Thursday, June 18, 2009

Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem to Celebrate their Seventh Anniversary

by Frater Alban Baker, CRNJ

On Saturday, June 20, 2009 the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem will mark the seventh anniversary of their juridical foundation with a Solemn High Mass, assisted by the Norbertine community of Saint Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California.

The history and development of our community of Augustinian canons regular is tied to the priestly vocation of our founder, Dom Daniel Augustine Oppenheimer, CRNJ. A convert to Catholicism in 1977, Father Founder has long been involved with the restoration of the historic Latin liturgy. In the 1970’s he worked in conjunction with a group of lay Catholics in the archdiocese of Chicago for the restoration of Gregorian chant in the Church’s public worship. Having discerned a vocation to the priesthood Dom Daniel Augustine undertook his philosophical and theological formation at both Econe and Wigratzbad in Europe. Ordained a priest in 1991, he carried out seminal work in pastoral ministry under the provision of the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei Adflicta in the United States. In 1999 Dom Daniel earned a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of Saint Aquinas in Rome, with a licentiate paper entitled, ECCLESIA DEI ADFLICTA, Towards a Deepened Understanding of the Liturgical Value of the Motu Proprio of 2 July 1988.

Having discerned a deeper calling to religious life, in conjunction with the Norbertine Abbey of Saint Michael’s and the then Bishop of La Crosse, Raymond L. Burke, our founder undertook three years of formation in Augustinian canonical life at Saint Michael’s Abbey. Our community was juridically erected a Public Association of the Faithful June 22, 2002.

After completion of novitiate and first profession, in September 2005 our seminarians undertook philosophical studies through our Studium Augustinianum, an in house program comprised of 80 credit hours of philosophy. In 2007, after long consideration in view of financial considerations and the impending sale of the archdiocesan property on which we had been placed in Saint Louis (and lacking an adequate place to go) the community made the difficult decision of temporarily withdrawing from its public apostolate in order to complete the even more important work of theological formation of its priestly candidates, at the same time ensuring continuity in our community life and monastic observance. In this manner our seminarians were enrolled in the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas in Rome and live with Norbertine confreres pursuing the same track. During this interval our founder has been living at Saint Michael’s Abbey in California and working in the community’s preparatory high school.

On June 13 the Roman seminarians returned to the USA for their summer apostolic in Saint Michael’s camp for boys. This annual apostolate is followed by home visits. In September the seminarians will return to Rome to complete their final year of theological studies. Your prayers for God’s blessing on our young foundation of Augustinian canons regular on the occasion of our seventh anniversary are deeply appreciated.

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