We toasted generosity Saturday night during a fascinating evening in a place that holds great meaning to both my husband and me.
Invited by our friends, Guy and Gina, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at St. Procopius Abbey, home of the Benedictine Monks.
The Abbey, cited by the American Institute of Architects as one of the most outstanding buildings in the United States, forms the base of a square that includes Benet Academy, Benedictine University and the Sacred Heart Monastery of Benedictine sisters on the south edge of Lisle, Illinois.
Vince and all eight of his siblings graduated from Benet Academy, and from 1987-89 I worked as the Sports Information Director at Benedictine University. During those years we attended many masses at the Abbey, drawn by its quiet, spiritual interior and convenient 11 a.m. Sunday mass.
Until this weekend, when Abbot Hugh Anderson gave us a tour, we had no idea how much thought and symbolism went into its design. Architect Edward Dart, who also drew plans for the famed Water Tower Place and many other Chicago landmarks, lived with the monks for a week to prepare for the job, and then told the story of the Benedictine Community through his design of their new home.
The long path leading into the church traces the exit from the secular world. A stark altar represents the community’s focus on the body of Christ and the Word. Simple private rooms celebrate nature with giant bay windows that look out at a courtyard. A grooved, cement interior honors strength.
Following the tour, we enjoyed a meal prepared by gourmet chef, Brother Kevin Coffey and some lively conversation with several members of the community. The evening naturally honored St. Benedict’s tenets of balance, good zeal, good works, discretion and peace.