Friday, August 28, 2009

Getting Settled In...

I am sorry that I did not write after 1 week of monastic life. Things have been a little busy so you get the 2 week update...

What is keeping me busy? Ora et Labora ("Prayer and Work" - the Benedictine Motto). The regular prayer schedule is: Office of Readings (Vigils) and Morning Prayer at 6:20 AM, Midday Prayer at 12:05 PM, Mass at 5:15 PM, Evening Prayer at 6:45 PM and Compline at 7:30 PM - on most days. The work detail includes chores on Monday through Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings (for about 3 hours on Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri, but only for about 1-1.5 hours on Wed & Sat). Work over the past 2 weeks - cutting grass, weed whacking, setting up and taking down for a picnic, kitchen cleaning, stairwell cleaning, picking tomatoes, etc... just whatever needs doing. We also have in house classes every weekday morning.

But it is not all work (& prayer) and no play... we have some recreation time also. We have official recreation time with the community a couple of times a week (Tuesday & Sunday evening), and less formal times everyday.

The novices take a class at our college (Benedictine College). I signed up for Natural Theology. What was I thinking?!? It started last Thursday and is going to be a handful!! The instructor is a great guy (and an excellent [though diligent] teacher by all accounts), but the upper level Philosophy class will take some serious effort from a lazy student who finished his philosophical studies more than 22 years ago! I am also auditing a class on the Synoptic (Matthew, Mark, Luke) Gospels. That one will be very enjoyable. With the start of classes we will have a shortened work schedule on those days (Tuesday & Thursday).

Football season is right around the corner... I am looking forward to seeing our NAIA team compete (we are picked to finish in the middle of our conference standings)... but I will definitely miss my trips to the Plains and the enjoyment of the massive tailgating at Auburn.

Until next time...

God bless you all,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It is Official!!

At a small ceremony before Evening Prayer last night (August 14), I entered the postulancy (with 2 young men - Chris & Vincent) at St. Benedict's Abbey. We were presented by the Vocation Director (Fr. James Albers, who is also the Prior [2nd in charge of the abbey]) to the Abbot, who prayed for us, blessed us and accepted us into the postulancy.

Today (Saturday, August 15), at the Mass for the solemnity of the Assumption, Br. Simon Baker completed his novitiate and made his first vows to the monastic life. It was my first experience of witnessing such a ceremony. It was very beautiful and powerful.

These 2 occurrences will be published in our "Kansas Monks" magazine and will probably be online ( in the not too distant future.

We will have our first meeting as postulants this Sunday. I am sure that it will be very informative.

God bless you all,

Fr. James Dean


I was relieved of my pastorate of Our Lady Queen of Mercy Catholic Church on August 1, 2009. I baptized the baby of a couple of my former students at AU (and later parishioners at OLQM) the next day (Sunday, Aug 2) and packed my bags. I left Montgomery on August 3rd and traveled to Philly for 3 days (to visit some priest friends) and then on to Honolulu for 5 days to visit a couple of families that I know (and have a LOT of fun on the island paradise - including scuba diving and sky diving). Both were great stops on the way to my new life.

I arrived at the Kansas City airport on Wednesday, August 12 at about 8:20 AM. My brother, Barry, arrived about 2 hours later. My mother was scheduled to come, but was having trouble with her back and could not make the trip. Barry and I did a few things in KC - delicious lunch at BD's Mongolian BBQ, visited the Jazz & Negro Baseball League Museums (2 separate entities in the same building) and toured (newly renovated) Kauffman Stadium (where the Royals play) - before driving to St. Benedict's Abbey.

At the monastery, after 5 visits to Wal-Mart and a little detailing of my room, I got settled in. Barry got to see much of the monastic lifestyle. He prayed with the monks (even getting up both days for the 6:20 AM prayers), ate in the dining room, recreated with them and had many conversations with different ones. At the end, they asked him if he wanted to stay too - being part of a 2-for-1 deal. He declined.... for now. The good thing is that he has "been there, done that" and if you have questions, he can answer some of them.

Next... the acceptance...