Benedictines: June 2010 Archives

John Brahill.jpgFather John Baptist Brahill, 61, was elected by his confreres of Marmion Abbey (Aurora, IL) to the 5th abbot. Abbot John succeeds Abbot Vincent de Paul Battaille who has served Marmion's abbot for the last 18 years.

The newly elected abbot of Marmion Abbey is a 1967 graduate of Marmion Academy and has been a member of the Benedictine community since 1978 and a priest since 1982.

A little more than a year ago Abbot John returned to Marmion Abbey after serving for many years (1992-2009) as prior of San Jose Priory in Guatemala. Most recently he has served as the master of novices and as the liaison for Abbey Farms.

Abbot John will serve an indefinite term as abbot. The election was confirmed by Abbot Peter Eberle, the Abbot President of the Swiss-American Congregation. He'll receive the abbatial blessing from the Bishop of Rockford, Thomas G. Doran, at some point in the future.

Abbot Vincent has oversee many significant projects at Marmion including the building of the abbey church (St Augustine of Canterbury), various renovation projects at the same and at the Academy. Likewise the community has grown with a number of vocations.

Marmion was settled by monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in 1933. The monks of operated a military acdaemy, staffed a few parishes and founded a community of monks in Guatamala at the request of Pope John XXIII who asked religious communities to sacrifice 10% of their community to do missionary work. Since 1965, Guatemala's San Jose Priory educates high school seminarians in the Benedictine spirit.

You may be familiar with the name Marmion, the 19/20th century abbot who is now known as Blessed Columba Marmion. Marmion lived in the years of 1858-1923. Of Irish and French heritage the young Marmion was first ordained a secular priest for the Dublin Archdiocese before becoming a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Maredsous in Belgium. His gifts recognized Marmion was a founder and later appointed prior of Mont Cesar (Louvain) and later elected abbot of Maredsous 1909, a position he held until his death.

For me, this is amazing series of events because a saintly abbot whose cause for canonization was not begun until 1957 and yet not 10 years after his death Marmion caught the eye of a monk of Saint Meinrad enough to name a monastic foundation for. Now we ask the Lord raise Blessed Columba to sainthood.

You may be interested in viewing the Abbey's vocation video: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Fidelity to the Monastic Way of Life, Stability, Obedience and Monastic Priesthood.
Abbot Austin.jpgToday, the solemnly professed monks of Saint Procopius Abbey, elected Father Austin G. Murphy as their 10th abbot.

The process of electing an abbot follows the Rule of Saint Benedict and the Constitutions of the American Cassinese Congregation (the grouping of monasteries to which St Procopius belongs). Archabbot Douglas of the Archabbey of St Vincent (Latrobe, PA) confirmed the election.

Abbot Austin, 36, assumes the office of abbot immediately and will receive the abbatial blessing from the bishop of Joliet at some point in the future. Before leaving the chapter room, the Abbot President will witness the profession of faith and oath of fidelity required of all major superiors.

Abbot Austin was born in Huntington, NY, on March 25, 1974, professed simple vows on September 6, 1997 and was ordained on July 3, 2004. He prepared for priesthood at the Dominican House of Studies earning the STB/MDiv. Of late he was doing doctoral studies in Theology at the University of Notre Dame.

Abbot Austin succeeds Abbot Dismas Kalcic who has served for the since 2002. He will be moving to Marmion Abbey and Academy to teach in the economics in the school.

Saints Benedict & Scholastica and Saint Procopius, pray for us.
Abbot Damien.jpgThe monks of Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo (CA) gathered to elect a new abbot, Damien Toilolo on June 22, replacing Abbot Francis who stepped down two years ago. The new abbas is the second elected abbas of St Andrew's.

St Andrew's Abbey is an abbey of the Annunciation Congregation.

Abbot Damien, until now, has served the Benedictine community as the Prior Administrator. But he's also been the vocation director, postulant director, novice master and sub-prior.

A native of Los Angeles, Damien has experience in other things including a teaching credential. He was ordained a priest in 2005 after preparing for priesthood at Mt Angel Seminary. Abbot Damien will serve a 8-year term. 

St Andrew's Abbey has roots in Belgium and was for a time a priory in China before it was forced to move to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. It was raised to abbatial rank in 1992.

Abundant blessings!
Hugh Anderson.jpgYesterday, Thursday, 17 June, the delegates to the General Chapter elected Abbot Hugh Richard Anderson OSB to a six-year term as the fifteenth President of the American-Cassinese Congregation. The fiftieth general chapter was convened at St. Bernard Abbey, Cullman, Alabama, 13-18 June 2010. 

Abbot Hugh succeeds Abbot Timothy Kelly OSB offered his resignation for reasons of health, midway through his second term as president which became effective 16 June.

Abbot Hugh, 72, was First Councilor of the Congregation at the time of his election, had served as the eighth abbot of Saint Procopius Abbey, Lisle, Illinois, having served from 1985-2002. The Benedictine community of monks of Saint Procopius was founded in Chicago in 1885, became a conventual priory in 1887, an abbey in 1894; the abbey transferred to its present location in Lisle, IL in 1914.

According to process, Abbot Hugh's election was confirmed by Archabbot Douglas Nowicki OSB, the Second Councilor. In St Bernard's abbey church Abbot Hugh celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving and concluded the Mass with the singing of the Te Deum.
Fr Damian Daprai.jpgYour prayers are kindly requested today for the peaceful repose of Father Damien Anthony Daprai, OSB, 47, who is being laid to rest today. He died suddenly Friday morning during his morning job around his abbey's property. Father Damien was a monk of Marmion Abbey.

Ever since learning of Father Damien's death mid-Friday morning I've been thinking of him and the loss experienced by many. He is the second friend to die this year of a heart attack at the same age!!!

Of the many reasons for sympathy for Damien's death is his youthfulness and his faithful friendship. Many would give witness to this fact!!! He was committed to the monastic way of life according to the Rule Saint Benedict having made his solemn profession in 2007. When he entered Marmion Abbey he received the name Damien in honor of Blessed --now Saint-- Damien de Veuster of Molokai. Likewise, he was a new priest of Jesus Christ having been ordained only two years ago. Father Damien's death happened on one of the greatest solemnities the Church observes: the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There are only a few days which would be better to die than on the Sacred Heart's feast, if one had the choice.

Last evening the monastic community and Damien's family received his body at the Abbey for a visitation and to pray the Office of the Dead. This morning Abbot Vincent de Paul will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial for Damien in the Abbey Church of Saint Augustine of Canterbury. Burial is in the abbey cemetery.

Father Damian was a friend, though we haven't seen each other in a few years and would keep in touch through a mutual friend, Brother Andre of the Marmion. THE eery thing is that when I spoke with Brother Andre on Thursday, the day before Damien's death, we spoke of Damien. The last time I saw Damien we were planting trees in the Abbey Christmas tree field, he was then a seminary student and excited about service as a priest.

As a side note, Brother Andre mentioned to me that Father Damien was an organ donor. Thanks be to God his good health has assisted anywhere from 20-50 people. A blessing indeed!

Forgive, O Lord, the soul of Damien, your priest from the all the chains of his of his sins and by the aid to them of your grace may he deserve to avoid the judgment of revenge,
and enjoy the blessedness of everlasting light.

May your memory be eternal, dear friend, Father Damien!
st benedict-thumb.jpg
Benedictine abbots and by extension all monks, nuns and Christians are expected to give to the Lord an account of the way the goods of creation are used (Rule of St Benedict & Luke 16:2). In various contexts Pope Benedict has also addressed the Church on the proper use of creation for the good humanity and over the long haul. Questions of environmental sustainability surface more and more these days with critical assessments of how we live viz. the ideals by which we live (the Gospel, theology), questions of stewardship, availability of manpower, money, etc.

A good example of what I am indicating are the environmental programs sponsored by the monks of St John's Abbey and University to take a deeper look into a holistic approach to the environment in light of various disciplines. In the last few years the monks of the Abbey of Saint Gregory the Great, Portsmouth, RI, have begun a number of initiatives to be good stewards: a wind turbine and a large garden to supply the abbey and the school with fresh vegetables, name a few (more info here). Also, we can survey various abbeys who made some good choices by the planting of hundreds of trees to reclaim a forest by the monks of St Meinrad Archabbey, the comprehensive review of Sant'Anselmo (Rome) to see how more efficient they can be, Conception Abbey working wind technology and St Mary's Abbey maintaining an apple orchard, an extensive garden, land preservation and a few bee hives. But these few good things raise the question of how all of us think and act green for better and healthy living.

Monks, nuns, priests, brothers and sisters are expected to live differently from the secular counterparts; seemingly the seculars do a lot better a living with a green consciousness. But Benedictines and Franciscans usually get praise for their being good stewards of creation.

Two very recent items which are good to note: 

Atlas Trappists.jpgThe recent Cannes Film Festival showed the film about the 1996 Trappist martyrs of Our Lady of Atlas in Algeria. The film got rave reviews and awarded 2nd place. The film is in French and it will be available on DVD with English subtitles. While we wait for the full film to be available here is a clip on Youtube with subtitles at: Of Gods and Men.

More information on the 7 monks may be found here and here.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Benedictines category from June 2010.

Benedictines: May 2010 is the previous archive.

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