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Dr. Christine Fletcher receives the 2019 Kucera Catholic Leadership Award

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on December 9, 2019 at 10:45 PM

On December 3, 2019, Dr. Christine Fletcher received the 6th 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. Dr. Fletcher teaches theology at Benedictine University. As well as an educator and author, Dr. Fletcher (with her husband, Dr. Peter Fletcher) are oblates of the Abbey, and she has been one of the speakers at Advent at the Abbey and Lent at the Abbey for some years now. Congratulations from all the monks!

Students from Benedictine University visit the Abbey

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on October 4, 2019 at 5:25 PM

As part of their BenB Common Time class, students from Benedictine University toured St. Procopius Abbey to gain insight on Benedictine spirituality and monastic life. Students met with monks for presentations on communal prayer, personal prayer, history of the Benedictine monks, monastic life, and an overview video of St. Procopius Abbey which can be found on the HOME page of our website. We thank the faculty of Benedictine University for arranging this impactful experience.

REV. EDWARD J. KUCERA, O.S.B., April 28, 1927 - September 21, 2019

Posted by Abbot Austin on September 21, 2019 at 11:30 AM

Our confrere, Father Edward Kucera, the last member of our community to have entered under the patriarchal Abbot Procopius Neuzil, died of kidney failure at St. Patrick's Residence, Naperville, IL, on the morning of Saturday, September 21. Born in Chicago on April 28, 1927, Joseph Kucera had two older brothers in Lisle when he arrived in 1941 as a high school freshman: the future Father Mathias, and the future Abbot and Archbishop Daniel. After completing one year of college, he followed their good example and applied to join the monastic community. Following his profession on June 16, 1947, Father Edward soon began a career in the classroom that lasted until 1962, teaching such subjects as history, religion, science, and mechanical drawing. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Martin McNamara in St. Raymond Nonnatus Cathedral, Joliet, on May 30, 1953. From 1955-1961, Father Edward served as athletic director of St. Procopius Academy, and he was one of those who oversaw the school’s transfer to its new campus in 1956. He obtained his master’s degree in history from DePaul University in 1961. In 1962 Father Edward began twenty years as a much-respected chaplain with the Air Force. During that time, he served at locations in Louisiana, Labrador, Texas, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Colorado. Receiving a number of decorations for his work and rising to the rank of Colonel, he left military service in 1982 and accepted the role as chaplain at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado. Early in 1984, he returned to Lisle as pastor of St. Joan of Arc Parish, but some health issues required him to relinquish that position the following year. Father Edward resumed his pastoral work in Colorado, where, apart from some time with the Benedictine Chinese Mission in Taiwan from 1990-1991, he kept busy until 2008 helping in hospitals and parishes, as well as with the World Youth Day that took place in Denver in 1993. He also much enjoyed serving as a chaplain on cruises to various parts of the world. Still vigorous at the age of eighty-one, he was assigned to assist with campus ministry at Benet Academy when he came back to Lisle in 2008, and for the next nine years he was an admired figure on campus as he sought to encourage frequent reception of the Sacraments. Decreased mobility led him to take up residence at Villa St. Benedict in the fall of 2017. There he remained an active presence until his health declined seriously in the course of 2019. Please remember Father Edward in your prayers.

Abbot Austin and Community

St. Procopius Abbey

Lisle, Illinois

St. Mark's Parish in Wheaton, IL, honors Fr. Anthony Jacob

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on May 6, 2019 at 8:10 PM

St. Mark's Parish in Wheaton, IL, held a reception on May 5th  in honor of our Fr. Anthony, who recently retired from offering weekend assistance there after 32 years of doing so. Fr. Anthony preached at the Mass before the reception. He spoke of the blessings that Christ left us with, especially the gift of His mother. Our thanks to St. Mark's Parish for the lovely celebration for Fr. Anthony. Fr. Anthony's sermon from the Mass on May 5th is listed below the photos.

(Sermon from Fr. Anthony Jacob on May 5, 2019, St. Mark's Parish)

O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to Thee. [This prayer was always at the beginning for planning any parish homily or sermon for all 32 years.]

Sermon Summary


For my last time speaking here at St. Mark, I will not speak on any of the 3 Sunday readings but on an inheritance we all share – priests and people. It’s not an inheritance that will pay down a mortgage or help pay a college tuition for a son or daughter. It’s even more valuable than that kind of gift. We have a share in a last will and testament, all of us.

As Our Lord suffered while He was dying on the cross, He spoke seven times. Each of these seven is by tradition called a “word” even though each may be a sentence or more in length. All seven are termed Christ’s Seven Last Words (The Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen spoke on them for many years.). Although all of Our Lord’s gifts to us can be seen as Our inheritance, His last words constitute a poignant Last Will and Testament. The Third Last Word will be for our reflection today.

Our Lord spoke this way in His Third Word: “Woman behold your son – Son, behold your Mother”. It’s easy to say Jesus was providing for the care of His Mother before He left this earth. The “Beloved Disciple”, too, would, have the prayers, the concern, and the wisdom of Blessed Mary. This is far, far from the depth of the full meaning.

As the Venerable Bishop Sheen reminds us the understanding of the meaning starts back in the book of Genesis. The woman there called “mother of all the living” really lost the title in the full sense. Mary through her suffering at the foot of the cross regained it as Mother of all the Living in the new regenerated race gained by Her Son.

Behind the name John of the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross was my name and your name, and millions of names of those that would come down in time from Cavalry's hill to our own day, and would continue until the last trumpet blast. We have a Mother who can call us by name, and loves us more than we love ourselves.

We should call upon her every day. We should especially call upon her in difficult times. St. Bernard who loved Mary with all his heart saw her as the guiding star of a ship at sea. In one of his homilies he urges us to do this: “ – do not turn your eyes away from this shining star, unless you want to be overwhelmed by the hurricane. If temptation storms, or you fall upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star: Call upon Mary! - If anger or avarice or the desires of the flesh dash against the ship of your soul, turn your eyes to Mary.”

Let us always call upon Mary, Our Mother.


Anniversary of Dorothy Day becoming a Benedictine Oblate at St. Procopius Abbey.

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on April 26, 2019 at 12:50 PM

On April 26, 1955, Dorothy Day became a Benedictine Oblate of St. Procopius Abbey. Her cause of canonization is being promoted by the Archdiocese of New York. View our website page on Dorothy Day for more information about this remarkable servant of God.

Oblates of St. Benedict are Christians who associate themselves with a Benedictine community in order to enrich their Christian way of life. This spiritual affiliation is formalized through a promise made to live out the spiritual values reflected in the Rule of St. Benedict in so far as the individual's state in life permits. See our website page Oblates for more details, and access the website of the Oblates of St. Benedict affiliated with St. Procopius Abbey, at oblate.webs.com.

Our monastic community prays this prayer every Wednesday before dinner: O God, may the Church recognize the holiness of Dorothy Day, Servant of God and Benedictine Oblate of St. Procopius Abbey, especially in her dedication to the liturgy, * her desire for the justice of God’s Kingdom, * and her devotion to the poor as persons in whom Christ is welcomed. * Amen.

Palm Sunday - juxtaposition of winter and spring

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on April 14, 2019 at 2:50 PM

From Abbot Austin's Facebook post on Palm Sunday, April 14th: 

Happy Palm Sunday! We're having a snowy one here. You can see the snow draping the green buds in this photo, if you look closely. This juxtaposition of winter and spring reminds me of the words in the Paschal Sequence, “Death and life contended” -- and the victory went to life!

Coach Andy Marchese honored at Benet Academy

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on April 12, 2019 at 2:30 PM

On April 12th, Benet Academy surprised Coach Andy Marchese with a welcome reception in St. Daniel Hall. The 96-year-old Benet Legend served as Benet’s Band Director for many years. 

Retired as well as current Benet Faculty and Staff attended the reception. In addition to connecting with former colleagues, Coach Marchase was able to hear performances from the Concert Chorale, Wind Ensemble, and Orchestra. Coach Marchese then directed the Ensemble and Orchestra in the Alma Mater and Fight Song, both of which he composed when he served as Benet’s Band Director, and treated the group to a trumpet performance!

Amidst a wide-ranging musical career, Coach Marchese has been connected with Benet Academy for over sixty years. Looking for a job, he happened to show up in the office of then St.Procopius Academy Principal, Father Thomas Havlik, just after a graduation during which the band's playing collapsed in the midst of the national anthem. Coach Marchese was hired on the spot, and he's been one of the Academy's treasures ever since.

Living a balanced life - Benedictine balance

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on January 8, 2019 at 10:15 PM

As part of the resources shared at this year's SEEK2019 event, Abbot Austin and Fr. James offered insights on Benedictine balance and living a balanced life. The two pictures below offer examples of reflections shared. The full resources can be found on our website's Benedictine Balance page.


To build on the theme of living a balanced life, attendees enjoyed the Jenga game at our booth. It was a fun way to emphasize the importance of balance.

Finally, to share our Benedictine balance resources digitally, we held an Instagram contest, Participation was great and the winner, pictured below, received an Amazon gift card. We are very pleased that many students are now accessing Benedictine resources through Abbot Austin's Instagram @abbotaustin as well as on Facebook and YouTube. See our website Home page for links to all of the St. Procopius Abbey social media sites.

SEEK2019 - Fellowship of Catholic University Students

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on January 8, 2019 at 9:20 PM

Abbot Austin and Fr. James enjoyed being part of SEEK2019 hosted by FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). The five day conference in held in Indianapolis gathered over 17,000 young Catholics from around the world. Abbot Austin and Fr. James shared resources on Lectio Divina, living a balanced life, and many other resources on Benedictine spirituality.  Additional photos are shared on Abbot Austin's Instagram @abbotaustin, Fr. James' Facebook page, and our website blog at procopius.org. #SEEK2019

Sister Judith Davies, OSF, receives the 2018 Kucera Catholic Leadership Award

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on December 4, 2018 at 8:30 PM

On December 4, 2018, Sister Judith Davies, OSF, received the 5th 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. Sister Judith Davies has been Chancellor of the Diocese of Joliet since 1990. Abbot Austin's introduction remarks in the presentation of the award to Sister Judith are provided below the photographs.

Abbot Austin's introduction remarks in the presentation of the award to Sister Judith Davies, OSF:


The Archbishop Daniel W. Kucera Catholic Leadership Award was begun five years ago in memory of Archbishop Daniel, who died in May of 2017.

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.




This year we are happy to give the award to Sister Judith Davies. Sister Judith was born in Fort Wayne, IN, and as a young woman, experiencing the call to serve God by serving others, she joined the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart out of Frankfort, IL. She celebrated her 60th jubilee as a Franciscan Sister two years ago.


As a Franciscan Sister, Sister Judith worked in education, both as a teacher and in administration. In 1989, she was asked to help in the Diocese of Joliet.


Initially, she was asked to be the Coordinator of the Joliet Diocesan Synod, which was then followed by appointments to the following positions: Executive Secretary of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, Assistant to the Diocesan Board of Conciliation, and Assistant Chancellor. Soon after this, in 1990, she was appointed to the position for which she is perhaps best known, Chancellor of the Diocese of Joliet. After almost thirty years of service, she will be retiring as Chancellor this year. In addition to being Chancellor, Sister Judith has also served in recent years as Archivist and Delegate for Religious in the Diocese of Joliet. She will continue as the Delegate for Religious as well as be Secretary for Clergy and Religious.


Outside of the Joliet Chancery, Sister Judith has further demonstrated her generous spirit of service by serving on various boards, committees, and councils. She has also worked in formation for her congregation of Franciscan Sisters.


I think many, if not most, in this room know Sister Judith due to her many years of service in our diocese. And I suspect that like me, you admire her for not only for her professional competency, but also for her graciousness and her stabilizing influence. She has used her many talents to serve our local church well for many years.


Sister Judith, we thank you for all your service through many years and in many situations. We are happy to award you with this year's Kucera Catholic Leadership Award.