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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.

Inter-Faith Thanksgiving Service

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on November 19, 2018 at 11:15 PM

On November 19th, St. Procopius Abbey was pleased to host the 28th Annual DuPage Inter-Faith Thanksgiving Service.

Following the Papal Assisi Model of praying in each other’s presence, the annual event gathers the Benedictine monks of the Abbey, Buddhist Zen, Hindu, Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, Zoroastrians, Theosophists, Bahai, and Protestants. The Abbey Schola also sang several pieces of Gregorian chant.

Monastic Interreligious Dialogue was initiated by Pope Paul VI, and endorsed by Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis.


Bishop Conlon presides at the All Saints Day Mass followed by a diocesan Campus Ministry gathering

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on November 1, 2018 at 10:35 PM

On November 1st, Bishop Conlon presided at the All Saints Mass held at St. Procopius Abbey. The Mass was followed by a gathering of campus ministers from all of the colleges within the Diocese of Joliet. The campus ministry team from Benedictine University arranged the event with the diocese's Office of Young Adult and Youth Ministry. St. Procopius Abbey was pleased to host this year's Mass and gathering.

Freshman Students from Benedictine University visit the Abbey

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on November 1, 2018 at 9:30 AM

As part of their BenU class, over 200 freshman students toured St. Procopius Abbey to gain insight on Benedictine spirituality and monastic life. Students met with monks and staff 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.

Modern applications of the Rule of St. Benedict - Code of Conduct (CoC)

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on October 29, 2018 at 11:15 PM

Abbot Austin shared an interesting article about a company's attempt to create a Code of Conduct (CoC) using the Rule of St. Benedict (see Abbot Austin's FaceBook page, Abbot Austin G. Murphy, OSB).

Within the context of industry, a code of conduct (CoC) can be described as "Principles, values, standards, or rules of behaviour that guide the decisions, procedures and systems of an organization in a way that (a) contributes to the welfare of its key stakeholders, and (b) respects the rights of all constituents affected by its operations." (Cited from the International Federation of Accountants.)

Abbot Austin's comment regarding the article: I can't say I know a lot about "CoCs" (Codes of Conduct) in the Tech industry, but the use of the Rule of St. Benedict, particular chap. 4 on the instruments of good works, for a CoC caught my eye. I like the quote that calls the Rule the "Mozart equivalent of a CoC"!

See our website pages within BENEDICTINE SPIRITUALITY for links to the Rule of St. Benedict as well as other insights on St. Benedict's teachings and Benedictine Spirituality. 

Benedictine Heritage Freshman Retreat

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on October 11, 2018 at 9:00 PM

Freshman students from Benet Academy visited the Abbey on October 10th to participate in the Benedictine Heritage Freshman Retreat. Thank you to all the Benet faculty and student leaders that worked hard to arrange a special retreat for the freshman students. 

Meet The Abbey - Fellowship and Donuts at St. Procopius Abbey

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on October 8, 2018 at 7:10 PM

Meet The Abbey - Enjoy donuts and fellowship with the monks in the lobby after the 11:00 a.m. Mass the first Sunday of every month. See the Special Events Calendar (NEWS) for upcoming Meet The Abbey dates.

Slovakian President Andrej Kiska visits Benedictine University - September 27, 2018

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on September 28, 2018 at 8:05 PM

On September 27th, Slovakian President Andrej Kiska came to Benedictine University's Daniel Goodwin College of Business to enjoy a reception and to celebrate the country's 100-year anniversary. Abbot Austin was one of those who welcomed him, and Fr. Philip and Fr. James were also present at the reception.

Featured in the third photo above: to President Kiska's left is Benedictine University's President Charles Gregory, and to President Kiska's right is Rosemary Wisnosky, University Trustee and also honorary consul of the Slovak Republic. Additional photos are available at Benedictine University's Facebook site.

Benedictine University Opening Liturgy and Picnic - August 30, 2018

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on September 4, 2018 at 3:20 PM

To begin the new school year, Benedictine University freshman students participated in the Opening Liturgy at the Abbey. The Mass was followed by a fellowship picnic on the front lawn of the Abbey. Following the photos, is the homily that Abbot Austin gave at the Opening Liturgy.

Following is the homily that Abbot Austin gave at the Opening Liturgy:

Meanings of Religion


Homily for Mass of the Holy Spirit to open the school year at Benedictine University, Aug. 30, 2018, St. Procopius Abbey

According to the document Ex corde Ecclesiae by St. John Paul II, a Catholic university is called to dialogue. It is to have a dialogue between Catholicism, on the one hand, and other religions, on the other. But also, the dialogue is more broadly to be between Catholicism and the wider culture. In the contemporary west, dialoguing with the culture means especially dialoguing with secularism.

Now, while the dialogue is not only with other religious traditions, still that is very important. This inter-religious dialogue has indeed been a strength here in Lisle. Our own Fr. Julian and Br. Gregory have done much in the area of inter-religious dialogue. Also, Dr. Rita George-Tvrtkovic, in the theology department, is an expert in inter-religious dialogue.

Why is inter-religious dialogue important? Some would say that it is important in order to avoid conflicts. We want people of different religions to get along -- to "coexist" as those bumper stickers say. Avoiding conflict is, of course, good. But there is a deeper reason for inter-religious dialogue. And besides, religious differences are not the only cause of conflicts.

The deeper reason for inter-religious dialogue is that all human beings have religious aspirations. Whether or not one subscribes to any particular religious tradition, still one has these religious aspirations. One naturally longs for the divine or transcendent, and seeks the meaning of life.

The different religious traditions -- Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Islam, etc. -- propose answers to these religious aspirations. Some of those answers are similar to each other; some are different from each other. Still, by providing answers to our religious aspirations, they all acknowledge those aspirations. That is, they all acknowledge that human nature has within it a religious dimension. In a way, this religious dimension is prior to any particular religious tradition or system.

If then we have these religious aspirations within us, then it is important to talk about religion. And that's why inter-religious dialogue is valuable.

With all this in mind, it is worth reflecting on what we even mean by the word "religion." From the perspective of secularism, religion is often defined as a faith or a faith-system. But the word "religion" does not mean faith, or at least not necessarily. After all, some religions do not have a faith-element or, at least, not a prominent one.

Secularists often define religion as faith because they consider themselves to be non-religious. They live by reason, they say, whereas religious people live by faith. But again, that is not necessarily the case.

The word "religion" can be taken to mean a faith-system, but there are other meanings as well. In particular, I want to talk about two other meanings that are very important. According to one meaning, religion is a matter of justice. And according to the other meaning, religion is a matter of salvation. Religion as justice and religion as salvation -- I want to say some things about these meanings of religion.

In ancient times, even before Christianity, religion was thought of as a matter of justice. Remember here the classic definition of justice -- it is about giving another what you owe to the other. So, here religion is seen as a matter of giving to God or to the gods what you owe them.

To explain this, the ancients started with human analogies. They said to think of your parents. Your parents gave you life, and in normal circumstances, they also gave you a home, with food, shelter, an education, and so on. In turn, you owe them -- as a simple matter of justice -- a certain devotion, honor, respect.

Next, the ancients went on to say, consider your nation, that is, the people to which you belong. Your nation gives you a culture with various values; it gives you a language, and other social benefits; it provides a system of law and also protection from those who would harm you. In turn, you owe your nation a certain devotion, honor, respect.

Bringing this to the level of the divine, the ancients then said that we owe to God (or the gods) an even greater devotion, honor, respect. After all, God gave us existence and God created this wonderful world with all its goods. In turn, we owe God devotion, honor, respect.

And this devotion is greater than the devotion we owe to parents or nation. After all, our parents or our nation can make mistakes and do what is wrong. But not so with God -- and therefore, our devotion to God is total.

Now, to speak succinctly about the devotion owed to God (or in polytheism, to the gods), the ancients spoke of it as worship. What we owe to God is worship. Or they spoke of it as sacrifice. We owe God sacrifice -- not in the sense of giving something up, but in the sense of offering something to God that is pleasing to God. Therefore, as a matter of justice, we owe God worship or sacrifice.

It is very interesting to look at the Old Testament and the New Testament through this lens. The scriptures speak to what kind of worship or sacrifice is owed to God. In the Old Testament, God tells His people that He does not want human sacrifice. That is an abomination to Him.

And while He allows animal sacrifices for the time being, He leads His people to see that this also is not the sacrifice He wants. Instead, God wants praise and thanksgiving offered from a pure heart. And God also wants us to offer Him just actions toward each other.

Jesus in the Gospels summarizes all this when He says that fulfillment of the law and the prophets comes down to two things: loving God and loving your neighbor. This is a teaching about religion as a matter of justice. What is owed to God, what sacrifice or worship is to be given to God? Jesus teaches that we owe it to God to love Him and to love our neighbor. Citing the Old Testament, Jesus puts this very succinctly in one passage when He says, "It is love I desire, not sacrifice" (Hos. 6:6; Matt. 9:13).

So, that is religion as a matter of justice. But the word "religion" can be also understood in terms of salvation. Here we want to remember that the word "salvation" comes from the Latin word for health, or wellness. So, here religion is understood in terms of what makes for human wellness -- what makes us alive and fulfilled, what makes us flourish.

When people think of religion in terms of salvation, then they are thinking of what human fullness looks like. This is a good question to ask ourselves: what do we think being fully well, or fully alive, looks like? We might not have a very clear, or well worked out, idea of this, but we have some notion of it. What is that notion?

When we think of religion in terms of salvation, we also think of how we are to attain human wellness. That is, what manner of life will lead to attaining human fulfillment? So, when religion is understood in terms of salvation, there is an idea of what human fulfillment is and an idea of how to get there.

In this sense, even philosophies or worldviews are religions. After all, philosophies and worldviews propose ideas about human fullness and how to get there. To give an example, the ancient philosopher, Cicero, had a religious system in this sense. He held that human fulfillment was to be found in the contemplation of the divine. And he said that in order to reach this, one had to do two things: one had to get what one wants, but also to want what is right.

Christians, such as St. Augustine, came along later and agreed with much of this. But among other things, they found fault with Cicero's view of human fulfillment. Yes, it consists chiefly in the contemplation of God, but it also consists in getting back your body after death. That is, human fulfillment is not attained until the resurrection of the body. It is not attained until, after death, we get immortal bodies, which are no longer subject to suffering or death.

When we think of religion in terms of salvation, secularism is also a religion. Again, secularism claims not to be a religion, but it is one in this sense of the word "religion." This is because it too has an idea of what human fulfillment is and an idea of how to get there. The secular view of human fullness involves a radical individual autonomy. And to get there, you must be free to do whatever you want, as long as you don't hurt another.

When we look at today's gospel, it speaks to this notion of religion as a matter of salvation. It speaks to the question of what it means to have life, true life. In particular, it says something about how to attain this true life. Jesus does not say that, in order to attain life, you should do whatever you want, as long as you don't hurt another. Rather, Jesus offers a paradoxical answer: to have life, you must lose your life. He says: "whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matt. 16).

So, what about religion as a matter of faith? I have spoken of religion as a matter of justice and religion understood in terms of salvation. Where then does faith come in?

I don't think you can understood well religion as a matter of faith, unless you appreciate these other meanings of the word "religion." And I think these other meanings of "religion" help us to do inter-religious dialogue, and also help us to dialogue with the wider culture.

Religion, then, is first of all a matter of justice and a matter of salvation. But here is the thing: when we are left to ourselves, we distort these meanings of religion. Thus, left to our own designs, we distort religion as a matter of justice. We end up offering to God the wrong sacrifices. History has shown that we even can go so far as offering to God other human beings in sacrifice. Or we see the worship given to God as a sort of crass quid pro quo exchange.

Left to our designs, we also misunderstand religion as a matter of salvation. We get wrong what being fulfilled really means. Or even if we get this right, we get wrong the way of reaching this fulfillment.

What we need, then, is instruction from above, instruction from God. God therefore has revealed to us what is owed to Him. And God has revealed to us what salvation consists of.

This is where faith comes in. Faith is a matter of accepting this revelation, this instruction, and living by it. So, from a Christian perspective, we accept in faith what is said about religion in terms of justice. We accept that the worship we owe to God is to love Him and to love our neighbor, with all that those things entail.

And we accept what is revealed about salvation, that is, about human wellness. It is found in the next life, when we know God perfectly and have risen bodies and live in a new heavens and a new earth with God's people. And we accept what has been revealed about how to get there: in order to find your life, you must lose it.