Brother Thomas Mary Vonderfecht, Novice

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Brother Thomas and Father  Prior.jpg

Thursday, 13 May 2010 was a day of great rejoicing at the Diocesan Benedictine Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Apart from being the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and Saint Peter Julian Eymard's feast of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, it was the day chosen for the Entrance into the Novitiate and Clothing of Thomas A. Vonderfecht.

Thomas, 22 years old, is a native of Omaha, Nebraska and a 2009 graduate of the University of Tulsa. Last month he built some fine raised beds for our gardens and is presently well occupied in tending our vegetables, flowers, and herbs. When he is not in choir, at adoration, or in the garden, Thomas is studying Latin with Magister Erik Ellis, applying himself to the subtleties of Gregorian Chant, or working in the kitchen.

Brother Thomas Mary received the Benedictine habit from the hands of our Bishop, The Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery. The ceremony took place in the oratory of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle. A number of priests, Oblates, and friends of the monastery attended the ceremony. More photos will follow. Here is the exhortation pronounced by His Excellency, Bishop Slattery:

Dearly beloved son in Christ,
you have, over the past few months, listened to your Master's precepts
and inclined the ear of your heart.
You have fixed your gaze upon the Eucharistic Face of Christ
and lingered in His company.
You have experienced the uncertainties and trials
of a monastery still in its infancy.

You have left parents, friends, and home
and, compelled by the love of Christ,
you have set about following the Son of Man
who has nowhere to lay His head.

Today, you are asking to enter the school of the Lord's service
established Saint Benedict.
In his school, while there is nothing harsh or burdensome;
there is a certain strictness of discipline
so tempered by the father of the monastery
that the strong may still have something to long after,
and the weak may not draw back in alarm.

During this year of testing
you will read the Holy Rule no less than three times.
If, after twelve months,
you are ready to observe this same Rule
by living in stability, conversion of life, and obedience,
according to the usages of this monastery,
you may ask to make monastic profession
for a period of three years.

You know, Thomas,
that I authorized the foundation of this new monastic family in the Diocese of Tulsa
in response to pressing needs of the Church and of her priests.
By seeking admission into this particular monastery,
you are embracing an ecclesial mission of
Eucharistic adoration for the sanctification of priests
and the spiritual renewal of the clergy in the whole Church;
of reparation for the sins that disfigure the Face of Christ the Priest;
and of the sacramental and spiritual support of the clergy
by means of monastic hospitality, spiritual direction, and retreats.

Live this year of novitiate, then, hidden like a leaven of holiness in the Church.
Keep burning continually the sweet-smelling incense of prayer.
Take up the sword of the Spirit.
Let your heart be an altar and, with full confidence in God,
present yourself as a victim for sacrifice.

In a few moments, Father Prior will wash your feet,
in imitation of the humble charity of the Servant Christ.
Thus, with your pilgrim feet cleansed and refreshed,
you will be able to walk in the footsteps of the Lamb
and follow Him wheresoever He goes.

You will receive the monastic tunic,
a sign of the holiness that is the vesture of all who have put on Christ.
You will be girt with a cincture of leather,
for the mortification of fleshly desires
and attachment to Him who, henceforth,
will draw you with leading-strings of love.
You will take upon your shoulders
the scapular that represents the sweet yoke of Christ.
Learn from Him, for He is gentle and humble of heart,
and you will find rest for your soul.

Brother Thomas 1.jpg
Finally, dear son, I will place you under the twofold patronage
of Saint Thomas the Apostle and of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor.

It was in response to the question of the Apostle Thomas,
"Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?"
that Our Lord said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father but by me."
Again, it was the Apostle Thomas whom Jesus invited
to stretch out his hand and place it in His pierced side,
and it was the Apostle Thomas who first uttered the sublime act of faith
by which, for centuries, Catholics have professed their faith
in the adorable mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist: "My Lord and my God!"

Under the patronage of Saint Thomas Aquinas,
use your intellect to search out the mysteries of God,
bend your heart to the Hidden Godhead of the Sacrament of the Altar,
and use your tongue to sing the praises of the adorable mysteries
of Christ's Body and Blood.

Following the example of so many holy fathers, you will also bear the name of Mary.
Live in her company, day by day,
in imitation of Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse,
and of Saint John, the virgin disciple of the Lord.

As you progress in the monastic life and in faith,
your heart shall be enlarged,
and you shall run with unspeakable sweetness of love
in the way of God's commandments.
Dear son, may you persevere in this year of trial,
sharing by patience in the passion of Christ,
and, at length, deserve to be a partaker also of His kingdom. Amen.


All praise and glory to God!! Alleluia!!!

Congratulations Father! And to you, Thomas!

May God bless you as He wishes.

Congratulations to all concerned.

In Christo,

Brother Thomas Mary, may you experience the peace and joy that can come only from a life lived with generosity and openness, in the light of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, the Eternal High Priest!

Wonderful News! Brother Thomas Mary, I will keep you in my daily prayers during Eucharistic Adoration for your year of novitiate. Thank you Lord.

What a blessing to hear this good news! The Lord is lifting up, from places of obscurity, men after His own heart, like David, the 'sweet singer of Israel'. May the Cenacle and every novice prosper in the grace of the Holy Spirit.

God be praised for Brother Thomas Mary!

Praying for Brother Thomas in his novitiate shall be a very great joy to me!

May the Light from the Holy Face of Jesus illumine each step Brother Thomas Mary takes!

Wonderful news, Father! God bless you both!

Happy feast day Brother Thomas Mary! May God continue to bless and guide you! Remembering you and Fr. Mark in my daily prayers. Pax.d

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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