Director's Letter

September 27, 2016

Feast of St. Vincent DePaul


Dear Oblates,


Today’s Feast of St. Vincent DePaul calls to mind the work for the poor that is so closely associated with this saint and how St. Benedict incorporated in his Rule and life what today the Church calls “the preferential love or option for the poor.”  In his Rule, Benedict is insistent upon giving a primacy of place to the poor.  They are to be given “great care and concern” in their welcome as guests in c. 53.  In c. 55 Benedict speaks of the clothes closet the monks have for the poor.  In the accounts of Benedict’s life we see him coming to the aid of the populace around Monte Cassino in time of famine and exhausting the monastery’s supply of oil and grain for the needy.  This corresponds to similar accounts in early monastic history of both hermits and cenobites having a special sensibility for serving the needs of the poor in their midst and seeing Christ as they do so.  I encourage you to do the same as we come to the end of our Year of Mercy.


Much has been happening in the last few weeks that require updates, especially with respect to the health of monks and oblates.


I want to commend to your prayers Br. Jude and Br. Peter.  Br. Jude was readmitted to St. Patrick’s residence on Sept. 22.  He has had complications with his diabetes and circulation.  He will undergo physical therapy and have some of his wound issues treated.  Br. Peter has continued to take chemotherapy but is failing.  Fr. Basil’s pulmonary fibrosis continues to limit his work, but he remains in good spirits.


On the side of the oblates, Al Wegman has been admitted to the memory section of Fox Knoll.  Al’s wife, Sylvia, has also had new complications with her respiratory condition and is on oxygen 24/7. Other oblates that need prayers are Wayne Harrison (now ready to receive treatment for lung cancer), Debbie Hutchison (who is scheduled for an operation at Mayo Clinic on 27 September for ovarian cancer), Anne Schaefer (recovering from multiple surgeries), Ann Fitzpatrick, in very weak condition after recovering from a fall, and Gerri Smith, who has also received extensive chemo treatment

for her cancer.


On a brighter note, I am grateful for the transportation volunteers among the oblates.  It is a big help for us.  I am also grateful for Don De Vale, who has begun to accompany the monastic choir at Office on the organ in the absence of Br. Benedict.  


You are invited to attend two special ceremonies at the Abbey in coming days.  On Sunday, October 2, Francisco Medrano will be invested with the habit at Vespers and begin his novitiate year.  On October 3, Feast of Bl. Columba Marmion, Novice Eric Knott will make his claustral oblation as a monk of Marmion Abbey during that day’s Conventual Mass, beginning at 11:35 a.m.  Let us pray for the perseverance of both of these young men.


I want to take the opportunity of congratulating Oblate Dominic Petitti on his ordination to the permanent diaconate on September 24.  May Dominic and his wife Giselle be blessed as they witness to the Gospel in a very special way.  We also wish well those oblates who will be attending a meeting of oblate directors and oblates at St. Meinrad Archabbey from Oct. 2-4.


For those who were not in attendance at the September meeting, I should let you know of the results of some discussions we had at that meeting.  It was decided to commission a plaque for deceased Oblate Ginger Salis, along with a structure for housing work tools by the outdoor Way of the Cross.  Both of these would commemorate the dedication and work Ginger performed so humbly and heroically on the Way of the Cross over the years.  It was also decided to pursue the possibility of a water linkage to the Abbey Cemetery.  We are blessed to have a number of oblate volunteers working on the above.  The oblates have committed themselves to subsidize the above and continued improvements in the abbey cemetery.  If any of you would like to contribute to that fund, it will be greatly appreciated.


Our next Oblate Meeting will be on Sunday, October 16.  For our 2:30 meeting in the day room we will continue to work on our study of the Rule of Benedict, so please bring copies of the Rule.  For our regular meeting, we are blessed to have Abbot Vincent give us a report on the recent Abbots Congress in Rome.    He will talk of their audience with Pope Francis and the many speakers and topics that were part of the Congress.


Finally, I ask that you continue to pray for vocations to our Abbey and for new oblates to come as well.  The infusion of new members is one of the ways the Spirit works to listen to different modalities of God’s voice and to change our hearts.


In Christ,

Fr. Joel