Br. Francis Professes Solemn Vows


Courtesy of Newark Abbey

Br. Francis Woodruff, O.S.B., professes his solemn vows at St. Mary’s Church.

Br. Francis Woodruff, O.S.B., professed his solemn vows as a Benedictine monk on Saturday, committing himself to the Benedictine Abbey of Newark for the balance of his life.

In a sacred ceremony that goes back centuries, Br. Francis asked only for the mercy of God during the Rite of Solemn Monastic Profession held in St. Mary’s Church, while a community of monks and nuns looked on.

A number of monks and nuns from the St. Benedict’s community attended Br. Francis’ profession ceremony. (Courtesy of Newark Abbey)

Describing Br. Francis as “a good man,” Abbot Melvin Valvano, O.S.B., said while presiding over the service, “He has, with his close relationship with Jesus and the Blessed Mother, for me exemplified all his life and while he has lived in the monastery the core definition and reality for all Christians: deep and complete faith in God who is the Loving Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

As monks of Newark Abbey sang hymns, Br. Francis chanted the traditional Benedictine prayer for God to sustain him now and forever throughout his religious life. He was joined to the community with applause, then he was given his new, formal, 73-pleated hood robe known as a  cuculla

“Yesterday’s experience of Br. Francis’ solemn profession witnessed to the joy of religious life,” said Sr. Ann Marie Gass, Dean of the Elementary Division at St. Benedict’s Prep, who was present. “No matter the many twists and turns his life journey has taken, Br. Francis continues to place his relationship with Jesus and the Blessed Mother at the center surrounded by the importance of community.”

Those in attendance included all the members of the monastic community along with two Benedictine Sisters, Sr. Lauren and Sr. Diane Marie, and two of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Sr. Ann and Sr. Maureen, and also Mr. Fernando, who is one of the cooks in the monastery.

Br. Francis’ profession is part of a continuing period of extraordinary activity for the monastery, with two monks professing solemn vows in March, another monk professing simple vows in October, and a number of novices joining for a trial period. With 19 monks and novices at Newark Abbey, the community is at its largest in many years. 

The next big event for the monastery occurs Nov. 27 at St. Mary’s when Br. Asiel Maria Rodriguez, O.S.B, already ordained a deacon in July, will be ordained a priest, fulfilling a lifelong goal.