Change of the Guard
As a token of appreciation for Kathe Hartnet’s nine years of faithful, dedicated service as the Abbey’s Retreat House Manager there was a joyful gathering this past Thursday at Bethlehem House of her assistants, friends, community members and retreatants to bid her farewell as she enters a much deserved retirement. And to introduce and welcome her successor, Mike Sauter. Actually the position of Retreat House Manager is more than that of dedicated service; it is really a ministry of hospitality to those who come to the Abbey for retreat.
From the feedback we’ve consistently received over these nine years it was a ministry that Kathe excelled in. Not only in warmly welcoming guests and providing for their needs as best she could but in preparing home cooked meals that received rave reviews. She will be missed by the members of the monastic community who worked with her as well as by the thousands of retreatants she so ably served.
As St. Benedict instructs in his rule, guests, who are never wanting in a monastery, are to be received as Christ Himself (RB 53:1). Kathe will be sorely missed but she may be called upon now and again for advice and assistance as needed.
Her successor, Mike Sauter, will have a tough act to follow but he certainly seems ready, willing and able to continue the ministry in keeping with the at times challenging Benedictine tradition of hospitality. Mike, from nearby Livonia, comes to us with experience of several years as pastoral administrator of a cluster of three local parishes and chaplain of the Newman Parish of the State University of Geneseo across the Valley.
St. Bernard’s Day
Yesterday we joined the entire Cistercian Order in the celebration of the Solemnity of St. Bernard. As a solemnity there was work in the morning (St. Bernard would certainly approve) but with leisure time in the afternoon along with a festive liturgy and festive meal.
You’ll find a brief biographical sketch of St. Bernard by noted author, Basil Pennington, OCSO on the Order’s web site at Bernard of Clairvaux.
This Feast of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux is being celebrated in many Cistercian communities today in a wide variety of cultures and in many countries. We share this commemoration together with our brothers of the Common Observance in Vietnam. Others of us join the monasteries in Brazil, and such distant countries as New Zealand and Indonesia in honoring Saint Bernard today. Moreover, Bernard is a Doctor of the Roman Church and his mass is being offered today by numerous priests, some of whom are in lonely areas of our planet.
The reading from the Book of Wisdom today is most appropriate for this commemoration on Saint Bernard who made the search for Christ, true Wisdom, the purpose of his whole life. I asked in prayer and knowledge was given to me; I sought by entreaty and received Wisdom. Bernard was uncommonly capable in practical affairs and gifted in his use of words. He employed these gifts , yet his chief interest was growing in understanding and union with God This concern was a major reason why he refused the offer to be made a bishop.
Excerpts from Homily for Feast of St. Bernard
Fr. John Eudes Bamberger, OCSO