Tag Archives: St Louis Abbey

A Swan Song

In view of the
swan episode that I experienced a few weeks ago St Louis Abbey with their swan walking the street, I thought you’d want to know
that Abelard the Abbey swan was found dead yesterday morning by the maintenance staff
of the Priory School (St Louis Abbey). My friend Father Ambrose wrote me about
this event. They think he was probably killed by coyotes or maybe by a big dog. 

Whether you have a liking for birds, I am sorry about this. Abelard was a
beautiful animal. He was already 18 years old; in captivity, swans can live
into their twenties. So he was already old by swan standards; and I think his
mind was going. In fact, after I left, he wandered off several more times and
had to be brought back. I think he had the swan version of Alzheimer’s. Also,
several of the monks think he missed Father Michael (who used to take care of
him and give him bread scraps, etc.). So he was old and debilitated, and in the
natural order of things, another species brought about his demise.

Now the
Priory has all those odious Canada geese.

Abeland died on my friend’s priestly
ordination anniversary, the feast of St. Augustine. Abelard came to live with the
monks as a gift from Father Bernard, back in 1998.

You may want to see Father Augustine’s update on the Juniors at St Louis Abbey!!!

Two St Louis Abbey monks ordained deacon

Cassian and Francis ordained deacon.jpgToday, The Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, archbishop of Saint Louis, ordained two Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Louis to the Order of Deacon. Brothers Francis Hein and Cassian Koeneman received this sacrament of order at the request of Abbot Thomas Frerking. May God them many years of faithful service!

The archbishop ordained these men to the Order of Deacon and next year, Deo volente, he will ordain them to the Order of Priest.

Brother Francis has been at the Dominican House of Studies (Washington, DC) and Brother Cassian has been at Rome’s Angelicum.

What does the Church teach about deacons? The Catechism answers:

Deacons share in Christ’s
mission and grace in a special way. The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them
with an imprint (“character”) which cannot be removed and
which configures them to Christ, who made himself the “deacon” or
servant of all. Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the
bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the
Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing
marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over
funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.

Since the Second Vatican Council the Latin
Church has restored the diaconate “as a proper and permanent rank of the
hierarchy,” while the Churches of the East had always maintained it. This
permanent diaconate, which can be conferred on married men, constitutes an
important enrichment for the Church’s mission. Indeed it is appropriate and
useful that men who carry out a truly diaconal ministry in the Church, whether
in its liturgical and pastoral life or whether in its social and charitable
works, should “be strengthened by the imposition of hands which has come
down from the apostles. They would be more closely bound to the altar and their
ministry would be made more fruitful through the sacramental grace of the
(CCC 1570-71).

Abbot Luke Rigby, RIP

Luke Rigby with Thomas Frerking.jpg

Earlier today I received news that an old friend died, Abbot Luke Rigby. Abbot Luke, 89, was the longtime religious superior of the monks at Saint Louis Priory –later Abbey– having come from England’s famed Ampleforth Abbey to live the Benedictine life. 

Both Ampleforth and St Louis are Benedictine monasteries in the English Benedictine Congregation. In the USA Portsmouth and St Anselm’s (DC) are also of the English Congregation.

Dom Luke Rigby was appointed the Father Prior of his community succeeding Dom Columba Cary-Elwes in 1967; when the Priory granted independence by Abbot Basil Hume, Father Luke was elected the Conventual Prior by the community beginning in 1973. By grace St. Louis Priory was given abbatial status in 1989 and Prior Luke was elected its first Abbot; he served in this capacity until 1995. As the retired abbot of St Louis the English Benedictine Congregation bestowed on Abbot Luke the honor of being the Titular Abbot of Whitby.

Abbot Luke was a dear man; an insightful leader and a holy man of God. As monks say, he persevered in his vocation. I first met Abbot Luke in 1994 when I first went to St Louis for studies and then became friends with the monks there. Without fail I was received like a brother by Abbot Luke. Thanks be to God for all this.

Abbot Luke died peacefully this morning at Mercy Hospital after a long illness. His Mass of Christian Burial is Saturday, 24 March at Saint Louis Abbey.

From his biography at St Louis Abbey, it is written of Abbot Luke:

The life of this “ordinary fellow” (per his description) starts in London in 1923 in a Catholic family, through whom he is related to Saint John Rigby and other martyrs, priests, and religious of the Recusant period in England. He lived in suburban London in a Catholic environment until his father, a banker, was posted abroad. At this point Abbot Luke became a boarding student at Ampleforth College. He joined the monastery straight after high school.

Two items worth reading:

An Experience of the Eremitic Life: An Experience of the Eremitic Life by Luke Rigby.pdf

The Homily for Abbot Luke’s 50th Anniversary of Priesthood: Homily for Abbot Luke’s 50th Anniversary of priesthood.pdf

May God grant Abbot Luke mercy and may SaintsBenedict and Scholastica lead him to beatitude.

Saint John Rigby, pray for us.

Thomas Frerking, Abbot, re-elected at St Louis Abbey

Thomas Frerking and Cardinal Burke.jpgToday, the monks of Saint Louis Abbey elected for the third time, Abbot Thomas Frerking. 

Abbot Thomas, 69, was first elected in 1995; he will serve for an 8-year term. The abbots of the English Benedictine Congregation have term limits: you can be elected indefinitely for 8 years each terms.

Abbot Thomas is a St Louis native. Harvard and Oxford University educated, Frerking studied Philosophy; he’s also a Rhodes Scholar. The Abbot is a noted Thomist.
Saint Louis Abbey operates the Priory School, Saint Anselm Church and the Oratory of Saints Gregory and Augustine. Abbot Thomas is the father of a monastic community which numbers 30 monks.
May God grant, through the intercession of Saints Benedict, Scholastica and all the Benedictine saints and blesseds, the graces needed to lead the monastic community of Saint Louis Abbey.

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke visits the St Louis Oratory of Sts Gregory & Augustine

Cardinal Burke at StL Oratory .jpg

The Rector of the Oratory of Sts Gregory and Augustine, Father Bede Price, and Abbot Thomas with the monastic community of St Louis Abbey, welcomed Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on Friday, January 7th.
His Eminence was the Archbishop of Archdiocese of Saint Louis between 2003 and 2008. Since 2008, he’s been the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.
On the First Sunday of Advent, December 2, 2007, Cardinal Burke canonically established the Oratory of Sts Gregory and Augustine as a non-territorial parish of the St Louis Archdiocese following the 1962 Roman Missal.

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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