Short History of the Benedictine Order
The Benedictine Order began with the teaching and example of Benedict of Nursia. As a young man, Benedict came to Rome with his twin sister, Scholastica, to study religion. Benedict became disenchanted with what he experienced in Rome and went to live with monks in several small towns around Rome. For a period of time, Benedict lived as a hermit. Inspired by reports of his many miracles, a group of monks asked Benedict to serve as their leader.
The American Congregation of the Order of Saint Benedict
During this time period, Benedict wrote what is called the Benedictine Rule. It was written for laymen, not monks, but it set the standard not only for the Benedictine Order but all subsequent orders of monks and nuns. It is a Christian rule in the sense that its spiritual doctrine reflects Biblical values and arranges for a life in which these values can be lived out in the community.
now known as
The Benedictine Order of St John the Beloved
The American Congregation was originally founded in 1908 by Dom Augustine de Angelis Harding, OSB. Dom Augustine had previously left the Roman Catholic Church and joined with the Old Catholic communities in Waukegan, Illinios.
[The Old Catholic Church officially separated from the Roman Catholic church in 1889, primarily over the issue of Papal Infallibility. Information about the origins of the Old Catholic Movement are available on our History page.]
Brother Harding gathered together five other brothers who were interested in Benedictine religious life and bringing the spirit of Benedictine life to the Old Catholic tradition here in America. The new community of brothers came together with Old Catholic priest, Fr. Francis Brothers serving as Prior of the new community. The American Congregation of the Order of Saint Benedict now began its life in the Old Catholic faith tradition.Benedictine Order of St John the Beloved Outreach
In 1909 the community moved to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where the community of brothers continued to grow under the eposcopal protection of Polish Old Catholic Bishop, +Jan Francis Tichy.
In 1912, poor health forced Bishop Tichy into retirement. Fr. Francis Brothers was placed in charge as "Locum Tenens". The clergy and faithful later elected him bishop and on October 3, 1916 Fr. Francis Brothers was consecrated to the episcopacy by Old Catholic Archbishop, +Rudolph de Landas Berghes. The American Congregation continued to grow under the pastoral eye and protection of Bishop Brothers.
After a few years in Cos Cob, Connecticut, St. Dunstans Abbey moved in 1934 to Woodstock, New York. It flourished there until the death of Archbishop Brothers in 1979. The Congregation was then placed under the care of Bishop-Abbot John of Sacred Heart Abbey in New Jersey. During this time, Bishop-Abbot John placed himself and his jurisdiction under an Eastern Rite Orthodox jurisdiction. The brothers, not wanting to abandon their commitment of ministering to ALL people and seeking to retain the Old Catholic faith tradition, elected Fr. Dominic, who was Prior of the Saint Augustine of Canterbury Priory in New Hampshire, as Abbot of the Congregation. This restored the American Congregation of the Order of Saint Benedict to the long-standing tradition of Western Orthodoxy that it had followed since its founding in 1908.
Under the care and vision of Bishop-Abbot Dominic Martin, the congregation is once again alive and growing in new directions. In 2001, Archbishop Bruce J. Simpson became the Archbishop Protector of the Order. Under the name The Benedictine Order of Saint John the Beloved, Archbishop Simpson has followed Benedictine tradition with a ministry inclusive and welcoming to all. Through several parishes established by the Order and from the planned Monastary and Retreat Center in the Poconos, the Order reaches out to bring the "Good News" to a Twenty-first century world.
We follow the Benedictine commitment to minister to all. We reach out lovingly to the divorced among us with an understanding heart and welcome them as full members of the community of God and reject the concept of routine annulment. We leave the issue of contraception between husband and wife where it belongs. Likewise, we reach out to the gay and lesbian community, also offering them an equal place at the Lord's Table. We find no reason whatsoever to deny communion to those baptized Christians who join us in worship and are not Catholic. All are members of the Lord's community and we know that Jesus will not turn away a non-Catholic from His table.Mission of the Monastery
We plan a retreat center for our the new facility which will allow participating individuals and families to experience the joy of meditation, prayer, and fellowship in the beauty of the Poconos.
Our mission is the same as for Benedictine Orders over the past fifteen hundred years. While the individual monk is poor, the monastery is to be in position to give alms, not to be compelled to seek them. We feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit the sick, bury the dead, help the afflicted, and intercede in social justice situations.
We seek to expand our order through recruitment of godly men to serve with us. Our novices come to us from many backgrounds. We prefer college graduates, but the novice must be at least 18 years old. We accept married and divorced candidates and do not require celibacy as a condition for service with the order.