St. Benedict’s Abbey launches capital campaign

ATCHISON — No biblical scholar would say the Gospel of Matthew has anything to do with roof repair, but the monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey here could use it to make the case:

“[F]or [your heavenly Father] makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (5:45).

In other words, your house may be built for the glory of God, but that won’t stop the rain from falling and the roof from leaking.

This is why the Benedictine monks launched their “Share Our Mission” capital campaign last fall to raise $3.2 million. Urgent maintenance issues have arisen in the monastery, completed in 1929, and in the abbey church, completed in 1957.

Abbot Barnabas Senecal, OSB, said the monks hope to raise $2.1 million to replace the windows, $900,000 to repair the roof, and $200,000 for an endowment, which will be used for the education of young monks and the retirement of elderly monks. To date, the monks have raised $1.3 million in pledges and gifts.

“Our monastery is looking to the future with hope,” said Abbot Barnabas.

“We currently have three new novices. Three other young men are in simple vows, working toward the day when they will profess lifetime vows.”

“At the same time, we have noble men who have served long and diligently and continue to serve our community in retirement,” he continued. “This campaign is a response to that hope, an effort to care for our home as we care for our community.”

For years the monks have had to make do. The 80-year-old windows are single-pane glass in metal frames. When they got bent, the monks would simply bend them back. Now, many of the windows have deteriorated to the point where they have a bad effect on heating and electricity costs.

“I think anyone who lives in a heritage building has a task to maintain it,” said the abbot. “The windows are an example of the way people built buildings 80 years ago.”

Also, about 30 percent of the Vermont slate roof needs to be replaced after 80 years of harsh Kansas weather.

These improvements are necessary for the long-term integrity and stability of the buildings and will result in dramatic savings. The monks estimate that the abbey will save 50 percent in gas costs and 15 percent in electricity by replacing the original windows. That will produce about $40,000 in annual savings — enough to send a monk to the seminary for a year.

The monks are trying to promote their campaign through personal visits, campaign events, email notices, a new campaign website, the abbey Facebook page and Twitter posts.

The abbey is also hosting “Sunday at the Abbey” on April 1 and 15. These days will begin with a 10 a.m. Mass with the monks and Benedictine College students in the abbey church, followed by a tour of the abbey, lunch with the monks, and a presentation about the campaign.

Those who wish to attend must RSVP to the abbey at least five days before the event by calling the office of development at (913) 360-7906, or by sending an email to: development@kansasmonks.org.

“The monastic life at St. Benedict’s Abbey has always been a partnership, a shared mission,” said Abbot Barnabas. “We serve as teachers, pastors, spiritual directors, chaplains, by opening our home in Benedictine hospitality, and by gathering each day to lift the world to God in prayer. Our friends generously join us in this work through their prayers, friendship and financial support which make it all possible.”

For more information about the campaign, including a short video, go to the abbey’s website at: www.kansasmonks.org. You can access the abbey’s Facebook page and Twitter feeds by going to the campaign website at: http://shareourmission.org.

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