Category Archives: Benedictines

Abbot Thomas Confroy, RIP

Abbot Thomas Confroy.jpgA week ago today the monastic community of St Mary’s Abbey (Morristown, NJ), indeed the Church, lost a faithful monk, priest, abbot and friend. Abbot Thomas Confroy made his final passover to the Lord, his Destiny at the abbey on August 23. News of Abbot Thomas’ death can be read here.

When I lived with Abbot Thomas I knew him to be dedicated in praying the holy Rosary and his various oblations on behalf of others. But I didn’t make all the extent of his prayer life and how much it was spent interceding for others, especially his prayer for me, for those who struggle, for those who just needed prayer. How blessed we were that he lived his sacred priesthood! Striking to me was the cursus he followed:
  • Sundays: St Mary’s Abbey, especially those in most need of strength;
  • Mondays: those in religious life;
  • Tuesdays: the faithful departed and the poor souls in purgatory;
  • Wednesdays: his natural family and special requests made to him;
  • Thursdays: the pope, cardinals, bishops, suffering priests, deacons, pastoral ministers, seminarians and vocations to the priesthood;
  • Fridays: for missionaries
  • Saturdays: for himself, for forgiveness if any of his actions harmed others spiritually or emotionally.
Plus, his quite example of suffering patiently and quietly from depression since his retirement and relying upon the Way of the Cross written by Saint Alphonse Liguori.
What can we learn from Abbot Thomas? I believe his witness to Christ as a merciful good shepherd who cares intensely for the sheep, near and far, whole and broken, happy and miserable. Perhaps we ought to take his daily intentions?!?!
Benedictine Oblate and friend Lynn Gordon Latchford wrote a fine panegyric to Abbot Thomas, “God Family Country: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Monk, that can be read here: Abbot Thomas Confroy 2010.pdf.
May Abbot Thomas rest in the arms of the Good Shepherd.
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, husband of Mary, pray for us.
Saint Benedict of Nursia, pray for us.
Saint Thomas the Apostle, pray for us.

Nuns land record deal

Benedictine in France.jpgThe Benedictine nuns of the French abbey of Our Lady of the Annunciation of Le Barroux (near the famed Avignon) landed a music contract with Universal Music. This is the same label as Lady Gaga and Elton John.

I doubt Lady Abbess will be consulting with Lady Gaga on the record details. BUT do you think they might take a clue from the Erie Benedictines performing “kum bay ya” on the Ed Sullivan Show?
Congrats to the nuns!!!

St Emma Monastery becomes independent

SrMiriam CK.jpgNot long ago St Emma Monastery became an independent monastery after years of being dependent on their motherhouse, Abtei St Walburga, Eichstatt, Germany. Mother Franziska Kloos set the nuns of St Emma’s out on their own now as a canonically established conventual priory! The formal installation with a blessing of Mother Mary Anne by the Bishop of Greensburg, the Most Reverend Lawrence E. Brandt happened on April 18.

The 12 nuns, including 1 novice, live the monastic life. 
Be sure to read the recent newsletter (at link above) which tells the story.
Let’s pray for the first Conventual Prioress, Mother Mary Anne Noll.
May God be glorified!

Visiting St Louis Abbey: seeing old friends

St Louis Abbey church exterior2.JPGThese last 9 days I’ve been in St Louis, MO visiting friends, lay and monastic (including Mrs. Casey!). I periodically return to St Louis the scene of some studies I did at St Louis University between 1994 and 1997. I stayed with the Benedictine monks of Saint Louis Abbey; there I have many old friends.

When I went to St Louis in 1994 I didn’t expect to meet Benedictine monks as I was fully ensconsed in the life and works of the Society of Jesus. While I did hear of the St Louis monks, I really never thought that a friendship would flower with them. By Divine Providence I met two monks, Fathers Gerard and Gregory, at a consecration of a Coptic Orthodox Church. The monks had some Copts in their school and so being at the church consecration was a natural thing to do and I was there because of my high interest in Eastern Christianity. Plus, who could resist saying you met a pope, the Coptic Orthodox pope, Shenouda? To this day I still get some mileage out that anecdote.

Ambrose models a warm fuzzy.JPG

From the providential meeting of the two priests I met other monks with whom I have had the privilge of being friends. Over the years the company has grown and for that grace, I am very grateful.
I haven’t been back to St Louis in the past three years. Since then the city and various suburbs have changed for the better with buidling and/or renovating public places and the like. I love the many new stores and the restaurants. Actually, there are many good eats in the greater St Louis area! But some things remain the same: a people who know each other vs. the terrific annonymity of many east coast cities. Sometimes, I have to say, St Louis is too small….
Time spent at the abbey and with other friends was truly delightful. I went particularly to see Fr Ambrose whom I hadn’t seen in a while and with whom I share many things, not the least being Rome and warm fuzzies. Fr Ambrose is modeling a warm fuzzy in the picture to the right.
I happily had the opportunity to visit with the students of St Louis Priory School making what is affectionately known as “Monkamp” (i.e., 4 days’ introduction to the monastic way of life, or at least the fundamentals of it –prayer, manual labor, community, silence, balance, study and fun); monkamp is a small effort at vocation promotion. At some point I had terrific dinner with a classmate who 

abbey coat of arms.JPGremains in the Gateway City, David Miros, invitations to getting ice cream at Ted Drews (3x), a “drive-by” meeting with Tim Hercules, making an attempt with Fr Ambrose at having a Lebanese lunch at St Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral (instead we went for something equally as exoctic, Indian, as the Lebanese lunch was closed for a month), and the meandering around St Louis University and seeing an old friend who was recently ordained a Jesuit priest, Kevin Dyer, etc. While visiting St Raymond’s I ran into an old friend who told us of the tragic killing of her grandaughter, Gina, a few months ago by teenage muggers. Roxy’s recounting the crime moved me to tears. Pray for Roxy and her family as they deal with the aftermath. Gina, a single mother leaves two sons, one of whom witnesses the brutality of his mother’s murder.

BVM.JPG

Crucially important for me was the time spent with the monks in their fraternal life. Theirs is a more intense life than many US Benedictine monks in that their day begins with Office of Vigils at 5:35 am and ends with Compline at 7:40 pm with three other parts of the Divine Office, Mass and Lectio Divina integrated into the day complemented with care for the senior monks, house duties, parish and school work. Free time (holy leisure) is not often found, sadly. Besides the Priory School (junior and high) the monks are the pastors of Saint Anselm Church, the Oratory of Saints Gregory and Augustine (the traditional Mass crowd), and a vibrant Oblate program.

PAZ with Brs Sixtus with Aidan2.JPG

Catching up with Brothers Sixtus, Aidan, Mark, Maximillian, Edward, and with Fathers Ambrose, Linus (the newly ordained), Dominic and Bede (for an afternoon), et al, was good for me because I am edified by their witness. These are great men living a vocation that is engaging, attractive, life-giving and lived in order that God be glorified.
 
Particularly joyful for me was to see Brother Sixtus following his solemn profession of vows, and to see Brother Aidan. In the photo to the left is Br Sixtus and Brother Aidan.
Let us pray to Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces and to Saints Louis, Benedict, Scholastica, Walburga, Emma and Gertrude for the monks, their benefactors, Oblates and co-workers & students.
Other pictures found here.

Fr André Louf, OCSO RIP

Thumbnail image for Andre Louf.jpgThe Trappist monk and prominent theologian and retreat master, Father André Louf, died on July 12, 2010. Louf was a monk of Mont-des-Cats, in France. He was born in 1929 in Leuven, Belgium; he entered the monastery in 1947 and elected abbot of his monastery in 1963, a ministry he exercised for 34 years. Upon retirement in 1997 he lived as a hermit and served for a while as a chaplain to a group of nun in the south of France.

Famously he was the author of the 2004 meditations of the Way of the Cross at the invitation of Pope John Paul II. If you’ve not read them, get your hands on a copy which are available online.

… The sentiment which, in the end, will prevail for the truly humble person is an unshakeable confidence in God’s mercy of which he has tasted at least a glimmer even in the midst of failure. How then could he doubt any longer? (A. Louf, The Way of Humility)

His obit is here.

May Father AndrĂ©’s memory be eternal!

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]yahoo.com.
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