World’s Top Benedictine Abbot Speaks at Benedictine College

World’s Top Benedictine Abbot Speaks at Benedictine College

Abbot Notker Wolf Delivers First Kremmeter Lecture

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Abbot Notker Wolf, OSB, Ph.D., the Abbot Primate, or head abbot, of the Benedictine Confederation of Congregations, the international governing body of the Order of Saint Benedict, entertained a large crowd of students, faculty and community members at Benedictine College on February 10.  His presentation on the globalization of the Rule of St. Benedict was part of the Kremmeter Lecture Series and included a performance of J. S. Bach’s Jesus Bleibet Meine Freudeon flute, accompanied on piano by Dr. Ruth Krusemark, Mother Evangelista Kremmeter Professor of Benedictine Traditions and Values and chair of the Benedictine College Music Department.

“I had the privilege on two previous occasions to accompany him on the piano for his flute recitals,” Krusemark said.  “I found him to be highly engaging, entertaining and inspirational.  He has a wonderful sense of humor and enjoys talking about his experiences in rock music (he also plays the electric guitar) and with Benedictines around the world.”

Dr. Krusemark was named to the endowed Kremmeter professorship in 2013.  The professorship came with a special fund to allow for campus programming, whichshe has used to establish the Kremmeter Lecture Series. The Abbot Primate spoke for the inaugural lecture of the new series.

“Yes, the Rule of St. Benedict is global,” Abbot Notker said of the 1,500 year-old guide written by St. Benedict. “You can see it in the many translations. I even found a translation in Japanese, not modern, but from the 19th century.”

Abbot Notker was born in Grönenbach, Bavaria, Germany. He was ordained priest in 1968 and was appointed as lecturer in philosophy of nature and science at the Benedictine University of Sant’Anselmo in Rome in 1971. In 1977 he was elected Archabbot of St. Ottilien, responsible for mission houses all over the world. In 2000 he was elected the ninth Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation, and re-elected in 2008 and 2012. He has written at least 19 books, his latest concerning the issue of living an environmentally sustainable life.

He explained that stability within the monastic order provided by the Rule has been key to its expansion. The Rule establishes the Benedictine charism and “arranges it so the strong ones find what they are looking for and the weak ones don’t run away.”

“The Rule can cover all and hold all together,” he said. “You do not enter just an order, you enter a monastic family.  What’s important is the deeper sense of turning your life to Jesus Christ along with your brothers.”

He went on to talk about how the Order spread from Europe, first to South America, then North America and Africa, and finally to Asia. He stressed that it wasn’t just monasteries that were spreading, the monks were building schools and parish churches, so it was much more far-reaching.

Abbot Notker is also interested in interfaith dialogue and currently sits on the Board of World Religious Leaders. As an ambassador of Catholicism and the Benedictines around the world, he visitsBenedictine communities in many countries. He has made many appearances, including several in the People's Republic of China and North Korea, and he noted that the largest Benedictine monastery today is in South Korea.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.