Fr. Volker Futter: The Modern Day "Traveling Brother"

Shortly after coming to the United States, three of the Benedictine Monks began the task of fundraising by traveling to communities in various states.  Brother Egbert, Brother Felix and Brother Placidus began their work in New York, among the German immigrant communities.  They became known as the 'Traveling Brothers'. 

Since World War II displaced many immigrants, several groups from Luxenburg and Germany settled in Wisconsin.  A large group started their lives over in Port Washington, Sheboygan and Marathon City.  These people were primarily farmers--many were dairy farmers.  As the brothers reached out to them for support of the missions, relationships and friendships developed that have lasted to this day.  Often during these visits the farmers would gift the brothers with the fruits of their labors – cheese

Fast forward to 2017,  our own Fr. Volker has carried on this traveling tradition for over 20 years.  Every year, usually in late February or early March, he ventures out on a 2,500 mile journey.  He visits approximately 150 households in a two week timeframe.  Listening to him speak of his travels, it is easy to see that this is much more than fundraising.  These people are his friends.  A special family of contacts that have involved several generations.  Many of the people he met 30 years ago are aging and some of his visits are in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.  But the results are always the same.  Friendship, fellowship, hospitality, donations and of course…cheese!

The Goldbach family has been a part of this tradition since 1955 when Brother Egbert first visited a young girl named Marie and her mother Elizabeth.  At that time the family packed cheese in their small kitchen.  Now they manage a corporation that includes 4 large cheese processing plants.  Fr. Volker paid Marie a visit this past month.  She is now 95 and is still living in her own home.

Another “Cheese Run” is in the books for Fr. Volker.  Now he goes about the task of recording his travels and acknowledging the donations and the benefactors.  Upon his return, he unloaded over 900 pounds of cheese to be used throughout the year by the monks of Christ the King Priory. 

God Bless his efforts with this special ministry and all the generous people that have responded over the years. 

All of the donations received during his visits go directly to the missions that Christ the King Priory support.  To learn more or to donate, please check out our current appeal. 

From the Mission Office

“A Time of Change” was the title of my last post, reflecting not only on the changes in nature or liturgical seasons, but also on the change of leadership at Christ the King Priory.

On January 11th, the community welcomed Fr. Joel Macul, O.S.B.  to Schuyler who arrived the previous evening at the train station in Omaha. Check out the website section “Meet the Monks” to learn more about Prior Joel. An update on his predecessor Fr. Mauritius was posted on the blog page of Christ the King Priory. 

Being part of the international Benedictine Congregation of St. Ottilien connects us with confreres from around the world. Occasionally African or Asian monks find their way to Schuyler. Fr. Benedict Amusala O.S.B., a monk of Prince of Peace Priory in Tigoni, Kenya, and Fr. Benedict Obbo O.S.B. from Christ the King Priory in Tororo, Uganda, spent time with us. Cold temperatures, snow and ice added to their Nebraska experience.

I am happy to report that construction of the girls’ hostel at the Ndanda Vocational Training Center, Tanzania, is now underway. Last August we invited our friends to assist financially with this project. We exceeded our expectations of raising $75,000 for the construction project. The balance of the total amount raised, $138,130.00, will be added to the scholarship fund administered by Ndanda Abbey.

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Preparation of Building Site and Foundation for Girls' Hostel - Ndanda Vocational Training Center

Asante Sana – Thank You for giving young women of Tanzania a place to stay while attending the trade school at Ndanda in addition to providing funds for poor teenage girls who otherwise cannot afford school fees.

In the name of my confreres and missionaries I thank you for your friendship and support of the various projects we present in the course of the year. I am bold enough to say “stay tuned for the next appeal coming your way” in time for the Lenten Season beginning on March 1st.

As we journey through 2017 I invite you to pray with us:

  • for unity among Christians

  • for peace in the world

  •  for respect for all human life

  • for our nation and its elected officials

  • for social justice

  • for respect for all people, especially for minorities and ethnic groups that make up the American society

I assure you that your intentions are also included in our prayer and the daily celebration of Holy Mass.

Br. Tobias, O.S.B.

A Time of Change

Greetings!

I wish to offer these thoughts for your personal reflection with the invitation to join the monks of Christ the King Priory in prayer of thanksgiving for this year’s harvest, for the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the leaders of the Church and all of God’s people; for peace in our world; for elected officials to govern wisely, respecting the sacredness of life and to work diligently to bring change that will better especially the lives of the underprivileged and needy. These reflections include also news concerning our monastic community.

In this “Season of Change” be assured of our prayers for your intentions. Thanks for your interest in our work wherever we Missionary Benedictines are represented, and for your prayerful and financial support whenever possible.

For the community and staff of the mission office: 
Bro. Tobias, O.S.B. 
 

“Outlook from present to the unknown and thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth”

Change in the cycle of nature!
Now that the harvest is almost completed, fields and gardens are barren – a time to regenerate before another cycle of plowing and planting and the wait for seeds to germinate and bring forth another bountiful harvest, please God.
 

We give you thanks, O loving Creator God.

Change in the world!
Nations go through cycles of change – new leaders are elected and assume responsibilities. We pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit that our elected officials will promote peace in our world and reach out to the less fortunate of society so that their daily needs can be met. We pray for social justice, peaceful coexistence of cultures in our own country and worldwide. 

Come and guide us, O Holy Spirit!

Change in our Church! 
Pope Francis, in his efforts to promote Christian Unity does not hesitate to address issues, painful as these may be, but he also affirms that we all are God’s beloved children. We pray for a greater respect among people of all walks of life and religious backgrounds, bringing us – eventually – together as one family.

Unite us in your peace and love, O God.

Change of leadership at Christ the King Priory! 
In late September, Abbot Michael Reepen, O.S.B. announced that Fr. Mauritius Wilde, O.S.B. who has served the local monastic community since July 2011 will move on to Rome, Italy to serve under Abbot Primate Gregory Polan, O.S.B. as Prior for the international community of students and faculty at San Anselmo.

Lord, bless the ministry of Fr. Mauritius.

Change in ministry! 
Fr. Joel Macul, O.S.B., former Abbot of St. Paul’s in Newton, NJ,  and Abbot Delegate for the Congregation of St. Ottilien, accepted     the challenge to move to Nebraska and assume the responsibilities as Prior for Christ the King Priory. Fr. Joel brings with him experience in teaching both here in the States and in Africa, an understanding of ethnic diversity having spent time with communities in Kenya, India, Tanzania and most recently living with our brothers from South Korea who took over St. Paul’s Abbey in Newton.

Lord, keep us faithful to our monastic way of life.

Change of Liturgical Seasons!
With the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King the liturgical year winds down and with the First Sunday of Advent we enter the festive season of Advent leading up to the celebration of the mysteries of the Lord’s Nativity.

 

Let us look forward with joy to the celebration of the Lord’s Birth!

Bro. Tobias Dammert, O.S.B.
Director of Development, Benedictine Mission House

Monastery of the Incarnation, Agbang, Togo – West Africa raised to the status of Abbey

On August 6th, 2016, the monastery church at Agbang was consecrated by the bishop of Kara in whose diocese the monastery is located. The church was financed through the generosity of benefactors of the Benedictine Mission House in Schuyler, NE, friends of the Abbey of St. Felizitas at Muensterschwarzach, Germany, and St. Othmarsberg in Uznach, Switzerland. 

The monastery was founded in 1985 and in 1991 was accepted into the international Missionary Benedictine Congregation of St. Ottilien. In 2004 the monastery was raised to the status of a Conventuial Priory.

On August 8, 2016, the Monastery was raised to the rank of Abbey. Two days later the community elected its first Abbot, Fr. Romain Botta, O.S.B.,  who will lead the community for the next 12 years. The election was confirmed by Abbot President Jeremias Schroeder, O.S.B. in the presence of Abbot Blasio Park, O.S.B. of Waegwan Abbey in South Korea. Abbot elect Romain Botta, O.S.B. made his first monastic vows on September 24, 1995. He is a graduate of St. Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Indiana. He was ordained priest on July 7, 2012. 

Following ordination, Fr. Romain served as Congregation Secretary at our headquarters in St. Ottilien, Germany. With the upcoming General Chapter, Abbot Romain will help with the preparations until a successor is appointed.

The monks of Christ the King Priory – Benedictine Mission House extend prayerful good wishes to Abbot Romain and the monks of the Abbey of the Incarnation. 

From the Mission Office

Greetings from the monks at Christ the King Priory!

Thanks for visiting the pages of the Christ the King Priory, St. Benedict Center and the Benedictine Mission House.

For over 80 years, Missionary Benedictine monks have prayed and worked in the little town of Schuyler in Colfax County, Nebraska. Without fanfare we raised mission awareness among thousands of potential donors who became friends and who, often under great sacrifices, supported our efforts of helping our confreres around the world.  

Many years ago our community had up to five confreres assigned to visit friends all over the country. Amazingly, even today the 2nd or 3rd generation of donors recalls the visits of monks to their grandparents, parents, or families in the neighborhoods. The tireless work of our “Travelling Brothers” Felix, Egbert, Reginbert, Maurus, Norbert, Innocent, Henry-Liborius and John Vianney has laid the foundation on which today’s ministry of fundraising – “friend raising” continues primarily with the direct mail efforts. We try our best to make all communication as personal as possible and we welcome our friends and supporters to visit us here in Schuyler should travel lead through the State of Nebraska.

Our community in Ndanda, Tanzania, reported that 25 years ago their first indigenous confrere Bro. Yohanes pronounced his monastic vows as a Missionary Benedictine. The jubilarian is shown with Abbot Siegfried (far left) under whose term of leadership he entered the monastery.  Also pictured is Abbot Placidus whom the community elected when Abbot Dionys (far right) ended his term of office in 2014. Ndanda Abbey has several young monks in various stages of formation, among them 7 Novices and 6 Postulants.

We Missionary Benedictines are grateful for your prayerful and financial help and we promised to keep your needs and intentions in our prayers. The month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Early on, our founder Fr. Andreas Amrhein, placed the community under the patronage of the Sacred Heart. Throughout the month of June we will especially ask Jesus to keep you and yours under HIS loving protection.

 

Best wishes!

Bro. Tobias, O.S.B.

 

 

Novena

Greetings!

“Education is the door to a brighter future!”

I do not know who coined that phrase, but throughout the many years of working in the mission office, first in record keeping and bulk mail processing, and then assisting with correspondence and modern day data entry, I have been blessed with excellent teachers who shared their wisdom and knowledge with me and prepared me for the ministry I was asked to take over in 1994.

The phrase above applies even more to people in developing countries who have been deprived from attending school, primarily because there were no school systems in existence similar to the ones in America or Europe. Missionaries realized that evangelization also includes helping people to brighten their future through education.

Wherever we Missionary Benedictines serve, we also are involved in education on all levels. Today I wish to bring your attention to a project in Ndanda, Tanzania, that deserves financial help.  Since the early 1960, Ndanda Abbey operates a Trade School where practical and theoretical learning goes together. This dual system has proven to be successful. Ndanda Trade School is one of the oldest in the southeast region of Tanzania. The school was officially recognized by the government on June 29, 1966. Graduates of our schools usually find employment without difficulties, thanks to their well balanced and high standard education and training in their trade.  

The Ndanda Vocational Training Center can accept up to 200 students. Working with the monks and attending class on given days makes up the weekly routine. Many of the students come from a distance and cannot commute daily. There is no public transport. Therefore Ndanda Abbey early on provided dormitory housing for male students. With the increasing number of girls attending the school a new boarding house needs to be built on campus, integrating use of the kitchen and other common facilities of the trade school.

Br. Sixtus, O.S.B., director of the Trade School reports: All workshops are well equipped with tools and machinery and monks of Ndanda Abbey are in charge of each department. We put high emphasis on work ethics and discipline throughout the four years of training.

Day students have to pay an annual fee of approx. $100 while residents of the hostels pay $200. Many students have a hard time coming up with the fee and Ndanda Abbey provides scholarships.

At this time there are 179 students attending the Ndanda Vocational Training Center. Interestingly, the 8 popular trades taught at Ndanda Vocational Training Center and number of students enrolled in the courses:

Trades                                                            Girls     Boys        Total

Computer & Secretarial Science              32            00         32

Carpentry & Cabinet Making                       2            50         52

Electrician                                                            2               6          8

Bricklayer/Construction                                 2          34         36

Printing                                                                 2               8         10

Welding                                                                0              14         14

Plumbing & Installation                                 0              10         10

Automobile Mechanics                                  0               17         17

TOTAL                                                                40            139        179

A group of laypeople, friends of Christ the King Abbey in Meschede, Germany, has made it a priority to finance the new girls hostel but so far could only come up with 50% of the amount needed for construction of the facility. At the last procurators’ conference in April, I volunteered our friends to assist with the project, trusting that together we will support education and projects that better the life of young people. May I be bold enough and invite you to help us with the much needed funds of $75,000 to complete the dormitory with 16 rooms, configured for three students each? Any amount that is above the goal to complete construction and providing furnishings will go towards the scholarship fund for girls who wish to attend the Ndanda Vocational Training Center. My dream (and prayer) is to raise $100,000 so that excellent education can be provided, especially for poor teenagers.

On behalf of all the monks at the Benedictine Mission House, and in the name of our confreres in Ndanda, Tanzania, I thank you for your anticipated help.

Prayerful good wishes and God’s blessings!

Bro. Tobias, O.S.B.

and Community