News Release - Reflective Writing Retreat at St. Benedict Center

On March 28 - 31, 2019, well-known writing instructors Mary Kay Shanleyand Diane Douiyssi will come to St. Benedict Center, four miles north of Schuyler, and present a program titled, Charting Your Soul’s Compass: A Women’s Reflective Writing Retreat. Visualize yourself with other vibrant women, tending their souls, responding to a call to pursue reflective writing as an entrance into the deeper self. Trust yourself, embrace your spirit, experience the treasure of expression waiting to emerge. And if you wish, consider possibilities — essays, poems, stories for you alone, or to share with others. Any option is rich, worthy.Finally, experience the joy of relating to women equally intent on greater discovery, celebration of purpose and direction in their own lives.

Mary Kay Shanley began her career as a newspaper reporter, then moved into freelance writing when her children were small. Her first book, She Taught Me to Eat Artichokes, became abestseller. Nine books followed; she’s currently writing a memoir about adoption. Mary Kay is an instructor with the University of Iowa’s Summer Writing Festival. Her most profound experience has been leading classes inside the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. She and her husband live in West Des Moines, IA.

Diane Douiyssi 2.jpg

Diane Douiyssi is founder and owner of Inner Wisdom Wayfinding where she is a Writing Mentor, certified Martha Beck Life Coach and Creative Business Coach who helps individuals listen to and follow their inner wisdom so they can find their own unique way home in this world. She’s a lifelong writer who, having discovered the richness of reflective writing, uses it daily to access her own inner guidance and suffuse her writing, business and life with spirit. Previously, she worked for 15 years in the corporate world, most recently as Director, Content Marketing in Global Marketing & Communications where she wrote professionally, consulted and led workshops. She’s lived across the globe and is currently settled in the Midwest, close to the earth and peoples that nourish the world.

The program fee is only $90, room and board charges will be added to the program fee. For more information call St. Benedict Center 402-352-8819.

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

Newsletter of Fr. Thomas, Fall 2018

Dear Friends,


In his Rule, St. Benedict reserves an average of three hours per day for lectio divina, the prayed reading of Holy Scripture. In lectio divina, a person reads Holy Scripture less for the sake of information than for the sake of formation. I ask God to speak to me through his word. Then I slowly read the text I have chosen, paying attention to which word, line or phrase speaks to me and resonates within me. When I have found such a word, I pause, repeat this word in my heart, and hear it as spoken to me personally. I ask myself: How does it express the deepest truth of my life? Then I take the word as starting point for my prayer, for my conversation with God. I ask God to fulfill the longing of my heart that this word has awakened. Finally, I rest in God’s presence, similar to the way I sometimes can enjoy being together with a friend with no need for many words.

A modified form of lectio divina is visio divina, prayerfully looking at a piece of art, paying attention to what strikes a chord in me, then entering into prayer with this detail or aspect of the image, and finally just resting in God’s presence. 

The Saint John’s Bible is a wonderful fruit of both lectio divina and visio divina. It is the first handwritten Bible commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in more than five hundred years on approximately 1,150 pages and including one hundred sixty major illuminations. A copy of the large, seven-volume leather bound Heritage Edition, which is a fine art reproduction of the Saint John’s Bible, had been donated to St. Benedict Center! It will be on perpetual display in our lobby later in 2019 as an eminent help for prayer and meditation. We will keep you posted.

From St. Benedict Center I can report that we replaced the twin beds in the single guest rooms of our west wing with full size beds. Particularly for improvements like this, as well as for special projects like the display described above, we are in need of financial assistance from you, our friends. One way of supporting us, besides through cash donations, is through a gift from your IRA account or through donating stock to us. In these ways you can take advantage of tax benefits. For more information, please visit our webpage.

Especially worth noting among our upcoming retreats is the retreat with spiritual author Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, on September 28 – 29, titled, Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God, which is about prayer and mindfulness in the midst of daily life. – An exhibition of keyboard instruments will take place at the Center on September 7 – October 14. Pianos and organs from the collection of Steve Misener, Stockholm, SD, will be on display, which either have a connection to a Classical or Romantic Era composer or are from those musical time periods. – I am looking forward to seeing you again soon.

Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB.



News Release: Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB. to Speak at St. Benedict Center    

On September 28 - 29, 2018, well known spiritual author Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, will come to St. Benedict Center, four miles north of Schuyler, and speak on the topic of Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God. On Friday, September 28, at 7:30 p.m. she will give an evening presentation, followed by discussion and sharing. On Saturday, September 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., she will present a one-day retreat.

Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB.

Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB.

‘Abide’ is a very rich and sacred word. It is an invitation to dwell in Christ, to be immersed in the Divine, to be absorbed in God. Spend time this weekend searching out ways to restore some of the blessings you’ve missed because of the busyness of your lives. Special emphasis will be given to the practice of living mindfully in the midst of daily life. We will explore the sacredness of both BEING and DOING. Give yourself the gift of sacred space for soul-work, for keeping vigil with the Word of God and with the Hours of the Day.

Sister Macrina is well known for her creative writing and retreat ministry. She has authored eight popular books on prayer and spirituality and is a regular contributor to the Catholic devotional Living Faith, published by Creative Communications for the Parish. Her tri-monthly scripture column titled, Romancing the Word forms the core of her latest book, Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God (Liturgical Press).  She is a member of St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Guest rooms are available at St. Benedict Center for the night from Friday to Saturday.  The program fee is $60, for Friday only $20; for Saturday only it is $40. Early bird rate for bothFriday and Saturday (register before August 24) is $55.  Room and board charges will be added to the program fee. For more information call St. Benedict Center 402-352-8819 or visit here.

News Release: Piano and Organ Exhibit at St. Benedict Center

Under the motto, “Keeping Time: An Exhibit of Keyboard Instruments,” piano technician and collector Steve Misenerfrom Stockholm, SD, will be sharing a portion of his unique personal collection of musical instruments at St. Benedict Center, 4 Miles north of Schuyler, from September 7 to October 14, 2018. This exhibition will focus on keyboard instruments, which either have a connection to a Classical or Romantic Era composer or are from those musical time periods. It is a great opportunity for students and for anyone who is interested to learn about the instruments that were used at these times. Visitors are also invited to play them!

Steve Misener offers the country’s largest hosted interactive exhibit of this kind. It presents the design, engineering, production and aesthetic beauty of pianos and other keyboard instruments, featuring antique working models dating from the 1700s to 1950s. Visit                                                                                                            

On September 30 and October 14, at 3:00 p.m.,you can experience the exhibition with Misener as host. Misener will intersperse stories about the music industry, composers, piano history, and colorful details of the instruments’ previous owners in past centuries with brief performances, as most of the instruments are in working condition. - Informal self-guided tours are possible as well; please contact us beforehand. There will be no charges for visiting the exhibit and for the presentations.                                                                  

For more information call St. Benedict Center 402-352-8819 or click here.

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 July 27 - 29, 2018, presented by Wil Hernandez, Ph.D. and titled, Henri Nouwen: Master of Soul Care. Henri Nouwen embodied soul care—in the way he cared for his own soul and the souls of others. In this retreat we will focus on how we, too, can engage in deep, personal soul work. Through Nouwen’s rich insights and lived example we will learn how to care primarily for our own souls in order that we can more effectively companion other souls in their spiritual journey---whether as a spiritual friend, guide, mentor, or spiritual director.

Wil Hernandez.jpeg

Wil Hernandez, PhD, Obl. OSB, is an international retreat leader, a spiritual director, and the author of a trilogy on Henri Nouwen published by Paulist Press plus a recent release entitled, Mere Spirituality: The Spiritual Life According to Henri Nouwen (SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2015). All year round he conducts retreats, workshops, and seminars and teaches courses focused on the spirituality of Nouwen in both Catholic and Protestant institutions in the U.S. and abroad through The Nouwen Legacy, an outfit he manages which is dedicated to promoting the enduring legacy of Nouwen ( Wil is the founder and executive director of CenterQuest, an ecumenical hub for the study and practice of Christian Spirituality ( He holds a private practice in a professional office in Pasadena, California, doing counseling, life coaching, and spiritual direction. As an active member of Spiritual Directors International (SDI), he serves on the Editorial Panel of Presence Journal and regularly conducts Nouwen workshops at SDI conferences.  Wil is also an active Benedictine Oblate of Saint Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, CA.

The retreat begins on Friday, at 7:30 p.m. and ends on Sunday after Lunch. The program fee is $ 60; room and board are additional. Register at For more information call St. Benedict Center 402-352-8819.

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

Newsletter of Fr. Thomas, Summer 2018

Dear Friends,

In April, I traveled to Ndanda Abbey in Tanzania, East Africa. It was a joy to meet again many of the people with whom I had lived and among whom I had ministered for six years in the 1990s. At Mass in my former parish of Nangoo, the joyful singing, drumming, and trilling of the choir and the congregation touched my heart anew. I could sense an infectious joy among folks who have very few material possessions, joy as a gift and fruit of the Holy Spirit.

The occasion of the visit was an international meeting of Missionary Benedictine formators, that is, of monks who are responsible for the education and formation of the young brothers in their respective monasteries. The participants hailed from all-over the world: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Togo, Korea, the Philippines, India, Germany, the United States, Cuba, and Colombia. It was truly a Spirit-filled experience of the one worldwide Church. While the main language at our daily Masses during the conference was English, the singing was in Swahili, Korean, Latin, Spanish and German. The language of the hymns depended upon the home country of the presider. Everybody had the hymn texts; and it wasn’t hard to chime in, even though we sometimes didn’t understand every single word. After all, it’s the same Mass that is celebrated on all continents of the earth!


During the sessions and the sharing in small groups which followed them, we recognized that, in spite of our great cultural diversity, the human dynamics and the challenges we face in our formation work are more or less the same all-over the earth. What we have in common as humans is so much stronger than differences in skin color and nationality! The unity in the midst of our diversity that we experienced was the work of the Holy Spirit.

It occurred to me that our St. Benedict Center in Schuyler, Nebraska, is also such a place of unity in diversity. St. Benedict teaches us how to receive everyone like Christ himself: people of various cultures, people of all faiths and of no explicit faith, people of all walks of life. Thus, an ecumenism in the wide sense of the word happens at the grass roots level. People meet, share about things that matter in their lives, can join us monks for prayer, and find serenity, peace and often a deeper relationship with God.

At the north end of our lake, our Chartres style labyrinth is now completed. Come and walk it! – Especially worth noting among our upcoming retreats is the weekend by Wil Hernandez, Ph.D., on July 27 – 29, which is about the way the famous spiritual writer Henri Nouwen cared for souls: his own and those of others. Also, let me point particularly to the retreat with spiritual author Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, on September 28 – 29, titled, Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God, which is about prayer and mindfulness in the midst of daily life. - I am looking forward to seeing you again soon.

Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB, Administrator



News Release: Sharon Doran to Speak at St. Benedict Center 

On July 13 - 14, 2018, Sharon Doran, M.A., M.A.,the teaching director of Seeking Truth Catholic Bible Study,Omaha, will speak at St. Benedict Center, four miles north of Schuyler, on the topic ofThe Book of Ruth, A Love Story:“Wherever You Go, I Will Go.”

Ruth, the young Moabite widow, had noticed the deep faith of her mother-in-law Naomi and chosen to come into full covenant with Naomi’s love, the one true God and husband of Israel. God’s amazing grace provided her with a new human love as well. United with her new husband Boaz, Ruth became King David’s great grandmother and part of Jesus’ Royal Messianic line. During this retreat for women, encounter your own kinsman redeemer, a true love story at the deepest level.

Sharon Doran

An experienced Bible Study teacher for over a decade, Sharon Doran has a passion for Scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God's Word and apply His message to your everyday life. She has a Masters of Arts degree in Education and has taught at both the high school and university levels. She holds a second Master's Degree in Pastoral Theology with an emphasis in Sacred Scripture from the Augustine Institute inDenver, Colorado. She is frequently invited to speak at church events, city-wide venues, regional seminars and conferences.  Sharon is married to Dr. Stephen Doran and is the mother of five sons. She has endured several cancer surgeries for more than a decade but the blessing has been a deeper walk with Him and urgency to share the gospel. 

The Doran family attends St. Margaret Mary's parish. Sharon was invited by the Archdiocese of Omaha's Adult Faith Formation Office to start a new Catholic Bible Study for men and women in the Omaha area.             

The program begins on Friday, 7:30 p.m. and closes on Saturday with a Mass at 4:00 p.m. Sign up at www.StBenedictCenter.comor call St. Benedict Center at 402-352-8819 for more information.

News Release: Retreat with Father Larry Gillick

Fr. Larry Gillick.jpg

The Rev. Larry Gillick, SJ, will present a retreat titled, Thou Shalt Not Have Strange Gods Before or Above You at St. Benedict Center, four miles north of Schuyler, on June 21 - 24, 2018.  This is a prayer-retreat, not a “lecture series” or “workshop”. Retreatants will receive encouragement and direction to allow the “imageless” God to meet, embrace and enliven the pray-er. Much space and time will be available for the “seeker” to be sought and found. We will begin with considering Jesus’ clearing of the temple in chapter two of John’s Gospel. Silence during these days will be a grace for listening. 

Jesuit Father Larry Gillick was ordained a priest in 1972. His former assignments include Spiritual Director for the younger Jesuits, Rector of the Jesuit Community at Creighton Prep in Omaha, and Superior of Mulumba House.  He currently serves as Director of the Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality at Creighton University.  He is a sought after retreat master around the country and spiritual director of students, faculty, alumni at Creighton University, and people from far and wide.

The retreat begins on Thursday, at 6:00 p.m. and ends on Sunday after Lunch.  The program fee is $ 80; room and board are additional.  For more information call St. Benedict Center 402-352-8819 or visit

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:      


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