New Prior Elected at New Camaldoli Hermitage

Father Robert Hale, OSB Cam, was elected Prior of the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California on January 20, 2012. Father Alessandro Barban, the Prior General of the Camaldolese Congregation based in Tuscany, Italy, will bless the new Prior during Mass at 11:00 AM at the Hermitage on January 25.

Father Robert has been a monk of the Hermitage since 1959 and previously served the community as Prior from 1988 - 2000. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1966, having made solemn profession in 1965. Father Robert has a master’s degree in Theology from Saint John’s in Collegeville, MN, and a doctorate in Spiritual Theology from Fordham University, New York, NY. He was the founder of Incarnation Monastery in Berkeley, CA. He has taught in Rome at Sant’Anselmo, and at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA. Father Robert instituted the oblate program for the congregation, and has most recently been director of the oblate program. He has written a number of books and chapters on the topics monastic and general spirituality. Before joining the Hermitage, he was a university student at Pomona College, Claremont, CA. Reflecting on his return to ministry as Prior in the community, Father Robert commented, “It is a privilege to serve once again in my community as Prior. Please pray for us and we will be praying for you.”

Father Robert will be the sixth Prior to lead the Hermitage since its founding in 1958. Assisting him will be a Vice-Prior, as well as a Domestic Council (composed of the Vice- Prior and three additional monks) which he chairs.

He succeeds Father Raniero Hoffman who led the community for twelve years and elected not to be available for any additional term as Prior.

The Prior is the superior of a Camadolese monastery. The role can be best understood as the elder brother in a community of brothers—the first among the brothers. The Prior is elected for a six-year term by those monks who have made their final vows.

About New Camaldoli Hermitage

New Camaldoli Hermitage is a Roman Catholic monastery of the Camaldolese Congregation. It is situated in the rugged coastal mountains of Big Sur, CA overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and is home to a community of 17 monks.

The Camaldolese Congregation traces its heritage to the sixth century monastic traditions of Saint Benedict, as further defined in the 11th century by founder, Saint Romuald. It is part of the larger Benedictine Confederation of monastic congregations.

All Benedictines are focused on a life of work and prayer, “ora et labora”. The Camaldolese Congregation is distinguished by the priority placed on both the communal and the solitary dimensions of monastic life. The three pillars of the way of life are:

* Solitude for personal prayer and meditation
* Communal prayer and work within the monastery
* Contemplative outreach to the broader community

As part of that outreach, the Hermitage maintains a retreat house for men and women wishing to make silent residential retreats, and both retreatants and day visitors are welcome to join the monks for communal prayer. The monastery also conducts preached retreats and operates a bookstore, and monks are available to provide spiritual counseling to retreatants. In addition, individual monks engage in ministries such as teaching, writing, art, and music. The monastery also sells gourmet fruit and nut cakes and a home made product, branded as “Holy Granola”.

Fostering ecumenical and interreligious dialog is an important mission of the congregation, and the Hermitage welcomes retreatants and visitors from all religious traditions, as well as those not affiliated with any religion.

This year, the motherhouse of the congregation, the Holy Hermitage of Camaldoli (Tuscany), celebrates the 1000th anniversary of its founding. The congregation also has a number of other ancient monasteries in Italy, as well as monasteries in Berkeley California, Windsor New York, Poland, France, India, Brazil, and Tanzania.