Monastery News Page
August 04, 2022

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 Prior Council.   

     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 M
ass 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 here.

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