by J.D. Benning
Special to The Leaven
ATCHISON — Sharing the word of God is the mission of every Christian — and on April 10 the monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey here, with the help of friends in Kansas City and around the world, honored three people for answering Christ’s commission par excellence.
At the eighth annual Abbot’s Table event, Abbot James Albers and the monks presented the Lumen Vitae Medal to Benedictine Sister Irene Nowell, of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, and to Dr. Scott and Kimberly Hahn, world renowned theologians and speakers, for their work in sharing and educating the world about sacred Scripture.
Typically, the Abbot’s Table draws more than 800 guests who celebrate the accomplishments of the Lumen Vitae Medal recipients as well as celebrating the work of the monks. But COVID-19 presented new challenges.
The friends of the abbey responded by hosting watch parties across the country, including two at the Overland Park Convention Center. From there, the Abbot’s Table was shared virtually on YouTube, Facebook and CatholicTV.
The event began with a new video from the abbey called “The Life of a Monk,” a humorous take on the phases of monastic life. (Check it out online, along with all the Abbot’s Table videos, at: Kansasmonks.org/AT2021.)
The monks then celebrated the lives and service of Father Denis Meade, Abbot Ralph Koehler and Father Blaine Schultz — all who made tremendous contributions to the abbey, its apostolates and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
The first Lumen Vitae Medal recipient, Sister Irene, was honored from afar, receiving her medal alongside 110 of her Sisters at Mount St. Scholastica. The monks honored Sister Irene for her many accomplishments as an author, Benedictine College professor and — most especially — for her work instructing the monks in formation at the abbey on sacred Scripture.
Sister Irene, in her remarks, shared that she was especially gratified to receive the award from one of her favorite students, Abbot James, who studied under her as an undergraduate student at Benedictine College. Sister Irene has now retired from public ministry and resides at Mount St. Scholastica.
The monks then celebrated the service of Scott and Kimberly Hahn, converts to the Catholic faith, who were chosen to receive the Lumen Vitae medal for their powerful witness to the truth of the Gospel and their efforts in sharing the Catholic faith through their writing, talks, videos and much more.
In receiving the award, Kimberly shared a powerful reflection on the Holy Spirit’s work in her life and in the word. Scott followed her, offering an insightful and incisive recounting of the Emmaus story from the Gospel. An indefatigable pair, the Hahns hosted two talks in the metro area and participated in a live Q&A at St. Benedict’s Abbey the morning after the Abbot’s Table, sharing their story and working to evangelize people in the area.
Finally, with the 2020 Abbot’s Table having been canceled, the monks looked back at the previous two years of prayer and work in northeast Kansas and beyond. Abbot James announced the abbey had received not one, but two, $200,000 challenge matching gifts, enabling donors to the abbey to triple their impact on the mission of the monks.
The friends and benefactors of the abbey rose to meet the challenge, receiving over 600 donations totaling just over $200,000. While they have met the challenge goal, the monks continue to raise donations for the One Legacy/One Future Fund. This provides for the education needs of the abbey’s newest members — currently supporting five monks in formation — and for the health care and retirement needs of the abbey’s elder members, men who have spent their lives in service to Christ and his church. Donations to the One Legacy/One Future Fund can be made by visiting the website at: www.kansasmonks.org/challenge or by mail to St. Benedict’s Abbey, 1020 N. 2nd St., Atchison, KS 66002.
The monks have already begun plans for Abbot’s Table IX at which they will present the Lumen Vitae Medal to John and Terry Gillchrist and to the founders of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) in Spring 2022.
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