Director's Letter

May 11, 2015

Feast of the Holy Abbots of Cluny


Dear Oblates,


Not many people will know of the abbot saints of the medieval French Abbey of Cluny: Odo, Odilo Mayeul and Hugh.  But they remain an extraordinary quartet of leaders who helped to reform the life of the Church and remind us of the pivotal role of leadership in any community of religious people.  Apart from their longevity (each one was in office for an average of just under fifty years!), they were renowned for their personal holiness and organizational skill.  Each in his own way left the imprint of their personality on the monastery and the work of Cluny and its many monastic foundations throughout Europe.  With respect to innovation and expertise, they were the spiritual equivalent of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.  With respect to monastic observance, they set a standard that is still held up as an ideal. They left a legacy of spiritual soundness and connectivity in their time from which we can still draw lessons.  One only has to think of how the Church has been blessed with similar examples of outstanding leaders in our own day, whether they be in our own monastery of Marmion or in the wider Church.  It is well for us, as we honor past leaders like the abbots of Cluny, to pray for our Church leaders today as they undertake the difficult demands of their office.


I know I speak for Abbot John in expressing appreciation for all who took past in the visitation and funeral of Lucille Brahill, who died on April 13.  Lucille was an oblate of Marmion (she became one when her son was Oblate Director in 1988) and a dear friend of Marmion.  Please pray for the mothers of other oblates who face serious illness, Tom Mulligan and Richard Bergmark included. I want to commend to your prayers as well Sean Fitzpatrick, grandson of Oblate Anne Fitzpatrick, who died in a traffic accident on April 28.


Prayers of gratitude are in order too for Oblate Emily Zilly.  She celebrated her 104th birthday on April 27.  Emily is our oldest oblate and one whose life has been a genuine gift to many.  On that same note of congratulation, I suggest that you pass on congratulations to the Marmion monks who are celebrating jubilees this year: Abbot Vincent for 50 years of priesthood, Fr. Michael for 40 years of monastic profession, and Fr. Frederick for 25 years of priesthood.


Our next Oblate meting will be on Sunday, May 17.  We will have our regular session on Benedictine spirituality in the day room, beginning at 2:30 pm.  It will center on the way in which Benedict in his Rule promotes a respect for the land and the environment.  In conjunction with that, I am inviting all of the oblates to meet in the abbey cemetery at 3:00 pm on May 17 to make an outdoor Way of the Cross (weather permitting).  Dress accordingly. It will be a means to have many of us see first hand the beauty of this site.  We will have our regular meeting at 3:30 pm.  At this meeting we will finalize plans for our pilgrimage June 16 to some of Aurora’s religious sites: Annunciation and St. George’s churches and the original property of Marmion on Lake Street and Illinois Avenue.  If you cannot make the May 17th meeting and are interested in going on the pilgrimage, please contact me. We also have, thanks to Debbie Hutchison and Jeanine Williams, our Oblate brochures ready for your perusal at the meeting. In addition, we hope to do some planning for the coming year.


I want to take this opportunity to wish all of our mothers a Happy Mother’s Day.  May the Blessed Mother in particular be for you and all of us a vibrant sign of maternal love manifest as a sign of God’s love.


In Christ,


Fr. Joel, OSB

Oblate Director


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