The 2022 Visitation and Priory Chapter
From June 29th through July 12th, the Superior
General of our Sylvestrine-Benedictine
Congregation, Abbot Antony Puthenpurackal
conducted his official visitation of the
monasteries of the American Priory. During
the Visitation, Abbot Antony observed the
day-to-day life at Holy Face and St. Benedict
Monasteries and interviewed each monk, so that at
the Priory Chapter he could offer helpful words of
encouragement, insights and recommendations for
the well-being of our community.
The ending of the
Visitation was followed by the commencement of the
elective Priory Chapter. The Chapter is an
annual meeting at which our monks in solemn vows
review reports about the various aspects of our
life such as the well-being of the monks, the
finances of the monasteries, vocation outlook,
etc. and future plans are discussed. Every
six years the community holds an election for the
Prior and his Council on the last day of the
Chapter. With a near-unanimous vote, Fr.
Damien Gjonaj was re-elected as the leader of the
American Priory. As with his last term, he
again chose Fr. Gregory-David Jones to assist him
as the Sub-prior. Two monks, Fr.
Gregory-David and Fr. John Martin Shimkus were
elected by the monks and Fr. Damien chose Br.
Antony Maldonado and Br. Mark Orcutt to be on the
After the Priory Chapter,
a simple inauguration ceremony took place in the
monastery chapel during which Abbot Antony spoke
to us about the qualities of the Prior, the
challenges he faces and the importance and
cooperation of each of the members of the
community in supporting Fr. Damien in this
leadership role. After Fr. Damien made his
profession of faith and accepted the symbols of
the office of Prior, each monk came forward to
embrace him as a sign of obedience. Before
giving the final blessing, Fr. Damien addressed
the community with words of gratitude and
encouragement. He then commended the Abbot
General for his presence and leadership of our
Congregation throughout the world. The Abbot
Antony commended the monks of the Priory for their
monastic witness and ministries as well as their
hospitality during his stay among us. On
July 17th, the Abbot traveled back to Holy Face
Monastery with the monks who represented the
community in New Jersey where he spent a few days
before taking his flight back to Rome.
We ask you for your
prayers for our community, that through the
guidance of our new Prior, Fr. Damien Gjonaj, we
may continue to grow in the monastic journey we
have undertaken following the footsteps of our
Holy Fathers Sts. Benedict and Sylvester.
Celebrating St. Benedict
Traditionally the Oblates of St.
Benedict Monastery have gathered on the Saturday
closest to the Solemnity of our Holy Father St.
Benedict, and this year was not different. On Saturday, July 16th our
Oblates met in the Chapel for a special Mass with
the Community and what made this year even more
meaningful was our Abbot General, Antony Puthenpurackal, who
was here for the Canonical Visitation to our
Priory, offered to stay an extra day to preside at
the Feast Day Mass and be with the Oblates.
In his homily Abbot Antony spoke of the life of
St. Benedict and its meaning and example for an
Oblate following his Rule while still living in
the world. After the homily, in lieu of the
Prayers of the Faithful, right before the offering
of the bread and wine which was about to become
the Body and Blood of Jesus, those Oblates who had
previously made their Final Oblation renewed their
Oblation, their promise offering their lives to
Jesus in the Benedictine way.
After the Mass everyone headed toward
the Retreat House to enjoy the Oblate Family
Picnic with the Community. The newest member
of our Monastic Community, Postulant Jeff Ramsey,
acted as the “Master Griller” doing a great job
cooking the hamburgers and Hot dogs. The
Oblates shared with the group many tasty dishes
they provided to make this event a success.
The weather was just right, the food was delicious
and the fellowship was great; it is safe to say
everyone enjoyed the day.
If you might be
interested in learning more about the Oblates at
St. Benedict Monastery please click
the current news story, click here.