Thank-You from Digos, Philippines

Dear Friends,

Loving greetings from the Monks of St. Benedict’s Priory in Digos, Philippines!

Since the foundation of our monastery in the early 80's, it was the dream of the late Bishop Generoso Camina, P.M.E.; D.D. to have a Spiritual Well-Spring in his diocese.  Shortly after its foundation of the Benedictine Monks, in 1986, the Retreat House was built to respond to that dream!  Since then, our Retreat House has made a stamp in helping the young Filipinos build and strengthen their faith and prepare them for their future lives after schooling.

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Since we are serving 3 to 4 Dioceses, a new wing of the present retreat house has to be added in order to respond to the coming groups of retreats in all walks of life.  We are so grateful that Bro. Tobias and the whole Community of Monks in Schuyler has been supporting us in our different programs/projects.  This was made possible because of YOUR (Dear Friends) constant support and trust YOU have for us monks.

THANK YOU SO MUCH for all that has been, our DEAR FRIENDS!  Rest assured of our continued prayers for all of you and your loved ones.

Sincerely Yours,

Fr. Patrick, O.S.B.
Prior

NOTE from Brother Tobias:  This is still an on-going project.  Your prayers and support are still needed and appreciated.  Click to read more about this Current Appeal

New Lift

A long-awaited project has been completed at the Benedictine Mission House.  Nick Brichacek of Brichacek Construction installed a new hydraulic lift.  This lift will provide a much easier and safe method for the Mission House employees to load and unload mail carts and pallets from the various trucks and semis.  Today was its “maiden voyage” as it was used to unload empty mail carts that will be soon be filled for our next appeal. 

In the Spotlight - Brother Sebastian Goldade

Beauty surrounds you every direction you look at the Benedictine Mission House.  Adding to that beauty are the wonderful potted Cannas plants that our own Brother Sebastian tends to each year.  The warm temperatures and humidity that people may find uncomfortable make these plants produce brilliant foliage and flowers.  Each year he carefully plants the tubers and waits for them to sprout and grow.  In the Fall after the first frost the foliage gets cut off and he removes the tubers from the pots.  These are stored in a dark cool place over the winter and then planted again in the Spring. 

Growing beautiful Cannas is only one of Brother Sebastian’s many talents.  He also runs the Vesture Shop.  There are several sewing machines and other “tools of the trade” within his shop walls and he creates stunning vestments and altar cloths that are sold and shipped to religious organizations all over the world. 

Special Guest

Today we are honored to have with us Abbot Notker Wolf, OSB, abbot primate emeritus of the Benedictine Confederation. For 16 years Abbot Notker was in Rome at Sant’Anselmo as the primate of our Confederation of Benedictine monks. Before he was elected abbot primate in 2000, he was the abbot president of our own Benedictine Congregation of St. Ottilien of which Christ the King Priory/Benedictine Mission House is also a part. So he does not come to us as a stranger. He and Fr. Volker were actually together many years ago as students at St. Ottilien Archabbey, Germany. In 1977 Abbot Notker himself was elected the abbot of the archabbey.

Upon finishing his term of office as primate in October 2016, the other 20 abbots president treated him to a round the world ticket. He decided to go West and so from Europe headed to the USA. He tells us that the purpose of this gift of a round the world tour is to visit monasteries he was unable to while abbot primate but also to say ‘thank you’ to communities that supported him and his efforts as primate and abbot president over the years. He comes to us in the mode of gratitude. The Benedictine Mission House came to his aid a number of times when funds were needed urgently for projects in some of our monasteries in developing communities and then later for help in keeping the abbey of Sant’Anselmo with its schools up and running. When asked where he is headed from here, he says it is Asia. Besides visiting the Ottilien monasteries in the Philippines (Digos, his first foundation as abbot president) and Waegwan Abbey in South Korea, he is especially looking forward to his visit to the Benedictine communities in Vietnam. In all his years as abbot primate, he never had the opportunity to visit them. He is well aware of the strain and tension these houses feel from the government and wants to let them know that there is solidarity between them and the larger Benedictine world. Often presence and time are the best gifts we can offer.

To show our gratitude for Abbot Notker’s leadership of our Benedictine Congregation and then that of the Benedictine Confederation we asked him to celebrate our Sunday Eucharist today. He reminded us that the true rest we will find in Jesus is the rest that comes when we love God and then see his Son in our neighbor. When that circle of love is in action, then we know real rest.

On Monday he continues his westward journey and we wish him bon voyage.

Article by Fr. Prior Joel Macul, OSB

 

A Special Event

A Special Event at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, June 28, 2017

On Tuesday June 22, 2017, I received a phone call from the South Korean Embassy in Washington, DC, informing me that President Moon Jae-in of South Korea would be visiting the USA next week. As part of his visit, he would lay a wreath at the Jangjin Reservoir Battle Monument at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Would I do the honor of accepting an invitation to attend this event? I was very much honored and accepted.

Why would I be invited to what would hardly seem to be the most important event of President Moon’s visit to the USA? What connection could there be between myself and this small event. The answer goes back to an event that affected President Moon’s life and also that of Br. Marinus LaRue (known then as Captain LaRue) of St. Paul’s Abbey, Newton, NJ, in December 1950. At that time, the Marines and the army were retreating from the forces of the Chinese communists in northeast Korea. The troops were being evacuated at the port of Heungnam. Along with the retreating Marines, were thousands of refugees fleeing for their life. At the same time, Captain LaRue was commanding the Meredith Victory, a merchant ship chartered to the Military Sea Transportation Service. He was ordered to Heungnam to help though he still had a partial cargo of jet fuel. Upon arrival, he discovered that the enemy forces were encroaching upon the harbor and were only held off by naval fire. The north Koreans fleeing the communist forces were crowded on the beach. Army representatives boarded the Meridith Victory and said they did not need his services but as one of the last ships in the harbor would he volunteer to evacuate remaining refugees huddled on the shore. Without hesitation, Captain LaRue agreed and ordered his crew to prepare the ship to take on as many as possible.  Protected by naval gun fire, 14,000 people were loaded into three holds and the deck. The temperature was close to 0 degrees F. On December 23rd they set sail for Busan heading through minefields. On Christmas Eve they arrived at Busan. On Christmas Day they were told they could not disembark the refugees, “There was no room in the inn,” as Br. Marinus later reflected. The ship sailed on to Geoje Island south of Busan and on December 26th, the refugees safely set foot on land again; five babies were born during that sea voyage. A total of 98,000 people were evacuated from Heungam at that time but the Meredith Victory was remembered as the last ship and the one carrying the most significant number.

Soon after his recent election, it quickly became known that President Moon’s mother (still alive), his father and his oldest sister were refugees on board the Meredith Victory. The president was born in 1953 on Geoje-Do. In 1954 Captain LaRue gave up life at sea and became a Benedictine monk of St. Paul’s Abbey. He quietly lived with us in the monastery. Though he and ship’s crew received honors in gratitude for their humanitarian act from the governments of both South Korea and the USA, he himself really never spoke about this deed. In 2000, when the 50th anniversary of the Jangjin Reservoir Battle and the Heungnam Evacuation were remembered again, some Koreans who had been affected by that rescue came to say thanks to Brother, though he was bedridden by this time. They called him the Good Samaritan and bowed deeply in gratitude. Brother died peacefully on October 14, 2001. He was carried to the abbey cemetery by members of the Korean Catholic community in New Jersey, one of whom had been boy of 11, rescued on the Meredith Victory.

It was in February of this year that a special Jangjin (Chosin) Reservoir Battle Monument was erected in a forest area of the National Museum of the Marini Corps. President Moon wanted in some way to honor those who had valiantly fought in what was one of the most savage battles in modern warfare and at the same time those who had served to evacuate thousands of refugees from northern Korea and whose descendants today owe their lives to that humanitarian and Christian act, his own life among them. When he arrived on Wednesday, the 28th, his first official act was a deeply personal one. He wanted to honor those who had fought and rescued. There are only 50 survivors alive today of the Jangjin Reservoir Battle. Three were invited to come to meet President Moon. And from the Meredith Victory, now called “The Ship of Miracles,’ Mr. F. Robert Lunney, was able to receive the words of gratitude from the President of South Korea. Photos of the evacuation at the time were shared and presented. As for myself, as the abbot of St. Paul’s Abbey for the last years of Brother Marinus’ 45 years of monastic life and the one who laid him to rest in the monastery cemetery, I was the living link for the end of his life. Of all the people there, I happened to be the one who lived with him the longest.

Each of us expressed our gratitude and felt highly honored to be there to greet and welcome the President of South Korea. But the fact is, he was the one honoring each of us in some way for the role played at that moment in history and a moment affecting the present. He came to bow before us. President Moon’s speech at the wreath laying ceremony in front of the monument was deeply personal. He is conscious that he owes his life to what was fought for and who was rescued in December 1950. He told us clearly that he was standing there that day because of what had happened then. He spoke of the battle and the evacuation as a victory, a victory for humanity in the face of the greatest odds. He sees the rescue of thousands of fleeing refugees as the symbol of the ongoing relationship between the USA and Korea, a humanity at is best.

But, I was not the only Benedictine monk to stand in the receiving line of the 15 invitees for this event. Next to me was Abbot Blasio Park of Waegwan Abbey, South Korea. The story of the refugees on the Meredith Victory has touched the community of Waegwan Abbey in a personal way. One of the monks of the abbey was a nine-month old baby held by his mother on that voyage. The community of Waegwan knew the story of our Br. Marinus. In 2001, when the community was asked if they would consider coming to St. Paul’s Abbey to continue monastic life there as the original community had dwindled to a handful of members, there was a significant thread that linked both communities together already. By this time Br. Marinus was in his last days. Though he did not know it, he died two days after the community of Waegwan gave its initial yes to send monks to live at St. Paul’s. It was as if his last work had been completed. There were times when I was pushing Brother around in his wheel chair when he would say to me, “I don’t know why I am living so long.” I could only say, God has reasons we don’t know about. Sometime after his death and the first Korean monks of Waegwan had come to Newton, I came to see why he lived so long. The ways of God are inscrutable. We can only stand in awe, or in East Asia, bow profoundly in gratitude.

Fr. Prior Joel Macul, O.S.B

Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) Sunday

The sweet smell of incense and the beautiful sunshine were both part of the celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ this Sunday at the Benedictine Mission House.  The monks, friends and visitors shared in the Mass lead by Fr. Prior Joel Macul.  His homily can be found on our Priory blog page

A procession through the Mission House court yard with the Blessed Sacrament ended a beautiful service. 

Changes In Leadership

Greetings!

The year 2017 has already brought many changes!

Change can be good but also challenging for individuals, communities, and society at large. Let us pray for wisdom and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we deal with challenges in our own life.

The Missionary Benedictine Congregation of St. Ottilien, of which Christ the King Priory – Benedictine Mission House is an integral part, has seen also change.

 In the short five months, death has taken the life of several confreres. We remember them daily in prayer and thank God for their many years of faithfully following the Rule of Saint Benedict.

Changes in Leadership

The Constitutions of our Congregation provide norms by which a major superior can resign from the governance of a community. Upon acceptance by the abbot president a date is set for election.

Abbot Pambo Mkorwe, O.S.B.

Abbot Pambo Mkorwe, O.S.B.

 

The monastic chapter of Holy Spirit Abbey in Mvimwa, Tanzania, elected Fr. Pambo Mkorwe, O.S.B., as the 3rd abbot in its history following the resignation of Abbot Denis Ndombe, O.S.B. on March 19th. Abbot-Elect Pambo has served as secretary of the Congregation, headquartered at St. Ottilien, Germany, where he was installed as abbot of Mvimwa in a brief ceremony presided over by Abbot President Jeremias Schroeder, O.S.B.  In the near future, Abbot-Elect Pambo will return to his community and the abbatial blessing will take place.

Prior Sylvanus Kessy, O.S.B.

Prior Sylvanus Kessy, O.S.B.

 

 

 

 

May 7, 2017 was the day when the resignation of Abbot Anastasius Reiser, O.S.B., as abbot of St. Benedict Abbey in Peramiho, Tanzania, became effective. He served the community for almost 11 years. On Saturday, June 3rd, the community elected Fr. Sylvanus Kessy, O.S.B., a monk of Ndanda Abbey, as prior administrator for a term of three years.

 

With these elections all our monasteries in Africa and Asia are now under indigenous leadership. We wish our confreres God’s choicest blessings as they assume their responsibilities.

Br. Tobias, O.S.B.

Pentecost Sunday

On Pentecost Sunday, a group of high school teens from St. Michael’s Parish, Central City, NE, joined us for Mass at the monastery. It was the conclusion of their retreat weekend at St. Benedict Center in preparation for Confirmation. One of the retreat’s topics was noting, using, and fostering the gifts of the Holy Spirit within ourselves and others. Another topic was praying with Holy Scripture in such a way that through the words of Scripture God can speak to us, guide us, encourage us, challenge us and strengthen us (Lectio Divina).   The students got an inkling of what it means to embark upon a journey of faith and discipleship that is truly their own.  The Pentecost weekend was also the perfect time to learn about the Benedictine missionary work around the globe and to explore the missionary dimension in their own day to day life as Christians.

Good Shepherd Sunday

St. Benedict, in his “Rule for Monks” compares the office of abbot with that of a shepherd. The abbot, as father of the community, encourages his brothers to follow the teachings of the Gospel and the precepts of the Rule. Inspired by the example of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the abbot accepts great responsibilities which he shares with those whom he calls to assist in leadership positions. The Rule of St. Benedict can be considered as blueprint for modern day democracy.

On the evening of Friday, May 5th, Abbot Michael arrived in Omaha after a long flight from Frankfurt, Germany, via Denver, CO. Fr. Volker was the designated driver.  Abbot Michael makes it a priority to visit Christ the King Priory at least once every year. He meets with each monk individually and at the end of his stay convenes the community for a formal meeting.

Abbot Michael was elected on May 20th, 2006 as the 75th abbot in the history of Muensterschwarzach (founded in 816) and as the 5th abbot since the monks returned to the ancient monastery in 1913.

That monks are real people could be witnessed after Mass when the photographer Mary captured Abbot Michael and Fr. Prior Joel engaged in discussion and even laughter. One might wonder about the seriousness or lightheartedness of the moment.  We celebrate Eucharist – we share life – not only the burdens, but also great friendships and moments of laughter.

Good Shepherd Sunday is the annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations.  Let us pray that young men and women will hear the shepherd’s voice and embrace the monastic, consecrated life, or priestly vocation as a viable option for their life’s journey. All the baptized are “vocation promoters!” Encourage young people to visit a religious community or a seminary. Much information can be found on a website of a religious community but there is nothing better than visiting a convent, monastery or seminary and to encounter a “real person” who made a joyful commitment of following the Good Shepherd for life as member of a religious order or as a diocesan priest.

Pope Francis encouraged priests and bishops to be with the sheep entrusted to their care – to be among the people.

Thank you for your interest in the ministries of the Missionary Benedictines. Be assured that you and your intentions are included in our prayers, especially at the celebration of Holy Mass.

Easter Blessings!

Bro. Tobias, O.S.B.

P.S.:  Towards the end of May we will post our “Current Appeal” in conjunction with the observance of the Month of the Sacred Heart. We will bring to your attention our “quiet” involvement in a region of China where up to the expulsion of missionaries monks of our Congregation have ministered. Can we count on your help to assist the small Catholic communities and at the same time women and men who come to us for help in their spiritual and temporal needs?

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