West Building (Cloister)Mount Saviour Chronicle

And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans - and all that lives and moves upon them.  He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit - and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused - and to save us from our own foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.
                        Sigrid Undset

Christmas 2000                                                                    No: 87


Someone has written that this Jubilee Year is not an event which begins and ends in 2000 A.D., but an event in which we begin again to go forward into a hope filled future. I was fortunate to experience this on a recent trip to Rome.

What brought me there in the first place was the Congress of Abbots and Priors which meets every four years. This time we began with the felt pain and disappointment of Marcel Rooney whose poor health forced him to resign as Abbot Primate. We were grateful and confident for someone with the talent, energy and experience to take the reins in the person of Notker Wolf of the Abbey of St. Ottilien. He is a man of 60 years, 23 of them as Abbot President of a Congregation of 1107 monks in almost every country of the globe. Our mood quickly changed to one filled with hope for the future and so we can confidently ask your prayerful support of him and the Benedictine Confederation.

CongressThere has been a long struggle to allow qualified non-ordained monks to accept the call to leadership in their community. Present Church law prevents this. Fr. Damasus and Abbot Leo Rudlof, the founder of Weston Priory, made such a proposal at the Congress of 1959, but nothing came of it. Happily, Prior Richard Iaquinto of Weston Priory brought the matter up again and it received an overwhelming majority of favorable votes. It now goes to the Vatican Commission studying the issue. We ask your prayers for a favorable response.  Abbot Francis Rossiter, President of the English Congregation, Fr. Martin and Prior Richard Iaquinto of Weston.

While in Rome, we Benedictines were able to attend the celebration of the Mass of Beatification of the two Popes, Pius IX and John XXIII; two founders of religious institutes; Tommaso Reggio and William Joseph Chaminade and the Benedictine Abbot Columba Marmion.  To worship God under a brilliant Mediterranean sky with 80 to 100,000 other colorful people ( we had green hats since Marmion was Irish) and helped along by marvelous music, does inspire one to move into the future with joyful hope. Then with over 250 Benedictine men and women, we sang either Lauds or Vespers in each of the four major basilicas of Rome.

There was a special hope for a new beginning at the Beatification Mass in that women had the two readings before the gospel. Men and women alternated in reading excerpts from the speeches or writings of the Beati before the Mass began. That there is more to hope for was clear even before the ceremonies began. As we passed through the narrow opening in the guard rails to enter the area assigned to us, the Benedictine women were taken out of the line! One was an Abbess in full monastic habit. An added embarrassment was my own obtuseness as to what was going on. She and some others fortunately found their place with the monks but a number never did and were left to shift for themselves. The place of women in the Church still has some ambiguities but it is not without hope.

On the other hand, the development of the Commission for Benedictine Women is definitely a forward move into a hope filled future. The Benedictine Confederation and S. Anselmo were founded and the first Abbot Primate appointed by Pope Leo XIII in 1893. It was intended for the 12 Benedictine Congregations of monks that existed at the time. There was no parallel foundation for Benedictine women. In the 1960's, the then Abbot Primate Rembert Weakland realized the need to work to change this. Abbot Primates Viktor Dammertz, Jerome Theisen and Marcel Rooney strongly supported the efforts of the women to form a comparable structure to that of the monks. However most of the credit goes to the women themselves. The recent Abbots' Congress in September 2000 was addressed by Abbess Maire Hickey of the Abbey of St. Scholastica in Dinklage, Germany and Sr. Esther Fangman, also of the Abbey of St. Scholastica, but in Atchison Kansas.

This may not sound like much progress to many of our readers who probably wonder why it took from 1890's to the 1990's to accomplish something that should have taken place years ago. Nevertheless, it stands as one of the mighty works of God and a number of courageous women and a few good men. There is still a long way to go but it bodes well for a hope filled future.

In Xto,                                    Fr. Martin


The good news at the monastery is the daily round of prayer of the monks and guests, the daily picking up of one's cross which we frequently drop on some one else's toes, as well as forgiveness and the joy of believing. All this will only be made known at the great general judgment and after the resurrection. It is important that I mention it now since it can seem that only our observable activities are important and newsworthy to us. Fr. Martin, Br. John Hammond and Abbot Jerome Kodell at the new Shrine-Church of Our Lady of Guadeloupe in Tepeyac, Mexico.  The February 2000 meeting of  the North American Benedictines.


First, our bad news for now and an unknown future. This is Br. John Thompson's report: " On May 25th we first noticed that something was seriously wrong with our fruit trees. Blossoms on one tree after another began to wilt, shrivel and turn brown. Next leaves, twigs, and branches appeared scorched as if by a blow torch and the most seriously affected trees began to exude a milky liquid. The orchard was under attack from Fire Blight which is the most serious bacterial disease of apple and pear trees. Our spring weather was especially favorable for the disease's development with its high winds, rain, high humidity and several hail storms.

As a result we've lost 16 fruit trees so far and whereas last year we harvested over 12,000 pounds of apples, because of the blight, this year our yield was 245 pounds! "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." We are extremely grateful for this year's crop of Summer Program participants who spent much of their work time severely pruning the blight from the trees in an effort to keep the disease from spreading.

When the Summer Program participants were not out on a limb, they could be found working in the garden which, unlike the orchard, greatly benefited from the weather conditions, and will continue to provide us with produce until the cows, or sheep, come home."

Activities of the Monks

During June, several of us preached for the Alliance for International Monasticism. It is an alliance of Benedictines and Trappists for the benefit of the poorer monasteries in Africa, Asia and elsewhere around the globe.

Br. Gabriel was able to spend an extended time with his family. Br Stephen flew to Miami to attend a millennium school reunion of his Architectural School and then to Las Cruces to visit his relatives. He has been the chief care giver to Br. Sebastian. Br. Luke is still painting and interested in everything.  Br. Pierre and Fr. Alexis were interpreters and guides on the Road to Compostela via France and Spain. Fr. James Kelly was all set to take a group to the Holy Land but he had to reschedule the pilgrimage to early May 2001.  Fr. Martin was one of the resident priests at Chautauqua for the greater part of a week and then to Rome for the Congress of Benedictine Abbots and Priors. Br. Ronald Fogarty, from the Marist community in Australia was with us for two weeks to continue his workshops on Psychological and Emotional Wholeness. He has been a blessing to us for several years. We were also fortunate to have 243 lambs born and no interference from coyotes so far this year. The picture shows a chubby, sleeping St.Joseph receiving the angel's message.  This capital, in a parish church of Estella, Spain, shows the whimsy and skill of the early stone masons.


We are grateful that so many people find time for prayer and re-focusing themselves here at Mount Saviour. This has always included college groups and members of religious communities. A long time friend, Deacon Guillermo Romagosa, conducted the Ordination Retreat for the Permanent Deacons of the New York Archdiocese. Fr. Bede of St. Paul's Abbey brought five monks of the St. Ottilien Congregation's monasteries in Africa here for a few days. Fr. Anthony Vetrano and Capuchin candidates made their retreat here as did Br. Ed Brinck and several Marist Brothers. Fr. Jerome Lauback brought several Mercedarian Novices here in July.

Summer Students 2000We were also blessed by the six participants in the Summer Experience we sponsor for men 21-35 who intend to remain laymen and desire to deepen their faith commitment. Dr. Anthony Cernera, Fr. Bill Sneck SJ, Sr. Donald Corcoran OSB Cam. and Fr. Ken Shaw of the Salesian Community helped greatly with the program.  The picture shows them with some of the monks: on the second row, Matthew Kozak from Philadelphia PA, John Loncle from Rochester NY, James Groff from Woodbury NJ, Carlos Fernando Diaz-Paniagua from New York.  On the last row, Mark Kutolowski from Brockport NY, Fr. Bill Sneck SJ who helped with the program and Kyle Smith from Lexington KY.

Bishop Jose Siro Gonzalez Bacallao of Cuba delighted us with a brief visit. Juan Cabrera and his mother Marta were in the party as was Msgr. Frederick Eid. When Msgr. Eid saw Fr Damasus' name on the headstone in the cemetery, he could hardly believe it. He had been a student at the seminary at Darlington N.J. He exclaimed: "How we loved Fr. Damasus and Fr. Leo Rudlof. They brought such 'humanitas' to the seminary and such joy!".


A number of delays caused us to put off the work in the refectory and its windows until next year. We were able to accomplish needed repairs and painting in both East and West Casas as well as new windows and painting at St Gertrude's. The Arts and Crafts/Garage building also needed some siding and paint. Br. Bruno painted the roof of the large barn and our neighbors, the Squires, began work on the road between the monastery and St. Gertrude's. Part of the cost of the road comes from a generous benefactoress. We are very grateful for the financial and other help we receive from friends and Oblates. Several of The Friends of Mount Saviour used our pick-up truck to remove six loads of weeds this August. We thank The Friends of Mount Saviour for sponsoring a monthly lecture series on the first Sunday of the month. More on that in another Chronicle.

MOUNT SAVIOUR 1951 - 2001

2001 is the Fiftieth Anniversary of the monastery, which will be celebrated with a series of talks and concerts under the theme of "The Contribution of Monastic Life to the Church and the World."  With the exception of the two concerts at the Clemens Center in downtown Elmira, all the talks will be held at the monastery and be followed by one of the hours of the Divine Office and then a reception with light refreshments.  Things do change, however, so it would be advisable to contact the monastery (607-734-1688) a few days before each event.  This will also help the community to plan for space at the talk and at the reception.
A full description of the participants can be found on the monastery web site: http://www.servtech.com/~msaviour
Click on Schedule + Coming Events. Updates will also be posted there.

Sunday, January 28th at 4:30pm, Congressman Amory Houghton.

Sunday, March 11th at 4:30pm, Sr. Mary Collins, OSB.

Sunday, May 6th at 3pm, the Genesee Valley Orchestra and Chorus. They will perform at the Clemens Center in Elmira. (Ticket prices range from $5-$15).

Thursday, May 31st at 7pm, Bishop Frank T. Griswold.

Please remember us in prayer and, if possible, also in your estate planning and will. Our legal title is -
The Benedictine Foundation of New York State.

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