Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vigan celebrates election of Benedictine Nuns’ 5th Abbess

VIGAN City, Sept. 4, 2011—The Benedictine Nuns of the Eucharistic King (BNEK), together with the faithful of Vigan, celebrated the abbatial blessing of Very. Rev. Mo. Abbess Maria Cielo Cortez, OSB at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Abbey, on August 30.
Adorned with simplicity, the rare occasion of abbatial blessing was headed by Nueva Segovia Archbishop Ernesto A. Salgado, who is known to be an oblate of said monastery, with newly ordained Bishop David William V. Antonio and Lingayen-Dagupan Auxiliary Bishop Renato P. Mayugba, in the presence of San Beda Abbot Tarcisius Narciso, OSB. A number of priests close to the nuns concelebrated the Eucharistic celebration.
The Gospel reading of the blessing centered with the passage of the Good Shepherd. Archbishop Salgado reminded the community and especially Mother Abbess that, “Jesus the Good Shepherd leads His flock to green pastures. Jesus care for them. The Abbess of the community provides for the needs of her sisters especially in their spiritual food by her caring words and examples.”
Archbishop Salgado stressed to Mother Cielo that being an Abbess places her in the authority of her community and that this authority means serving her sisters.
Mother Cielo then received the Rule of Saint Benedict as her guide in her monastic duty, the ring which serves as a bond to her commitment, and the shepherd’s staff which symbolizes her pastoral duties to her community.
Mother Cielo hails from the Diocese of Legazpi and was born on July 23, 1954 at Guinobatan, Albay. She was christened with the name Elizabeth by her late parents, Thomas Cortez and Elizabeth Averilla.
Before entering the monastery, she studied Psychology and worked in different well-known companies in Metro Manila. On May 23, 1993 after a period of intense discernment, she entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary Abbey (IHMA) in Vigan, to become a member of the BNEK.
She professed her final religious vows on May 4, 2002 and was assigned to Rosa Mystica Cella house in Nalseb, Tublay, Benguet, which serves as the nearest chapel for the people of that mountainous terrain. She was later sent to Rome to take monastic formators studies.
On July 23, 2011, at her 57th birthday and her 18th year as a nun, she was elected by her own community as the 5th BNEK Abbess succeeding Rev. Mo. Celeste Nidea, OSB, who retired from her 12 years of service as abbess of the community.
The Benedictine of the Eucharistic King (BEK), composed of nuns and active sisters, was founded on April 2, 1929, by the late Rev. Mo. Edeltraud Danner, OSB, the first abbess who was originally a Benedictine Missionary Sister of Tutzing, with the acceptance of then Nueva Segovia Bishop Santiago Sancho in his own diocese.
It was in Baguio where the foundation was made public and stayed there until 1933 when Mountain Province and Baguio was separated from Nueva Segovia. The whole community was transferred to Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur in 1944 until once more on May 30, 1947 it was transferred to its present location in Vigan because of the growing community.
On May 18, 1986, the BEK was finally divided into two BNEK for the nuns and the Benedictine Sisters of the Eucharistic King (BSEK) for the active sisters having been granted autonomy by the Holy See to form their own congregation.
There are now four BNEK monasteries in the world – IHMA in Vigan; Abtei Maria Frieden in Kirchschletten, Germany; Our Lady of Peace Monastery in Digos, Davao del Sur; and Our Lady of Divine Providence Monastery in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. The IHMA serves as the mother house of the congregation where the three others were founded.
The predecessors of Mo. Cielo are late Rev. Mo. Edeltraud Danner, OSB (1950-1973); late Mo. Rosemarie Enriquez, OSB, the first Filipina abbess (1973-1993); Mo. Ehrentrudis Fernandez, who is now in Calapan (1993-1999); and Mo. Celeste Nidea, who stays in Vigan (1999-2011). (Mark Vertido)

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