Tag Archives: Benedictine

St Benedict’s Abbey elects Father James Albers 9th abbot

James R. Albers OSB.jpgThe monastic chapter of Saint Benedict’s Abbey (Atchison, KS) elected Father James Robert Albers, 41 as the 9th abbot earlier today. Until now, he’s served the monastic community as the Prior and vocation director.

Abbot James was born 19 October 1971, entered the abbey in 1996 and ordained in 2000.

The Benedictine community here was founded in 1857; it was given the rank of an abbey on 7 April 1876. Saint Benedict’s Abbey administers Benedictine College (1858), Maur Hill Prep School (1919); in 2003 the Prep merged with Mount Scholastica Academy (1863) to build a more dynamic and stronger school known as Maur Hill-Mount Academy. Saint Benedict’s Abbey is a member of the American Casinesse Congregation.
The monks also have a dependent Mosteiro São José in Goiás, Brazil.

The newly elected Abbot James succeeds Abbot Barnabas Senecal who was elected 8th abbot on 30 May 1994 and re-elected on 27 December 2002.
Forward, always forward.
May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Saint Benedict, Saint Scholastica with all Benedictine saints pray for the abbey and for Abbot James before the Throne of Grace.
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Kansas monks set to elect new abbot


St Benedict Abbey KS.jpgLater today the monks of Saint Benedict’s Abbey
(Atchison, KS) enter into a special chapter (the group of solemnly processed)
to begin the process of electing a new Abbot.


Abbot Barnabas Senecal, 75, is leaving the abbatial office. The Constitutions of the American Casinesse Congregation of monks has the abbot submitting a resignation on his 75th birthday. Abbot Barnabas has served for the last 18 1/2 years.


Please keep the monks in your
thoughts and prayers as they gather to elect a new Father in Christ.

The abbey recently saw two monks profess temporary vows and three men enter the novitiate.


May the
Holy Spirit guide the hands of the monks. Saint Benedict, pray for the monks.

The New Evangelization and St Benedict

Some Year of Faith initiatives

The monks, nuns and oblates of Saint Mary’s Monastery and Saint Scholastica Priory in Petersham, MA, had a day of reflection on October 20th that covered the New Evangelization and the Benedictine charism. Dr. Philip Zaleski, an Oblate of the monastery and Father Christophe Vuillaume, OSB, a monk at Saint Mary’s gave the two presentations.

Audio files

The Year of Faith and the New Evangelization

Saint Benedict and  the Life of Faith

Dr Zaleski is a professor at Smith College and a published author, and Dom Vuilaume is a priest and monk who as served at the request of the Subiaco Congregation in various locations,as of now he’s serving at Saint Mary’s.

The Monastery is celebrating 25 years of foundation this year. The monks belong to the Subiaco Congregation which is one of the largest groupings of monks and nuns in the world. Most often monasteries in the Subiaco Congregation do not engage in outside works and rely on the generosity of others. At Saint Mary’s. the Divine Office is prayed according to the traditional form of the Antiphonale Monasticum; Holy Mass is celebrated according to the Novus Ordo with the ordinary of the Mass prayed in Latin.

The nuns of Saint Scholastica Priory follow a traditional monastic life. They share the monastic church with the monks for some of the prayer times and Mass but have their own work. They were blessed recently to have two novices profess simple vows.

Thomas Merton, a light still shining

Fr Louis Thomas MertonHear with favor our prayers, which we humbly offer, O Lord, for the salvation of the soul of Father Louis (Thomas Merton), your servant and Priest, that he, who devoted a faithful ministry to your name, may rejoice in the perpetual company of your Saints.

The famous Trappist monk, Thomas Merton (b. 1915) died on this date in 1968.

In very many ways Merton was a consummate human being: loved pleasure and engaged his freedom only to transform pleasure and his version of freedom with his embrace a life of prayer and silence as a  Strict Observance Cistercian (a Trappist monk) in a Kentucky abbey.  In the monastery Thomas Merton was known as Father M. Louis, a name I still prefer to use because of his commitment to the monastic life. At the command of his abbot, Merton wrote of his conversion in his 1949 best seller, The Seven Storey Mountain, introducing millions of people to the monastic life. No other book since this one has had such a critical impact on Catholics. His conversion story was only one of many books and essays published by Merton and even in death Merton continues to publish due to the finding of new materials or the repackaging of thought into new books. The irony of Merton’s life as a monk is that he died in Asia conferencing with an international and interfaith group of monks and nuns. His body was brought home in a steel casket on a military transport.

In his lifetime Merton was a voice of reason, a voice of sanity, a voice speaking the Word of God. As typical of public thinkers he became a voice and an influence for a variety of types of people, from artists, intellectuals, religious types, peace and nonviolence promoters and the like.

Key for me and dare I say for Benedictines of all stripes, Merton argued for a contemplative life which engages the reality of the world so that the monk, nun, oblate could intercede on behalf of the world for others (read The Sign of Jonas).  Father Louis helps me to understand the Benedictine charism better when he says,

The Benedictine life is simply living the Gospel without fanfare…. The mainspring of everything in Saint Benedict is the love of Christ in Himself, in the poor, in the monastic community, in the individual brethren…. This is the key to the monastic life and spirit.

A life totally cut of is good for a few, like the Carthusians, but for Benedictines and the Cistercians (a reformed group of Benedictines) who form a school of prayer and love in Christ, nothing is out-of-bounds. Merton, indeed, opened the doors to a new manner of living the vitally important monastic life today.

He sought to be a saint, that is, be yourself, is the vocation that all of us ought to consider doing with seriousness. The Pope echoes this notion, so does Communion and Liberation. Great minds think alike.

Watch Father Jim Martin’s video presentation on Thomas Merton.

Thomas Merton’s work continues with the initiative of The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living.

Benedictine Father Michael Zielinski appointed Head of Office for the Pope’s Worship Office

zielinski-sisinono.jpgThe Pope appointed Benedictine Abbot Christopher Michael John Zielinski to the be the Head of the Office (office manager) of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on Saturday, 24 November 2012. He is the number 3 person in the Congregation serving with Antonio Cardinal Cañizares, Archbishop Arthur Roche and Father Anthony Ward, SM.

Dom Michael, 59, a native of Lakewood, Ohio, is a monk of the Olivetan Congregation of Benedictines having professed monastic vows in 1972, who studied at Sant’Anselmo and ordained in 1977. Dom Michael is a past religious superior of the Abbey of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Pecos, NM). Until now and since 8 May 2008, he’s been the vice president of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology.

He is also a consultor to the same Congregation. 

Dom Michael gave an interview that covered his thinking on the Tridentine Mass in 2007.
Saint Benedict, pray for us.
Saint Bernard Tolomei, pray for Abbot Michael in his new work for the Church.
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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]yahoo.com.
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