Category Archives: Benedictines

Two new Doctors of the Church

Procession of St Hildegard's relics 2012.jpgToday, the Holy Father proclaimed two new Doctors of the Church, the highest honor for saints because of their exemplary lives and insightful doctrine.

Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) is the fourth woman Doctor of the Church. Saint Hildegard was a
12th century German  Benedictine nun, writer, composer, philosopher, polymath, and mystic. The sainted abbess was also the founder of several monasteries. On 10 May 2012, Pope
Benedict formally proclaimed her a saint by an equivalent of canonization, and therefore added her to the Church’s roster of saints (Roman Martyrology) extending her liturgical feast throughout the world.

Pope Benedict also
proclaimed Saint
John of Avila
 a Doctor of the Church. He’s known as the Apostle of Andalusia, priest, reformer,
educator, mystic, author, and patron of the early Carmelite Reform and the Jesuits.

May Saints Hildegard and John of Avila bless the work of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.

Mother Placid Dempsey, OSB, RIP

Just about a week ago did Mother Placid Dempsey, nun of the Abbey of Regina Laudis, make her way to the Lord. Her final act of earthly love to the One whom she committed herself to in this life, and lived in communio with for 85 years, accepted the invitation of the Lord for life eternal. Mother Placid was the first Benedictine nun of Regina Laudis that I met; we were introduced by a mutual friend, Palma. And boy was she helpful in a time of my life that needed reassurance.

It’s amazing to read all the things one does in life when one dies; her obit shines but a little light on a person many only aspire to be. Mother Placid was a unique woman of faith. I am grateful for the times we’ve met in her lucid years. Her diminishment was hard to watch. The last time I saw her in person a few years ago following Mass it was as though we met for the first time. The illness bore her mind away but her smile was all I needed. I think it was she behind the grill at the abbey church that walked with help in and out choir. I offered my prayer for Mother. 

Someone characterized Mother Placid perfectly: “Wise, impish, witty, given to sharp spiritual insights and equally pointed….” All of which was true to my experience and for which I am grateful.

With the Church, let us pray,

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that the soul of your servant Mother Placid, who for love of Christ walked the way of perfect charity, may rejoice in the coming of your glory and together with her sisters may delight in the everlasting happiness of your Kingdom.

The obit posted by the Abbey follows.

Mother Placid.jpg

Reverend Mother Placid
(Patricia Ann) Dempsey, 85, consecrated nun of the Abbey of Regina Laudis, died
September 27, 2012 at the Abbey after a long illness. Described as a tiny
giant, Mother Placid–artist, poet, and guest mistress for over 50 years–touched
the lives of thousands of people.

Patricia Ann Dempsey was the youngest of four
children of William Ambrose Dempsey, New York City trial lawyer, and Kathleen
Costello Dempsey, teacher and housewife. The Dempseys migrated to America at
the time of the great famine in Ireland and settled in Pennsylvania where
Mother Placid’s grandmother ran a saloon in the mountain mining town of White
Haven. The Costellos were metal craftsmen for centuries in Ireland. Her
maternal grandfather was instrumental in bringing the Knights of Columbus to

Patricia grew up in Brooklyn, and described the atmosphere of her
home as “…warm and intellectually stimulating with discussions of
cultural matters, philosophical questions, and legal matters”. After
graduating from St. Angela Hall Academy High School, she received her
Bachelor’s Degree in Art from Marymount College (Tarrytown NY) in 1949. In both
high school and college she was awarded honors for her art. She was active in
all aspects of drama, especially scenery design and construction. She also
participated in many cultural and charitable activities, including social
activities for the blind, infirm and pre-school children.

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Pietro Vittorelli, abbot of Monte Cassino needs prayers

RD Pietro Vittorelli.jpgThe 191st abbot of Monte Cassino Pietro Vittorelli, 50, needs our prayers for his recovery from a stroke he suffered recently. He’s recovering and doing therapy at a clinic in Switzerland.

Born in Rome, Abbot Pietro graduated in 1989 from La Sapienza (Rome) and later that year he entered the Archabbey of Monte Cassino. He was ordained a priest in 1994 following studies at Sant’Anselmo; Dom Pietro served as novice master, a consulter in bioethics as well as authoring articles in the area of Church’s Social Doctrine.
With the move of the Abbot-bishop Bernardo D’Onorio to the Archdiocese of Gaeta, Dom Pietro was elected abbot in 2007.
Members of Communion and Liberation ought to make Dom Pietro’s intention for good health particular in the daily prayer since the founding of the Movement has its spiritual paternity with a prior abbot-bishop of Monte Cassino, Dom Martino Matronola (+1994). We in CL are still inspired by the Rule and charism of Saint Benedict.
Saint Benedict and all Benedictine saints and blesseds, pray for Dom Pietro and us.
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St Joseph Abbey Seminary College damaged by fire

Saint Joseph Seminary College located at Saint Joseph Abbey (Covington, LA) suffered a fire overnight. the fire apparently started in the computer server room. Everyone –64 students displaced– is reported well.

The local news is noted here.
Prayers and fraternal support for the monastic community, faculty, staff and students.

Young Catholic monks maintain tradition, respond to needs in faith

St Benedict french illumination2.jpgThe Benedictine Abbots are going home now. They’ve
been meeting in Rome since the 17th. Their work was not deliberative
in any meaningful way as much as they gathered for the reason to elect an abbot primate, to gain perspective, to meet new and old monastic superiors, to hear how the worldwide Benedictines can assist one another in living the life more effectively and intensely according to the Holy Rule and the mind of the Church. Time was spent in prayer, study, and pilgrimage. How could one not spend time in prayer before the holy places of the martyrs in Rome as well as some of the central points of interest to Benedictines. 
Cindy Wooden from CNS published this
article today as a sort of synopsis of one aspect of Benedictine life–the
attraction of new members. Father Michael Casey, a Trappist monk, priest, author and speaker, addressed the assembly. He, by the way, is one of my favorite contemporary monastic thinkers. If only the abbots and other monastic superiors would listen to Father Michael. Alas, they’re too timid and many can’t (won’t?) do the hard work necessary to figure out what they ought to do so as to not live in diminishment mode. One often gets the feeling that some monasteries would rather die than alter their Benedictine observance and the adherence to Christ and the Church. But, I will say that despite a lack of clear and intense thinking, praying and living, there are significant points of like for Benedictine monasticism in the USA.

What follows is an extract of what was published (read the text in full here):

PMCasey OCSO.jpg

One of the main speakers at the Benedictine abbots’
congress was Cistercian Father Michael Casey, an expert on monastic
spirituality from Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia.

Maintaining tradition while
responding to changing needs is an inescapable part of life, both for
individuals and for religious communities, he said. “The fact that we are
alive means that we are continually influenced by our past, continually
interacting with our present, and looking forward to the future. It’s really
just a matter of personal integrity, personal vitality that we do respect and
allow our past to continue speaking to us

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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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