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Archabbot-elect felt called to become a monk

ST. MEINRAD, Ind. - When Justin DuVall left Toledo in 1969 to study at St. Meinrad School of Theology in Indiana, he fully intended to become a priest in the Toledo diocese.

During his studies, however, he increasingly felt drawn to the monastic community that runs St. Meinrad, and eventually changed his plans from becoming a Toledo priest to becoming a Benedictine monk.

Father DuVall joined the monastic community in 1973, professed solemn vows on Aug. 24, 1977, and has served in many capacities at St. Meinrad through the years.

On Dec. 31, Father DuVall was elected archabbot of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, succeeding Archabbot Lambert Reilly.

When the blessing of the new archabbot takes place on Friday, which is the Feast of St. Meinrad, the 53-year-old Toledo native will become one of only two archabbots in the United States and one of seven worldwide.

What was it that drew Father DuVall to the monastic life?

"I think I saw in the monks who taught me in college that there was something about them that intrigued me," Archabbot-elect DuVall said in an interview this week. "They were such different personalities, but all of them were monks. They had that in common. I thought, 'What is it that attracts such different men and holds them together?'●"

Growing up, Archabbot-elect DuVall attended Regina Coeli Catholic Church in West Toledo, was baptized in St. Vincent de Paul Church, and went to high school at Holy Spirit Seminary in Toledo.

He earned a bachelor of arts degree in French in 1973 and a master of divinity degree in 1978, and was ordained a priest on April 30, 1978.

Archabbot-elect DuVall also earned a master of arts degree in library science at the University of Michigan in 1979.

Among the positions he has held at the archabbey are prior, or second in leadership, from 1984 to 1995 and provost/vice rector of the school of theology since 1996.

How does Archabbot-elect DuVall explain the basic difference between a diocesan priest and a monk?

"A diocesan priest spends most of his life working in a parish," he said "He is ordained for ministry in a parish, although he might have

other jobs and duties as well.

The monk s life is here at the monastery, he said. It is sharing

in the work of the monastery. It is not necessarily in parish work,

although a number of monks do work in parishes.

Although the Benedictine monks do not profess a vow of silence, silence is a value in our life, Archabbot-elect DuVall said. We do have times and places where we practice silence. It seems mysterious to most people, but if they spend

some time here, they would get an inside review of the day-today

life of the monks, and they do live a very balanced life.

Our primary focus is a life of prayer. We give time to it, particularly

public prayer, where we celebrate the divine offi ce three

times a day.

Although Archabbot-elect Du-Vall has no family in Toledo anymore,

his ties to the city remain strong. Approximately half of the

priests in the Toledo diocese attended St. Meinrad seminary.

St. Meinrad Archabbey, located about 50 miles east of

Evansville, was founded in 1854 and the community consists of

about 110 monks.

Its work includes overseeing St. Meinrad School of Theology,

which has 77 seminarians studying to become priests or permanent

deacons, and a co-ed class of 110 in its lay ministry program.

The students hail from 22 Catholic dioceses including

four from Toledo and seven religious communities, plus a

number of foreign countries including Korea, Guatemala,

Mexico, Colombia, and Togo.

The archabbey also is known worldwide for its Abbey Press, a

global company that sells inspirational items and publications.

Another well-known business operated by the St. Meinrad

monks is Abbey Caskets.

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