Director's Letter

July 10, 2017

Solemnity of St. Benedict


Mid-July means that our monastic community joins the rest of the Church on July 11 to celebrate the one we call Holy Father Benedict and one that many others have claimed as the model for monastic living and for handing down to us a spirituality that resists the assaults of time and trends.  It is truly a grace to be so deeply connected to our Benedictine tradition.  Its resources are deep and wide and the manner in which St. Benedict today has become a means of inspiration for so many disparate people, Catholics and non-Catholics, lay persons, clergy and monastics, is a gift for which we need to give thanks.


It gives me pleasure to announce to you that we will have a new member entering our community on the eve of the Feast of St. Benedict.  He is Henry Di Cristofano.  Henry, a Chicago native, has been to visit us a number of times in the last year.  You may have seen him on the organ bench.  You will probably see him there more after July 11.  He has been a parish musician and will certainly help to enhance our sung prayer.  I need to alert the oblates who come to the Abbey Church on a regular basis that the week of July 10 workmen will be putting in a new concrete walkway form the parking lot to the church.  This will alleviate some of the rough and wet walks to the church you had in the past.


Among other happenings for monks in June, Abbot Vincent was re-elected to another term as Abbot President of the Swiss-American Congregation during the General Chapter at Conception Abbey.  That is a sign of the Congregation’s respect for Abbot Vincent’s leadership capability and we wish him well for six more years in that position.  Abbot John and Father Charles were the community’s representatives at the General Chapter.  Fr. Charles had two very celebratory observances of his golden jubilee of priesthood on June 8 and 9.  Abbot John will be going to Guatemala on July 14.  He will conduct a Visitation at the Abbey of Esquipulas and spend some time with our community in Xela.


I want to thank those oblates who took part in our outing on June 14 to the Art Institute of Chicago, especially those who helped provide transportation.  We were all impressed with the richness of the Institute’s collection of religious art and the recently revised arrangement of the Medieval Gallery.  Thanks also go in a special way to Oblate Mary Kay Bakken for her labors at beautification of the Abbey gardens and her mentoring of Novice Francisco in doing the same.  A word of gratitude is appropriate as well for those oblates who continue to provide help in volunteering to transport monks and assist at the liturgy.


Prayer requests for the abbey continue to have Fr. Basil at its head.  Fr. Basil has spent most of the last month at either Rush-Copley Medical Center or McAuley Manor.  His condition has declined and a number of new complications (e.g., bed sores and abdominal cramps) have created more discomfort for Fr. Basil.  He is currently being evaluated on whether to be placed on hospice care.  Please keep him in your prayers.  You may also give thanks that Abbot John successfully passed a kidney stone this past week after several days.


Your prayers are requested for the soul of our oldest oblate, Emily Zilly, who died on July 4, at the age of 106.  Emily was a devoted oblate for most of her last decades, an exemplary witness of her faith, and we remember her fondly.  Her funeral Mass, appropriately enough, is on July 11 at Holy Angels Church in Aurora.


One of the factors that continues to strike me is the vibrancy of the Oblate program at so many monasteries throughout this country.  I have just come from spending several days at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon, doing research for their history.  On Saturday, July 8, they had their annual St. Benedict Festival.  The two days before the event witnessed countless oblates volunteering for the set-up of tents and booths on the beautiful lawn of the hilltop.  Then on the actual day there were upwards of 1000 people who came to take part in a variety of monastic presentations (from organ and choral music to displays of religious art, historical artifacts and the sharing of food, friendship and even Benedictine beer brewed by the monks!).  It was very evident to me that this is a wonderful model for other communities and I would hope that some day in the future we at Marmion could find a way to do something similar.


In the meantime, I wish you all continued wellbeing for your summer months.  I will leave you with a distant reminder that our first oblate meeting is scheduled for Sunday, September 17.  Please pass along to me any requests for prayers or for news items on the oblates.


In St. Benedict,

Fr. Joel, OSB

Oblate Director