2019 Christmas Letter – English
Dear Friends of St. Paul’s Abbey,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Greetings and the abundant blessings of our Lord to all of you in this Christmastime and the New Year of 2020. We thank you for your kindness and help which you showed us throughout the year of 2019. We keep praying for you so that you may always live in the love and protection of Jesus Christ. Giving thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ for his love and grace, I would like to bring you up to date concerning the news from our community.
Our brothers: When we look back 2019, there were some major changes for some of our brothers. Deacon Owen Grimes, who lived in our community as a monastic oblate, moved to a nursing home in Paramus, NJ because of health problems. Thanks to good treatment, he is getting better. Br. Joseph Duck-Hyun Kim, who took solemn vows at Newton in 2017, is living outside the monastery for 1 year from July, 2019 to July, 2020 in order to earnestly consider his monastic vocation. Br. Barnabas Song, our building maintenance man, returned to Korea on October 30 after completing his assignment in Newton. Now he is in Busan monastery. Two more brothers in Waegwan Abbey have been assigned to come here and are arranging for their visas. Br. Luke had an operation for cancer in July and now is undergoing anticancer treatment. In spite of his weakness, he still works at the business office. Abbot Justin, who stayed here for more than 1 year for his health problem, finally returned to the convent in Namibia, Africa on October 14 after recovering his health. Fr. Cyprian Ryu, who studied at St. John’s Abbey seminary, was ordained as a priest at Waegwan Abbey in Korea on June 24. He came here on August 15 and celebrated his first Sunday Mass on August 26. After the Mass, we celebrated Fr. Cyprian’s ordination by sharing food with guests in our retreat house dining room. Now Fr. Cyprian is studying religious education at Fordham University and staying at one of the parishes near the university.
Guests: It is God’s blessing to have many visitors in the monastery. On April 24, Br. Pontiano Kim came here and stayed with us for 3 months. He had lived here from 2010 to 2013 working in the kitchen and vegetable garden. On May 10, Br. Amadeus, a monk of Hanga Abbey studying at St. John’s Abbey in Minnesota stayed with us until August 23. While he was here, he visited St. Mary’s Abbey in Morristown for 10 days. Abbot Blasio Park came here from June 26 to July 8. While he was here, he visited the Havana community in Cuba with me. There are 6 monks in the Havana community: 2 Philippines, 2 Cubans, 1 German and 1 Korean. Abbot Blasio visited the community to meet the Korean monk, Fr. Aaron Jang, and to help the community. Abbot Blasio asked us to develop a good relationship with the Havana community because the Newton community is very close to Cuba. Actually, Fr. Aaron even came here to give retreats for oblates and our community from October 10 to 25. Br. Mark, a monk of St. Vincent Archabbey, PA, Fr. Paul, a monk of St. Peter’s Abbey in Canada and Br. Mario, a monk of St. Andrew’s Abbey in Cleveland, Ohio visited us for their vacation from July 30 to August 2. They were my classmates at St. Vincent Archabbey Seminary and once in a while we have met together. In addition, several other brothers, sisters and priests visited us.
The Canonical financial and regular visitations were made by the Congregation for one week in May and July respectively. On May 18, Br. Ansgar Stufe and Mr. Marcus Ballhausen came here for a financial visitation until Thursday, May 23. Abbot Romain Botta from Agbang Abbey in Togo and Prior Pacomio Choe from St. Joseph’s Priory in Korea came here for the regular canonical visitation from July 15 to 21. Both financial and regular visitators encouraged us and gave us several useful advices to successfully carry out various works and enroot the Benedictine monastic way of life in this ground. By the way, while Abbot Romain was here, he visited Deacon Owen in the nursing home. Abbot Romain studied at St. Meinrad Archabbey Seminary around ten years ago. When he was seminarian, he used to visit Newton and became Deacon Owen’s good friend.
Mary’s Garden and the Path of Grace: We have completed the way of prayer after planting cherry and apple trees and also have built up the way of the cross alongside the way of prayer from behind the monastery building to the Abbey cemetery. We have named the way the “Path of Grace.” Moreover, we have installed Mary’s Garden at the beginning point of the Path of Grace. Actually, many guests and retreatants have come together at Mary’s Garden to begin praying along the Path of Grace.
Dear friends and benefactors, we again thank you for your prayer and help. Although we have still many problems and difficulties, we believe that we can deal with them by the grace of Jesus Christ and your help. We humbly ask you to keep helping and praying for us in our work. May God give you and your family his great grace and abundant gifts throughout the year of 2020.
Fr. Samuel Kim, O.S.B., Prior and the monks of St. Paul’s Abbey
I was a counselor at Camp St. Benedict in the summer of 1976 and 1977. I read the following quotes that caught my special attention. “Br. Luke had an operation for cancer in July and now is undergoing anticancer treatment. In spite of his weakness, he still works at the business office.” I sincerely hope that the medical treatment of Brother Luke (former Camp director in 76 (bicentennia year! and ’77) will be successful. I hereby send him a big hug and best wishes for recovery!
Abbot Justin, used to be part of daily camp life in 76 and 77 as a priest. I hope that he is able to continue his spiritual work at the convent in Namibia, Africa in good health.
Jos Kienhuis – the Netherlands.
Memories of my camper days back in the early 70’s at Camp St. Benedict will always be dear to me. Justin was especially special to me and I had the pleasure of connecting with him 20 years later when visiting St. Pauls Abbey. I hope he is well. Please send him my regards. I was looking for him on Facebook but don’t recall how to spell his last name. Prayers for Luke – He was a large part of the camper experience as well.