By Jarrod Thome
Photo at left - from left, Brothers Paul Sheller, Victor Schinstock, Guerric Letter, Pachomius Meade, Anselm Broom, Abbot Gregory Polan, Brothers David Wilding, Placid Dale, Macario Martinez, Bernard Montgomery, and Novice Adam Burkhart. Photo courtesy of Jarrod Thome.
CONCEPTION - The Rule of St. Benedict isn't always an easy thing to follow. In fact, some early monks who entreated St. Benedict to become their abbot eventually tried to poison him. Nevertheless, there has been a great need for monasticism in our world and St. Benedict's words have served as a guide for this vocation for 1,500 years. Today, with nine young monks in formation at Conception Abbey, it is evident that there is still a great need for the witness of Benedictine monasticism in the world.
St. Benedict begins his Rule with the words, "Listen carefully, my son, to the master's instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart." Last month at Conception, four young men expressed their desire to heed the master's instructions-two through the profession of solemn, perpetual vows, one through the profession of simple vows, and one by beginning a novitiate year.
The two solemnly professed, Brother Victor Schinstock and Brother David Wilding, are now full-fledged members of the community, making them voting members of the monastic chapter which makes major community decisions.
Brother Victor, 26, is the son of Gene and Jeanne Schinstock of Hutchinson, Kan. Originally from the rural setting of Kinsley, Kan., Conception has been a good fit for Brother Victor. His faith, knowledge and prayer life have all grown in the peace the Abbey affords. For the past two years, Brother Victor has served as the Director of Admissions and Vocation Promotion for Conception Seminary College- a title he relinquished shortly before his solemn profession. Since his profession, he has entered the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to pursue graduate work in Biblical Studies.
Brother David, 33, grew up in Union, Mo., the last of three children of Thomas and Mary Jo Wilding. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music, specializing in the organ, from Southwest Missouri State University. Not only an asset to the community, Brother David's talent for music was actually responsible for his first visit to Conception. Before discovering his monastic vocation, Brother David was involved in the Lay Ministry program of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. One of his friends from the program e-mailed him and encouraged him to visit Conception and see the organ that resides in the basilica. This trip sparked others and kindled the fire of his eventual monastic vocation. Today Brother David serves the community through his talent at the organ and his work with the seminary liturgy program and the Printery House's computer and website department.
Born Isaac Dale, the middle of 3 sons born to Paul and Deaonna Dale, Brother Placid, 25, grew up in Salem, Mo. The family was always very active in their parish as Brother Placid was growing up, and as he got older, he became involved with several different youth conferences. This involvement gave him opportunities to grow deeper in his faith, which otherwise might have been difficult in the predominantly Southern Baptist community. Brother Placid's father is an alumnus of Conception Seminary College and, after the tragic shootings of 2002, the family made a visit to the Abbey. Impressed by the prayer and peace of the place, the experience of this visit would stay with Brother Placid through his time at Missouri State University in Springfield where he majored in vocal music education. After a friend gave him a copy of the Rule of St. Benedict, Brother Placid's inclination toward a monastic vocation grew and he returned to Conception four different times, each time expressing more interest. Finally he began to work here as a volunteer, which lasted seven months before entering the postulancy in April of 2007. Novice Isaac became Brother Placid on the feast of the Assumption, August 15, 2008.
At age 21, Novice Adam Burkhart is the youngest member of the monastic community. He is the oldest of four children born to Bruce and Debbie Burkhart. A graduate of Bishop Miege High School, he also had his first exposure to Conception Abbey after the shootings in 2002, upon his father's meeting of Conception's own Father Regis at a doctor's office. From then on, the family would come up to visit Conception. At one point, Novice Adam attended one of the seminary's Encounter With God's Call vocation weekends but became more inclined to monastic life than the seminary. After graduating from high school and spending a year at Longview Community College, Novice Adam joined Conception Abbey as a postulant and entered the novitiate on August 14. He currently helps out in the Printery House and is taking some courses through the seminary.
The heirs of western civilization owe a great deal to the contributions of monasticism. With a steady stream of young vocations, Conception Abbey is living proof that this way of life still has plenty of contributions left to make. If you would like more information on Conception Abbey, please visit http://www.conceptionabbey.org/ or call 660-944-2823.