Monday, November 11 marked the first time in the history of Mt St Benedict, that an Abbot has been canonically re-elected for three consecutive terms.
This means that Abbot John Pereira OSB will continue to serve as Abbot of the Mount for the third consecutive term of eight years. He had just completed his second term, having been first elected in November 2003, then again in 2011.
The election process began with a preliminary session 4 p.m. last Sunday. On Monday, the first official ballot was taken at 8.30 a.m. Abbot Pereira received the “required majority of the votes” at that ballot.
In a report sent to Catholic News immediately after the elections, Abbot Pereira shared that for the purposes of accountability and adherence to the basic parameters of monastic life, the congregations each have their own constitutions.
Each congregation has an Abbot President whose responsibility is to ensure the various Benedictine communities maintain “sound monastic principles”. The Constitutions of the Congregation of the Annunciation, to which Mount St Benedict belongs, provide for Canonical Visitation by the Abbot President every four years. The last such visitation occurred in 2015.
Abbot President Maksymilian Nawara OSB, Sub-Prior of the Benedictine monastery in Lubin, Poland was accompanied by Abbot Damien Toilolo OSB, of Valyermo, California, USA. The Canonical Visitation to the Mount began November 3 and concluded Thursday 7.
During their visit, the two (‘visitators’) met with the monastic community in common and then with each monk individually. They then examined all aspects of the monastery. At the end, they discussed their findings, first with the abbot and then with the wider monastic community. A report, with recommendations, was presented to the brethren.
Abbot Pereira said that the visitation was “an extremely positive experience for the monks”. He observed that the visitators were very sensitive to the major concerns of the brethren and the Brothers had a sense of being listened to and taken seriously.
The report of the Canonical Visitation, prepared by the two visitators, captured the present situation of the monastery. The report outlined a very clear plan for the monks to take the monastery forward. This plan is to be discussed in community via weekly community meetings over several months and implemented with immediate effect.
The Brothers have expressed gratitude for the Canonical Visitation, which they have experienced as “a breath of fresh air”, for Mount St Benedict. Several have expressed their feeling as “a new beginning” for the Mount. —KJ