June 02, 2008

Bits of news in the Benedictine U.S.A.

Both from Catholic News Service, May 30

Energy-efficient Benedictine-run seminary classroom building seen as model for schools

An energy-efficient seminary classroom building at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon is performing well and is being seen as a prototype for education across the country. With its natural lighting, natural ventilation and a minimum of electrical gear, the building is 62 percent more energy efficient than Oregon's energy code, which encourages Oregonians to conserve energy and use renewable resources. When the Benedictine monks decided they needed more classroom space, they decided to construct a new building but they wanted to make sure it would reflect the values St. Benedict established for their order 1,500 years ago. Those values include a deep respect for living creatures and an emphasis on stewardship of the earth. The new structure is called Annunciation Hall, named after Gabriel's visit to Mary to echo the obligation of Christian leaders to hear the call and announce it. The building has 21,600 square feet, including six classrooms, 25 faculty and administrative offices, a boardroom and student and faculty support spaces.

St. Benedict Abbey, Atchison, Kansas, closes its year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of its founding

The ruts in the roads still held water from the previous days' rain as a small caravan of monks from St. Benedict's Abbey drove the gravel road from Atchison through the Missouri River flood plain to Doniphan one Saturday this spring. Just a week before, Abbot Barnabas Senecal and the monks had capped off a year of public sesquicentennial observances marking the founding of the abbey in Atchison. The Mass they celebrated drew a capacity crowd to the newly renovated abbey church. But it was in Doniphan that the monks officially concluded the anniversary year— with a simple outdoor Mass in a clearing near a monument recalling the abbey's founders. Abbot Senecal carried with him a brief homily and the text of Psalm 84:
"Happy the men whose strength you are! Their hearts are set upon the pilgrimage: When they pass through the valley of the mastic trees, they make a spring of it; the early rain clothes it with generous growth. They go from strength to strength; they shall see the God of gods in Zion."


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