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Monastic community celebrates two of their own

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Monastic community celebrates two of their own

From left to right, Brother Dunstan, Abbot Mark, and Brother Titus at the vow ceremony on January 15.

From left to right, Brother Dunstan, Abbot Mark, and Brother Titus at the vow ceremony on January 15.

ELLIS BOETTGER/SAINT ANSELM COLLEGE

From left to right, Brother Dunstan, Abbot Mark, and Brother Titus at the vow ceremony on January 15.

ELLIS BOETTGER/SAINT ANSELM COLLEGE

ELLIS BOETTGER/SAINT ANSELM COLLEGE

From left to right, Brother Dunstan, Abbot Mark, and Brother Titus at the vow ceremony on January 15.

Abby Arsenault, News Layout Editor

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Recently, Saint Anselm Abbey celebrated two monks as they took their next step in their religious journey. Brother Titus Michael Phelan, O.S.B. ‘12 and Brother Dunstan Noah Enzor, O.S.B. gave their first profession of their monastic vows surrounded by family, friends, and their fellow monks.

Both monks came to Saint Anselm College at the beginning of the 2017 school year, with Brother Titus arriving in August, and Brother Dunstan a month later in September. Brother Titus is not a stranger to Saint Anselm, as he was a member of the class of 2012. Originally from Swampscott, Massachusetts, Brother Titus majored in politics before deciding to embrace the monastic lifestyle. During his time as a student he would occasionally come for the Holy Week Retreat. Following his graduation from Saint Anselm he received his Masters from the University of Notre Dame.

Brother Dunstan is a native of Boulder, Colorado. He received a B.A. in English from the University of Colorado Boulder, as well as an M.A. in Theology from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine. He says his choice to come to Saint Anselm was influenced in part by the monastery’s connection to the college. “I had been interested in Benedictine monasticism for a while and had alighted upon the idea of looking at religious communities that were in some way involved in higher education. There are a good number of Benedictine monasteries in the United States that are in some way involved in running schools, specifically universities and colleges. But when I looked at all of them this was the one that really stood out with the beauty of the campus, the quality of scholarship, and the student body.”

The first profession of monastic vows is an honored ceremony that is a long time in the making. When the two Brothers entered the monastery in 2017, they were postulants. According to Brother Dunstan, postulant derives from the Latin word postulare which means “to ask”. This symbolizes the postulant’s asking of himself, the community and the Lord whether to proceed with this path. This is reminiscent of Conversatio’s tagline of the individual, the community and the divine that each Freshman is familiar with. “The postulancy is a couple of weeks to months, it varies person to person, to get accustomed to the community and community life.” Added Brother Titus.

Following the postulancy, if the monks choose to continue, they enter the Novitiate as Novices. The Novitiate is a one-year period of study, prayer, and discernment during which the Novice continues to become accustomed to monastery life. “Right before we became novices, we received a conference from one of the senior monks, Father John, in which he said that the Novitiate is a dialogue between the novice and god, the abbot, and the community.” Brother Dunstan explained. He further described that year as one of questions and answers. In addition, during the Novitiate the two Brothers changed from wearing their own clothes to wearing the religious habit for the first time.

The next step in the Novitiate process was choosing of a monastic name. Brother Titus explained that the Novice presents the Abbot with a list of three choices in order of preference. The decision then falls to Abbot Mark, who announces the Novices’ new name for the first time at a private noon prayer. Brother Titus describes choosing his future name as a long process. “When I came upon Titus, I very much liked his story. He and Saint Timothy would travel around, sometimes with Saint Paul, and do the work of evangelization in the early church. Paul gets a lot of the credit for it, but I liked that Titus did a lot of work but doesn’t get much credit. Likewise, I want to do God’s work, but I don’t need the recognition.”

Brother Dunstan said that when it came time to choose his name that he had a strict set of criteria. He wanted the name of someone who had been a saint, someone about whom a good amount was known, and someone who had been a monk. “I came to the idea of Saint Dunstan of Canterbury, who was a tenth century Anglo-Saxon Abbot, and then Archbishop. That fit in very well in this community because there are two other monks here who are named after former Archbishops of Canterbury: Father Augustine and Father Anselm.” In fact, about fifty years after Saint Dunstan was Archbishop of Canterbury, Saint Anselm took the position.

Once the year of the Novitiate was over, the two were prepared to make their first profession of vows in the Abbey Church.

“Both excitement and nervousness were a part of the experience,” Brother Dunstan said. “Also, a great deal of joy. I think that when you prepare for something for that long and then you actually do it, the experience can be overwhelming.”Both monks also enjoyed having their families present at this momentous occasion. Some of those in attendance were Saint Anselm faculty and staff who had known Brother Titus from his time as a student. “A simple profession is really an occasion for celebration for a community as a whole.” Brother Titus said. “It’s a real sense of God working in this community through these people. It was just a good chance to celebrate with people who have shaped different aspects of my life.”

Brother Dunstan likened the event to a wedding. As a wedding melds two families into one, this ceremony brought the families of these two together. “When I meet Brother Titus’ family from now on, they aren’t just strangers or family of a friend but in some sense a part of my family. The monastery is a family, and its connected to all of the families of those who reside in the monastery.”

Now that the two Brothers have taken their first vows, they plan to continue their studies of theology at Saint John’s Seminary in Boston. They are also shadowing different professors in the Conversatio program. They are currently in the Juniorate phase, which is a three-year long period after which they may take their lifelong Solemn Vows. That means the next phase of their journey won’t begin until 2022.

Currently, both Brothers say that they are enjoying their time at Saint Anselm College. As an alum, Brother Titus said that he is having fun exploring a different set of activities than when he was a student. “Right now, I am still growing into this new role. I’ve never been on the teaching side of a college course before. It’s exciting to see that change and see what that change will lead to in the future.”

“I’ve been very impressed with the students I’ve seen at Saint Anselm College,” Brother Dunstan added. “Both academically and the level of student engagement, like with Winter and Spring Break Alternative, is very edifying and inspiring. It’s a great honor and privilege to be a monk of this community and serving such an active and engaged student population.”

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Monastic community celebrates two of their own