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