Monk Profiles: Fr. Boniface Von Nell
It was my experience of the Divine Office that drew me to the Benedictines. I first encountered it on a visit to St. Vincent’s Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa. and it marked me for life. Soon after, I was introduced to the Philadelphia chapter of St. Anselm’s Oblates. It was my life as an Oblate of St. Anselm’s Abbey for almost thirty years that prepared me for my life as a monk. Being an Oblate is a vocation in itself, but in my case the ties that I had developed with the abbey ultimately resulted in my entering in August, 1985.
I lived in Philadelphia all of my life until I came to St. Anselm’s. My undergraduate work in classics, my degree in library science, my subsequent years of experience in that field and my degree in German all converged in my work here at St. Anselm’s. I taught German and Latin in our school for many years and have worked as monastic librarian since I entered. After my ordination in 1991, I shared in our work of pastoral supply and spiritual direction and have also begun preparing icons for the cover of our Christmas cards and for sale in our gift shop. In 2014, the abbot asked me to be our Oblate director.
Living with others whom God – and not I – chose for this community is both grace and challenge. I find in it the daily opportunity to grow in loving others, to serve others rather than myself in the details that make up everyday life down to the way I greet a brother or pass the salt. It’s not always easy but I find that I have grown because of it. No matter what the day may bring, chanting the praises of God together unites me with my brothers in a special way. And above all, I live in the happy conviction that here, in this particular school of the Lord’s service, is where God wants me to be.