By Dan Madden
Special to The Leaven
ATCHISON — Two monks made monastic vows and three men entered the novitiate at St. Benedict’s Abbey here on Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Brother Gregory Dulmes professed his solemn vows, a lifetime commitment to the abbey. Brother Leven Harton professed simple vows, beginning a three-year period of formation before he may ask the community to accept him for final vows.
“There is a quiet side to being a Christian,” said Abbot Barnabas Senecal, OSB, in his instruction to the two men. “It is a pattern of life in which we learn acceptance, in which we learn to listen, in which we learn to be open and not closed.”
During the rite of profession, Brother Gregory lay prostrate and was covered by a funeral pall, while fellow monks sang the litany of saints.
“This was symbolic of dying to an old way of life and rising to a new one,” Brother Gregory said. “In a sense I had already been doing this by living as a monk, but this was making it permanent.”
Brother Leven agreed.
“This is three years of giving myself to God in a way I’ve never done before and constantly examining how to do it better,” he said. “But there is also a special grace that comes with it, a special union with God.”
Each professing monk was vested in a new garment. Brother Gregory received the cuculla, or cowl, to symbolize his acceptance as a solemnly professed member. Brother Leven received the traditional hood, to symbolize his new level of commitment.
Abbot Barnabas also received three young men into the abbey’s novitiate. Nicholas Padley, Adam Wilczak and Stephen Watson entered the one-year novitiate, receiving the monastic names Philip Neri, John Paul and Maurus, respectively.