Newsletter from Africa – Dec. 2016

                                                                                     December, 2016

Dear Friends of Africa,

I think back now to July of 1945 when Father Michael Heinlein, a Benedictine Missionary Priest, came to our Parochial school of St. Patrick’s in Elmira New York. He showed us movies of life in Africa and invited boys to join him in the work of the East African missions in Tanganyika. He passed out cards to interested boys and promised to come and visit us and talk to our parents. I was rather disheartened when I learned that many of my school friends had a personal visit from Father Michael but not at my home at 1002 Hoffman St. Little did I know then that my intriguing mother was putting him off day by day not giving Fr. Michael the opportunity to meet me saying that I often had to stay after school for extra learning. Father Michael was not to be put off however and eventually we did meet together with him, my father and mother and myself. That meeting culminated with my joining the Benedictine Mission Seminary in Newton, New Jersey in September 1946 for my freshman year of High School. I was a homebody if there ever was one and to this day I ask myself how I ever chose to go away to a seminary and I was only 13 years old. My mother and father were totally against the whole idea but the aura of the paternity and sanctity of Father Michael seemed to tip the scales to the option that I go to the seminary that September 1946.

Now to fast forward to November 1960, I was sent to Tanganyika. I arrived there in November 1960, 14 years after Father Michael’s visit in Elmira, New York. I would like to allude to the direction of my life without this Father Michael encounter but that remains in the realm of speculation and the eternal mind of God. What I can truly say is that much has transpired in my life that for good or for ill has been to keep me close to an African trajectory. My first day in Tanganyika getting off the DC 3 on a dirt runway in Lindi seeing naked children running beside our gleaming blue US made Jeep was like a replay of some other life experience that I had. In a former lifetime I could almost suggest.

My first five years were filled with intense school work teaching English and Latin to little boys beginning with grade five of primary school, daily supervision of construction of storied school classrooms and dormitories, safaris to the bush searching suitable trees for felling and turning them into roof rafters, trusses, windows, doors, school desks and furniture. I learned Swahili and bits of the tribal language of Namupa “Kimwera”  which still rings hauntingly in my ears,  and the fires in the evenings with children roasting cashews over open fires, the drums throughout the nights celebrating a birth, a wedding or a happy event of one sort or another or the calling of the spirits to take care of the imponderables of living. The nights were unbearably hot and the Aladdin lamps fed by kerosene gave off a bright white light but also a white hot heat. We wrote many letters in those days still with pens with ink and a towel on the page to take up the sweat from our arms.

Village problems were our problems, births, deaths, medical emergencies all were part of the unprogrammed day and night hours. I remember an emergency hospital call when I was called to pick up an ancient Mama with serious abdominal pains.  I was driving a VW Kombi and it was just getting dark when we left the mission. The woman had never ridden in a car before and began shrieking saying that the trees were all running behind us. She began gagging and put her head out the window for some air coughing and sighing the whole while. The anxiety and excessive activity of the poor woman caused her lip plug to get dislodged and fell out on the roadside. Now the whole trip had to be aborted for she could not be seen in public without that symbol of her dignified womanly decorum. So we stopped the car and went on the search for the lip plug which was about the size of a small saucer. Fortunately, it was of white wood and quickly found and the stomach pains were almost forgotten with the incident of the lost facial ornament.

I was just going into class one Monday morning and a young man approached me as I was about to give my Latin and English lessons. He grabbed me by the arm and said it was urgent. I told him my classes were very urgent too. He protested and claimed the whole life of their village was at a standstill. When I asked for an explanation he said, “There is a lion in our village”. It was a rather stark rejoinder and I asked what I could do about their lion. Without waiting an answer I ran to my room and took down my well used 30.06 (pre-WWI military) rifle and went with a young Swiss volunteer on his motorcycle to meet the lion. The scene at the village was so pathetic. The lion had been snared in a wire trap. The snare was drawn tight around its hindquarters and was attached to a heavy log about five feet long. The poor beast had dragged the log goodness knows how long, such a cruel agony for such a magnificent beast. I truly felt it had come to the village of its fellow creatures for relief in its pain and torment. Without doubt or hesitation my friend walked up to the lion in the village square and eye to eye put the barrel of the 30.06 on its forehead and said “Goodbye King.” No doubt that 20 year old Swiss boy recalls that moment to this day.

The daily commentary today of the devastation of the African wild life – flora & fauna leaves us dismayed. I recall in the 1960’s waiting on my silent motorcycle of an early Sunday morning going for Sunday Masses while a herd of elephants took their time to cross my trail. Leopard and hyenas were nightly visitors during the dark hours and we did not have to worry about the boys sneaking off to the villages for unlawful visits.

Former student’s son Damian with Damian elder

I thought at the time that the damage done to Catholic principles and education with the nationalization of our schools was irreparable. However, the opposite is true now with catholic schools both secondary and colleges blossoming throughout the country and with stellar academic performance. I also would like to add that Mazinde Juu can be found among the top on this list of these high performers thanks now to all you faithful supporters. In the early 1970’s the government nationalized all mission schools in an effort to bring all educational institutions into conformity with an ideology of African socialism. The socialist experiment was well intentioned and widely preached and praised but in the long run the program went the way of so many other good intentions. I recall attending a political rally setting forth the ideals of communal ownership. The speaker started his speech declaring that from now on if anyone in the village had a tractor or a pick-up it would now be the village tractor and pick up. The shouts of approval were deafening. He went on saying if there were cows or goats owned by individuals they would now be the cows and goats of the village. More shouts and cries of approval. The speaker was now all pumped up and went on to declare that all the ducks, chickens and pigeons would now be village ducks and chickens and pigeons. This statement fell on dumbfounded ears and a dead silent audience. The speaker looked out over the gathered villagers appealing, “How come” he said, “tractors, trucks, cows and goats are all now common property. Now chickens, ducks and pigeons, No Go, how come?” he shouted appealing. “Because we each have our own chickens, ducks and pigeons,” came the reply from one intrepid farmer.

Our great problem today I see is apathy. A recent example of this was a plea by the former Prime Minister Mr. Pinda. He had attended a prestigious catholic boys’ school run by the Irish Holy Ghost Fathers in the pre-independence days. The school fell into decrepitude after being nationalized and Mr. Pinda made a public plea to all the former students called “Pugu Boys” after the place name of the school, to rally round and start a drive to raise funds to restore the school to its former glory. On the designated day for the meeting Mr. Pinda was the sole attendee out of hundreds of Pugu boys who had passed through the school. He was seen standing alone paradoxically in front of the dilapidated school chapel dedicated appropriately to St. Francis of Assisi.

New Science Laboratories

I had envisioned Mazinde Juu as a four-year Secondary school with an enrollment of 500 students. It has now grown into an Advanced level Secondary school with a six year curriculum and an enrollment of over seven hundred. It behooves me now to enlarge the kitchen and the dining room. Christmas is a wonderful time for making room in our hearts for those seeking shelter. We would invite your generosity in helping us making our rooms more welcoming too.

May the peace of our divine Saviour be with you all now and in the New Year and our deepest gratitude for all that you have done for us and are still doing side by side with us.



Father Damian

2016 Christmas Newletter

Christmas 2016

Dear Friend of St. Paul’s Abbey,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Greetings and the abundant blessings of our Lord to all of you during this Christmas season. We thank you for your kindness and help which you gave us throughout the year 2016. We pray that God will give you and your loved ones his abundant grace in the year 2017. Asking our Lord Jesus Christ for his love and grace, I would like to share with you our community news for the year 2016.

Various events and plans: During the summer, thanks to the aid of Münsterschwarzach Abbey and Schuyler, we installed new roofing on several more areas of the abbey building and put an additional four small bathrooms in the retreat house. In November, we also built a shed next to the boiler room to store the generator permanently. The purpose of this generator is to provide water to the monastery and school buildings when we loose electric power due to hurricane, heavy snow or unexpected accidents. The next step is to renovate our monastery chapel. On September 13, some of Koreans planted around 60 lilac bushes near the cemetery and gift shop in memory of Br. Marinus who saved 14,000 refugees during the Korean War. Actually, many Koreans want to do something in honor of Br. Marinus’ humanitarian acts. I will make plans to accomplish this step-by-step. Our junior monk Br. Marinus Kim will make his solemn profession on Sunday January 29, 2017 at Mass at 11:00am. Abbot Blasio will come here to preside at the ceremony.

Guests: Many guests visited us. Among them, Abbot Blasio Park visited us before attending the General Chapter Meeting at St. Ottilien in Germany from September 22 to 29. While he was here, he joined our community outing to Minnewaska State Park in New York. Mr. Jin Su Joseph Kim, who is a seminarian of Taejeon diocese came here for the experience of monastic life from October 1 to December 31. While he was here, he prayed and worked with us like one of our brothers. On August 2, our local bishop, Arthur Serratelli visited us and celebrated mass with us at 11:00am. His previous visit was almost 10 years ago when Fr. Bosco was the prior of our community. I had invited him several times but his schedule and ours were not compatible. After the Mass, we had lunch with guests in the retreat house dining room. He visited my garden because he likes gardening. I am happy to say that he was very impressed by my garden. Before returning to his residence in Paterson, he gave us words of encouragement as we live our lives in the monastery and wished us to be prosperous in this area. On December 1, one of Waegwan’s Benedictine oblates, Mr. Matthew Kim, came here for his monastic experience and will stay with us for 3 months until Feb. 28, 2017. In spite of his old age of 75, he has quickly adjusted to our community life. At the Christmas tree sale time, he dressed up as Santa Claus which the customers really enjoyed.

Brothers: We have a new face. On May 17, Br. John Baptist Tem Tem, a monk of Agbang Abbey in Togo, came here as a missionary. He lived at Waegwan Abbey and St. Joseph Priory for one and a half years so he can speak Korean. Now he works in the Christmas tree farm and studies English at the Community College. Abbot Joel travelled to many countries to help other communities in our congregation. When Abbot Blasio visited us in September, he announced that Abbot Joel would go to Christ the King Priory in Schuyler, NE where he was asked to serve as prior for 3 years to replace the former prior, Fr. Maurtitius Wilde, who was appointed prior of St. Anselmo. We were surprised at the news. Abbot Joel helped us with many things, especially liturgy and U.S. citizenship and immigration services. He is scheduled to go to Schuyler on January 9, 2017. Our Brothers Mario, Bernardo and Marinus went to Korea for their home vacations. I went to Germany to attend the General Chapter with Abbot Blasio on September 29 and returned home on October 23 after visiting Frs. Poeman Kang and Elias Lee who study at St. Anselmo in Rome. Thanks to your prayers, our other brothers are also doing well with prayer and work following the teaching of St. Benedict.

Christmas tree sale: Thanks to many volunteers and friends among our American neighbors and several Korean communities, we could manage our annual Christmas tree sale. We hope that with the fresh tree scent, God’s grace and blessings will be delivered to the homes of all those who bought our trees. We really appreciate the many volunteers for their good work and help. We also are thankful for the Don Bosco Knights of Columbus and the Columbiettes who made Christmas wreaths for us.

Dear friends and benefactors, Thanks to your generous help, we can keep up with our monastic way of life in this area. We pray that our Lord will recompense you with his abundant grace. We also wish you a blessed Christmas and a hopeful New Year of 2017. May the infant Jesus Christ bring his love, peace and happiness to your family. Thank you.


Fr. Samuel Kim, O.S.B., Prior and the monks of St. Paul’s Abbey

2016년 크리스마스 소식

2016년 성탄

뉴튼 수도원의 고마우신 모든 분들께,

지극히 높으신 천주 성자께서 우리를 죄와 죽음에서 구원하시고 우리의 참 빛과 희망이 되기 위해 오신 이 거룩하고 복된 주님의 성탄! 이 기쁨을 뉴튼 수도원을 아껴주시는 모든 분들과 함께 나누고 싶습니다. 2016년 한해도 아낌없는 사랑과 관심을 보여주신 여러분께 진심으로 감사드리며, 주님 성탄의 큰 기쁨과 사랑이 여러분 모두에게 가득 깃들기를 바랍니다. 비록 이 세상은 아직도 전쟁과 폭력, 부정과 부패 그리고 그로인한 가난과 질병, 고통이 만연해 있지만 우리 구세주 예수께서 당신 사랑과 정의, 기쁨과 평화를 주시기 위해 우리 가운데 오셨기에 우리는 희망을 가질 수 있습니다. 주님 성탄의 큰 은총이 여러분께 가득 깃들기를 바라며 뉴튼 수도원의 소식을 전해드립니다.

주요 행사 및 소식: 지난여름, 독일에 있는 우리 연합회 뮌스터슈바르작 수도원과 미국 네브라스카 주에 있는 스카일러 수도원의 도움으로 성당을 제외한 수도원 건물의 지붕을 새롭게 교체하고 피정집 1층 개인방 4개에 화장실과 샤워실을 설치하였습니다. 11월에는 몇 년 전에 구입해 놓았던 대형 발전기를 보일러와 연결하여 보관할 수 있는 창고를 보일러실 옆에다 지었는데, 이는 폭설이나 허리케인으로 정전되었을 때, 수도원 건물과 학교에 물을 공급할 수 있도록 하기 위함입니다. 9월 13일에는 몇 분의 한국인들이 한국 전쟁 당시 1만 4천명의 피난민을 구한 마리누스 수사를 기념하여 수도원 성물방과 묘지 주위에 한국 토종 라일락인 미스 김 라일락 60여 그루를 심었는데, 앞으로도 계속해서 조금씩 심어 나갈 계획입니다. 그리고 수도원 채소밭 뒤에서부터 묘지까지 두 줄로 벚나무를 심을 계획입니다. 약 350미터 정도 되는 거리인데 벚나무 사이에 십자가의 길도 새롭게 조성해서 기도 길을 만들려고 합니다. 나무를 기증하시는 분들의 이름을 나무에 표시해 기념하고자 하오니 원하시는 분들은 연락해 주시기 바랍니다. (김 사무엘 신부: 973 760 9511) 우리 수도원의 유기 서원자이며, 마리누스 수사의 이름을 수도명으로 받은 김 덕현 마리누스 수사가 내년 1월 29일 주일 11시 미사에서 종신 서원을 하게 되었습니다. 왜관 수도원의 박 블라시오 아빠스님이 와서 미사와 예식을 주례할 것입니다.

손님: 올 한해도 많은 손님들이 다녀갔습니다. 먼저 9월 22일부터 29일까지 왜관 수도원의 박 블라시오 아빠스님이 10월에 독일 오틸리엔 수도원에서 있었던 연합회 총회에 참석하기 전에 수도원을 방문하였는데, 방문 기간 중에 우리 형제들과 함께 뉴욕 Minnewaska 주립 공원에 소풍도 다녀왔습니다. 한국 대전 교구 신학생인 김 진수 요셉 신학생이 4학년을 마치고 1년간 현장 체험 기간에 10월 4일부터 뉴튼 수도원에 와서 함께 생활하다가 12월 31일에 돌아갔습니다. 그리고 8월 2일에는 이 지역 패터슨 교구 교구장인 Arthur Serratelli 주교님이 방문하였습니다. 그전 방문은 거의 10년 전으로 김 요한 보스코 신부님이 원장으로 있을 때였는데, 그 후 몇 번 방문을 시도하였으나 주교님과 수도원의 시간이 잘 맞지 않아 이제야 오시게 된 것입니다. 오랜만에 수도원에 오신 주교님은 우리와 함께 미사를 봉헌하고 점심 식사를 함께 하시면서, 우리 수도원이 이 지역에서 계속해서 발전해 나가길 바라며 형제들을 격려해 주셨습니다. 12월 1일에는 왜관 수도원의 봉헌자인 김 마태오 형제님이 오셔서 약 3개월간 우리와 함께 지내며 뉴튼 수도원의 생활을 체험하고 있습니다. 75세이시지만 젊은이 못지않은 건강과 열정으로 생활하고 있으며, 크리스마스 트리 판매 기간에는 산타클로스 복장으로 손님들에게 기쁨을 선사하였습니다.

형제들: 5월 17일에 뉴튼 수도원에 새로운 형제가 파견되어 왔습니다. 아프리카 토고에 있는 악방 수도원의 탬탬 수사인데, 왜관 수도원과 요셉 수도원에서 약 1년 반 정도 지낸 덕에 한국말도 잘하며, 한국이름은 장 대성입니다. 지금은 크리스마스 트리 농장에서 일하며 서섹스 커뮤니티 칼리지에서 영어도 배우고 있습니다. 죠엘 아빠스는 여전히 많은 나라를 여행하며 우리 연합회 수도원들에 도움을 주고 있는데, 9월 경에 갑작스럽게 네브라스카 주에 있는 스카일러 수도원의 원장으로 임명되었습니다. 스카일러 수도원의 원장이었던 Maurtitius Wilde 신부가 로마 성 안셀모 수도원의 원장으로 임명되어 갔기 때문입니다. 죠엘 아빠스는 내년 1월 9일에 스카일러 수도원으로 갈 예정이며 약 3년 정도 원장직을 수행할 것입니다. 그리고 저는 9월 29일에 블라시오 아빠스와 함께 총회에 참석하였으며, 총회 후 로마에 들러 그곳에서 공부하고 있는 왜관과 요셉 수도원의 강 포에멘 신부와 이 엘리야 신부를 만나고 10월 23일에 뉴튼으로 돌아왔습니다. 다른 모든 형제들도 여러분의 기도와 염려 덕분에 사부 성 베네딕도의 가르침에 따라 “기도하고 일하며” 충실히 수도생활을 하고 있습니다.

그런데 한 가지 슬픈 소식을 전해 드리지 않을 수 없습니다. 2001년부터 2013년까지 왜관 수도원의 아빠스로 재직하셨던 이 형우 시몬 아빠스님께서 마산 수정의 성모 트라피스트 수녀원에서 대림 제 1주일 미사를 봉헌하시기 직전 심장마비로 갑자기 선종하셨습니다. 아빠스님은 2001년 뉴튼 수도원을 인수하셨고, 이곳을 자주 방문하시며 뉴튼 수도원이 성장 발전하도록 많은 관심과 도움을 주셨습니다. 아빠스님께서 주님 사랑 안에서 영원한 생명과 행복을 누리시길 기도해 주시길 바랍니다.

성탄 트리 판매: 올해에도 많은 봉사자들 덕분에 트리 판매를 잘 마칠 수 있었음에 감사드립니다. 특히 맨하튼 청년회, 동북부 청년 레지오 단원들 그리고 핫쵸코 판매를 위해 수고해 주신 자매님들과 여러 본당에서 오신 형제자매님들께 진심으로 감사드립니다. 성탄 나무를 구입한 모든 이들의 가정에 신선한 나무 향기와 함께 주님의 은총이 가득 전해지길 기원하며, 아울러 트리 봉사를 위해 수고해 주신 모든 분들께 주님 성탄의 큰 은총이 넘치도록 내리길 바라며 기도합니다.

친애하는 친구 은인 여러분, 여러분의 기도와 도움 덕분에 뉴튼 수도원이 이제 조금씩 이 지역에 뿌리를 내려가고 있음에 진심으로 감사드립니다. 나아가 이 수도원이 이 지역 한인들에게 편안한 쉼터와 안식처가 되기를 희망하며, 언제나 여러분의 방문을 환영합니다. 대부분의 기도와 미사를 한국어로 거행하기 때문에 전례 안에서 함께 주님을 찬미하고, 또 그 찬미 안에서 주님으로부터 몸과 마음에 새로운 활력을 받으시기 바랍니다.

다시 한 번 주님 성탄을 기뻐하고, 2017년 새해에도 주님의 크신 은총과 사랑이 늘 여러분과 함께 하기 바라며 기도합니다. 감사합니다.


뉴튼 수도원에서 김 사무엘원장 신부와 형제 일동드림