Category Archives: Benedictines

Pietro Vittorelli, OSB, resigns abbacy of Montecassino

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It’s finally been decided: Abbot Pietro Vittorelli has resigned the abbacy and his ministry of Ordinary of Cassino. Pope Francis invoked the Code of Canon Law 401.2¬†regarding matters of health.

Last year I asked readers of Communio to pray for Abbot Pietro here.

He now needs to pay more attention to his health for his own good, that of the monastic community that he intensely loves but also for the diocesan community.

Until the monastic community of Montecassino can be called together to elect a new abbot, the Prior of Sacro Speco at the Abbey of Saint Scholastica (on Subiaco) and the Director of the Library in the City there, Dom Augusto Ricci will serve as the Apostolic Administrator.

Dom Pietro was born on 30 June 1962, professed of vows in 1991, ordained priest in 1994, elected and confirmed in the abbatial office and Diocesan Ordinary of Montecassino in 2007. The great abbey of Montecassino is a territorial abbey. The stats of the diocese in 2004 state that there were 79,000 souls, with 68 priests (secular and religious) serving in 53 parishes.

From the Italian media.

Through the intercession of Blessed Columba Marmion we pray,

O God, Almighty Father, who, having called the blessed abbot Columba to the priesthood and to the monastic way of life, wonderfully opened to him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ, grant, in Thy goodness, that, strengthened by his teachings in the spirit of our adoption as Thy sons, we may pray to Thee with a boundless confidence, and so obtain, through his intercession, the full restoration to health of Dom Pietro Vittorelli, Abbot of Monte Cassino. We ask this grace for the joy of Thy Church, for the consolation of the community of Monte Cassino, and for the praise of Thy glory, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

11th Anniversary of a tragedy at Conception Abbey

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Eleven years ago today, a man with no identifiable motive killed two monks, wounded two others and then committed suicide. Robert Lloyd Jeffress, 71, changed Benedictine life at Conception Abbey forever.

A few years ago a monk from Conception told me the unforeseen effect of this event has brought the community together in a deeper way.

“When brutal deeds are enacted, it calls for heroic and radical forgiveness. Such acts of violence as happened here on Monday, could only have come from someone in desperate need of help. Hatred, anger, and an unwillingness to forgive only keep us crippled and bound by the evils that surround us. If we endure evil and do not allow it to conquer us, we will share in the victory of Jesus Christ, in the hidden life of the resurrection of Jesus.”

(Taken from Abbot Gregory homily at the funeral Mass for Father Philip and Brother Damian)

May God me be merciful to Father Philip and Brother Damian, but also to their monastic community and to Mr Jeffress.
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New York-native Benedictine monk illuminates the Word

Pope Paul VI told us we need more witnesses to the faith. I’ve quoted the pope several times on this just point. True, the personal witness of a man and woman to the inner and outer works of the Holy Spirit is what concretely moves the heart. Truth is encountered in the witness. Father Tom Rosica, CSB, of Salt and Light TV interviews known and less known witnesses of the faith that for me, really opens new vistas.

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That I am interested in sharing the beauty of the Benedictine charism on Communio as the baptismal vocation is lived through monks, nuns, sisters and the laity. Father Rosica interviews Benedictine priest and monk Father Michael Patella of Saint John’s Abbey (Collegeville. MN). It is linked at the end of this post.
Saint John’s is a very large large abbey. At one time it was the largest in the world, now the monks numbers about 150. The monastic community administers a university, a high school, a press, an ecumenical center, a critically acclaimed international library of digital manuscripts, and several parishes. The monks of this abbey also serve the Church in a variety of places in the USA and other countries. No one can doubt the creative genius as a gift the Spirit with the men called to live a monastic vocation at Saint John’s Abbey.
Father Michael’s interview happened in August 2012 and was released in April 2013.

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Monastero de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad

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One of the weekly gifts for me is to read the reflections of Abbot Philip of the Abbey of Christ in the Desert (Abiquiu, NM). Abbot Philip is a real good man with a practical spiritual insight and tons of experience. He’s been a religious superior for a long time. This week’s reflection in part dealt with the abbot’s fraternal visit to the Monastero de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (Monastery of Our Lady of Solitude) located outside of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México.

The Benedictines of Our Lady of Solitude started very modestly in 1974 by Father Aelred Wall. Though a long time since the founding, Our Lady of Solitude now has ten monks who are dependent on the assistance of Christ in the Desert. 

The Mexican monasteries seem to be doing well. And they deserve our fraternal and material support. 

Though a little dated, this video of the monastery of Soledad reflects certain beauty.

Congrats to the newly ordained

new bport priests.jpgIn recent days several dioceses and religious orders have ordained men to the priesthood.

The priest is to “understand … imitate … and conform” his life to the Cross of Jesus. The bishop exhorts the man to be ordained to see that he believes what he reads, that he teaches what he believes and practices what he teaches.
Here is a random sample:
The Archabbey of Saint Vincent: 1
The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal: 4
The Order of Preachers, New York: 6
The Idente Missionaries of Christ: 1
The Archdiocese of Boston: 5
The Archdiocese of Hartford: 7
The Archdiocese of New York: 6
The Archdiocese of Newark: 5
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia: 3
The Archdiocese of Los Angelus: 2
The Eparchy of Newton: 1
The Eparchy of Saint Maron, Brooklyn: 2
The Diocese of Bridgeport: 7
The Diocese of Paterson: 9
Saint John Mary Vianney, pray us.

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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