was an enriching experience!

(20) Today the monastic community begins its annual weeklong retreat. Fr. Valerian Odermann of Assumption Abbey is serving as retreat master, presenting conferences each day in the morning and afternoon. During these days of retreat, necessary chores obviously must still be attended to, but for the most part, we take some time for much-needed prayer and reflection, reading, and relaxation. (If all goes well, this chronicler may even make a few casts with the fishing pole.) A good number of our confreres currently assigned and residing away from the monastery have returned home for the retreat, so the week is also a means of catching up with one another. In line with this, after this morning's first conference, a small social was held in the monastery calefactory to officially welcome Father Valerian. +++ Brother John Mark is our Heb for the Divine Office this week. Father Julian is the "official" presider at Mass, a service which he fulfilled on this day, but a few other monks will also do the honors this week in keeping with our retreat custom.

(21) Our prayers are with Brother Maurus, who today underwent a procedure at Indiana University Cancer Center to remove part of a lung on which a cancerous growth had been discovered. Reports are that the surgery was a success. He will remain hospitalized a few more days, at least.  +++  In addition to the ongoing work to install new water lines outside the monastery refectory, the nearby elevator off the monastery vesting area is out of commission. At one point, work crews had to soak up an extensive amount of hydraulic fluid that had leaked overnight into the control room adjacent to the elevator shaft. So, there is a plenty of construction and repair work going on in one of the monastery's primary "high traffic" areas. One advantage: it does tend to slow the traffic down!  +++  On the second day of our community retreat, Father Harry was the presider at Mass.

(22) On this third day of our community retreat, Father Edward was the presider at Mass. Marking the retreat's midpoint, after Father Valerian's afternoon conference and Vespers, we enjoyed a social in the refectory and a cookout/eat-in dinner. Compline was prayed privately this evening rather than in the Archabbey Church to take advantage of the rare opportunity to simply relax and be in one another's company.

(23) About 30-40 sixth-grade students from Christ the King Catholic School in Indianapolis joined us for midday prayer in the Archabbey Church today.  +++  A heightened sense of prayerfulness and fraternal unity seems to pervade the monastery as we enter the fourth day of our community retreat. Throughout the day, various confreres can be observed taking advantage of this "slow time" to pray in the church, read in a quiet corner of the courtyard or rock garden, engage in a thoughtful conversation, or take a leisurely stroll. Our Mass presider today was Father Julian. By God's abundant grace, may these days of retreat bear fruit well beyond them in our daily lives of prayer, work, and community life!

(24) The community retreat officially ended this morning with the last conference at 9 a.m. and Mass at 10 a.m. Father Valerian, our retreat director, was the presider and homilist at Mass. During the celebration of the Eucharist, all solemnly professed monks renewed their vows by singing (three times) the Suscipe: "Uphold me, O Lord, according to your promise, and I shall live. And do not confound me in my expectation." This is the verse (Psalm 119:116, and quoted in the Rule of St. Benedict) that each monk of Saint Meinrad sings when professing solemn vows of obedience, stability, and conversatio.

(25) We received word today that although Brother Maurus' surgery earlier in the week was a success, he has experienced some complications and has been moved back to the ICU at IU Cancer Center in Indianapolis. Our prayers remain with him.  +++  Today we celebrate the patronal feast day of Fr. Bede, who also presided at the conventual Mass this morning.

(26) On this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we also celebrated jubilees for Abbot Bonaventure (75 years of monastic profession and 70 years of priesthood) and Father Julian (25 years of priesthood). Both jubilarians served as assistants during Mass, with Father Archabbot Justin presiding. Many relatives, friends, and associates of the jubilarians also joined us for Mass, a fine dinner in the Newman Dining Room, and a reception in their honor - as well as for Vespers (Father Julian presiding) and supper, once again in the Newman Dining Room. Congratulations and God's blessings to both Abbot Bonaventure and Father Julian!  +++  Novice Bradley was the speaker for this afternoon's Monte Cassino Shrine pilgrimage. His topic was: "Mary, Full of Grace."  +++  Today we celebrate the patronal feast of one of our visiting monks, Br. Philippe Tchalou, of Monastere de l'Incarnation, Togo, West Africa.

(27) A relatively low-key Memorial Day in the monastery, and with the weather steadily becoming more summery, a number of people took advantage of the sunshine and warm temperatures by heading outdoors for either work or play. We keep all veterans, soldiers, and their families in our thoughts and prayers this day. And, of course, we pray for that peace which the world cannot give.  +++  Father Bede has assumed the post of Mass presider this week, with Brother Jacob serving as Office Heb.

(28) We continue to pray for Brother Maurus, who remains in the ICU at the IU Cancer Center in Indianapolis. Complications from last week's surgery have resulted in double pneumonia, and he is breathing with the aid of a ventilator. X-rays have shown some improvement, but recovery is still a long way off.  +++  Work is progressing on the new plumbing leading to the monastery refectory through a portion of the courtyard. Because of the construction, the refectory has been without air conditioning, which has made the room rather uncomfortable for community meals as the weather heats up. But we are thankful for all that God provides each day.  +++  Today we celebrate the patronal feast day of Father Germain.

(29) Our prayers are with Brother Hugh, who today underwent abdominal surgery at Jasper Memorial Hospital.  +++  Father Colman, who tends and oversees a vegetable/fruit garden, has begun sharing with the community the first fruits of this season's labor - strawberries!

(30) This evening after Compline, Sam Oldenburg, a photojournalism student at Western Kentucky University, made a presentation to interested monks in the Chapter Room. As part of his senior project, Sam visited the monastery off and on for several months, and was given permission to take photos and audio recordings in the monastery and church, and he also recorded interviews with a number of monks about our way of life. During the presentation, he showed the community the fruits of his work in the form of an excellent interactive program or "app" designed for iPads that provides an inside look at life in the monastery. The app can be downloaded to your iPad (for free) here:

(31) Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with Father Bede presiding at Mass, and Father Harry proclaming the Gospel.  +++  About 60 people associated with the Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church Rejoice! Youth Choir (Knoxville, Tennessee) are on the Hill this weekend. This evening after Compline, the choir performed a few selections in the Archabbey Church. A couple of other large groups are here as well this weekend for retreats, keeping the Office of Group Accommodations staff in newly renovated St. Bede Hall quite busy!  +++  On this last day of the month, I (Brother Francis) now return the "About the House" column to its rightful keeper, Father Prior Kurt, who has been away from the monastery for much of May. Now, this substitute chronicler is taking leave for a little vacation of his own. PAX

Each day the monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey write another page in the long history of Benedictine monks throughout the world. Here are recent events chronicled at Saint Meinrad.