|Photo by Krista Hall|
Today was the abbatial blessing of Archabbot Kurt Stasiak, OSB, with Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR presiding at Mass and conferring the blessing. In my time here, I have never seen the Archabbey Church so full -- with visiting abbots, bishops, priests, deacons, alumni, students, faculty members, co-workers, oblates, other guests, personal friends of Fr. Abbot, and more. I hate to hazard a guess, but I'd say there were well over 300 people present -- possibly 400. At times, such as at Communion, it was a little tricky to maneuver!
It was certainly a festive day, and all the stops were pulled liturgically and otherwise: the church was adorned with flowers and banners (and with flags outside), and the air was filled with incense, the mellifluous voices of all those worshipers, and the resounding notes of organ and brass instruments. Particularly moving was the litany of the saints, chanted by the entire congregation as Archabbot Kurt lay prostrate on the floor in front of Archbishop Tobin. After the litany, the archbishop presented Fr. Abbot with The Holy Rule of St. Benedict, and his ring, miter, and crozier. (To see a slideshow of the occasion, click here. And, to view even more photos of the event, click here.)
The picture above, taken by Krista Hall of our Development Office, is the combined coat of arms for Saint Meinrad Archabbey and Archabbot Kurt, which was placed above the main entrance to the church for the day's festivities. On the left side of the shield are two ravens representing the Abbey of Einsiedeln (our mother house in Switzerland), and a ship symbolizing the arrival of the first monks from Einsiedeln who came here to establish Saint Meinrad in 1854. Fr. Abbot's coat of arms on the right (which was created by our Br. Martin Erspamer, O.S.B.) depicts an eagle, evoking the coat of arms for Germany, where Fr. Abbot was born in 1952. Below the eagle is a representation of the U.S. Air Force insignia, with its star and outstretched wings. (Fr. Abbot grew up in a military family, having been adopted shortly after his birth by an American Air Force officer and his wife, who were living in Germany at the time; he is to this day very much an aviation enthusiast.)
Incidentally, Archabbot Kurt has chosen for his abbatial motto words from Psalm 26 (Grail translation): "Hope, Hold Firm, Take Heart."
Please join in praying for him and our entire monastic community, with this prayer from the Rite of Solemn Blessing of an Abbot:
Give him the gifts of your Spirit.
Set him on fire with love
for your glory and for the service
of your church,
and may he in turn
inflame with zeal
the hearts of his brothers.