Director's Letter

September 3, 2015

Feast of St. Gregory the Great


The person of Gregory the Great continues to occupy a central place in the spirituality of the Catholic Church.  The fact that he was a monk and the one who conveyed to subsequent generations the story of the life of St. Benedict is only one reason why I find him such a valuable resource.  When I gave a retreat this summer for the priests of the Rockford Diocese I used Pope Gregory’s Rule of Pastoral Care as the basis for my presentations and the priests responded positively to the relevance that the teaching of Gregory, a man of the 6th century, still has for ministers of today.  The reading at the Office of Vigils we have for his feast always reminds me of how much of a sacrifice it was for Gregory, a true contemplative, to take up administration and active ministry.  He says: “When I was in the monastery I could curb my idle talk and usually be absorbed in my prayers.  Since I assumed the burden of pastoral care, my mind can no longer be collected; it is concerned with so many matters.”  I am sure many of you can identify with Gregory the Great’s words from your own perspective.  We are challenged regularly “by many matters.” May we benefit from the legacy of his teaching and his example as we pray for worthy leaders and monks in the Church of today.


I want to thank all of those oblates who were in attendance at the visitation and funeral Mass for Fr. Mario on September 1 and 2.  Many of you encountered him in his years at Lake Street, or during his long tenure as pastor of Annunciation Church.  He died peacefully on Friday morning, August 28, at McAuley Manor.  If any of you would like to have copies of the funeral homily of Abbot John, the eulogy of Abbot Vincent, or the obituary, I can provide them. I also have extra memorial cards that I will bring to the next meeting.


Please keep in your prayer Fr. Philip, a classmate of Fr. Mario.  He was admitted to Mercy Presence hospital on Friday, September 4, with accelerated heart rate and breathing problems.  Fr. Philip took the place of Fr. Mario as the second oldest of our living monks.  He is 85.


Prayers are also requested for a number of our oblates. Joseph Amrheim has recently been placed in an elder care community in Milwaukee. Don Arndt has just received news of a diagnosis of  Parkinson Disease.  Sylvia Wegman will undergo knee replacement surgery on Sept. 15.  Among the deceased commended to your prayers are Patricia Kulpin, an oblate who passed away in July, and the father of Oblate Julie Dresser, Wayne Robbins (a 1963 graduate of Marmion), who died on August 31.


I would like to alert you to an upcoming talk at Marmion Abbey that some of you may find of interest.  On Wednesday, Sept. 9, Abbot Jean Pierre Longeat and Fr. Mark Butlin will give a presentation on the work of the Alliance for International Monasticism.  It will be given in the Abbey Library at 7:00 pm.  Anyone is welcome. 


This is a reminder that we will have our next Oblate Meeting on Sunday, Sept. 20.  There will be our usual gathering in the Day Room at 2:30 pm to discuss what are known as the Benedictine Hallmarks of spirituality.  You may want to bring copies of your Rule with you. Our regular meeting will take place in the library at 3:30 pm.  We will discuss our schedule for the next few months and hear from Fr. Marcos on his experience in Italy last spring as he took part in classes for people involved with monastic formation.


I also have copies of papers given at the summer Oblate Directors Conference in Arkansas for those who may be interested.


I wish you all an energetic entry into September and hope that you will be in solidarity with all those who are praying for the trip to the United States of Pope Francis that will take place later this month.


Fr. Joel

Oblate Director