From May 25 to 27, the abbots and delegates of the seven monasteries belonging to the Swiss Benedictine Congregation met in the monastery of Mariastein for the annual chapter. The representatives of the women’s monasteries, Abbess Angelika Streule, Hermetschwil, and Prioress Simone Buchs, Heiligkreuz-Cham, were present as guests. Disentis was represented by Abbot Vigeli and the delegate Father Bruno.

An important agenda item this year was the election of the Congregation bodies, which takes place every six years. Already before the meeting, the President of the Congregation, Abbot Christian Meyer of Engelberg, had declared that he would resign from his office after six years. Abbot Vigeli Monn was elected as his successor. According to the Congregation statutes, the Abbot-President is “the supreme leader of the Congregation. He is responsible for the welfare of the whole Congregation. He intervenes in the life of individual monasteries or monks only when he must act in a subsidiary manner.” He represents the Congregation to the outside world, and therefore participates, for example, in the annual Synod of Presidents, which takes place in monasteries on all continents. One of his most important tasks is the visitation of the monasteries: every five years he (or his deputy) visits the communities in order to “strengthen them in fidelity to their Benedictine vocation and to their mission.”

The Chapter elected Father Gregor Brazerol, Conventual Prior of Fischingen, as the new Vice-President in succession to Abbot Peter von Sury, Mariastein. The discussion about a revision of the statutes took up a large part of these days. On the one hand, a suitable secular legal form for the Congregation is to be sought, so that it is better able to act. A great concern is the deepened collaboration with the women’s monasteries. On the other hand, it is necessary to adapt the statutes adopted in 1986 to the universal church law that has been renewed since then and to take into account the changed monastic realities, e.g. the development of the personnel of the convents or the changed economic situation. A small working group will prepare a proposal by the next chapter, which will then go to all monasteries for consultation.

The confreres of Mariastein gave the Chapter a warm welcome and presented the new visitor’s center for the many pilgrims to Our Lady “in the stone”. Numerous projects are to ensure the future of the pilgrimage in the coming years under the motto “Departure into the Wide”. A jury has already selected a project that will make the monastery plaza more inviting.

Translation of the Disentis web site post by P. Bruno Rieder