Monastery News Page
October 25, 2016

   Father Damien's Roman Experience
     From August 31st through September 29th, our Prior, Fr. Damien Gjonaj spent time in Rome for three important reasons:  To attend the Abbot’s Congress, be present at the canonization of St. Teresa and participate in the Diet for our Sylvestrine Congregation. 

     The Abbot’s Congress is an event for the monastic communities that comprise of the Benedictine Confederation.  The Congress meets every four years and its purpose is to strengthen the unity among the communities that follow the Rule of St. Benedict and discuss the future vision for common monastic witness.  At every Congress an Abbot Primate (a monk who is a figure-head for all Benedictine communities in the Catholic Church) is elected.  The honor at this year’s Congress was given to Fr. Gregory Polan of the American-Cassinese Congregation.  The Diet, is very similar in nature to the Abbot’s Congress, except that it is a series meetings that monks from our congregation attend for the same purposes, but with a focus primarily on Sylvestrine monastic communities. 

     With the business of the Abbot’s Congress and the Diet to attend to, Fr. Damien was also blessed with not only an opportunity to attend the canonization of Teresa of Calcutta, but the additional blessing of being able to concelebrate the Mass with Pope Francis at the event!  For Father, it was a great honor to be present at the very moment that the Church proclaimed one of the spiritual giants of our time a “saint”.  The Liturgy was well attended by Albanian Catholics from all around the world, including some of Fr. Damien’s family members and friends.

     Additional, highlights of Fr. Damien’s travel to Rome were being present at a Papal audience in which the Pope praised the Benedictines for being, “the heart of the Church, as well as visits to the Abbey of Monte Cassino and other significant historical sites.  When Father Damien returned to the United States, he had many insights and stories to share with us.  He says that he was enlightened and encouraged by the experience and now that he is back home in Oxford, Father is more energized and enthused as he  continues in his role as Prior of our community in the United States.

For last week's news story, click here.