Brother Mark-Romuald Kopejtka was elected prior of the Benedictine community at Calvary at a special meeting Tuesday evening, February 28th. The election makes Prior-elect Mark-Romauld the leader of the Canon Community of Our Lady of Walsingham, one of several communities of the Canons of the Community of St. Benedict, an Anglican/Episcopal-based monastic community. The Sioux Falls group is named for a 1061 appearance of the Virgin Mary in Walsingham, England. An installation service will be held later this spring.
The order was established in 1996 by the late Rev. Warren Shoberg, the Rev. Dr. Martin Brokenleg (then of Sioux Falls and now of Victoria, BC) and the late Bishop Creighton Robertson. The Canons are seeking formal recognition as a religious community by the Episcopal Church, making it available across the denomination. The recognition process is in a probationary period and will be reviewed at the 2024 General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
The other two established communities in the order are based in Vancouver, British Columbia (The Community of Saint Aidan) and Tempe, Arizona (The Community of St. Mary of the Annunciation). There are three communities in formation: The Community of St. Hildegard of Bingen in Tucson, AZ; the Community of St. Joseph in Brandon, Manitoba; and the Community of St. James the Just in the Diocese of Northern Michigan.
The Benedictine Canons accept male and female members of all ages who are married or single, lay members or ordained clergy. “We believe there is a thirst for the kind of authentic Christianity that St. Benedict offers,” said the late Father Shoberg at the time of the group’s establishment. “Your life, over an extended period of time, can be shaped by the Benedictine disciplines. You truly grow into the stature of Christ.”
The members are known as “canons” rather than monks, and they do not live in the community. The brothers and sisters pray the Daily Office individually or together when possible. They gather weekly for Holy Eucharist, and monthly for a chapter meeting. They profess the traditional Benedictine vows of stability, obedience and conversion (conversion of life by living in a monastic way). As Benedictines, they strive to live in harmony with God and each other by finding the balance between prayer, work, and study, and by placing a special emphasis on hospitality.
In January 2015 the Our Lady of Walsingham Community established a base by moving into the old nursery on the lower level of Calvary Cathedral, where they have a chapel, or oratory. In service to the cathedral, their host church, they took on two formal ministries, offering Holy Eucharist each Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Oratory (open to all) and managing the bookstore. With the bookstore now closed, the Benedictines have plans in the works for a second ministry to the cathedral.
Membership in the Canons is open to any Episcopalian or Anglican interested in living according to St. Benedict’s Rule, with different levels of commitment available. (Others are welcome to join in worship.) Brothers and Sisters make simple (temporary) vows, followed by solemn (permanent) vows. This means that the Benedictine life is first in their lives and they are fully committed to the Benedictine disciplines and their particular Benedictine community. Oblates are those who want to live the Benedictine life but who can’t fulfill all of the obligations. They commit to doing their best and to supporting the community with which they are associated. They do not wear the habit (only the medal). Friends are just that—people who enjoy the company of the community and support the vocation of the vowed members. A Novice is an individual who has expressed interest in the community and spends at least a year discerning their place in it.
So what does one call a vowed member of the community? Ideally, Brother David, Brother Mark (or Prior Mark), Sister Tammy, and Mother Ellen.
You can learn more about the Canons by visiting www.osbcn.org, or by talking to Prior Mark-Romauld Kopejtka or another member of the community. You can contact Prior Mark through Calvary Cathedral at firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing at 500 S. Main Ave., Sioux Falls, SD 57105
The Canon Community of Our Lady of Walsingham with (back) Bishop Folts, Oblate Dan Mueller, (Br. David-Albert), Oblate Ron Roehl, Oblate William Schuler, and Dean Simpson.
The vowed members of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham. Back: Sister Tammy-Scholastica Briggs, Brother David-Albert Zinz.
Front: Mother Ellen-Teresa Lang, Prior Mark-Romuald Kopejtka.
Vowed members use their baptismal name plus their chosen Benedictine name.