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FOCUS SLS18 Conference, January 2-6, 2018

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on January 4, 2018 at 1:15 AM

Abbot Austin, Fr. James, and Br. Paul attend the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, FOCUS - SLS18, event at McCormick Place in Chicago, January 2-6, 2018. FOCUS is a Catholic outreach whose mission is to share the gospel with college students. Details about the SLS18 Conference and the ministry of FOCUS can be found at https://sls18.com/.

This year's event promises to gather over 8,000 attendees. 

Abbot Austin visits with Becca Siar (Dir. of Campus Ministry) and students from UIC and an alum of Belmont Abbey College.

Abbot Austin with Bishop Robert Barron, renowned theologian and alumnus of Benet Academy, at this year's FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) event. Bishop Barron gave the keynote at FOCUS on Tuesday night.

John and Mary Mickus receive the 2017 Kucera Catholic Leadership Award

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on December 15, 2017 at 11:50 AM

On December 13, 2017, John and Mary Mickus received the 4th annual Kucera Catholic Leadership Award. The Kucera Catholic Leadership Award is given to individuals in our region who have demonstrated leadership in the Catholic Church by extraordinarily serving others as people in whom Christ is received. John and Mary Mickus both worked some decades at Benedictine University, Mary as the education coordinator of the Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum, and John as Professor of Biology and eventually Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.


Abbot Austin's introduction remarks in the presentation of the award to John and Mary Mickus:


The Archbishop Daniel W. Kucera Catholic Leadership Award was begun four years ago. Archbishop Daniel died this past May and, so, this is the first year we are giving the award not only in his honor, but also in his memory.

Archbishop Daniel was a monk of St. Procopius Abbey who used his talents to serve the Church generously in many ways. As our community’s fifth abbot, he led our community through an important time of transition.

Archbishop Daniel also served as president of our college, Benedictine University, then called Illinois Benedictine College. After this, he served as an auxiliary bishop of the Joliet Diocese from 1977 to 1980. In 1980, Archbishop Daniel was asked to serve as the bishop of Salinas, KS, and then, in 1984, he was installed as the archbishop of Dubuque, IA. He finished his term as archbishop in Dubuque in 1996.

The Kucera Catholic Leadership Award is for a Catholic in our region who has demonstrated leadership in the Church by extraordinarily serving others as people in whom Christ is received.


Now, to begin introducing this year's recipients, let me note that one of the blessings that has been enjoyed by the Diocese of Joliet has been its Catholic schools. And a large factor in the success of these schools has been its educators -- some priests, some men and women religious, and some lay persons. Tonight's recipients of the Archbishop Daniel Kucera Catholic leadership award are a married couple who have done much for Catholic education in our area, particularly through their work at Benedictine University.

Mary Mickus served for two decades as education coordinator at the Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum at Benedictine University. If you do not know it, the Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum is a little gem in DuPage County, offering in a small space an amazing collection of specimens -- animals, insects, and all things biological or concerning natural history. Over the decades, many thousands of school children have visited the museum and learned from it. This was thanks to Mary's work. As education coordinator, she coordinated this educational outreach of the museum with focus, hardwork, determination, and good organization. Also, after she finished serving as education coordinator, Mary served for many years on the advisory board of the Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum.

In his apostolic exhortation, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, St. John Paul II speaks of the mission of a Catholic university. When people think of this mission, they often think of what is taught and how it is taught in the classroom. Sure enough, this is at the heart of a Catholic university's mission. But St. John Paul II also says that the mission of a Catholic university includes serving the local community from its intellectual and other resources. Mary Mickus contributed especially to this part of the mission of Benedictine University, working so that the wonderful collection at the Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum would be an educational resource to the wider community.

Mary's husband, John, contributed to the mission of a Catholic university especially in the classroom. John Mickus served as a biology professor at Benedictine University from 1978 to 2011. There he earned the respect of his colleagues. In his 33 years at Benedictine University, he would serve as departmental chair twice and also as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. To the expertise he had in his field, John brought a genuine concern for his students. He was known to work patiently with students, helping them in and outside the classroom.

I have often heard it said by experienced educators that students remember how you taught them more than what you taught them. There is no doubt that what John taught his students was of high quality and substance. Their success in their chosen fields bears witness to the quality of his instruction. But John is also remembered for how he taught -- namely, with a gentle, caring soul that truly sought the well-being of his students.

John and Mary first met in Carbondale, IL, and have been married since 1971. They are members of St. Joseph Parish in Downers Grove. It is my pleasure to give this year's Kucera Catholic Leadership award to John and Mary Mickus.

Visit to Benedictine University Mesa Campus

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on November 30, 2017 at 11:05 AM

In early November, Abbot Austin and Fr. James visited the Benedictine University Mesa branch campus. Abbot spoke to the faculty and staff on the Benedictine hallmark of hospitality.

Inter-Faith Thanksgiving Service

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on November 22, 2017 at 2:05 PM

On November 20th, the Benedictine Monks of St. Procopius Abbey hosted the 27th Annual DuPage Inter-Faith Thanksgiving Service. The event was sponsored by the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Lisle, IL and included prayers, music, and sacred texts. An event recap is provided below by Rev. Julian von Duerbeck, OSB, KCHS, Abbey Liturgist.

Participation by eight religions in which we use the Asissi model of Saint Pope John Paul II, and that is praying in each others' presence songs and prayers of thanksgiving. Only at the end does everyone sing "America the Beautiful". Pictured here singing Gregorian chants are Fr. Julian, Br. Augustine, Prior Guy, Br. Elias, and cantors of the Abbey Schola from Benet Academy. Venerable Pope Paul IV entrusted to the Benedictine and Cistercian Orders the task of monastic inter-religious dialogue.

Students from Naperville North High School visit the Abbey

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on November 4, 2017 at 1:55 AM

Students from Naperville North High School visited St. Procopius Abbey. Abbot Hugh welcomed the students and provided a tour. Abbot Austin shared Benedictine spirituality and prayers in the Lady Chapel.

Fr. Ed Kucera Retires from Campus Ministry at Benet Academy

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on November 3, 2017 at 9:05 AM

On November 1st, students from Benet Academy honor Fr. Ed as he retires from his campus ministry.

Benet Academy Freshman Retreat

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on October 12, 2017 at 12:35 PM

As part of the Benet Academy Freshman Retreat, students visited the Abbey on October 11th and celebrated the Mass with Abbot Austin. Thank you to all the Benet faculty and student leaders that worked hard to arrange a special retreat for the freshman students. Abbot Austin's homily, "You're more valuable than you think", is provided below and can also be found on St. Procopius Abbey's Facebook page.



Homily for Wed. of 27th wk. in Ord. time, Oct. 11, 2017, St. Procopius Abbey, given to Benet freshmen retreat

Part of life is having to deal with competing voices. One person says one thing, another person says another thing. The competing voices can be speaking about things that, at the end of the day, are not that important: for example, some voices say the Cubs are the best baseball organization, others say the White Sox. Other competing voices are about things like the arts or movies: one movie critic will review a movie and say that it is great, while another will review it and say that it's not so great. And there are competing voices are about politics, current events, and so on.

Such is life. You have to deal with competing voices. And being an adult means having to decide which voices we will believe and follow.

Now, there are also competing voices about religion. In school or at home, you'll hear voices that tell you to live and take seriously your Catholic faith. But in our culture, you'll also hear many voices that tell you not to do that. Some of those voices will say things incompatible with our faith; others will say things directly critical of our faith.

Again, this is part of life in this world. And each of us will have to make decisions about which voices to follow.

Now, here's something to remember as you consider what our Catholic faith says. Some criticize our faith as being too negative. It tells us not to do this or that. I think that criticism is a bit overplayed, but I can understand where it comes from. The Catholic faith can come across as negative, if we fail to grasp something. What we often fail to grasp is how valuable we are. In other words, you are more valuable than you think.

Look at the gospel reading today. In it, Jesus tells us to call God our Father. The thing about a father and his child is that they resemble each other. So, each of us resembles God.

That's a big deal. Nothing is greater than God. So, to resemble God means that you have incredible worth. Again, you are more valuable than you think.

Or look at the first reading today. The Prophet Jonah gets upset when a plant dies. The plant was giving him shade and comfort on a hot day. When it dies, Jonah becomes very mad! God replies: You care so much about a plant. Shouldn't I care about human beings?!

Of course, He should and He does. Indeed, God values us so much that He sent His Son to die for us. In theological talk, we speak of our worth by saying each human being is made in the image of God. We resemble God, for we have been created in the image of God. Once again, you are more valuable than you think.

The thing about valuable things is that we treat them with care. We give them special attention and we protect them. Thus, if a person has a valuable antique car, he gives it special care and protects it. If a person has a valuable piece of clothing, perhaps a jacket or dress, she takes special care of it. And yet each human being is more valuable than any possession.

We have immortal souls. We will live even after bodily death. And God is working so that we will live with Him forever, in His joy and peace, which is beyond understanding. We need to work with him on this.

So, if our Catholic faith seems to demand much, it is because we are worth it. You are more valuable than you think. And that's worth remembering as we deal with competing voices.

Benedictine University Homecoming 2017

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on October 11, 2017 at 11:40 AM

Thanks to everyone who stopped by our tailgate at the Benedictine University homecoming! 

50th Anniversary Celebrated at Benet Academy

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on September 7, 2017 at 1:45 AM

On September 5th, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of St. Procopius Academy becoming Benet Academy after accepting the faculty and students of Sacred Heart Academy. The anniversary marked the transition when the school became co-educational, ceased accepting boarders, and took on the new name of Benet Academy. An all-school Mass was celebrated to commemorate the anniversary. Abbot Austin's homily, "Seeing good things as a gift", is provided below and can also be found on St. Procopius Abbey's Facebook page.



Homily for 50th anniversary of St. Procopius Academy becoming Benet Academy after accepting the faculty and students of Sacred Heart Academy upon its closing; given on Sept. 5, 2017 at Benet Academy.

As I'm sure many here know, the name "Benet" is a shortened form of "Benedict." Thus, our school is named after St. Benedict, our patron. Also, the name, "Benedict," in Latin means "blessed." And Benet has, indeed, been blessed over these decades.

So, we have a lot of good things going here. We have our imperfections and faults, to be sure. But there is a lot of good here. And there has been for some time. We're celebrating that on this anniversary.

We have enjoyed good monks and sisters; good teachers, staff, and administrators; good students and families; a good campus and good resources.

As we take stock of the good things that we have, I think it important to think of them as gifts. That's my point in this homily. I want us to think of the good things we have as gifts. If we do, I think that has important consequences.

Notice that it is possible not to do this. We can think of the good things we have simply as goods. In the field of economics, we talk simply of goods, not of gifts. Or suppose I find a twenty dollar bill on the street. That's good. But I don't see that as a gift.

To be a gift, two qualities have to be present. First, someone gives you the good thing. And second, it was given for your benefit. A gift is given by someone for your benefit.

That's not the case with the twenty dollar bill I find on the street. I just found it. No one gave it to me. It is not a gift.

So, is Benet like that? Is it like finding a $20 bill? Or is Benet a gift given to us for our benefit? It is a gift.

Who, then, is the giver? God. Yes, others were involved in the giving of this gift. I especially think here of the dedicated faculty, staff, and administrators over the years. But in the last analysis, God is the giver. All good things ultimately come from Him. The other people have cooperated with God.

And God gave us this gift for our benefit. That means God has us in mind in giving us this gift. God is thinking of us. And when He thinks of us, He thinks of how we are to benefit from the good things of Benet. And that is something for us to think about, too. How am I supposed to benefit from the good things that I have received here? How does God want me to benefit from these good things?

If you take all this to heart, it changes things. The good things at Benet are seen as a gift from God. They therefore put us in a relationship with God. In that relationship, we are at the receiving end of God's love. The natural response from us is to thank God.

That's what today's readings are about -- realizing God's gifts and thanking Him. We have been blessed -- not because we are so worthy, but because God is so loving. In turn, we give thanks to God in this Mass. As we know, the word Eucharist means "thanksgiving." And when we go forth from this Mass, we are to give thanks in our actions. That's what St. Paul tells us to do: to "do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."