Spring Newsletter

Dear Friends,

“One church: encountering Jesus, equipping disciples, and living mercy.” This is our pastoral vision in the Archdiocese of Omaha for the next several years, announced by Archbishop George Lucas late in 2016 at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. Following Jesus’ example of making visible God’s merciful love to all people requires that we get to know him in a personal way and grow in our love for him. Like the fishermen whom Jesus called at the Sea of Galilee to follow him and so many others, we have to spend time in his company and learn from him, from his words, his actions and his example, before he can send us out to extend his work in our time, in our surroundings and in our society.

Supporting the New Evangelization in this sense is our heart’s desire at St. Benedict Center. Therefore, we gladly host, for instance, retreats of Alpha, an evangelization tool that introduces people to the person of Christ, and retreats of RCIA groups. Many of our sponsored programs focus on encountering Christ and equipping disciples. And we offer a place of hospitality for all who desire stillness, time by themselves, and an experience of God.

Reviewing the Year 2017, I am happy to report that about 16,000 persons used our facility and that we had close to 11,000 overnights. These are our highest numbers ever. In the Center’s lobby a new video message board gives those arriving information about conference rooms, scheduled programs and more.

In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius Loyola invites us to use our imagination while praying with the gospels, to picture a particular scene as if we were standing right there: What do I see, hear, smell, etc.? I become one of the actors in the story. A number of our upcoming retreats will invite participants to use this method in their prayer and so to encounter Christ. Examples are the weekend with Fr. Larry Gillick, SJ, on June 21 – 24, titled, Thou Shalt Not Have Strange Gods Before or Above You!, and the Guided/Directed Retreat on July 15 – 21  with Fr. Dennis Hamm, SJ, Fr. Kevin Schneider, SJ, Renee L. O’Brien and Sr. Ann Marie Petrylka, OSM.

In his retreat on June 16 titled, Equipped, Fr. Jeff Lorig, the Archdiocesan Director of Pastoral Services, will spend a whole day reflecting on what the Church means by evangelization and equipping those attending with basic tools to help others have a life transforming encounter with Christ.

St. Jerome (345 – 420) insisted that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. On July 13 – 14, Sharon Doran will offer a Catholic Bible Study weekend titled, The Book of Ruth, A Love Story: “Wherever You Go, I Will Go.” It is about Ruth, one of Jesus’ ancestors in his Royal Messianic line. Sharon will make many connections with the New Testament and in this way equip participants for evangelization. – I am looking forward to seeing you again soon

Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB, Administrator



Valentine's Day Dinner at St. Benedict Center


Schuyler, NE – Here is an excellent idea for the weekend before Valentine’s Day: On Sunday, February 11, 2018, at 5:00 p.m., married couples are invited St. Benedict Center, 4 mi. N. of Schuyler on Hwy. 15, for Mass at the chapel of the Center, followed, at 6:00 p.m., by a delicious and festive four-course prime rib Valentine’s Day Dinner, prepared by Mark and Patty Bosh and their team, with soft music.  Advance reservation and pre-payment are required.  The cost is $60 per couple.  Early bird rate, if you register before Jan. 28, is $55.  Seating is limited.  Reservations need to be made in advance by calling Saint Benedict Center (402) 352-8819 or register here.

Celebrate 150 Years Nebraska in Schuyler

Pippa White 3.jpg

Schuyler, NE – On the occasion of Nebraska’s 150th birthday, One’s Company with actress Pippa White will be performing Far as the Eye Can See at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 15, 2017, at St. Benedict Center, 4 miles north of Schuyler.  This show tells true stories of the prairie and its people: the early pioneers who crossed it, the later pioneers who settled it, the brave people of the Dust Bowl, and the Native American people who struggled to keep the prairie that once belonged only to them. 

One’s Company is a collection of one-woman shows featuring Pippa White.  Pippa grew up in San Francisco, appeared regularly on television as a child, trained at the American Conservatory Theater Academy, and for five years was seen as hostess of a daily morning television show on ABC.  Moving to the Midwest led to her pursuing an education, starting a family, and reestablishing a career with work in theaters, arts in education programs, and finally, not just one, but several one-woman shows drawing on many different sources for a collection of unusual and entertaining solo productions.

Ms. White calls her unique, captivating, and touching performances “part theatre, part storytelling, part history.”  She has a love of dialects and accents, which she tries to incorporate into her shows.  Some of her dialects come naturally, thanks to a British father, and both her parents spent considerable time in England.  “Other children came home to milk and cookies after school,” she says.  “I came home to afternoon tea!”  Her parents often recounted amusing stories in dialect.  However, not all Ms. White’s dialects come easily.  She uses the International Phonetic Alphabet (her mother taught speech and dialects at San Francisco State University) and she is always trying new dialects and accents.

Advance & Senior/Student Tickets are $7; tickets at the door are $9. Reservations can be made by calling 402-352-8819.


Father Nassal to Speak at St. Benedict Center   

Fr. Joe Nassal B.jpg

Well-known spiritual author and speaker Father Joseph Nassal, CPPS, will present a one-day retreat at St. Benedict Center, four miles north of Schuyler, on Saturday, October 14, titled, From Here to Hope: Our Mission of Mercy.  In his book, The Name of God is Mercy, Pope Francis wrote, “Yes, I believe that this is a time for mercy.  The Church is showing her maternal side, her motherly face, to a humanity that is wounded. She does not wait for the wounded to knock on her doors, she looks for them on the streets, she gathers them in, she embraces them, she takes care of them, she makes them feel loved.” During the Holy Year of Mercy, the pope encouraged faith communities to open their doors so that all pilgrims might find welcome and experience God’s mercy and compassion. But it is also necessary for people of faith to be ministers of mercy in the world—to go out into the streets to share the mercy of God with those on the margins of life. Today we will explore in both practical and prophetic ways how to live God’s tender mercy in our everyday lives.

Father Joe is the author of eight books including The Conspiracy of Compassion, Rest Stops for the Soul, Premeditated Mercy, Moments of Truth, and Stations of the Crib (all Ave Maria Press). A Missionary of the Precious Blood, he has been engaged in retreat, renewal and reconciliation ministry since 1988, including three years as director of Shantivanam, the House of Prayer for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas.  Since 2002, he has been involved in establishing the Precious Blood Center for Reconciliation on the south side of Chicago. Ordained in 1982, he has also served in parish and justice and peace ministry and in formation, vocation, and leadership for his religious community.  He presently serves as Provincial of the Kansas City Province and lives in Liberty, Missouri.                                                                                  

The retreat runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; registration begins at 8:30 a.m.  The program fee is $ 30.  Lunch is available at the Center for $ 10.50 (includes tax), if you pay for it BEFORE the program starts. Register here.

Thank you very much for all your help in making this event known!

Fr. Thomas Leitner, O.S.B.
St. Benedict Center

St. Benedict Center - Celebrating 20 Years of Ministry and Service: Fall Newsletter

Dear Friends,

“Without fail I have always received a most gracious and warm welcome.  It’s as if those outstretched arms of St. Benedict across the lake reach into this place to greet and embrace us.”  “Spending time at St. Benedict Center, listening to the quiet … has had an immeasurable influence on my spiritual growth.”  “I cannot say enough about the benefit of spiritual direction: to be challenged and consoled, but mostly accompanied, on the spiritual journey is a sacred and personal gift.”  “I am most grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had to renew my own faith, deepen my prayer life, and grow in the love of Christ through the programs I’ve attended.”

“The monastic community has been an essential part of my experiences here, especially sharing their rhythm of prayer and work.”  “The St. Benedict Center has become a spiritual home for many of us from traditions other than Roman Catholic.  It’s a place that opens us to the same Christ Presence that grounds all of us who respond to God’s invitation into unconditional love and service.”  “I've shared in many relaxing, fun quilting retreats and also have been blessed with many other personal moments of quiet peace and comfort here.”

It has been twenty years since the opening of St. Benedict Center.  Last month we observed this occasion in an afternoon of gratitude.  The comments above are a sampling of what some of you shared, in person or in writing, about how the Holy Spirit has been at work in your lives while staying at the Center.  The abundance of God’s gifts, your openness and readiness, and the cooperation of monks and co-workers made these experiences possible.  I am profoundly  grateful for them. 

Ten of our guest rooms at St. Benedict Center have queen size beds now and sixteen others have full size beds.  This gives us more flexibility in accommodating the varying needs of our guests. – You will see a new face in our kitchen team: Cassandra started working there in August. – We still are in need of help for covering the expense of our east guest wing roof replacement.  We have raised about $27,000 (including cash donations) of the $107,000 needed; I continue to count on your support.  Visit here.

Especially worth noting among the upcoming events of our program schedule is the weekend retreat for married couples on September 30 – October 1 titled, The Foundational Intimacy: Eucharist as a Model for Marriage with Jim and Maureen Otremba from Minnesota.  It will renew participating spouses in their love for the Eucharist as well as for one another.






On October 14, Fr. Joe Nassal from Liberty, MO, will present a one-day retreat titled, From Here to Hope. It will explore how we can live the message of the Holy Year of Mercy even more fully in our daily lives.

I am looking forward to seeing you again soon!







Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB
St. Benedict Center

Henry Nouwen Retreat at St. Benedict Center

Henry Nouwen Retreat at St. Benedict Center

The spirituality of the famous priest and writer Henri Nouwen will be the topic of a weekend retreat at St. Benedict Center, four miles north of Schuyler, on September 8 - 10, 2017, presented by Wil Hernandez, Ph.D. and titled, Our Heart, God’s Home: Henri Nouwen on the Spiritual Life.  On this retreat, we will explore Henri Nouwen's insights on how we can cultivate a more intimate, centered and attentive heart in order to deepen our communion with God such that it’s bound to impact the world around us.

20th Anniversary - St. Benedict Center

In 1997, twenty years ago, St. Benedict Center was opened.  We celebrated this anniversary with an afternoon of gratitude on July 16.  After some refreshments, we listened to our Prior, Fr. Joel, who presented us with St. Benedict’s teaching on hospitality: its Scriptural background, and Benedict’s words in the Rule itself, in which Benedict’s reverence and even veneration of all people shines forth.  In all guests, Christ himself is being received. 


After this talk, several men and women, who have been guests at St. Benedict Center many times, shared their experiences and talked about ways in which they’ve seen the Holy Spirit at work at this facility in the course of these twenty years.  These speakers represented the wide variety of groups and individuals that use St. Benedict Center. The listeners periodically responded with the refrain, “For thy gracious blessings we give thanks, O Lord, for thy loving kindness, we give thanks O Lord.” 


Our groundskeeper, Brad, is currently building a labyrinth on our grounds, between the lake and the little forest to the north.  Marisa Gilbert from Knowles Mercy Spirituality Center spoke about the history of the labyrinth and about how it can help us in our prayer.  Then we went out to the site of the labyrinth and Fr. Joel blessed it.  The afternoon concluded with the Evening Prayer of the Church, Vespers, in St. Benedict Center’s chapel.  

Click below for photos and to read Fr. Joel's presentation

Fr. Thomas to Observe Ordination Anniversary

group in Germany.jpg

Last week, Fr. Thomas returned from Germany where he celebrated his 25th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood at Muensterschwarzach Abbey, the motherhouse of the Schuyler monks.  A total of nine monks observed jubilees: 65, 60, 50 and 25 years of monastic vows, priestly ordination, or missionary work.  Fr. Thomas wrote about his ministry as a priest: “’You have chosen the most beautiful profession,’ my grandmother wrote into my ordination scrapbook; she was right.  I find much of the priesthood’s beauty, often surprisingly, while facilitating retreats and while treading the sacred ground of people’s lives in spiritual direction, listening, and noting God’s presence, God’s gifts, and God’s guidance, even sometimes in the midst of difficult and painful experiences.” - The other pictures show Fr. Thomas presiding at Sunday Mass at Christ the King Priory.

St. Benedict Center - Celebrating 20 Years of Ministry and Service: Summer Newsletter

Dear Friends,

We are building a labyrinth at St. Benedict Center north of the lake; completion is expected in mid to late summer.  Its model is the famous labyrinth in the Cathedral of Chartres, France.  When the Holy Land was closed to pilgrims in the Middle Ages, labyrinths abounded in the churches of Europe.  They were used to symbolically represent the pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Our life is a pilgrimage, a journey to our eternal home with God in heaven.

God is already present with us now.  We can encounter God in Holy Scripture, in the sacraments, in the people around us and in the events of our life.  And God the Holy Spirit is a living reality within us.  Thus, living our life as a pilgrimage means paying attention to and gratefully naming the presence and work of God around us. And it means embarking upon a journey inwards in order to become one with ourselves and with God who dwells in us.  A labyrinth is different from mazes in that you can’t get lost.  You follow the path and will get to the center.  You walk back from the center and will get to the exit.

It always strikes me how a person while walking the labyrinth arrives at the innermost of the eleven circuits quickly.  Then, however, the journey continues for a long time!  What is important is being on the journey.  The message of the labyrinth is: If we truly seek God we will find God.  If, touched and transformed by God’s presence, we turn outward, to the people and to the world, we will find God there.  “Seek and you will find,” Jesus says and, “The Father in heaven [will] give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:9,13).      

Our first roof replacement project at St. Benedict Center has been completed.  The original guest wing and the hallways leading to it have a new, watertight flat roof.  We have raised about $24,000 (including cash donations) of the $107,000 needed.  We also need a new mower for our grounds, cost $17,000.  We count on your continued support.  Please visit: www.christthekingpriory.com/sbc-donations      


Especially worth noting among the upcoming events of our program schedule is the weekend retreat on July 14 – 15 titled, Delving Deeper into Sacred Scripture with Sharon Doran, M.A., M.A., whose Seeking Truth Catholic Bible Study in Omaha is outstanding and very popular.  On September 8 – 10, a weekend titled, Our Heart, God’s Home: Henri Nouwen on the Spiritual Life awaits us.  Wil Hernandez from California, who has written several books on Nouwen (+1996), will explore with us the insights of this great spiritual guide. - I am looking forward to seeing you again soon!

Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB. 
St. Benedict Center

St. Benedict Center Spring Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Often retreatants ask us monks to bless medals of St. Benedict, or crosses, rosaries, statues, etc. Such religious articles are an expression of our faith; they remind us of God’s loving, caring and protecting presence with us, and also of the saints as our heavenly friends and intercessors. Therefore, for us Christians, religious items are not mere charms or objects with magic power to bring us good luck or better health.

On the front side of the St. Benedict Medal, we see a statue of the saint holding in his hands a cross, the symbol of our faith in Christ, and his Rule for monks. On the margins of the medal, we find Latin words that can be translated as, “May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death!” Benedictines have always regarded St. Benedict as a special patron of a happy death.

The reverse side of the medal shows a cross inscribed with initial letters of Latin sentences that can be rendered as, “May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon (Satan) never be my guide!” The initial letters written around the perimeter, representing Latin words, are a firm rejection of Satan: “Be gone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!” The medal, worn on our body or kept in our house or car, is an expression of our readiness, with the help of God’s grace and through the intercession of St. Benedict, to reject the power and the deceptions of Satan. Please visit our Medals page for purchasing blessed St. Benedict Medals of various sizes and designs. - The arches in the concourses at St. Benedict Center hint at the medal; each one has a circular opening with a cross in it.

St. Benedict Center Roof Damage

St. Benedict Center Roof Damage

We have improved our Wi-Fi at the Center; it is now available everywhere in the building. - The flat roofs of St. Benedict Center need to be replaced. They are already beyond their expected life span of twenty years. Over time the roof’s rubber membrane, exposed to the hot sun and to the cold of winter, contracts and pulls away from its surface causing leaks to occur more and more frequently. Most urgent is the replacement of the roof above the original guest wing by the lake because ceiling leaks can render guest rooms unusable until they are fixed. The cost of replacing the flat roof of this guest wing is estimated to be $100,000. We need your help with covering this expense. Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Fr. Joel Macul, OSB.

Fr. Joel Macul, OSB.


From our monastery, I can report that our former prior, Fr. Mauritius Wilde, was asked to become prior at the Benedictine study house of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, Italy. Fr. Joel Macul was appointed as his successor. Fr. Joel was previously the abbot of St. Paul’s Abbey in Newton, New Jersey. Check out our Prior Joel's web page to learn more about him.






Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB. 
St. Benedict Center

St. Benedict Center

St. Benedict Center

News Release - Rev. Anselm Gruen, OSB, to Speak at St. Benedict Center

Schuyler, NE – The Rev. Anselm Gruen, OSB, Ph.D., one of the most frequently read spiritual authors of our time, will present a one-day retreat at St. Benedict Center, four miles north of Schuyler on Saturday, April 22, 2017.  His retreat is titled, Jesus: The Image of God’s Mercy and will be an encounter with Jesus who is “the face of the Father’s mercy” (Pope Francis).  Jesus gives God a human face.  Who is Jesus for you?  Is He your model who shows you how to live?  Does He show you the Divine reality in your own heart and in the people around you?  Is He your companion even in humanly challenging situations of your day-to-day living who opens you up to love, mercy and gentleness?  This day will enliven and deepen your relationship with Him.


Father Anselm is a Benedictine monk of the Abbey of Muensterschwarzach in Germany.  He is widely respected for his ability to present classic Christian spirituality in a modern context.  In his numerous retreats and talks around the world, Fr. Anselm, a counselor and advisor, sought-after speaker and retreat master, responds to the needs and questions of the people.   “It is an important goal for me to interpret Scriptural texts in a way that people understand them,” he said.  “As a Missionary Benedictine, I want to proclaim the Christian message in a way that people sense, this is about me, this is not far away from me.”  Fr. Anselm’s numerous books, among them, Images of Jesus (Continuum), Everybody Has an Angel (Crossroad) and Angels of Grace (Crossroad), are international bestsellers.  His books have been translated into 35 languages and are especially popular in Germany, Brazil, Argentina., Chile, Korea and China.  300 titles are available and 20 Million copies have been sold worldwide.  Fr. Anselm will come to us from Germany for this special event.

The retreat runs from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; registration begins at 8:30 a.m.  Some guest rooms are available for those who would like to spend the night.  The program fee is $ 35.  Please bring your own sack lunch. HOWEVER, lunch is available at the Center for $ 10.50 (includes tax), if you pay for it BEFORE the program starts.  For more information call St. Benedict Center 402-352-8819 or visit www.StBenedictCenter.com



St. Benedict Center Fall Newsletter

Dear Friends, 


A concert pianist said, “If I don’t practice for one day, I notice.  If I don’t practice for two days, my friends notice.  If I don’t practice for three days, the audience notices.”  I feel very similarly about prayer.  It can happen that I fall out of my usual rhythm of prayer, e.g., when I travel.  If I don’t pray for a day, God notices.  If I don’t pray for two days, I sense it.  I feel different.  If I don’t pray for three days, those around me sense it.  Something about me is different.  Whether I pray or not doesn’t only affect me, it has an effect on the people around me, too. 

Jesus tells us that we may pray with great trust.  In addressing God as ‘Father,’ he uses in his Aramaic mother tongue the word ‘Abba,’ which literally means, ‘Daddy.’  Present your needs to God, he says, just as a child turns to his/her father or mother expecting everything they need from them.  And Jesus calls us to perseverance in prayer.  If a friend helps another even at an inconvenient hour, if parents who love their children nurture them and care for them, how much more will God send the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! 

A retreat is an opportunity to sort out our priorities in life.  It helps us recognize more clearly what to pray for.  Besides petition, there are other forms of prayer: praise, thanksgiving, adoration … to name just a few.  Through personal reflection, a retreat program, and/or spiritual direction, we can gain clarity about how we can live spiritually in the midst of our busy day-to-day lives, which times of the day or the week we want to reserve for God, and how we want to use these times, e.g. for praying with Holy Scripture or for prayerfully reflecting on our past day.  Important are regularity and persistence. -    

We have completely revised our website.  There is only one common home page now for the monastery and all its ministries, including St. Benedict Center.  The website is easier to navigate, has a younger look and feel and offers, among other things, more information about the monks.  It is well viewable on wide screens, tablets and smart phones.  Donations to the projects supported by the Benedictine Mission House are possible online now, too.  They can be an expression of your support and care for the poor and excluded people in our world. 

One new tool of promoting our retreats is email campaigns.  From the new website, PDF versions of our program flyers can now be downloaded as well. – We also redesigned our St. Benedict Center picture brochures.  The one titled, Oasis of Peace describes the Center in general, and the other one called, Conference and Retreat Center is specifically for those who might be interested in bringing their own group to the Center. - In our St. Benedict Center housekeeping department, we have a new co-worker, Chriss, who replaced Mary Kay after her retirement.

Especially worth noting among the upcoming events of our program schedule are, as always, our Christmas Craft Show starting on November 27, the nativity scenes, and our lively Christmas Pageant on December 3.  On April 22, 2017, our brother monk from Germany, Fr. Anselm Gruen, OSB, Ph.D., will be with us for a one-day retreat titled, Jesus: The Image of God’s Mercy.  He will speak to us about his personal and transformative journey with Jesus. - I am looking forward to seeing you again soon! 

Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB, Administrator

St. Benedict Center Summer Newsletter

Dear Friends, 

On Easter Sunday, we put up a new tapestry on the north wall of our chapel at St. Benedict Center.  It is a quilt, which Diane Gubbels made from over 1000 pieces and 150 different batik fabrics and donated to us!  Janet Sievers helped with the quilting.  Thank you!  The quilt’s title is, “Wood and Light: Wood of the Cross- Light of the Resurrection.”

The artistically designed quilt is a meditation on the mystery and the gift of our redemption.  Imagine the wood of the cross, holding the body of Christ.  Think of the heart of Jesus, where the true weight of our human darkness and sinfulness was felt.  As you look at this piece, you will see “the wood of the cross” and the "heart of our Lord," represented by the red color at the center.  From the upper left, you can almost see the light coming from heaven, shining down upon our Savior, our saving grace.  Imagine the heavy darkness that shadowed the hearts of those standing at the foot of the cross that day.  "It is done."  This darkness is seen in the earth tones at the base of this piece.  Each of us stands there in the darkness looking up at the cross.  

But even as the cross held our Savior, the stone could not hold Him in darkness.  The “light of the resurrection” shines forth from the cross; the light of our Savior shines: He lives!  This light is represented not only in color placement but also in the "rays" of quilting coming from the "heart" of our Redeemer, shining down to us standing in the darkness at the foot of the cross, and in all directions, for ALL to be saved.  We can all experience His light in our lives.  In this quilt, there is "wood and light."  It is meant to be a reminder of the Truth and Life in Jesus.  This quilt can accompany us beyond Easter throughout the year.

We have two new co-workers at St. Benedict Center: Mary Jo in the kitchen and Cindy at the front desk. – We added extra refrigerators for the use of our guests in both day lounges and at the ends of both guest wings.  Also, we added microwaves for your convenience to the cereal and milk station in the dining room and to the upper day lounge.  Finally, we have new wagons for your luggage in the lobby.  Several of these items are gifts of generous retreatants.  Thank you! – Besides promoting our programs through e-mail campaigns, we have started sending out our newsletter also in this manner.  Please let us know, through our website www.stbenedictcenter.com, if you would like to receive our newsletter electronically. 

Especially worth noting among the upcoming events of our program [DeaconJamesKeating] schedule is BLOOM, the retreat for mothers and their teenage daughters, on July 23-24, and the retreat, Fathers and Sons—Together Forever for fathers and their teenage sons on July 30-31. - Deacon James Keating, Ph.D., from Omaha, will present a wonderful retreat for married couples on Oct. 29-30 titled, Marriage in the Lord. - I am looking forward to seeing you again soon!

Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB, Administrator

Please note: The Holy Rule of St. Benedict, a series of interviews with our Prior, Fr. Mauritius Wilde, OSB, Ph.D., airs on Saturdays at 9:00 a.m. on Spirit Catholic Radio Network 102.7.  Kris McGregor of Discerning Hearts conducts the interviews. Tell your friends to tune in and learn more about Benedictine Spirituality!  Podcasts of the shows can be found here.

St. Benedict Center Spring Newsletter

Dear Friends,
Our motherhouse in Germany, the Benedictine Abbey of Muensterschwarzach, located about ninety miles east of Frankfurt in Northern Bavaria, celebrates 1,200 years since its foundation.  The monastery dates back to the time of Charlemagne and considers Benedict of Aniane its first abbot, who united all monasteries of the vast Franconian Empire under the Rule of St. Benedict.  The Benedictines of the Abbey experienced many heights and depths in the course of their long history.  There were good times of renewal and flourishing like under Blessed Abbot Egbert (1047-1077), but there were also dark hours of war, fire, decay and suppression.  Yet the monks returned to their home time and again, for 1,200 years.


Since 1913, Missionary Benedictine monks have lived at Muensterschwarzach.  Combining a communal monastic life-style with missionary and apostolic activity, we work in twenty-two countries around the world.  Among other things, the one hundred monks who currently live at the Abbey run a junior high and high school with 800 students, and a large retreat center.  Also they house and take care of over thirty refuge seekers, mainly from the Middle-East, among them unaccompanied minors.  
The oldest item that was found on the monastery’s compound is a key from the Carolingian period (8th – 9thcentury).  This key was the inspiration for the jubilee year’s motto: “Be Open.”  The goal is new openness of the monks toward God and toward the people in their various ministries.  With this intention, the monks observed a Sabbath time of intense prayer and listening to God during the Season of Lent.

In Nebraska, there is no better place for growing in a stance of openness to God and to the people than the St. Benedict Center. -  Have you ever thought of bringing a group of people from your parish, your group of friends, your Bible study group or your faith sharing group to St. Benedict Center?    Would you like some input and spiritual guidance during your stay?  We are delighted to offer you our half-day retreat package: a presentation by a monk or lay facilitator, time by yourself, silent reflection, sharing and a delicious home-cooked lunch, all for $ 19.95 per person, tax included.  Upon request, monks are also available for celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It is possible to join the monks for Mass (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat 11:15 a.m.; Tue, Thu 5:30 p.m.). - I am looking forward to seeing you again soon!  
Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB, Administrator

St. Benedict Center Winter Newsletter

Dear Friends,

The Australian Trappist and well-known spiritual author Fr. Michael Casey wrote a book titled, Strangers to the City.  In it he points to Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule, in which Benedict advises the monks “to make themselves strangers to the actions of the age.”  Benedict himself had, as a young man, left the city of his studies, Rome, in order to seek the solitude of a cave in Subiaco.  There he deeply experienced God’s presence while living in a cave for three years.  Benedict also says that the monks are called to conversion, to taking on the values and beliefs of the gospel, and to viewing things with the eyes of Christ.  

Not everybody can physically leave the world as monks do.  But a cartoon I saw this week certainly expresses our truth: It is hard to hear the voice of the shepherd if the sheep constantly are distracted by so many other voices!  This is not to say that a person necessarily should give up TV, smart phones, and Facebook (actually that’s where I found the cartoon!).  Nevertheless, it is necessary to have some inner distance from what is clamoring for our attention in our modern world, to become quiet, and to listen inward in order for us to hear the loving voice of our Divine Shepherd who never condemns us, who rather seeks us out, carries us and guides us. 

Going on retreat is one good way of becoming a “stranger to the city” for all of us: attending one of our scheduled retreats or just taking quiet time by oneself at St. Benedict Center of resting, arriving in the present moment, speaking to God in prayer and listening to God, may be even meeting with one of the monks for spiritual direction. 

At the Center, you will meet new co-workers: Deb greets and serves you as hostess in the office; Karen and Julie have joined our kitchen team.  As part of an ongoing effort to improve the Center, we have made the following amenities available to you this year: new softer pillows on all guest beds, queen sized beds in several rooms, automatic door openers at main entrance and lake side door; a cell phone signal repeater, which makes cell phone calls possible in the lobby for your convenience (please respect other retreatants’ need for silence); and two UHD smart TV’s for groups in the conference rooms.

Especially worth noting among the upcoming events of our program schedule is our nativity scenes display, inviting you for a pilgrimage to the Center at the start of the Year of Mercy.  Our Valentine's Day Dinner on February 14, 2016, begins with Mass at 5:00 p.m., followed by a delicious 4 course meal.  On April 9 – 10, Dr. John Gresham from St. Louis and his wife Mary Jane will offer Spiritual Intimacy in Marriage Retreat with ideas and concrete direction for praying together as a couple.