Monday, June 21, 2010

Passing of Brother Martin

Just a short note to say that our oldest monk passed away Sunday morning at about 2:30 AM. His name was Br. Martin Burkhard. He turned 94 years old less than a month ago and was a very kind hearted man. Please pray for the repose of his soul and all who will miss him (here and elsewhere).

God bless,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Well, I have been here at St. Benedict's Abbey for over 10 months now and passed the 1/2 point of the Novitiate on June 8th!

Some things which have happened since my last update (in late April):

1. Thanks for the prayers for my mom. As I stated in my previous post, her heart stent operation was a great success, but her overall mental health (dementia) and physical health (not very active and doesn't feel like doing a lot) are still not good. So, please keep the prayers coming.

2. On Saturday, June 5th, one of our brothers (Fr. Jeremy Heppler) was ordained a priest at our monastic church! His first Mass of Thanksgiving followed the next day (on the feast of Corpus Christi). They were very nice celebrations for a great occasion!!

3. We had our annual monastic outing to a Royals game on Tuesday, June 1st. Every Tuesday home game at Kaufmann Stadium is "T-shirt Tuesday" and the first 20,000 fans get a free t-shirt. Ours was one commemorating the 1985 World Series Champion Royals! Of course, I applied for a credit card and got a free Royals hat also!

4. Six of us monks played in a golf tournament (scramble) that benefitted our High School (Maur Hill-Mount Academy) on Friday, May 7th. We actually did the best the monastery team has ever done - we finished at par!! Which is still really bad for a 6-man scramble, but we had a great time (partly because they had great Italian Sausage through out the course!!!). To show you how bad our team was, we used numerous shots of mine (it was my 4th time playing golf as a priest [3 of them in tournaments like this one] - which is over a 19 year span)!!

5. I continue to work on a couple of Bible Studies - one from the Augustine Institute on the literature of St. John (Gospel and Revelation so far) and one called the Great Adventure (which covers the 14 historical books of the Bible in an overview of Salvation History). Both are excellent and I would highly recommend them.

6. Fr. David Nix was ordained on May 15th for the Archdiocese of Denver. He was a FOCUS missionary for me when I was in Troy. We have kept in touch over the years and I was blessed to go to his diaconate ordination last September in Denver. He came by here to visit about a week after his priestly ordination. It was great to see him again.

7. Benedictine College broke ground for a fantastic new Academic Building on June 11th. You can check it out on their web site: We have a GREAT college and one of my parishioners from Montgomery, Zak Francis, is going to be starting his freshman year in the fall. He and his dad (Chris) came for an orientation program June 11-12. It was good to see them and I look forward to their whole family coming when Zak enters in August!

8. A couple of priest-friends of mine celebrated jubilee anniversaries recently. Fr. Francis Lynch, CM (pastor of St. Vincent de Paul parish in Tallassee) celebrated his 60th anniversary as a priest on June 3rd! And Fr. Francis Butler, SSJ (now in Church Pointe, Louisiana) celebrated 25 years on May 25! Congrats to them both!!

9. And my home diocese of Mobile had 4 ordinations to the priesthood last weekend!! That is very good news after a 6 year drought! Now Fr. Driscoll is no longer the "baby priest" of the Archdiocese!!

10. In the clergy changes for the Archdiocese of Mobile, my cousin, Fr. Den Irwin, was assigned to my former parish (St. Martin of Tours) in Troy. It will be a great fit and I look forward to hearing some of the good stories that will come from his ministry there. And Auburn got a much needed 2nd priest (Fr. James Morrison), for which I am thankful.

11. We had our annual monastic retreat from June 7-10. It was very nice and we ended with a cookout at one of the parishes we founded 127 years ago, which we are about to give over to the Archdiocese of Kansas City, KS as one of our priests retires (who is 82 years old!).

I guess a few more things happened over the past month and a half. I will try to update more frequently in the future.

Thanks for the prayers and I look forward to seeing a lot of you during my home visit in December!!

God bless,


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Quick update on my mother...

The operation yesterday (Wed, June 2nd) was very successful. They put in 2 stents. My brother saw the before and after pictures and said it was "horrible" before and very good/clear with the stents. I hope that this new blood flow will be a lift to mom's body and spirit.

Thanks for all the prayers!

God bless,

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Update and Prayer Request...

I was recently granted permission to visit my sick mother (Dottie Dean) by Abbot Barnabas. I went home on Monday (May 31) and returned to Kansas the next day, spending approximately 24 hours in Montgomery. (I only told my family that I was coming as I did not want this to turn into a social trip where I tried to see the many people I love in Montgomery.)

When I arrived on Monday, my mother she was short of breath, felt a pressing pain in her chest, was nauseous and a little dizzy. We called an ambulance and she was taken to a local hospital. After tests, it was determined that she should go to the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) Hospital (90 miles north of Montgomery). A specialist there had already committed to putting a stent into the clogged arteries going to her heart (the same procedure that a Montgomery cardiologist said that he would not chance). The doctor in Birmingham does these procedures frequently and seemed to think that there is no extraordinary danger in this case. Mom was taken by ambulance to UAB Hospital on Tuesday afternoon and the procedure is scheduled for today, Wednesday, June 2nd (it was originally scheduled for Monday, June 7th).

I was blessed to have much quality time with my mother on my short visit and I ask your continued prayers while I thank you for the many prayers already offered!

God bless,

Fr. Justin Damien