Led by Abbot Gary Hoover, OSB the monks welcomed Bishop Edward Malesic on Nov. 30 for evening prayer, an ethnic dinner that included stuffed cabbage, sausage and strudel, and conversation.
After dinner, the bishop and the monks discussed a variety of topics including their vocations, life at the abbey, seminary days and more. He also got a tour of the Slovak Institute, which is housed at the abbey. The institute features an extensive display of artifacts and history of Slovakia. It intrigued Bishop Malesic, who serves on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcomittee on the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. He chatted with Brother Gabriel, Father Michael and Abbot Gary about the institute and the contributions of Slovak Americans in the Diocese of Cleveland and Greater Cleveland.
The Benedictine order dates back 1,500 years. St. Andrew Abbey traces its roots to St. Vincent Archabbbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania – not far from the bishop’s former see in Greensburg, Pennsylvania – and St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois.
In the fall of 1921, the idea of establishing a Benedictine abbey in Cleveland with a high school to educate the sons of Slovak immigrants. Cleveland Bishop Joseph Schrembs, whose brother was a Benedictine monk in Latrobe, approved the proposal.
When the first monks arrived in February 1922, they ministered at St. Andrew Parish in Cleveland while raising funds to establish a new monastery. Benedictine High School welcomed its first students on Sept. 12, 1927. The monks also established St. Benedict Parish on East Boulevard the following year.
On Aug. 12, 1929, the monastery became an independent priory. The growing monastic community and high school needed more space, so the monks purchased Mount St. Mary’s Institute for Girls on Buckeye Road from the Sisters of Notre Dame. They moved to the new location in fall 1929 and built a new high school building in 1940. In 1950, a new monastery was built and the abbey church was dedicated in 1986.
St. Andrew Abbey’s membership peaked in 1960 with 78 professed monks. Currently, about two dozen monks live at the abbey. Two monks were ordained to the priesthood within the past few years and two men are in formation, including a novice who joined the abbey this fall.
Benedictine High School, which has an enrollment of nearly 400 boys, remains the abbey’s primary ministry. Some of the monks who are priests assist in parishes throughout the diocese on weekends.
Auxiliary Bishop Roger Gries professed vows as a Benedictine monk and served as a teacher, coach and principal at Benedictine High school before he was elected abbot. In 2001, he was named auxiliary bishop of Cleveland.
On Oct. 28, the abbey and high school broke ground for Phase I of their $4 million Centennial Campaign: A Present and Future Community of Faith.