Director's Letter

September 8, 2016

Nativity of Mary


Dear Oblates,


The weekend of September 4, most of us were aware of an avalanche of attention given to the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  As the media acknowledged the saintly legacy of Mother Teresa, a number of non-Catholic news sources made a point of referencing the criticism that had been made of her work some years ago by the English writer Christopher Hitchens.  As a self-styled investigative journalist, Hitchens formulated what he no doubt considered ample evidence of the self-serving motivation of Mother Teresa’s charitable work, converting people to the Catholic faith and promoting her own reputation.  As a self—proclaimed atheist, Hitchens lacked not only the moral detachment necessary to give an objective judgment for Mother Teresa’s work, but he lacked the empathy to understand the deep faith that fueled all of Mother Teresa’s work.  Without this understanding of the central role played by her faith in the person and providence of Christ, there was no way of coming to a proper appreciation of the woman we know today as St. Teresa of Calcutta.  I often think that the same skewed perspective of Hitchens operates in so many of the circles of our secular society when they make a judgment on monasticism and its heritage.  In the face of that, perhaps the best thing we can do is imitate Mother Teresa and trust that others will see Christ in us and we in them as we make room for the love of Christ to motivate all aspects of our call.   


There is a good deal that has been happening at the Abbey since I last wrote over a month ago.  Br. Benedict Robert has requested a period of exclaustration and it has been approved.  He left the Abbey on Sept. 1, to begin a job at a parish in Michigan.  He remains a monk of Marmion Abbey.  Please continue to keep Br. Benedict in your prayers.  Subsequent to his departure, Fr. Paul has taken over the role of Choirmaster once again and Fr. Kenneth has done the same as Kitchen Master.  As if he does not have enough to do, Abbot Vincent will be in charge of the tailor shop.  Another situation that has required some changes is the diagnosis of Br. Peter with advanced cancer in his stomach and lung.  Since the tumors are inoperable, Br. Peter is receiving chemotherapy.  Your prayers are certainly asked for him as well.  Fr. Nathanael has stepped up to take over the role of Purchaser for the Abbey as a consequence.  I also want to extend my thanks to those oblates who offered to assist the abbey in driving monks to various medical and pastoral appointments.  That has been a significant help in this period of time.


Abbot Vincent and Abbot John have been in Rome since Sept. 3, taking part in the Congress of Abbots.  A new Abbot Primate is to be elected at the Congress.


Many of you were informed of the death of Oblate Ginger Salis.  Please continue to pray for the repose of her soul.  I am asking that at our September meeting we discuss a memorial by the outdoor Way of the Cross as an appropriate way to honor Ginger.  Another deceased friend of the Abbey was Bishop Thomas G. Doran, who died in Rockford on Sept. 1.  May they rest in peace.


Our next Oblate Meeting will take place on Sunday, September 18.  At our regular meeting I would like to discuss plans for the Abbey cemetery and Way of the Cross along with the Memorial for Ginger Salis.  We will be looking to establish a firmer calendar for the fall months and I hope to have a number of oblates report on spiritual events that were part of this past summer.  We will meet in the Day Room of the Abbey at 2:30, when we will discuss a variety of ways to study the Rule of Benedict.  For those attending that meeting I suggest you bring a copy of the Rule. The regular meeting will follow, as usual, in the back of the library at 3:30.


In closing, I will make my regular reminder that you send to me any changes in mailing address, phone numbers and e-mail, as well as prayer requests.



Fr. Joel Rippinger, OSB

Oblate Director