Monastic Vows: A Lifelong Commitment
Celebrating Our Jubilarians
There are often firsts in every family, so even in a monastic community, we too have the pleasure of participating in an event happening for the first time. This year, on March 12, our Fr. Anthony Shidler, OSB, celebrated 80 years as a professed Benedictine monk. READ MORE
Br. Martin Haberman, OSB
Br. Martin came to Conception with those monks of Conception’s daughter house who had bravely decided that it was time to leave a lifetime investment in a fruitful monastic foundation which had begun in 1945. He recognized a calling to the monastic life at a young age. After reading about the founding of St. Benedict’s Abbey at Benet Lake, Wisconsin, he entered the young community in 1948 and professed vows in 1950.
Br. Martin saw the construction of the new monastery at Benet Lake in 1951. Over the years, he held several assignments: as a cook for 11 years, as a butcher, in maintenance, and on the dairy farm (his best loved job). His last official assignment in the community was as refectorian, a job that reminded him of his time as cook.
With the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council, Br. Martin was allowed to profess solemn vows. At
the time of this important change in the life of the community, Br. Martin had this to say: “In my own personal case I believe that I have been called to the religious life, and not to stay and persevere would be like refusing God’s special invitation. I derive strength from living the common life and from my daily participation in the Mass and
Divine Office. [This participation in the Divine Office was a change for the brothers in making solemn vows.] Also, by taking solemn vows I have helped unify the community in its purpose.”
With gratitude we rejoice with Br. Martin and congratulate him for this grace of fidelity to the monastic life through the various twists and turns it took him. He now lives in Conception’s infirmary, having recently recuperated from a fall and a broken hip.
— Fr. Xavier Nacke, OSB
Br. Blaise Bonderer, OSB
Br. Blaise Bonderer, celebrating 60 years of monastic life this year gives us a picture of fidelity and ingenuity. Maybe he’s simply following the motivational principle: “Bloom where you’re planted.”
From the time of his simple vows in 1960, his monastic life has bloomed with a long series of assignments which tapped into his natural abilities. The list would begin with the dairy (and showing prize dairy cows) but also include beekeeping, apple orchard manager, The Printery House, weather observer, grounds keeping, and a special gift for flower arrangements in the Basilica. His beautiful nail art pieces continue to be popular items in the gift shop.
In the days after the Second Vatican Council when monastic communities were seeking genuine equality by inviting brothers to make solemn vows and receive chapter voting rights, Br. Blaise was our first brother to be assigned as the monastery subprior. He says this assignment was probably the most challenging and yet most rewarding, as it allowed him to contribute in new and significant ways to the spiritual and human growth of the community.
In his active “semi-retirement” he still shows us what it means to “bloom.”
— Fr. Daniel Petsche, OSB
Fr. Quentin Kathol, OSB
Monks have come to a monastery mainly to pursue the monastic life and to take on certain roles. Some monks are natural leaders. There are those blessed to be pastors or insightful preachers. Then others teach and serve as seminary chaplains.
Then, there are the monks who hold the place of wise elders. Fr. Quentin Kathol is one such elder. He has acquired a vast array of wisdom from 60 years as a professed monk. After ordination, he studied for three years at Georgetown University. He’s held a variety of assignments throughout his monastic career. The most notable include: seminary professor and chaplain of students, academic dean, subprior, associate treasurer, archivist, parish pastor, as well as being a convent and hospital chaplain. Fr. Quentin will occasionally be asked to translate a German document or text because of his knowledge of German.
Never reluctant to wade into the milieu of community events, he is a frequent contributor to community discussions, and his precise comments add much to them. Fr. Quentin is also a good mentor for monks in formation. He is kind enough to lend a listening ear or a word of encouragement to his younger confreres. We offer thanks to God for his vocation and service.
— Br. Matthew Marie, OSB
Fr. Allan Stetz, OSB
Monastic life impels one to leave his individual path to follow the course of a faith community. Fr. Allan did just this when he made his profession of vows on September 1, 1960. He was ordained to the priesthood on January 7, 1966. He has served Conception Abbey for many years. He worked in The Printery House from 1966-1981. He served as our business manager from 1981 to 1987. After this venture in business he began a respectable tenure as a pastor serving at St. Columban in Chillicothe, Missouri, Sacred Heart Church in Chariton, Iowa, and 11 years at St. Columba in Conception Junction, Missouri. Now Fr. Allan has embarked on an entirely new journey as chaplain to the Benedictine sisters in Norfolk, Nebraska.
“A vocation” observes Fr. Allan, “is always ongoing, and one has to adjust to the circumstances at hand.” He learned that one must always be looking forward in life, and we can’t hold on to the past. He has seen many changes in his time as a monk. He has seen new buildings being constructed at Conception and has experienced many changes within the Church. We are grateful for his generous response to his monastic calling.
— Br. Matthew Marie, OSB
Fr. Martin DeMeulenaere, OSB
Fr. Martin DeMeulenaere celebrates 50 years of monastic profession. After graduating from our seminary, he was attracted to the community life of the monks and entered the monastery. He professed monastic vows on August 15, 1970, and received the name Martin, in honor of his stepfather and of the fourth-century monk-bishop of Tours. His first monastic obedience was in the kitchen as director of food services.
After ordination, he was sent to nursing school and returned to care for our sick and elderly brethren. He has held various positions over the years, such as abbey vocation director, seminary spiritual director, and hospital chaplain. After thirty years of priesthood, he was made pastor of a parish for the first time. In 2017, his experience was put to work in our seminary as dean of pastoral formation.
Currently, he is in the kitchen again, which, he jokes, is a sign his life has come full circle. He loved being present to the sick as a hospital chaplain, and walking with his parishioners in their faith journey. There were many beautiful moments, he says, in his ministry as a priest, and he is thankful for the support of his monastic community.
— Br. Luke Kral, OSB
Br. Bernard Montgomery, OSB
This year Br. Bernard Montgomery celebrates his Golden Jubilee of monastic profession—50 years as a monk of Conception Abbey! Like most significant events in Br. Bernard’s monastic journey, this one has been marked with very little fanfare—quite in keeping with how Br. Bernard has lived monastic life itself.
Over 50 years, Br. Bernard has occupied many positions in our community. He has served at Conception Seminary College as registrar and professor; he labored at the Abbey farm as assistant manager; he managed accounts receivable for The Printery House; for the Basilica as custos for 14 years; and in the monastic community itself as assistant treasurer, subprior for 15 years, novice-master and junior-master for 19 years. His current assignments include archivist for 11 years, sacristan of the Basilica, monastery guestmaster, and mail carrier. This list can only be partial, but it is evident that no assignment has been too big—or too small—for Br. Bernard to handle.
For 50 years Br. Bernard has been an exemplum of stability and devoted service to the Conception Abbey community. Ad multos annos!
— Br. Jude Person, OSB