Thursday, September 22, 2011

St. Bernard priests celebrate 40th Anniversaries

Abbot Cletus Meagher, OSB and Fr.Marcus Voss, OSB of St. Bernard Abbey will be joined by their community and guests this weekend to celebrate their 40th Anniversary of Ordination to the priesthood.

While the anniversary date was May 24, 1971, both men decided to celebrate this event in conjunction with Benefactor’s Day held on the last Monday of September each year. Msgr. Owen Campion who is editor of Our Sunday Visitor will be guest homilist at the special Mass on Sunday.

Reflecting back on his life, Abbot Cletus says the support from his family in Cleveland, TN and the monks who visited his home parish made it possible for him to continue the course of becoming a monk.

“My parents had so much influence on my life by encouraging the monastic life in our home, and making great sacrifices for us to receive a Catholic education. I was bussed from Cleveland, TN to Chattanooga everyday just to attend Catholic school,” Abbot Cletus said.

Abbot Cletus’ life at St. Bernard pre-dates his ordination. Jokingly Abbot Cletus said, “I came to St. Bernard in high school, and after taking monastic vowis in 1965 they never asked me to leave, so I stayed.”

Looking back on the day of his ordination, Abbot Cletus said, “I remember thinking, ‘Am I worthy of such a gift.’ My life in the community with the monks is a gift of Gods goodness and love. The calling to monastic life and to the priesthood have been great graces in my life.”

After serving as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Cullman, he was elected the 9th Abbot of St. Bernard Abbey in 1995. “By the grace of God, it is my responsibility to lead the monks of St. Bernard who are striving to be faithful to the monastic life as given by St. Benedict in his Rule for Monks. Our mission is to serve those who make contact with us through our school, Ave Maria Grotto and the Retreat Center. Our desire is to receive guests as Christ, always trying to be a witness to them of God’s greatness and goodness.”

Abbot Cletus serves on various Board and Foundations. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for St. Bernard Preparatory School.

Fr. Marcus Voss , a native of Cullman, AL, cites the support of his family as an important factor in “trying my vocation at St. Bernard,” he said.

After he was ordained, Fr. Marcus has served his entire priestly and monastic life at St. Bernard Abbey. “Most of my priestly ministry has revolved around the work undertaken by the monks here on the campus,” said Fr. Marcus. “In my early years, I was a college registrar. Afterwards, I served as chaplain in the college and teacher. When we began work in our prep school, I was happy to take up assignments there as well as in the St. Bernard development office.”

“Ordained monks often take weekend assignments on parishes that need assistance,” said Fr. Marcus. “Over these 40 years I have helped in most of the parishes in the Birmingham diocese and have found this to be a blessing in my life.”

“I’m thankful too, “ he continued, “for the years I served as Novice Master and Formation Director for the Abbey. Working with the new members who joined our Abbey was a privilege and blessing for me.”

“I especially thank God for the years I have spent working with St. Bernard alumni,” Fr. Marcus said. “Our alumni are a great group of people and getting to know them has been a special blessing. They have been a source of help and encouragement to me over these many years and I will always be grateful to them.”

Both priests count it a real blessing to be part of the St. Bernard community. Abbot Cletus said, “Divine grace has made this possible. We are thankful to all who have crossed our paths and been part of our lives. Sometimes things are much better when we get out of the way and let God’s grace take effect.”

The 40th Anniversary celebration takes place at St. Bernard on Sunday, September 25, 2011, at 11:30 a.m. in the Abbey Church.

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