Director's Letter

June 29, 2016

Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul


Dear Oblates,


Summer is a time when everything from our movies to our books takes on a curious character.  We are supposed to have “beach reads” and “summer blockbusters” to divert and entertain, as if our capacity for absorbing and retaining anything of a higher caliber is diminished by the long days and extra leisure time.  Quite the contrary, I have always found summer to be a time when I can catch up on serious reading and films of a certain weight.  I think St. Benedict would agree that we should be selective and serious in our choices and consider whether they advance both our critical faculties and our spiritual growth.  An excellent example of someone who does this is Bishop Robert Barron.  His Word on Fire website and his ongoing reviews of books and movies with religious themes serve as a reminder for me of how we are expected to interact with those elements of our culture that stimulate our minds and provoke a thoughtful response.  So in the midst of justifiable entertainment and summer leisure, take time to read and watch material of substance.  It may even divert us from having to face the bracing daily reality of international crises and our own weak national level of political discourse.


By now most of you should have received the invitation to the July 11 ceremony for solemn vows for Br. Antony Maria Minardi and Br. Theodore Haggarty.  If you cannot join us for the liturgy at 10:30 a.m. and the luncheon that follows, I trust that you will be joined to us in prayerful support for our two new “life” members.  I ask for your continued prayers for new members.  On that subject, I am happy to report that on July 1 we will receive a new postulant, Francisco Medrano.  Francisco is a member of St. Nicholas Parish in Aurora and has been visiting us over the course of the last year.


I need to give a very heartfelt word of gratitude to those who assisted in “repacking” the path of the outdoor Way of the Cross the weekend of June 11-12.  Particular thanks go to Pat Williams who worked the machinery to make the job go much more efficiently.  The workers who helped in the process include Pat’s wife Jeanine and son Nick, the husband and wife team of Jon and Mary Kay Bakken, John Francis McCullough, and Jim Keane.  I suggest you stop by the cemetery the next time you visit the abbey.  We have done substantial renovations on the landscape and much of it has been helped by donations from oblates.


Your prayers are requested for a number of our ailing oblates.  Ginger Salis continues to experience breathing difficulty and has gone on hospice care at home. I also commend to your prayers the growing number of our oblates who because of age, sickness and distance are not able to be with us regularly.  May the Lord visit them with his mercy.  Please include in that group Abbot David, who continues to reside at St. Patrick residence and as the oldest member of our community will reach the age of 90 on July 26.


There are some impending changes in monastic assignments at the Abbey.  As of July 12, Fr. Marcos will begin a year of discernment regarding a possible call to the Chicago Archdiocese as a diocesan priest.  He will be living and working in a parish in Chicago Heights.  Please pray that he will choose as the Lord wishes.  I will be assuming the role of Formation Director as of July 12.  This is my second time around for the job, so one can hope, if not presume, that I will not make the mistakes of my first time in the office!  Just as in the case of Oblate Director, it is a role that requires generous doses of God’s grace, so please pray that those graces will come. As I have mentioned earlier, Fr. Paul Weberg will be moving back to the Abbey in the coming month after his three-year active tour of duty as Army Chaplain.  He will continue to serve the Reserves in his chaplain role.


As I look to our Oblate Meetings in the fall, I am open to any suggestions people might have on themes for our Benedictine sessions in the Day Room or our General Sessions.  I hope to have a calendar of the year available for you by the end of the summer.


Fr. Joel Rippinger, OSB

Oblate Director