January 11, 2015
Baptism of the Lord
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord always signals the close of the liturgical season of Christmas. The period of little more than two weeks it offers us after Dec. 25 has always been a special time for those of us in the monastery to relish the mystery of the Word made flesh and extend the meditation on the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the world. May the light of His presence and His love shine in your hearts throughout this coming year.
Our new year at Marmion Abbey came with the unexpected news of the death of our Fr. Christian Pusateri. He was found dead in his room at the Abbey the morning of January 1. He was 86 years old. Fr. Christian entered the monastery as a priest of the Joliet Diocese in 1977. He made solemn profession in 1981 as a classmate of Abbot John. He taught in our Academy for a number of years and did parish work, but was especially committed to the ministry of spiritual direction and in later years to giving retreats. A series of physical infirmities limited his work in the past decade. The funeral and burial for Fr. Christian took place on January 6. I want to thank all of those oblates who were present for the visitation on January 5 and the funeral liturgy on January 6, particularly those who were so kind in bringing desserts for the funeral luncheon. For anyone interested, I have copies of the obituary for Fr. Christian, the eulogy given at Vigils on Jan. 5, and the funeral homily given by Abbot John. I will also have memorial cards available at the next Oblate Meeting.
Among prayer requests to communicate to you I ask that you remember Oblate Barb Greiter, who died on January 11 after a long struggle with cancer. Included in the seriously ill are the sister and sister-in-law of Oblate Millie Lober and a number of oblates and family members who have been targets of the virulent flu and cold outbreaks that have accompanied this winter. On the brighter side, I want to offer congratulations on Oblate Nick Gordon and his wife Carolyn on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary on Dec. 26.
I want to remind people that at our December meeting there was an agreement to publish a new oblate brochure. I thank Jeanine Williams and Deb Hutchinson for taking the initiative in doing this. I also want to thank Oblate Jim L’Allier for his willingness to initiate work on updating our archival sources with the latest technological software. This is a very important part of preserving our heritage and history and we look forward to this work continuing in the future. With respect to the December meeting, I think we all agree that the annual dinner with the monks is a highlight event of our year. Thanks to all who took part in this with your generous contributions of food and the favor of your presence.
This is a reminder that our next Oblate Meeting will be on Sunday, January 18. We will gather in the dayroom at 2:30 p.m. I intend to offer a possible “syllabus” for those who are interested in deepening their understanding of Benedictine spirituality and literature. Our regular meeting will follow at 3:30 p.m. in the library. Oblate Dominic Petitti will describe for us his very intense program of spiritual formation in preparation for his entry into the permanent deaconate of the Rockford Diocese.
On occasion, I have suggested volunteer projects for the Oblates. The latest one comes from Abbot John. He would like to have some able oblates consider taking on responsibility for putting up and taking down the outdoor manger scene we have at the entrance to the Abbey Church parking lot. I will mention this at our upcoming meeting, but if there are any oblates willing to do this please contact me.
In the meantime, let us pray for one another as we come to terms with another winter of challenging weather and troubled world events.
Fr. Joel Rippinger, OSB