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Volume 10 • Issue 1 • Spring 2010
Magazine of Saint John’s Abbey
Art and Artifacts
Collection, 4
Elmer Eisenshenk, OSB:
Water-Witch or WaterFinder?, 7
Sustainability, 10
Healthy menu for monks
and others, 13
Darwin’s Origin of Species:
Theology or Science?, 15
Monks in the Kitchen, 17
Meet the Monks:
avid readers, 18
Update on Phoenix Rising
fundraiser for Tanzania, 20
Review: Uncommon
Gratitude, 21
The Abbey Chronicle, 22
Obituaries, 25
Banner Bits, 28
Live out loud!
Alleluia!, 31
Alan Reed, OSB (l.)
and David
Manahan, OSB
Co-Curators of
Art and Artifacts
In the cover photo, Alan (l.) is holding
a “Retablo” of San Martin of Tours by
the New Mexican artist Charles M.
Cover Story
The Abbey’s Art and
Artifacts Collection
Aelred Senna, OSB
David is holding an unidentified
fragment of a very old statue of
Saint Benedict.
Pages 4, 5, 6
4 The Abbey’s Art and Artifacts Collection by Alan Reed, OSB
7 Fr. Elmer Eisenshenk, OSB: Water-Witch or Water-Finder?
by Daniel Durken, OSB
10 Abbey’s Task Force for Environmental Sustainability
by Isidore Glyer, OSB
15 Darwin’s Origin of Species: Theology or Science?
by Wilfred Theisen, OSB
13 Reflections on a healthy menu
for monks and others
by Abbot John Klassen, OSB
18 Meet the Monks: The Abbey’s Ninety-Year-Old Avid Readers
by Dolores Schuh, CHM
21 Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is
Banner Bits
28 Drawings of Saints Benedict and Scholastica
29 Liturgical Press goes for the gold
30 Novices explore hermit’s life
3 From editor and abbot
Monks in the Kitchen
17 Caribbean roots yield fruit
in Collegeville
OSB Volunteers
20 Update on Phoenix Rising fundraiser for Tanzania
The Abbey Chronicle
22Highlights of December, 2009,
January, February, March, 2010
25 Mathias Spier, OSB
Florian Muggli, OSB
Paul Marx, OSB
Spiritual Life
31 Live out loud! Alleluia!
NOTE: Please send your change of address to: Ruth Athmann at [email protected] or P.O. Box 7222,
Collegeville, Minnesota 56321-7222 or call 800-635-7303.
Editor: Daniel Durken, OSB
[email protected]
Copy Editor and Proofreader:
Dolores Schuh, CHM
Abbey Banner
Magazine of
Saint John’s Abbey
Volume 10, Issue 1
Spring 2010
Designer: Pam Rolfes
Circulation: Ruth Athmann, Cathy Wieme,
Tanya Boettcher, Jan Jahnke, Mary Gouge
Printer: Palmer Printing, Waite Park,
Abbey Banner is published three times
annually (spring, fall, winter) by the
Benedictine monks of Saint John’s Abbey for
our relatives, friends and Oblates.
Abbey Banner is online at
Saint John’s Abbey, Box 2015, Collegeville,
Minnesota 56321-2015
A Triple Treat
by Daniel Durken, OSB
ebruary 14, 2010, was
a Triple Treat Day:
1. Valentine’s Day
2. Chinese New Year 4708
3. Annual Monks’ Day at Saint
Benedict’s Monastery to celebrate
the feast of Saint Scholastica.
The original visit of our founders is recorded in Pope
St. Gregory’s Life and Miracles of Saint Benedict. When
Benedict was unwilling to talk all night with Scholastica
about the joys of heaven, she prayed earnestly and a rainstorm kept her law-abiding brother from returning to his
monastery—a triumph of love over law.
Our celebration was highlighted by an inspiring DVD
honoring the 80th anniversary of the Sisters’ mission to
China and Taiwan. In 1930 the monastery was asked to
send teachers to the Catholic University of Peking. Of
the 992 community members, 109 volunteered. Six were
Sisters’ letters describe conditions: “There is an abundance of wiggly, wooly centipedes along with scorpions,
fleas and even a bed bug crawling on my scapular. The
chapel is so cold that we can see our breath. There is little
relief from homesickness.”
After two years of language study the Sisters opened
schools for young women. Their educational efforts were
disrupted by the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1941),
World War II and the Communist takeover. From 19411945 the Sisters were moved to concentration camps where
they were safe but with very little food. They moved to
Taiwan in 1948 and established a monastery which now has
independent status.
The Haehn Museum of Saint Benedict’s Monastery
features this extraordinary exhibit: “1930-2010—Mission
to China and Taiwan” from mid-March to December 23.
I highly recommend it. I also recommend that when the
Vatican-sponsored visitation of women’s religious life in
American reveals the stories of thousands of these valiant
and determined women, Cardinal Rodé should insist that
Benedict XVI follow the current “A Year for Priests” with
“A Year for Women Religious” and canonize hundreds
of them. +
Making a
vision statement
by Abbot John Klassen, OSB
n March 2009 the monastic
community finalized a vision
statement that takes us to 2015.
One of the traps in such statements is that they can take on
a life of their own. “If we edit this one more time, maybe
we will get it perfect . . . .” The real question is, “Is the
vision statement actionable?”
Here are the results of a planning process we did last
January. Each vision element (in bold) is followed by an
actionable goal for fiscal year 2011.
In our monastery we will:
• strengthen our Catholic, Benedictine identity
Beginning Ash Wednesday, each confrere commits to
being present for five liturgies or meals per week above
and beyond his current typical observance.
• support our apostolates and vital ministries
We will develop and solidify the recruitment, staffing,
formation, placement sites and funding for a Benedictine
Volunteer Corps for 20-25 SJU graduates for 2011.
• practice environmental and sustainable stewardship
We will serve one meat, one starch and two vegetables at
the evening meal. We also removed desserts from all meals
except on Sundays and feast days to reduce sugar sources.
• create stronger working relationships with laity
During 2010 we will develop an integrated volunteer
program with a coordinator [or team] to assist in essential
abbey operations.
• serve the poor and under-resourced, locally and
We will provide educational, cultural and social support
to minority groups in transition, focusing especially on
local Hispanics and Somalis.
I appointed four confreres to coordinate the implementation of these five elements and to assure leadership and
necessary resources in each area. Results will be reported
at the January 2011 community workshop. It should be an
exciting year! +
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 3
Abbey Archives
1918 photo of the Abbey Museum
The Abbey Art and Artifacts Collection
by Alan Reed, OSB
he Abbey Art and Artifacts
Collection traces its beginning to a community museum
established in 1901 and composed of,
as an early report put it, “an enviable
collection of specimens and curios,
products of years and centuries gone
by . . . Compared with other wellknown and elaborate museums of this
country, this museum is still quite
an (sic) humble one. In its own way,
however, it follows its famous models
in its well-arranged and well-labeled
page 4 Abbey Banner Spring
Some of the museum’s early
exhibits include the following:
• a variety of Native American items
presented as gifts to the Benedictines
working on Indian reservations in
northern Minnesota
• specimens of the Tlingit Indians
and Eskimos of Alaska including two
miniature kayaks, a miniature totem
pole and basketry presented by a
friend of the school
• a set of stud-buttons of President
John Quincy Adams
• a sword of President Theodore
Roosevelt in the sword and gun
• conch shells, sponges, sea fans
and other coral products from the
Bahamas where the monks of Saint
John’s labored for over a century
• a duho, a carved, wooden ceremonial stool used by the pre-Columbian
tribal chiefs of the Arawak people,
earliest inhabitants of the Bahamas,
and discovered in a cave by a Saint
John’s missionary
Paul Jasmer, OSB
“The dignity of the artist is to keep awake the sense of
wonder in the world.” (G. K. Chesterton)
• a thousand stuffed birds, from the
eagle and vulture to the extinct
passenger pigeon
• collections of insects as well as
geological and mineralogical
• three large snake skins, the longest
measuring 18 feet
• coin, medal and stamp collections
including a large bronze disc bearing
the date MCCCCXLVI (1446)
• a mounted buffalo and other
animals, thanks to the taxidermist
skill of Norbert Gertken, OSB
• art dating from the Medieval to
contemporary by some notable and
some less-than-notable artists
12th century
Madonna and
Child, gift
of Mary and
James Mabon
Penitential hair shirt, pre-1940
Snuff box with picture
of Pope Leo XIII
(pope 1878-1903)
“Fiddle-back” chasuble, Mass
vestment of detailed embroidery
Paperweight, c. 1910
Duho: wooden, carved ceremonial stool
of pre-Columbian tribal chief of Arawak
people, earliest inhabitants of
the Bahamas
Front view of duho: discovered in Bahamian
cave by Arnold Mondloch, OSB, missionary
Plate of Twin
Towers of
Abbey Church
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 5
As the museum was moved from
place to place to accommodate other
facilities, the holdings fell on hard
times. Many pieces came into disrepair, some were misplaced and
others stolen by souvenir hunters.
The museum became a kind of
dumping area for the paraphernalia
of deceased confreres.
Beginning in 1979 a serious effort
was made to recover, restore, and give
the holdings proper storage on the
ground floor of the Breuer wing of the
abbey. A computerized inventory of
these art pieces and artifacts has been
created. Brothers Alan Reed, OSB,
and David Manahan, OSB, the current co-curators of the collection, face
the formidable task of continuing this
effort to sort the genuine from the
junk and thereby preserve the really
valuable items related to the history
of Saint John’s. +
Drawing of original log cabin on Mississippi River, 1856
Drawing of Saint
John’s from across
Lake Sagatagan by
Julius Locnikar, OSB,
Brother Alan Reed, OSB, former art
curator of the Hill Museum & Manuscript
Library, is the co-curator of the Abbey Art
and Artifacts Collection.
College football team photo-printed
stuffed pillow, c. 1915
Crucifixion painting of Georges Rouault,
French artist (1871-1958)
St. Florian, patron
of firefighters, puts out
a fire in the abbey church.
Photos of art objects by Alan Reed, OSB
page 6 Abbey Banner Spring 2010
Fr. Elmer Eisenshenk, OSB:
Water-Witch or Water-Finder?
by Daniel Durken, OSB
Abbey Archives
“Many knew Father Elmer for his uncanny performance
as a dowser, locating underground veins of water.”
nown and beloved as a Benedictine monk, teacher, pastor,
convent chaplain and builder
of a large church in Moorhead, plus a
nursing home and additional school
facilities in Cold Spring, Minnesota,
and the one who in 1950 personally
asked Pope Pius XII to permit school
children to receive Holy Communion
on school days without observing the
Eucharistic fast, Father Elmer (18951976) has an additional claim to
humble fame. He was a dowser.
in 1948, they invited Elmer to come
to their foundation to locate water for
their garden. He asked the Sisters to
send him a photograph of their garden
upon which he successfully designated a site of underground water.
In the early 1800s geologists were at
a loss to explain how certain individuals were able to locate underground
water in areas where they themselves
could not. Rather than study the unexplainable abilities of these individuals,
geologists simply referred to these
water-finders as “water-witches.”
“Gone but not forgotten” could
be Elmer’s epitaph. His work as a
dowser is kept alive by James and
Carol Kuebelbeck of St. Joseph,
Minnesota. They own and operate
the Underground Water Locating by
Dowsing business. Their motto is
“Call Us BEFORE You Drill.”
Stories of Elmer’s ability to locate
underground water abound. When a
small group of Benedictine women
missionaries of Saint Benedict’s Monastery moved from China to Taiwan
James was a youngster when his
father Max hired a well digger to
provide more water for his expanding dairy herd. The strenuous work
Despite his knowing that oil and
water do not mix, Elmer was asked to
find oil on the land of an Oklahoma
friend. Using a state map, he pinpointed the place where soon there
was a gusher of oil.
of hand-digging a well was about to
begin when Father Elmer drove up.
He listened to the discussion about
where the well should be dug, got out
his dowsing rod (a Y-shaped willow
branch), and walked in an expanding circle around the spot Max had
marked for digging. At one point the
end of the dowsing rod dipped toward
the ground as though attracted by a
magnet. It was there Elmer told Max
to dig.
When Max asked Elmer just how
deep the crew would have to dig for
water, Elmer again applied his rod to
the site and replied, “If you dig 23 feet
you’ll have all the water you need.”
Max countered, “All the wells in this
area are about 50 feet deep,” but he
reluctantly agreed to start digging.
Several days later he found a great
supply of water at exactly 23 feet.
This experience sparked the curiosity of young James and he was determined to discredit Father Elmer. But
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 7
■ A newly married couple decided
to drill for water before building their
home. A professional company drilled
420 feet but found no water. Second
and third drillings to 400 and 440 feet
produced no water. The driller then
suggested hiring the Kuebelbecks.
Jim and Carol selected a site. The
drillers found water at 57 feet with
an output of 15 gallons per minute.
■ A Foley, Minnesota, customer
reported that area granite made drilling for water difficult and expensive.
His original well of 450 feet into the
granite only produced a gallon of
water an hour. Jim located a likely
spot and the well driller found water
at 55 feet, directly over the granite
and producing 12 gallons per minute.
Carol and James Kuebelbeck
the more he talked with well diggers
who depended on dowsers plus the
research he did, the more he was convinced that Father Elmer had a Godgiven talent that could not be denied
despite the many scientific studies that
found no acceptable explanation for
this phenomenon.
The earliest known historical records
of dowsing are 8,000-year-old cave
drawings in France, Australia and
Africa. Donald Jackson, illustrator
of The Saint John’s Bible, includes a
drawing of an aborigine using a dowsing rod in the creation scene of the
Book of Genesis.
The Book of Exodus, chapter 17,
recounts the story of the Israelites’
demand of Moses to “Give us water
to drink.” The Lord directed Moses to
“Go over there in front of the people,
holding in your hand the staff with
which you struck the river. . . Strike
the rock, and water will flow from it
for the people to drink.” This Moses
page 8 Abbey Banner Spring 2010
did—and left us an
ancient account of
Jim Kuebelbeck
admits, “Never would
I have guessed that
my concerted efforts
to discredit dowsing would lead to my
full-time occupation.”
During the past thirtyplus years, James and
his wife Carol have
located over 4,000
satisfactory well sites.
James’ filing cabinet is
bulging with testimonials of gratitude from
satisfied customers.
The Kuebelbecks used
to specialize in “last
resort” cases but now
they work for anyone
in need of satisfactory
groundwater supplies.
James Kuebelbeck and his dowsing rod
■ The builder of a hunting lodge
in northern Minnesota hired a well
driller who drilled five unsuccessful
holes for water. The driller then called
the Kuebelbecks who located three
promising sites, one of which became
a new 120-foot well producing 30
gallons per minute.
Saint John’s benefitted from the
Kuebelbecks who located an abundant
supply of water in November, 2004,
near the abbey’s vegetable garden.
This well and one other source continue to supply all the water for the
Collegeville campus except for lake
water for lawns. These wells pump
an average of 238,630 gallons each
day for a total of 87,100,000 gallons
A cave drawing possibly
showing a dowser with
his rod appears on the
second-last panel of this
detail from Creation by
Donald Jackson with
contributions from
Chris Tomlin, The Saint
John’s Bible.
The Lord tells Moses, “Strike the
rock, and the water will flow from it
for people to drink” (Exodus 17:6).
Was Moses a dowser?
The day Father Elmer found water
for Max Kuebelbeck he took young
Jim by the arm and said to him, “Hey,
my boy, you can also do this. You are
one of us.” As a prophet as well as a
dowser, Elmer would surely confirm
this statement of Jim: “I am a professional water dowser. It is my belief
that everyone has been given special
talents from God and it is our responsibility to try and discover these special gifts. I believe God gave me my
special talent to carry out God’s will
for the good of others so that those
who see and benefit from my efforts
will appreciate God even more.” +
Monica Bokinskie
In the summer of 2006 Jim and
Carol helped locate future water supplies for the Crazy Horse Memorial,
the world’s largest mountain carving,
near Custer, South Dakota. Recently
they were informed that one of their
sites has been drilled and the well is
an artesian flowing at an estimated
75 gallons per minute.
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 99
Isidore Glyer, OSB, chair of Task Force for
Environmental Sustainability
The Abbey’s Task Force
for Environmental
Aelred Senna, OSB
by Isidore Glyer, OSB
“Care for God’s creation is an urgent
call for the present generation.”
(Abbot John Klassen, OSB)
n his letter of June 6, 2008, Abbot John wrote, “As a Christian
monastic community gifted with
rich resources in land, lakes and forest, we are called to bear witness to
our students and those who work with
us, that we receive everything we
have from the hand of God; that our
journey on this earth is a short span of
years and we are gone; that our commitment must be to leave our earth in
such a condition that the next generation will be able to flourish. With this
awareness, I wish to establish a Task
Force for Environmental Sustainability with its focus on life in the
As chair of this Task Force I am
grateful that the abbot gave us these
• to conduct an environmental audit
of our monastic life in terms of energy
used and waste generated that cannot
be recycled;
• to focus on the most basic elements such as reducing or eliminating our use of plastic in such areas as
garbage bags, plastic water and soda
bottles on campus and plastic picnic
• to evaluate our use of cars with a
view toward recommending changes
that lessen the environ-impact;
• to work with the refection committee towards the use of locally grown
page 10 Abbey Banner Spring 2010
• to propose an education program
for the monastic community that
raises our level of awareness of environmental issues;
• to insure that the abbey’s commitment to environmental sustainability
is integrated into the core messages
for vocations and the larger public;
• to work with others on campus
to enhance the overall awareness of
creating and sustaining the beauty and
integrity of our lands, forest and lakes;
• to address sustainability issues in
our new building construction and
renovation projects;
• to have representatives from the
College of Saint Benedict and Saint
John’s University engaged in work
related to the Association for the
Advancement of Sustainability in
Higher Education.
Live Simply. Be Green.
Slowly but surely the Task Force
has been looking at all aspects of
our community life with a view to
recapturing Saint Benedict’s spirit
of moderation, simplicity and the
elimination of superfluities. Our
mantra is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”
The message on a new abbey cloth
shopping bag puts it this way:
“Live Simply. Be Green.”
An early examination of monastery
trash revealed that 50% of it could
be recycled but only 20% was actually being recycled. Small baskets for
recyclable items are now available for
monks to use in their private room.
Household cleaners: Laundry detergents were to be phosphate-free as of
January 1; individual cleaning chemicals are being tested to determine
how effective these “greener” options
might be.
Lawns: Can we find organic methods
to fertilize and treat for weeds?
Bee keeping: There is a desire to have
sufficient bee hives to pollinate the
apple orchard and garden and increase
production. Is there a community
member interested in this project or
can a local bee-keeper be found who
would be willing to place some hives
Printer paper: The clean side of
printed pages should be used instead
of a new sheet. Better use of computer
or projection generated notices will
reduce the need to print copies for
Abbey church lighting: Is it time to
change the lights in the church so they
are more energy-efficient? On a practical level, what habits in our daily use
of lighting can we change to decrease
our electrical use?
Aelred Senna, OSB
Incandescent light
bulbs are being replaced
by energy-saving, longer
lasting fluorescent twister
bulbs. The use of community cars has been
reduced by establishing
a once-a-week shopping
trip to St. Cloud to buy
various needed items.
Paper napkins for meals
in the monastic refectory
have been replaced by an
individual monk’s cloth
napkin that is laundered
weekly. Batteries are
being recycled.
At recent meetings of the Task
Force, agendas included the following
Compact fluorescent light bulb. $55.00 is
saved in energy costs over the average rated
life (10,000 hours) of this lamp compared to
a 75-watt incandescent bulb.
Food: At the conclusion of Abbot
John’s remarks on a healthy monastic diet (see p. 13), he proposed such
changes as these:
• At the evening meal only one kind
of meat (chicken, turkey, pork or beef)
plus fish and vegetarian; one kind of
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 11
Household cleaning
chemicals are being
tested to determine
how effective these
“greener” options
might be.
Aelred Senna, OSB
carbohydrate such as brown rice, pasta or potato; two kinds of vegetables;
vegetarian and meat-based soup; salad
table; varieties of fruit; low-fat yogurt;
• dessert only at mid-day and
evening meals on Sunday and at the
evening meal on special feast days;
otherwise, eliminate desserts from
lunch and supper in Ordinary Time
and sweet rolls from breakfast; provide a variety of fruits such as apples,
oranges, bananas and melons;
• menus to be checked by a
dietitian for overall balance and total
caloric intake with regular attention
to portion awareness.
Aelred Senna, OSB
The items at the right are part of
Saint John’s Abbey’s slow but certain
readjustment to the simplicity of Saint
Benedict’s vision of monastic life
and our desire to accept and act on
Pope Benedict XVI’s theme of World
Peace Day of January 1, 2010: “If
you want to cultivate peace, protect
creation.” Our efforts towards environmental sustainability are motivated
by our dream and our desire “that
in all things God may be glorified”
(Rule, chapter 57). +
Blue “We Recycle” baskets are now
available for monks to use in their
private rooms to recycle items.
Brother Isidore Glyer, OSB, is assistant
guest master and chair of the Task Force
for Environmental Sustainability.
page 12 Abbey Banner Spring 2010
Reflections on a healthy menu for monks and others
Simon-Hoa Phan, OSB
by Abbot John Klassen, OSB
Monks at lunch in the monastery refectory
A synopsis of Abbot John’s remarks to the monastic
community on January 12, 2010
n a fine book entitled In Defense
of Food (The Penguin Press),
Michael Pollan summarizes his
thinking about nutrition with three
short phrases: Eat food. Not too much.
Mostly plants.
Eat food. A comedian noted that he
was going along a counter in a supermarket and came across a package
labeled “cheese food.” Anytime we
have to be reassured that something
is food, it probably isn’t.
Not too much. Eating slowly and
having a good sense of portion control
is essential to healthy eating. Each
of us has an individual balance of
exercise to eating that will keep us at
a good weight. For me, it is probably
25% exercise and 75% eating.
Snacking in mid-morning and
mid-afternoon with an apple, orange
or banana is important to reduce
overeating at mealtime.
Mostly plants. Plants provide an
enormous array of macro and micro
nutrients. They are available in a
highly unprocessed form so that most
nutrients are still there. However,
vegetables and other plant nutrition
can be utterly ruined in the preparation, both in terms of taste and
nutrition. Our dining service
is working hard to
improve the
preparation of
What strikes me is how distant we
are from the time of Saint Benedict in
terms of:
• how food is produced and
• the technical expertise and
understanding of a healthy diet
• the demands of our work as
pastors, chaplains, educators,
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 13
Aelred Senna, OSB
Aelred Senna, OSB
Fresh fruits and healthy snacks
The salad bar of the refectory
Aelred Senna, OSB
supper or evening snacking that are
heavy in the fatty acids that locate
themselves around our midsection.
Benedict would say, “Don’t snack;
you will lose your appetite for the
main events.” Nutritionists say, “Do
snack with good stuff because you
will be less likely to overeat.”
Meat and vegetables on the lunch
buffet line of the monastery refectory
administrators and multiple other
things we do
the mobility and variety that are part of our lives. Only a few of us do daily heavy manual labor in which we can burn large doses of fat in the diet.
From a nutritionist’s point of view,
we orient the nutritional agenda for
the day at breakfast. Nutritional input
should be biased toward the front end
of the day rather than with a big
page 14 Abbey Banner Spring 2010
If a monk of Benedict’s time missed
the main midday meal (followed by
a siesta), he was in trouble because
there was no other place to get food.
The evening meal was probably the
light fare of the Mediterranean culture. By contrast, we have a tradition
of fairly substantial meals at midday
and in the evening. With very few
monks working side by side anymore,
we generally see each other only at
meals and at scheduled prayer times.
We need to come to a clearer understanding of the spiritual, theological
and social significance of our dining
together, for we are communitycentered cenobites, not self-centered
sarabaites (see Rule, Chapter 1, “The
Kinds of Monks”).
Given Benedict’s admonitions
regarding the eating of meat, I do not
know how we came to have such an
intensely meat-centered diet. It is time
for us to seriously question our focus
on meat. For one thing, most meat in
this country is produced under factory
farming conditions with containment
and forced feeding procedures.
In addition, raising meat is a resource-intensive activity in terms of
fossil fuel and water. For example, it
takes 16 pounds of grain and soybeans to produce one pound of beef,
6 pounds of grain and soybeans to
produce one pound of pork, 4 for one
pound of turkey and 3 for one pound
of chicken. This is not to mention the
use of antibiotics, growth hormones
and other strategies to improve the
efficiency of converting grain into
meat on the humble animal body.
Changing our diet around meat will
dramatically change the way we are
plugged into a system that I believe is
unsustainable. +
Charles Darwin
Darwin’s Origin of
Species: Theology
or Science?
by Wilfred Theisen, OSB
harles Darwin’s Origin of
Species is the most significant
scientific work of the past 350
years. Quite an achievement for a man
whose father told him, “You care for
nothing but shooting, dogs and ratcatching and you will be a disgrace to
yourself and all your family.”
Darwin (1809-1882) was confident
that natural selection was the chief
means for explaining the origin of
species. But biologists of his time
were convinced that the contemporary
species of plants and animals were
directly created by God. Consequently
the Origin argues that natural selection is the only explanation for the
origin of species, not special creation.
Darwin had to address a fundamental
theological concept—God as creator
of the world.
Before the religiously conservative
Darwin could convince others, he had
to be certain that special creation must
be rejected as an explanation for the
existence of species. He was a great
admirer of the works of William
Paley, especially his Natural
Natural theology is the belief
that one can infer the existence and
wisdom of God from the order and
beauty of the world, implying that
every detail of the physical world was
carefully designed by God: the hand
for grasping, the eye for seeing, the
ear for hearing. The key word here is
design. When he began his roundthe-world voyage on the Beagle,
Darwin was prepared to find
evidence confirming this belief.
Instead, he found many facts that
seemed to contradict it. When he
returned from his voyage he wrote a
note to himself: “Permanence of species doubtful.”
The plan of the Origin is simple.
Darwin first gives facts that can be
explained through his theory of descent with modification by means of
natural selection but are incompatible
with belief in special creation. Then
he shows that the belief in special
“The antithesis that some assume exists
between the concept of creation and
evolution is absurd.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
creation is incompatible with these
facts. For example, in chapter 11 he
deals with the issue of geographical
distribution of plants and animals
throughout the world. He was amazed
to find distinct species of finches and
mocking birds on the various islands
of the Galapagos Archipelago, even
though these islands are proximate.
In chapter 13 Darwin points out the
similarity in basic structure between
“the hand of a man, the leg of the
horse, the paddle of the porpoise and
the wing of a bat. Why should they all
be constructed on the same pattern?
Nothing can be more hopeless than to
attempt to explain this similarity of
pattern. . . On the ordinary view of the
independent creation of each being,
we can only say so it is, that it has so
pleased the Creator to construct each
animal and plant. On the theory of
natural selection, we can satisfactorily
answer this question. The old argument of design in nature, as given by
Paley, which formerly seemed to me
so conclusive, fails, now that natural
selection has been discovered.”
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 15
Darwin’s The Origin of Species
But Darwin could not completely
suppress Paley’s ideas of design, defining natural selection as the “preservation of favorable variations and the
rejection of injurious variations.” This
definition implies that natural selection is an “active agent that preserves
and rejects, always ready to act, daily
and hourly scrutinizing, throughout
the world, every variation, even the
slightest; rejecting that which is bad,
preserving that which is good, . . .
working at the improvement of each
organic being.”
More recently Pope John Paul II
praised the work of scientists that
supported evolution but restated that
the soul is directly created by God.
Benedict XVI
stated, “The
belief in the
Creator does
not exclude
the theory of
evolution . . .
and the antithesis that some
assume exists
between the
concept of
creation and
evolution is
Yet natural selection
is not the cause of
the preservation of
favorable variations
and the rejection of
injurious ones, but the
consequence. Darwin really means that
natural selection is the
result of “the survival
of favorable and the
disappearance of unfavorable variations.”
On the whole, the official reaction
of the Roman Catholic Church has
been quite restrained and careful to
defend its belief in the inerrancy of
the bible, the dogma of original sin
and the uniqueness of humans. As
late as 1941 Pope Pius XII insisted
that Catholics must hold that Eve was
physically taken from Adam’s body.
But in his 1951 encyclical On the Human Race, the pope allows Catholics
to accept the theory of evolution.
Darwin’s critics lampoon him.
page 16 Abbey Banner Spring 2010
There was a strong religious reaction to the Origin. Atheistic societies
rejoiced, claiming that the Origin
had done away with the need of a
creator. Religious leaders saw it as
a direct attack on the veracity of the
biblical account of creation. Cardinal Henry Manning called Origin “a
brutal philosophy, to wit, there is no
God and the ape is our Adam.” His
sentiments were shared by Cardinal
Nicholas Wiseman. However, Cardinal John Henry Newman did not find
it difficult to believe that humans had
non-human ancestors.
The handwritten title page of Darwin’s
manuscript of Origin of Species
Cardinal Walter Kasper in an
address at Saint John’s last year was
very positive: “Darwin is not a new
doctor in the church or evolution a
new dogma. Evolution is and remains
a scientific theory . . . and not a matter
of faith. So those who believe they
have the evidence can deny evolution,
but they cannot do it in the name of
Christian faith.”
The official Catechism of the
Catholic Church is very positive:
“The question about the origins of the
world and of man has been the object
of many scientific studies which have
splendidly enriched our knowledge of
the age and dimensions of the cosmos,
the development of life forms and the
appearance of man.” It is therefore
clear that these are scientific issues,
not biblical ones. +
Wilfred Theisen, OSB, is professor
emeritus of physics at Saint John’s
University. This article is a condensed
version of his “Sunday at the Abbey”
lecture on January 17, 2010.
Caribbean roots yield
fruit in Collegeville
by Aelred Senna, OSB
Aelred Senna, OSB
cookbooks, just recipes that his
mother passed along with loving
care to her children.
Brother Neal prepares rolls of fresh bread
for the monastic community.
Food preparation methods in
Trinidad are somewhat unconventional and used to prepare
“poor man’s dishes.” Methods
of outdoor cooking are popular
such as placing planks of green
wood that imparts a smoky flavor
over a charcoal fire so that meats
are cooked directly on the wood
rather than on a grate. Fish are
placed within a large piece of foldedover chicken wire that is turned over
to grill both sides.
with the Missionary Brothers of the
Poor. He helped run a soup kitchen
by collecting donations of soup from
local hotels. He befriended the chef
at the Four Seasons who inspired him
with her knowledge of foods and her
easy way of bringing out the best in
those who worked with her.
Coming to Collegeville in 1990 via
St. Augustine’s Monastery in Nassau,
Bahamas, Neal now serves as the
abbey’s refectorian, sharing his
culinary skills with the monks and
students of Saint John’s. +
orn and reared in San Fernando, Trinidad, Neal Laloo,
Aelred Senna, OSB, is the administrative
OSB, learned to cook from
assistant to the abbot and prior
his mother. She made sure that her
and assistant monastery
In 1984 Neal went to Kingston,
two daughters and five sons learned
Jamaica, and worked for five years
to cook, clean and do laundry, teaching them that there is no such thing as
men’s work and women’s work.
From an early age, Brother
s 4-6)
Neal learned by trial and
Jerk Chicken (serve
error to marinate and cook
4 oz. grated fresh
meat, gather herbs for
1 onion,
Zest and juice of
seasoning and bake bread
6 cloves garli
salt/pepper to taste
es or av
and cakes. There were no
1 T.
½ c. olive oil
4-6 boneless skinle
¾ c. white
chicken breasts
s to a puree.
blender and proces
g or nts
place in zip lock ba
• Place all ingredie
e overnight.
eces all in several
coat well. Marinat
• Pierce chicken pi
marinade ov
several baking dish. Pour
grill to preheat for
from causing
F. Place disposable
ing oily marinade
• Heat grill to 350˚
oking chic
minutes; begin co
grate and basted
flare ups.
ed directly to grill
ute, chic
• After a few min
om pan.
with drippings
closed jar in refrig
made ahead and
• Marinade can be
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 17
The Abbey’s Ninety-Year-Old Avid Readers
by Dolores Schuh, CHM
inch vinyl record (remember those?).
Edwin enjoys good music.
This gentle monk was raised by an
aunt and uncle in New Ulm, Minnesota, when his mother died at age 39.
His father suffered from chronic ill
health most of his life but ironically
lived to the ripe old age of 109.
Daniel Durken, OSB
Edwin attended
Catholic schools
in New Ulm and
followed his older
brother Everardo to
Saint John’s to study
for the priesthood.
His first pastoral assignment was Saint
Bernard’s parish in
Saint Paul. It was
here he developed an
interest in languages.
Edwin Stueber, OSB
Edwin Stueber . . .
On one recent visit I learned that
Father Edwin, an avid reader, could
read several languages. This intrigued
me so I decided to visit Edwin. What
a delightful experience!
When I entered Edwin’s room I
immediately recognized the mellow
voice of Dean Martin singing “That’s
Amore.” To my amazement, on a
small table right inside the door was
an old phonograph spinning a twelve-
page 18 Abbey Banner Spring 2010
Although his eyesight is remarkably
good at age 93, Edwin doesn’t read
much anymore. He is not familiar
with John Grisham, Steven King or
Nicholas Sparks. He loves to listen to
music. Well organized is his sizeable
collection of records, cassettes, and
CDs by artists such as Johnny Cash,
Luciano Pavoratti, Nat King Cole,
Patsy Cline, and Floyd Kramer. He
can fill almost anyone’s request for a
classical hit song (not rock n’ roll) or
a symphony.
I left Edwin’s room feeling inspired,
entertained and informed.
In the early 1960s
a Learn-A-Language
record service in
Saint Paul fascinated
Edwin. He said it
was a cheap way of
getting an education as each course
consisted of four long-playing records
and each record cost only $1.10!
Over the next fifty years Edwin
learned to read Arabic (most difficult), Dutch, German, Greek, French,
Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Norwegian,
Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and Swedish. There are
bibles and other spiritual books in
various languages on his bookshelves.
He has read Leo Tolstoy’s War and
Peace in English and in Russian!
Remember the size of that volume?
Daniel Durken, OSB
hen I lived on the Saint
John’s Abbey/University
campus from 1974-2004,
I occasionally visited the retired
monks in Saint Raphael Hall. I retired
in Iowa but when I get to Saint John’s
twice each year I spend at least a
few minutes with the monks in
Saint Raphael’s.
Fintan Bromenshenkel, OSB
Fintan Bromenshenkel . . .
Another avid reader is 91-year old
Father Fintan. This soft-spoken monk
grew up in Sauk Centre, Minnesota,
with his parents and eight siblings.
He graduated from Saint John’s Preparatory School and University, made
monastic profession in 1940 and was
ordained in 1945.
In 1961 Fintan started work on the
brand new main computer frame and
was involved with the development of
computer services at Saint John’s for
the next thirty years.
Fintan developed a love of reading
in grade school. Spiritual books, novels, biographies, histories are all now
on Fintan’s reading list. He likes thick
books with lots of pages so he doesn’t
have to go to the library so often! He
is reading the bible in English and
Spanish and enjoys works by Thomas
Merton, Flannery O’Connor, Helen
Prejean, and Walker Percy. One of
his favorites is The Long Walk: The
True Story of a Trek to Freedom by
Slavomir Rawicz.
Still an outdoor lover, Fintan can
often be found pulling weeds in the
monastery garden in the summertime
and splitting logs for the fireplaces on
campus in the fall and winter months.
It can be said that he doesn’t let the
weeds grow under his feet.
Daniel Durken, OSB
Fintan was assigned to Saint Augustine’s Monastery in Nassau, Bahamas,
in 1990. He worked in the business
office of the school (grades 9-12), and
also spent many hours each week pulling weeds on the campus.
George Wolf, OSB (l.) and Don LeMay, OSB
George Wolf. . .
Don LeMay . . .
The oldest member of Saint John’s
Abbey is also an avid reader. Father
George, 94 years young, spends most
of every day reading; that is, when
he isn’t out for his mile or more daily
Not eligible for the nonagenarian
club for a couple years, Father Don,
too, enjoys reading and has several
books going at one time. Recently
he enjoyed The Horse Whisperer
by Nicholas Evans; Fifteen Days of
Prayer with Alphonsus Ligouri by
Jean-Marie Segalen et al; The Code of
the Wooster by P.G. Wodehouse; The
Good War: An Oral History of World
War II by Studs Terkel.
George does spiritual reading each
morning and prefers the works of
Columba Marmion, a Belgian Benedictine abbot who did extensive
writing on the Holy Spirit.
Along with spiritual books,
George finds good biographies and nonfiction works
in the abbey library. The
story of Our Lady of Fatima
is one of his favorites and
he prefers a mix of light and
heavy reading but doesn’t
like comedies.
With the computer and the Kindle
rapidly becoming America’s methods
of reading the works of both old and
new authors, it is refreshing to know
there are still readers who enjoy turning the pages of a good book. More
power to these avid readers in the
monastery. +
Sister Dolores, CHM, was the executive
associate of the Collegeville Institute
for Ecumenical and Cultural Research
at Saint John’s for thirty years. She now
lives with the Sisters of the Humility of
Mary in Davenport, Iowa, and serves
as copy editor and proofreader for
Abbey Banner and a proofreader for
Liturgical Press.
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 19
Update on the
Phoenix Rising bicycle
safari-fundraiser for Tanzania
by Paul Conroy
ver two years have passed
since Lew Grobe and I
hatched the idea of Phoenix
Rising, a 900-mile bicycle safarifundraiser through Tanzania, East
Africa. I initially wrote off the idea as
ludicrous. Did we really need to go
to such extremes to raise educational
funds for poor Tanzanian youth?
Why not? So we took off on what was
an unforgettable two weeks. We never
imagined that our efforts would result
in 23 Tanzanian students now being
well on their way to graduating.
Gloria Sanga, student of St.
Laurent’s Primary School, happily holds her scholarship certificate. This past summer I returned to
Tanzania as the leader of a service/
immersion trip for university students.
Revisiting the village of Hanga where
I spent three years with the Benedictine Volunteer Corps, I checked
in with the recipients of the Phoenix
Rising Scholarships. I am thrilled to
page 20 Abbey Banner Spring 2010
report that seven of the original 23
have graduated and all the others are
diligently continuing their studies.
One recipient is 19-year-old Neema
Msanga who spent three years working as a maid for a relative who had
lured her away from home with the
false promise of sending her to school.
Neema was able to reconnect with
her sister who approached me to help
Neema fulfill her dream of going to
school. Each student’s story is equally
moving and their lives have truly been
forever changed.
Paul Conroy with St. Benedict’s Secondary
School scholars
Our original expectations for Phoenix Rising have been greatly surpassed
by the $23,000 raised to date. These
funds are sufficient to support all
currently studying scholars for their
remaining years of secondary school,
and for this we thank our generous
Charlie McCarron awards Shaibu Nyoni
at St. Benedict’s Secondary School his
scholarship certificate.
We invite Abbey Banner readers to
join us in our ongoing safari of giving
the gift of education through the Phoenix Rising Scholarship. Please use the
attached remittance envelope to send
your tax deductible donation. +
Stephen Komba, student of the Hanga
Vocational Training School, displays his
scholarship certificate.
Paul Conroy is a supervisor in a student
residence of Saint John’s University.
A Review —
Uncommon Gratitude:
Alleluia for All That Is
by Patrick Henry
Sister Joan Chittister, OSB,
recounts that moment when she and
Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams
of Canterbury were talking about the
spiritual life as they know it—and are
always learning it.
“Finally I asked him directly, ‘What
really interests you most about the
spiritual life?’ He said, ‘I find myself
coming back again and again to the
meaning of alleluia.’ And then we
were off.”
These two soon realized that God
is calling them not to the easy task of
praise for all things wonderful, but to
a much tougher assignment: how to
find the meaning of alleluia in “moments that do not feel like alleluia
moments at all.”
The wide range of topics is daunting: faith, doubt, differences, conflict,
sinners, saints, life, crises, death,
future, to name a few. Most chapters
are written by Chittister. There is no
attempt to blend the styles of the two
I can best explain why I recommend
the book by pointing to two of the
chapters in which I found the authors’
message especially intense.
Rowan Williams’ riff on “Friday”
is one of the freshest things I’ve read
on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Chittister is an
lecturer and
author of some
40 books.
Monica Bokinskie
ometimes a book is the end
point of an author’s early planning and long labor. But sometimes a book explodes in a moment
of unexpected insight, of surprise.
Uncommon Gratitude is of this second
authors, but there is deep resonance
between their understandings of how,
as John Lennon put it, “Life is what
happens to you while you’re busy
making other plans.” Or, as Joan’s
very wise mother used to tell her, “Of
two possibilities, choose always the
Monica Bokinskie
Monica Bokinskie
How to find the meaning of alleluia.
Williams is an international theological
writer, scholar
and teacher.
He begins with Friday as in “Thank
God it’s,” harks back to creation when
God rested on Saturday, marvels at
the wisdom of the Jewish reverence
for the Sabbath, and takes us deep
into the experience of Christ and his
disciples in those culminating hours
of Holy Week. Williams helps me see
what it means that one fully human
and fully divine was on the cross.
Throughout the book Chittister
makes skillful use of her own story,
most poignantly in “Darkness.” Her
mother was afflicted with Alzheimer’s
for many years, an excruciating
estrangement from one to whom Joan
was so close. Only toward the end
did Joan come to “understand that
God is at work in our lives even when
we believe that nothing whatsoever
is going on.”
A friend has paraphrased an observation of novelist Gail Godwin: our
lives can keep on making more of us.
Uncommon Gratitude is a guidebook
for that journey.
Order this 136-page, hardcover
book from Liturgical Press, Box
7500, Collegeville, MN 563217500; email: [email protected];
phone:1-800-858-5450. $16.95 plus
postage/handling. +
Patrick Henry is the former director of
the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical
and Cultural Research.
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 21
Early spring arrivals
What’s Up?
The Abbey Chronicle
by Daniel Durken, OSB
(Jean Giraudoux)
Daniel Durken, OSB
innesota and Collegeville
lost their winter bragging
rights to places like Boston,
New York City, Atlanta, and Waco,
Texas, that made our snow total of 22
inches look wimpy compared to their
accumulations of 40 to 50 + inches.
During January we had 15 days of
below-zero temperatures with -24 on
the 3rd the lowest. March leaped in
like a lamb and stayed long enough for
us to revel in a welcome early spring
of above-freezing temperatures and
plentiful sunshine.
The Wimmer family and relatives of
Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, OSB
page 22 Abbey Banner Spring 2010
December 2009
■ Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe,
Pennsylvania, has the most boasting
rights to Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, founder of Benedictine life in
the United States and first abbot of
the Latrobe community. However, the
great-great-great grandnephews of
Boniface settled in our area and operate Wimmer Opticians in St. Cloud.
They were invited to celebrate the
200th anniversary of their great-greatgreat granduncle’s birthday (January
14, 1809) at
Saint John’s.
Jeff and Deb
Wimmer and
Joel and Annette Wimmer
with son Ryan,
a SJU senior
and All-American middle line
backer on the
2009 football
team, and daughter Lindsay, a CSB
junior, joined the monastic community
for dinner on December 7.
■ How do you get a 27-foot tall, 20foot wide white spruce tree through the
8 x 8-foot entrance to the Great Hall
to set up Saint John’s Christmas Tree?
With a lot of pulling by a team of volunteers. These photos are from a video
by Ben DeMarais, former Benedictine
Volunteer to Tanzania and current SJU
supervisor in student housing. See the
whole show at:
1-2-3 PULL!
Ben DeMarais
Daniel Durken, OSB
“The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an
example of the external seductiveness of life.”
St. Raphael Hall residents meet their
“Secret Santas.”
Daniel Durken, OSB
■ Your roving editor walked through
the monastery and counted 65 poinsettia plants that brightened the church
and cloister with their brilliant red.
Italians call this colorful plant stella di
Natale, “star of Christmas.”
A shelf of poinsettias in the monastic
■ Almost 15 inches of snow fell
before, during and after Christmas Day
to force the cancellation of the Saint
John’s Boys’ Choir’s appearance at
Midnight Mass. Enough intrepid
In his Christmas homily,
Abbot John considered the
mystery of the incarnation: “When I
reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ, I
can’t help but begin with the God who
is not contained in this vast universe
of 100 billion galaxies. When God first
thought of the incarnation, God must
have burst out laughing. It is so exactly
what we would NOT have done
as human beings if it had been
up to us. We tend to go toward
muscle, control, perfection. God
goes toward frailty, weakness,
vulnerability and the messiness of
human decisions. And so a child
is born, a Son is given to us. . .”
■ The 2009 Christmas Midnight
Mass from Saint John’s Abbey is
archived and available by following this link:
■ The abbey
received a gift of
hand-carved wooden statues of Mary,
Seat of Wisdom,
holding the Christ
Child, and Joseph,
holding a miniature
church as Protector
of the Church, both
created by Gerald
Bonnette, a 1953
art and philosophy
graduate of Saint
John’s who died in
1988. The statues
were given by Father James Notebaart of the Saint Paul/Minneapolis
Archdiocese, in memory of the late
Aelred Tegels, OSB, editor of Worship
magazine and liturgy professor in the
School of Theology•Seminary.
■ The Saint John’s Fire Department
purchased a 1991 Grumman 102-foot
ladder truck with a platform/bucket
that allows a number of people to be
evacuated from a location.Without it
the department would have to wait for
help from a nearby fire hall that could
mean a 20-minute delay in the rescue
effort. Bought in Alabama, the truck
has a service-life of 25 years.
Aelred Senna, OSB
Daniel Durken, OSB
plowed over
snow-covered roads to
nearly fill the
main floor
of the abbey
The Saint John’s Grumman ladder truck
with platform/bucket.
As it begins its 61st year of service
to the campus, the Saint John’s Fire
Department includes Steve Berhow,
fire chief, assistant chiefs Bradley
Jenniges, OSB, and John Brudney,
OSB, drivers Dennis Beach, OSB,
and Neal Laloo, OSB, 15
certified SJU students and
three laymen.
Aelred Senna, OSB
Aelred Senna, OSB
■ Directed by Michael Bik, OSB,
chaplain for retired and ill confreres, a
“Secret Santa” program began in Advent. Monks randomly picked names
of St. Raphael Hall residents and
secretly gave them small, inexpensive
gifts during pre-Christmas weeks. Just
before Christmas the “Secret Santas”
gave their final gift and revealed their
identity. Presents included a 2010
calendar with pictures of Saint Augustine’s Monastery in Nassau, Bahamas
for George Wolf, OSB, who worked
there for over 60 years; a “memory
jar” full of notes that confreres had
written of their memories of the recipient; several murder mysteries and a
CD of favorite music.
Hand-carved wooden
statutes of the Holy Family
by Gerald Bonnette, the
gift of Fr. James Notebaart
■ Nathanael Hauser, OSB,
was featured in the December
issue of Minnesota Monthly
magazine. Entitled “Puppet
Master,” the article describes
Nathanael’s practice of the
Neopolitan art of crèche-dollmaking. His Christmas scene
of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, a
kneeling shepherd and three
winged angels graced the
cover of the winter 2008 issue
of Abbey Banner and was
displayed in the Great Hall.
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 23
Benedictines pray in the oratory of Saint
Benedict’s Monastery.
January 2010
■ In his homily during the abbey/
university Ash Wednesday Mass,
Abbot John focused on the theme of
ashes: “We are a walking, talking,
thinking, doing package of dust and
ashes. So why do we bother signing ashes on each other’s foreheads?
Because God has given us a way out
of this continuous loop of ‘Ashes to
ashes and dust to dust.’ It is the way
of the Cross. . . We renew ourselves
in that sign of the cross, to re-commit
ourselves to God and the way that
God’s Son has shown us.”
■ To conclude the annual Week of
Prayer for Christian Unity on Sunday,
January 24, the Rev. Katherine
Wallace was the homilist at the
community Eucharist. Katherine,
a priest of the Diocese of Ottawa in
the Anglican
Church of Canada, has been
pastor of rural
and city parishes for 21 years.
An Oblate of
Saint John’s,
she represented
Oblates last
October at the
Rev. Katherine Wallace
Oblate Congress
in Rome.
page 24 Abbey Banner Spring 2010
Jerome Tupa, OSB
■ The annual community workshop,
held January 4 and 5, concentrated on
converting the abbey’s Vision Statement into goals and action steps. For a
concise description of the agenda see
Abbot John’s column on page 3 of this
■ The devastating earthquake in
Chile on February 27 turned our
prayers and concerns to our two Benedictine Volunteers, David Allen and
James Albrecht, stationed in Santiago.
In his e-mail of March 2, David wrote,
“James and I were awakened by large
tremors. James yelled, ‘Dave, get up!
This is an earthquake.’ Our entire
house shook for about a minute as
things around the house were crashing. My bed literally moved across
the room. The earthquake could not
have occurred at a worse time for the
children of Chile because their school
year is starting this week. Please keep
us all in your prayers and thoughts,
March 2010
■ The Lenten theme of ashes took
a different twist on March 2 and 3 as
a crew from the Chemical Agency
Deployment Accounts of Ham Lake,
Minnesota, cleaned out a deposit of ashes 40-feet deep and 12feet in diameter from the base
of the powerhouse chimney. A
high powered vacuum cleaner
appropriately named “Super
Sucker” piped the ashes into a
large container that was taken to
a landfill at Big Lake, Minnesota. This
chimney sweep is done every three to
five years.
Daniel Durken, OSB
The figure pictured above is at the
entrance to the Abbey Gift Shop.
Daniel Durken, OSB
One of the Epiphany magi
by Nathanael Hauser, OSB
■ A busload of monks thoroughly
enjoyed the annual celebration of the
feast of Saint Scholastica with the
Benedictine women of the Monastery
of Saint Benedict on Sunday, February 14. The editor’s “A Triple Treat”
column on page three describes the
highlight of the occasion.
especially the people of Concepcion,
Constitution and Talca that have
particularly been damaged.”
The crew and the “Super Sucker” remove
ashes from the powerhouse chimney.
■ March showers may bring early
flowers and certainly the start of
another maple syrup season. The
Community Tapping Day commenced
the morning of March 13 when 150
student volunteers put out 800 sap-taps
in two hours. The absence of belowfreezing nighttime temperatures got
the sap dripping off to a slow start. +
Saint John’s Arboretum
Daniel Durken, OSB
February 2010
The sap-to-syrup season begins with
tree tapping.
Mathias Arnold Spier,
1931 – 2010
of Holy Name Parish in Medina: “The
day before I arrived the old altars and
carpets in the church were removed,
and for the first month I offered Mass
in a makeshift surrounding. Finishing the remodeling of Holy Name
Church was one accomplishment that
brought me the greatest satisfaction.”
He added his gratitude for the help of
three Benedictine sisters from Saint
Scholastica Monastery in Duluth.
Mathias left his mark on other
parishes. He renovated the rectory of
Saint Boniface Parish in Minneapolis
so confreres studying in the Twin Cities or needing an overnight stay close
to the airport could have free lodging
and a well-prepared meal. In Medina
he worked with local officials to bring
sewer and water to the church and
area. In St. Joseph he developed the
community food shelf, began Meals
on Wheels and cajoled the fire depart-
ment to put Christmas lights on the
big fir tree in front of the rectory and
set up a fine crib set. When the Minnesota Gophers’ football team held
their pre-season camp at Collegeville,
Mathias invited a coach to the monks’
retirement center to distribute maroon
and gold caps and sweat shirts.
In his homily at Mathias’ funeral,
Abbot John identified him as a “warm,
outgoing, friendly man with a dry,
lively sense of humor.” Mathias’ obesity complicated other health problems
and a month before he died he was
told he had inoperable cancer. Abbot John remarked, “As a faith-filled
pastor who helped many other people
face similar situations, Mathias gave
it all to Christ. When he died, he was
truly at peace.”
Mathias’ funeral was celebrated on
January 22. May he rest in peace. +
he fourth of the six children
of John and Genieve
(Schmeing) Spier of nearby
Freeport, Arnold came to Saint
John’s Preparatory School in 1945 to
determine if he had a vocation to the
priesthood. Indeed he did as proved
by the forty-five years Father Mathias (the name given him as a novice)
served God’s people in Minnesota
On the occasion of his silver anniversary of ordination, Mathias
reflected on his assignment as pastor
St. Joseph Lion’s Club
Ordained in 1958, Mathias was the
associate pastor and pastor of parishes
in Albany, St. Paul, Medina, Richmond, Northeast Minneapolis, St.
Joseph and Jacobs Prairie and chaplain of nursing homes in New Hope
and Cold Spring.
Fr. Mathias was the Grand Marshall of the 1989 4th of July parade and celebration of
St. Joseph, Minnesota.
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 25
Florian Elmer Muggli,
1925 – 2010
he Benedictine roots of Father
Florian were deep and widespread. Elmer Joseph was the
son of John and Eleanor
(Pallansch) Muggli of
Richardton, North Dakota,
the location of the
Benedictine Assumption
Abbey. His older brother
Julius became a member
of Saint John’s Abbey
several years before
Florian followed suit.
His three half-sisters,
two aunts and three
male cousins were
through a relic and intercession of
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. He
attended Assumption Abbey High
School. Upon entering the novitiate
of Saint John’s Abbey he received the
name of Florian in honor of his monkfriend, Father Florian Fairbanks of
Assumption Abbey. There was no way
Florian could have become a Jesuit.
Ordained to the priesthood in 1951,
Florian taught mathematics and served
as a faculty resident of the university
until his appointment as procurator/
treasurer of the abbey and university
in 1955. For the next sixteen years he
supervised the surge of new construction on the Collegeville campus
including the monastery wing, abbey
church, expansion of Liturgical Press,
new Preparatory School complex,
Alcuin Library, Peter Engel Science
Center, and four university student
residences. His tireless service to the
community was a faithful fulfillment
of Saint Benedict’s description of the
monastery cellarer in chapter 31 of
the Rule.
Florian moved into pastoral ministry in 1971 as pastor in Stillwater,
Hastings, St. Joseph and Jacobs
Prairie. His major accomplishment
was the merging of the two parishes
in Hastings, one staffed by diocesan
priests, the other by Benedictines.
With patience and persistence, Florian
overcame the opposition of some
of the parishioners and oversaw the
building of a new church and parish
offices that united the Catholic
community in a splendid setting.
His retirement to the abbey was
marked by the progression of
Alzheimer’s disease to which he
succumbed on January 26. The Mass
of Christian Burial was celebrated
for Florian on January 30. May he
rest in peace. +
Osborn Studio, Dickinson, N.D.
Benedictine Sisters of
Yankton, South Dakota,
were his grade school
teachers. The abbot of
Assumption Abbey was
instrumental in Elmer’s
recovery from scarlet
fever as a sixth-grader
Front row, l. to r.: Noreen, mother Elinor, father John, Norbert. Back row l. to r.: Fr. Julius,
Sr. Nillon, Sr. Alexia, Sr. Joanne, Fr. Florian, all OSBs.
page 26 Abbey Banner Spring 2010
Abbey Archives
enno was the fifteenth child of
George and Elizabeth (Rauw)
Marx of St. Michael, Minnesota, and grew up on the dairy farm
that was in the family for five generations. He attended parochial grade
school, often walking the 3½ miles in
all kinds of weather, and then Saint
John’s Preparatory School where he
excelled in his studies and extracurricular activities including football and
track. He followed his older brother
Michael into the abbey, received the
name of Paul, made his first profession of vows in 1942, completed his
Father Paul meets Pope John Paul II.
seminary studies and was ordained in
Abbey Archives
Paul Benno Marx, OSB
1920 – 2010
After teaching history, religion and
English in the Preparatory School,
Paul studied at The Catholic University of America where he received the
doctorate in sociology and had his
doctoral dissertation, Virgil Michel
and the Liturgical Movement, published by The Liturgical Press. He
founded the sociology department of
Saint John’s University and became
firmly focused on the family and
responsible family planning.
Paul put his intense convictions into
practice by founding the Human Life
Center at Saint John’s in 1972 and in
1981 establishing Human Life International in Washington, D.C. Driven
by his belief that life begins at the moment of conception and that the family
is the most important unit of society,
Paul personified the zeal and energy
of his biblical namesake, the Apostle
Paul. He was known as “The Apostle
of Life” in the pro-life movement and
labeled by Planned Parenthood as
“Public Enemy #1.” Pope John Paul II
said to Paul during a 1979 papal audience, “You are doing the most important work on earth.”
Well deserved accolades for Paul’s
uncompromising dedication to life accumulated over the years.
Of him it was said, “What
Shakespeare is to poetry,
what Mozart is to music,
what Babe Ruth is to baseball, Father Paul Marx is
to the pro-life movement.”
He was named “Catholic
of the Year” by Catholic
Twin Circle and received
the Cardinal John J.
O’Connor Unambiguously
Pro-Life Award and the
Family Life International
Lifetime Achievement
Father Paul and his favorite people
It is fitting that Paul died March 20,
the first day of spring when the earth
begins its new journey of life. The
Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for him on March 26, 2010.
May he rest in peace. +
Remember our deceased
loved ones:
Barbara Jean (Theisen) Betts
Alfred Bill Braun
Archbishop Lawrence Burke, S.J.
Anthony Del Greco
Aloysius Fischer
George Franta
Dr. Ronald Gearman
Katherine Vonnie Ibes
Richard Jochman
Joseph Moorse
Angie Olberding
Hilda Petermeier
Leo Rahm
Doris Rowe
Joan Swenson
Kiriji Takahashi
Florian Winczewski
James Worline
May they rest in peace.
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 27
Drawings of Saints Benedict and Scholastica
as twin, young adults
David Paul Lange, OSB
by David Paul Lange, OSB
Young Saint Benedict t is fascinating to imagine Saints
Benedict and Scholastica as twins.
Western Christian monasticism
owes more than we think of the intimate relationship between them.
Surely they were influenced from the
beginning by a heightened sense of
connectedness, equality and balance.
Young Saint Scholastica
eyes and wild, unruly hair. So that
one gender would not be privileged
over the other, they are both the same
height, their habits are similarly
designed, both heads are uncovered,
and both regard us with a steady gaze.
I portray the two as young adults,
not already advanced in years, wisdom and monastic experience as
they are so often depicted. They are
somewhat conflicted and uncertain as
to whether they are capable of what
they are being called to, the way many
of us experience monastic life at the
There are obvious differences between the settings, and the two drawings deliberately depend on each
other. Between the two portraits there
is only one cross, one Rule, one
library (indicative of a powerful
intellect), one empty and undefined
cell, one protective raven and one
anachronistic symbol of the light of
Christ. Neither drawing tells a
complete story without the other.
I wanted them to look like Italians—
not as northern Europeans—with dark
As for the 20th century light bulb in
a 5th century setting, the best explana-
page 28 Abbey Banner Spring 2010
tion I can give is this: Christ did not
belong only to their time, nor does
he belong only to ours. God moves
both in-and-outside our dimensions
of time and space, and I needed a
startling element to suggest this.
Perhaps there should be more
surrealism in religious art.
Each print is a high quality, high
resolution limited edition reproduction of an original 36” x 54” drawing. The prints come in four sizes,
matted or matted and framed, and
priced from $60 to $500. Prints are
available from the Abbey Gift Shop
or by emailing the artist directly at
[email protected] +
Brother David Paul Lange, OSB, is
assistant professor of art at Saint John’s
Kris Isaacson, web manager (l.) and Connie Carlson,
The Saint John’s Bible program manager, with their
ADDY Awards
Monica Bokinskie
Liturgical Press goes
for the gold
Prior to the preparation of this
website, there were three Collegeville
websites promoting The Saint John’s
Bible, namely, Liturgical Press for
the marketing of the project, the Hill
Museum & Manuscript Library for
the background history of the project,
and the Heritage edition for this elite
product of the project. There was an
obvious need to combine these three
websites into one for a clearer, cleaner
Liturgical Press employees Kris
Isaacson, web manager, and Connie
Carlson, The Saint John’s Bible
program manager, led the diverse team
that included HMML, the Heritage
edition, copywriter Susan Sink, and
two design firms. Their goal was to
enable the visitor to this one website
to actually experience the text and the
illuminations of the Bible. They were
delighted that the judges expressed
this result of their use
of the website.
Readers are welcome to visit the
website to experience The Saint
John’s Bible at: www.saintjohnsbible.
org. +
Screenshots from
The Saint John’s
Bible website
Monica Bokinskie
ithout going to the Vancouver Winter Olympics,
Liturgical Press won two
gold awards in the 2010 ADDY
award competition for the Central
Minnesota Advertising Federation.
In the category of Interactive Media,
the Press won a gold award for its The
Saint John’s Bible website. The same
website received one of three Judges
Choice (gold) awards.
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 29
Novices explore the
hermit’s life
Daniel Durken, OSB
by Daniel Durken, OSB
“Benedict stole away secretly and
fled to a lonely wilderness.”
(Life and Miracles of St. Benedict, 1)
Front row, l. to r.: Lewis Grobe, Michael-Leonard
Hahn. Back row, l. to r. : Nickolas Kleespie,
Stephen Warzecha
enedict wrote his Rule “for
the strong kind of monks, the
cenobites, who belong to a
monastery where they serve under a
rule and an abbot” (Rule, chapter 1).
Yet he began his own monastic life
as a hermit, living alone in a cave at
Subiaco, Italy, for three years before
he became the superior of a nearby
monastery and began his commitment
to community life.
When he described the four kinds of
monks in the first chapter of his Rule,
Benedict revealed the high regard he
had for hermits. Of them he wrote:
“Hermits have come through the test of living in a monastery for a long time, and have passed
beyond the first fervor of monastic life. Thanks to the help and
guidance of many, . . . they have
built up their strength and go from the battle line in the ranks of their brothers to the single combat of the desert. Self-reliant now,
without the support of another,
they are ready with God’s help to grapple single-handed with the vices of body and mind.”
page 30 Abbey Banner Spring 2010
For five days in early March,
the four Saint John’s Abbey novices
experienced the hermit’s life at two
nearby hermitage sites sponsored by
the Franciscan Sisters of St. Francis
Convent at Little Falls, Minnesota,
and the lay Franciscans of the Pacem
in Terris Hermitages near St. Francis,
mon meal, a minimum of furniture)
were spiritually profitable. The daily
schedule was not established by others
but rather upon the individual novice’s
initiative and fidelity to specific times
for reflective reading, exercise, meals
and rest. The setting quickly brings to
the foreground issues that might otherwise take months to surface.
During a debriefing session the
novices agreed that these few days
of solitude and simplicity (no radio,
TV or indoor toilet, one daily com-
The high point of each day was the
evening meal taken with the hermitage staff and retreatants. Conversing
with others helped these young men
appreciate the community
aspect of monastic life.
Not feeling attracted to
the life of the hermit as
such, they nevertheless
recognized the need to
make space and time for
the silent solitude of the
hermit. A monthly “desert
day” is a needed antidote
for the rush-rush-rush
syndrome of our time. +
One of the Pacem in Terris hermitages
Live out loud! Alleluia!
by Robert Pierson, OSB
Placid Stuckenschneider, OSB
Imagine this:
I get a phone call from Regis—
he says, “Do you want to be a millionaire?”
They put me on a show and I win
with two lifelines to spare.
Now picture this:
I act like nothing ever happened
and bury all the money in a coffee can.
Well, I’ve been given more than Regis ever gave away.
I was a dead man who was called to come out of my grave.
I think it’s time for makin’ some noise.
Wake the neighbors.
Get the word out.
Come on, crank up the music, climb a mountain and shout.
This is life we’ve been given, made to be lived out.
So, la, la, la, la, live out loud!
Placid Stuckenschneider, OSB
hese words from the Steven Curtis Chapman and Geoffrey Paul Moore
song, “Live Out Loud” challenge us to live what we believe about the Good
News of Easter: “If we have been united with Christ through likeness to his
death, so shall we be through a like resurrection . . . If we have died with Christ,
we believe that we are also to live with him” (Romans 6:5, 8).
What does it mean for us to live the Good News of the resurrection? Are our
lives any different because we believe that Jesus rose from the dead and that
we, too, will rise with him “on the last day”? One way we live out loud is by
giving up our need to worry and fret about the details of day to day life. If God
can raise us from the dead, God can take care of us in the meantime. We don’t
need to be afraid. God is with us to provide what we need when we need it.
If such is true for us individually, it is also true for us as the human family.
We are in God’s care, and no matter how much we may foul things up, God’s
Holy Spirit continues to work good out of evil, resurrection out of death.
That doesn’t mean we have nothing to do. We still need to do our part,
whatever that may be. But we do not need to worry about the outcome. As
Julian of Norwich puts it, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all
manner of things shall be well.” Our belief in the resurrection assures us that
“the strife is o’er, the battle done.” Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! +
Robert Pierson, OSB, is the director of the abbey’s spiritual life program and
guest master.
Abbey Banner Spring 2010 page 31
U.S. Postage
PO Box 2015
Collegeville, MN 56321-2015
Saint John’s Abbey
Monica Bokinskie