Category Archives: Benedictines

Holiness of created matter … the Benedictine approach

Carving-Candle.jpgThe Benedictine nuns of The Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, have for several years run a monastic intern program where people come to live the life of the nuns, explore their vocation, gain a fuller appreciation of creation and experience healing (even if the healing isn’t sought). The rhythms of life the nuns have are suited to being more humane and educative. The participants in the monastic internship program are not necessarily thinking of becoming nuns and priests, many pursue their life’s calling as they know it by being teachers, doctors, lawyers or farmers.

A recent monastic intern, Brenna Cussen, wrote an essay on her experience, her desires and the calling she’s received in “Craft and the Holiness of Matter.” Scroll to the bottom of the webpage for the essay.

Being in God’s…according to Saint Benedict

In the days leading up to the feast of Saint Benedict (Jul 11) I thought I’d look at some reflections on his influence on us today. The Saint has set the stage for so much in the Church today, especially for the spiritual life, that we need to pay clear attention to what he has to say.

Living in the presence of God, according to Benedict, shapes
all realms of human life: prayer, work, interaction with creation, and
relationships with other people. “Fellowship,” that great slogan of
our time, was for Benedict no contradiction to a devout love of God. The social
dimension is always already religious, for in the brother as in the sister we
encounter Christ himself.

Faith in God is made concrete for Benedict in a
belief in the good core of the fellow human being. There faith is expressed in
a new way of being with one another. That, for Benedict, is the basis of true
humanity. It is not an uplifting ideal, but reality that confronts us again and
again in daily situations.

Thus Benedict says in the chapter on the monastic
counsel that the abbot is to call all the brothers to counsel because “the
Lord often reveals what is better to the younger.” For Benedict, then, it
is clear that the Lord speaks to us through people, that he can speak to us
through anyone, even a younger person who may have less experience and
knowledge.

Anselm Grun, OSB, Benedict of Nursia: His Message For Today

John Brahill elected 5th abbot of Marmion Abbey

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.

Fr Austin Murphy elected 10th abbot of St Procopius Abbey

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.

Damien Toilolo elected abbot of St Andrew’s Abbey, Valyermo

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!

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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