The Brotherhood of Saint Gregory celebrated its 44th Anniversary of Foundation from July 21 to 27 as the brothers gathered for Annual Convocation and Chapter at Mount Alvernia Retreat Center in Wappingers Falls, New York. This annual week together serves as a refresher course in living the vocation the brothers share, through the Brotherhood’s Rule of Life. The Brotherhood’s Episcopal Visitor, the Rt Rev Rodney R Michel of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, was present for much of the week, celebrated the Solemn Convocation Holy Eucharist, preached on the Feast of Saint James the Apostle, scheduled individual meetings with each brother and still managed to attend the week’s events, which was a great blessing to everyone present.
This year’s retreat was presented by Dzieci, an experimental theatre group headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. Dzieci brought experiences of pastoral care, healing, trust, and renewed commitment as they prayed with the Gregorian Friars in choir, taught a Hebrew chant, offered exercises in trust-building, and presented their signature work, the “Fool’s Mass” at the close of their three-day program. All were glad for their presence.
The brothers attended to the community’s business during meetings of the Chapter, the five individual provinces, the Council and a number of other internal groups. Two provinces elected Ministers Provincial – Enoch John Valentine (Rhode Island) for Province 1 and Edward Munro (Maryland) for Province 2. Over the course of the week eight brothers renewed their Annual Vows of Profession, each in the presence of their Minister Provincial and the community’s Founder and Minister General, Richard Thomas Biernacki (New Jersey).
The religious life is celebrated most personally through the Rites of the Brotherhood and this year was as busy as any. One friar made his First Profession of Annual Vows – Br Richard Edward Helmer (California) – one postulant was admitted to the novitiate – William Van Doren, now Br William Carl (California) – and Mark Williams (East Tennessee) was admitted to the community’s postulancy. Other positions filled and commissioned included the Directors of Vocations (Ronald Augustine Fox of Chicago) and of Education (Blane Frederik van Pletzen-Rands of Western New York); two Council members elected by Chapter – John Henry Ernestine (New Jersey) and Tobias Stanislas Haller (New York); the Minister General appointed two Councilors to Chapter – Joseph Basil Gauss (Chicago) and David Luke Henton (Texas); and the newly-elected Secretary (Thomas Bushnell of Los Angeles) and Administrator (Robert James McLaughlin of Pennsylvania) were also commissioned and immediately put to work!