Back in September, St. Procopius Abbey sent a delegation to Cleveland, Ohio, to take part in the Centennial celebrations of St. Andrew Svorad Abbey.
Abbot Austin was invited to give some remarks at the celebration:
"I am very happy to be here on behalf of St. Procopius Abbey, the mother house of St. Andrew Abbey. Also here from St. Procopius are Prior Guy Jelinek, Subprior James Flint, and Br. Kevin Coffey. With them and all the monks of St. Procopius Abbey back in Illinois, I extend to the monks of St. Andrew Abbey our heartfelt congratulations on your centenary. We are very happy for you and proud of you.
I think it was Cardinal Ratzinger, before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, who noted that faith does not exist apart from a culture. You cannot find the Catholic faith just floating out there apart from a particular culture, such as an ethnic culture. We see that in our congregation of Benedictine monasteries. With the first monastery of our congregation, St. Vincent Archabbey, the faith existed in the Bavarian culture. With St. Procopius, it existed in the Czech culture. And in the case of St. Andrew Abbey, we find the Catholic faith rooted in the Slovak culture. And it is impressive how you have kept that heritage alive.
Now, if the faith only exists in a culture, then it follows that it only spreads by moving from one culture into another. We see this in the history of our Catholic faith: the Catholic faith spread from the Jewish culture, to the Greek culture and to the Roman culture, and then into other cultures, such as the Slavic culture.
Every ethnic group’s culture has good elements in it and what the faith does is bring those elements out more fully. It takes the good elements and amplifies them. Yes, it also the case that every culture also has bad elements, but the faith purifies them over time.
The Catholic faith for centuries has found a home in the Slovak culture and St. Andrew Abbey has been a part of this important history. Of course, St. Andrew does not only serve Slovaks, but people from other cultures. So, my prayer for St. Andrew Abbey, as you continue in your history, is that the Catholic faith that has found a home in your Slovak heritage, may continue to spread into the other cultures that you serve, and indeed, into our broader American culture. May the faith that is alive in your monastery bring out what is good in our American culture, even while purifying it from bad elements.
So, again, congratulations to St. Andrew Abbey and may God continue to use you as instruments of evangelization.