Since last Thursday, all the Superiors of our monks and nuns are meeting at New Melleray Abbey in Peosta, Iowa. Where’s that?, you may ask. With some dismay, I’ve learned that some East Costers have no idea what lies west of Pennsylvania and once heard someone say, when they heard “Iowa” mentioned, “Oh, where I come from, we pronounce that Ohio…” I’m confident that our readers are better informed than that! Iowa borders the mighty Mississippi and Peosta is near Dubuque. In fact it’s about ten miles from the Dubuque airport which is, in fact, no where near Dubuque. Head north and you’ll eventually be in Chicago.
New Melleray Abbey is a foundation of Mount Melleray Abbey in Ireland and is almost as old as Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. The monastic church (much renovated) and chapter house date from the nineteenth century and its large guest house, four stories high, can accommodate all our superiors from the US Region and the elected delegates and secretarial staff for the meeting–some forty people all told. The Abbot General, Eamon Fitzgerald, will also attend. Before being elected Abbot General, Dom Eamon had been the Abbot of Melleray in Ireland and Father Immediate of New Melleray, so he’s in familiar territory.
Our international Order is divided into Regions, in some cases, national, in other cases, bound by common language or even similar culture with a neutral common language. This allows the superiors to support one another in dealing with current trends and challenges, within travel distance from one another. Regional Meetings also help them to prepare for the General Chapter of the entire Order, held in Assisi in recent years. At a Regional Meeting, the various superior are asked to research and report on current topics, anything from pending legislation for the Order, to the impact of secular government on our life, to phenomena in vocation work or initial formation. Each Region has it’s Regional President to organize their agenda, assistance to one another and support communications. Abbess Kathy DeVico of Our Lady of the Redwoods in California is finishing up her term as Regional President and a new one will have to be elected at this meeting.
No meeting is a holiday and their packed schedule means they will not have much time to breathe! Please keep our superiors in your prayers that Holy Wisdom may enlighten their minds and quicken their hearts; and that they may all safely return to their labors when they return home next Wednesday.