Retreat Ministry – St. Benedict Priory, Digos
It was in 1983 that the Benedictine monks of the Congregation of St. Ottilien made a foundation on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. It was the dream and wish of the local bishop at the time, Msgr. Gene Camina, PME, DD, to have a ‘spiritual well-spring’ in his diocese. The Missionary Benedictines soon constructed a retreat house which could accommodate 65 people, mostly in dormitory style bedrooms. Ever since, schools, universities and parish communities make use of the facility. Our confreres host a number of retreats geared towards the younger generation, especially college age students. There is also a great need to offer retreats for teachers and religious. Retreatants come from several dioceses, often traveling a great distance.
During the canonical visitation of 2015 the community was urged to plan ahead for the future and to consider renovating the retreat house and to bring it up to standard for today’s guests. The recommendation of the visitors calls for added rooms for individual guests. Once this is accomplished, the facility can accommodate approx. 90 people. Since Digos has a very hot and humid climate, air-conditioning needs to be added, not only for the guestrooms, but also for the meeting space, dining room and chapel. The retreat house hosts on average three groups each week.
You can imagine that running such a facility and giving several retreats each week is a major commitment for the community of 19 monks. Fr. Prior Patrick is assisted by several monks who accompany youth groups during their retreats, thus preparing them for life after graduation from college. The number of individual retreatants, especially teachers and religious, has seen a steady increase.
The renovation and construction has started! You might wonder about financing such a renovation and improvement project. Fr. Patrick estimates the cost of 35 Million Philippine pesos or US $700,000.
Who will come to the aid of our monks in Digos?
Earlier this year, the Conference of Mission Procurators reviewed the project and gave its consent to go ahead with renovation and improvements. Our office was asked to spearhead the fundraising efforts. Can we count on your generosity? All gifts designated for this appeal will be forwarded 100% to Digos.
On a personal note: I have a special affinity for St. Benedict’s monastery in Digos. Fr. Edgar Friedmann, who served the community as its prior for 12 years, was my junior master prior to my assignment to Schuyler. We have stayed in contact ever since. Father is now the superior at Saint Anselm’s study house in Davao where he also teaches at the local seminary.
At the upcoming procurators meeting in September, I will inform our group of the total amount we raised through the generosity of our friends here in the States. The remaining balance for the project will then be covered from resources made available by our European mission offices.
Thank you for your anticipated financial and prayerful support.
The monks of St. Benedict’s Priory in Digos and Christ the King Priory in Schuyler will remember you and your intentions in prayer, especially during the Nine Day Novena of Prayer and Holy Masses from August 6th through 15th. This Novena, celebrated in preparation to the Solemnity of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother into Heaven, dates back to our pioneer monks who made a solemn promise in 1935 while journeying to Nebraska. We treasure the memory of our pioneers and continue with the tradition they initiated to pray for all friends and benefactors. Let us know your intentions to be included in our prayers and celebration of Holy Mass.
Thank you for helping our monks in Digos financially, and with your prayers, so that their retreat ministry can flourish for years to come.
Bro. Tobias, OSB