With great sorrow the Monks of Christ the King Monastery                                inform you of the death of their b...
Autobiography                                     From his earliest days, Frank had loved the priesthood and              ...
Somehow, he thought that such an occupation was not quite part of        Bernard School, and had become a benefactor – of ...
On August 11, 1961, Father Leonard assumed one                    Pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Cullman, Alabama. He rema...
and the once active campus was not too silent and still. The empty     conservative follower of the conservative Archbisho...
arrangement. He offered the First Mass in the new chapel on July                                                  night of...
[The rest of the history of Abbot Leonard Giardina, O.S.B. is contained in the                                            ...
You see in this church the monks’                                                                                         ...
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Speculum 57


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Speculum 57

  1. 1. With great sorrow the Monks of Christ the King Monastery inform you of the death of their beloved Abbot, Leonard F. Giardina, O.S.B., on January 7, A. D. 2011. After suffering a stroke in late August, 2010, Abbot Leonard made a remarkable recovery but shortly afterwards was informed that he had prostate cancer. Accepting all from the Hand of Almighty God he resigned himself to this added burden and by mid-December, as the cancer spread rapidly, he quickly went down hill and said his last Mass. Shortly after Christmas he was under the care of home hospice and by early this year was to be transferred to a nursing home. His cancer had spread to his bones and he fractured his hip and spent his remaining days in the hospital. The monks were with him till the end. The first funeral was held amidst a snow storm and a second funeral and burial was held a week later. Abbot Leonard is now at rest in the monastery cemetery. A proper gravestone has been ordered and will be placed as soon as it arrives, possibly by early summer. We monks are greatly indebted to you for your Masses, rosaries and prayers for him and for us in this hour of trial. Please continue to pray for the repose of Abbot Leonard’s soul. ___________________________________________________ The following pages contain the Autobiography of Abbot Leonard Giardina, O.S.B., typed at his faithful typewriter – he never wanted to use a computer and refused to do so, although he made use of the computer through his monks. Abbot Leonard typed most of this autobiography in the early 1980’s and only added to it sometime in the 1990’s. We have tried to put the most relevant photographs in this autobiography; included are pictures of his parents, whom he loved very much and sought and received their blessing to enter St. Bernard Abbey, a picture of him when only 4 or 5 years old with his parents, grandmother, aunt and uncles, while living in Sicily for about 9 months of his life;SPECULUM pictures of himself at different stages of his life and some of his accomplishments. To include many other pictures would take up much room and may be looked at in previous issues of SpeculumBENEDICTINUM No. 57 Benedictinum. EastEr A.D. 2011 2
  2. 2. Autobiography From his earliest days, Frank had loved the priesthood and of always spoke of his intention of becoming a priest. When World Abbot Leonard Giardina, O.S.B. War II broke out it became necessary for him and his family to make some quick Born November 8, 1922, Father Leonard Giardina (Frank) decisions, lest perhaps he would belived and grew into early manhood in Ensley [Birmingham], drafted into the armed service, a situationAlabama. His parents, John and Grace, owned and operated a which he considered incompatible withsmall grocery store. When he was not actually in school, young the vocation he was so very certain of.Frank worked in the store and delivered groceries. Therefore in the Fall of 1942, he entered the seminary at St. Bernard College, Cullman, Alabama. At first uncertain, he soon decided to join the Family of Benedictine Monks who lived in the Cullman Monastery of St. Bernard, and who operated St. Bernard College. At this point in his life, he was required by the custom of his monastery to change his name to the monastic community name of Leonard. Since he was given a choice of several names, he was delighted when the Abbot of the Monastery publicly announced that his new name would be Leonard – his first choice. From the start he became interested in all of the activities of the monastery, and worked wherever he was needed. As soon as his college days were completed, he was asked to be the assistant to the treasurer of the Monastery and College. This work was not according to his liking, because business manage- ment was not his favorite kind of work, - or at least, so he thought at that time. 3 4
  3. 3. Somehow, he thought that such an occupation was not quite part of Bernard School, and had become a benefactor – of all things – ofhis priestly dream. But as it happened, Father Leonard remained in the Abbey cattle farm. He, himself, owned a very fine Guernseybusiness management for the next twenty-eight years. Cattle Farm in Michigan. As the Doctor became more acquainted In the year 1949 he was with Father Leonard, he began to prevail upon him to take on the ordained to the Holy Priesthood management of the St. Bernard herd of Guernsey Cattle. Once – at last he had reached his goal again Father Leonard – and the dream of his entire life took a long hard look at had become a reality. He his boyhood dream, and remained in the Monastery until was actively opposed to 1972 when he was appointed such a proposition. pastor of Sacred Heart Church in However, in 1951, he Cullman, Alabama. During his gave in to the pressure years in the Monastery, Father and began to manage Leonard’s priestly work was the herd. He knew confined to week-end absolutely nothing assignments to various churches about cattle. in Alabama, Mississippi and Under the Tennessee. guidance and generous After his ordination, the contributions of thecharacter of his business management work took on a new and willing Doctorunexpected dimension. As an additional part of his duties he was Berberovich, Fatherasked to manage and operate the Abbey chicken farm. As he Leonard proved to be alooked back on his dream, none of these activities were to be found good student and worker, and developed one of the finestin it. Future days will indicate to him that there was more to the Guernsey Cattle herds in the entire South East. Later, because ofdream than he had anticipated. The announcement of this the cattle herd, Father Leonard was able to form a very closeappointment was made on December 7, 1949. During the night of personal relationship with Mr. J. C. Penney, who, also, becameDecember 7, fire broke out in one of the chicken farm buildings, very interested in the Abbey herd. In short time, Father Leonardand it burned completely to the ground, as Father Leonard slept came to love the cattle herd very much.peacefully through it all. As one can imagine, this incident was the For the next several years, Father Leonard managed thecause of a great deal of humor. Abbey-College farms, taught European History in the college In addition to his business duties, Father Leonard was the department, assisted in the business office, and was prefectofficial Guest Master of the Monastery, in that he was the official (moderator) in one of the college dormitories.host to all of the many guests who visited the Monastery. For Certain problems in the college dining facilities resulted inseveral years after his ordination he was the director of the annual the appointment of Father Leonard as the Director of Food ServiceSummer Lay People’s Retreats. for the entire institution. For this added responsibility he was It was during this time in his life that he became acquainted relieved of his teaching and college dormitory responsibilities.with a certain Doctor Thomas Berberovich, a noted physician of This appointment became effective on July 1, 1959.Saginaw, Michigan. Doctor Berberovich was an alumnus of the St. 5 6
  4. 4. On August 11, 1961, Father Leonard assumed one Pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Cullman, Alabama. He remainedadditional responsibility: that of business manager for all of St. Pastor of the Cullman Church until January 14, 1979.Bernard Abbey and St. Bernard College. He held this position until During his time in the office of Pastor, Father LeonardNovember 14, 1972. During his term as business manager, the involved himself in many ways with the people of his church andCollege Chapel progressed in its construction to a useable enclosed community. Always faithful to the orthodoxy of his Catholic Faith,condition and many improvements were incorporated in the new he nevertheless demonstrated a clear and genuine ecumenical spiritchapel. It was never fully completed for lack of sufficient funds. by working closely with the various Denominations in and aroundDuring these years, the new dining hall building was constructed, the City of Cullman.as well as the new faculty building and the new Science Hall Well known for his love and concern for the youth of hisBuilding. loved Cullman Community, he attracted the local youth by the The year 1968 was probably the finest year of St. Bernard thousands to his famous “Street Dances” which he conducted inCollege’s history. In his notes Father Leonard stated that he looked the street directly in front of the beautiful Sacred Heart Church.upon 1968 as the GOLDEN YEAR of St. Bernard College. For several years he was Community Services ChairmanSubsequent records indicate that 1968 was, in fact, the peak year. for the Cullman Ministerial Association. He was Co-Chairman forThe following years show a drop in the student enrollment figures, the United Fund Drive. Often called upon, he lectured many localand the institutional income began to decline to such a point that it clubs and associations and school assemblies.was insufficient to meet the growing college expenses. The Father Leonard’s hobby was the doing of “beautiful thingsdeveloping college policies became so demanding that the for beautiful people.” This was manifested by his many Christmasavailable student income was not sufficient to balance costs – and front yard decorations and by the Christmas decorations in hisstudent income was the principal source of income. During these parish church. “Because of Christ” was his personal motto, and heyears, in his concern, he gave some limited assistance to the tried, always, to live by that principle. His term as pastor of SacredCollege Development Program. Heart Church ended on January 14, 1979. As a possible solution to the college’s financial difficulties, In the year 1978 he was elected to the Board of Directors of in the late 1960’s a merger with the then Southern Benedictine College – the new college formed the then Sacred Heart Junior by the merger of St. Bernard College and Cullman Junior College College was given much study and (Sacred Heart Junior College). very serious consideration – a He never faltered in his love for the traditional position of proposition that Father Leonard the Roman Catholic Church. Consequently, he was gravely never favored, rather opposed it disturbed and concerned by the many changes which were taking most vigorously. In his opinion, place within the Catholic Church. His conscience would not permit any merger between the two him to take part in the changes that started to bombard the Catholic schools would inevitably end in Church in and around 1965. He had very little time for the the closing of both institutions. “renewed church” – a fact which drew little favor from his The merger was postponed to a superiors. Many church changes were reflected in the daily later date. observance of his much loved St. Bernard. St. Bernard had become On November 15, 1972, something that he no longer understood. Besides, Southern Father Leonard was relieved of all Benedictine College had closed its door in the Spring of 1979 – college duties and was appointed 7 8
  5. 5. and the once active campus was not too silent and still. The empty conservative follower of the conservative Archbishop, should alsobuildings haunted him. become controversial with his superiors and his co-religionists. Therefore, when he departed from Sacred Heart Church he In April 1981, Father Leonard became the chaplain of thefelt the need to remain alone, so that he could meditate and have new, but conservative and traditional Roman Catholic Chapel oftime to sort things out in his mind. He did not move back to St. St. Pius V in Birmingham, Alabama, and also of the new chapel ofBernard Abbey. Rather, he moved into and lived in a lovely home, Our Lady of Lourdes in Montgomery, Alabama.owned by his family and located in Simcoe, Alabama, a small Meager chapel finances, inevitable for a young chapelquiet community just east of the City of Cullman. He considered foundation, certainly could not support the needs of the chaplain –this his “retreat” and called it The Saint Francis Retreat. he received no financial support from his chapels. However, his He was not to remain alone for very long, for in early affiliation with the Bruno Company provided him with the incomeMarch of 1979, his long-time friend, Joe Bruno called upon him he needed for living expenses.and faced him with another unexpected challenge. Mr. Joe Bruno, Now with a job, he was provided with needed income, andChairman of the Board of the prospering Bruno – Food-World the ability to save a portion of his earnings. His earlyGrocery chain asked Father Leonard to become the Bruno administrative occupations gave him valuable experience. HisCompany’s all-time first Chaplain-Counselor. At first he was frugal nature together with his experience served him well for whatstunned. After thinking about it for a while, he began to look upon was ahead of him in life. As of yet he had no notion of founding ait as a very great opportunity – and he understood this to be a real monastery, nor had he given any thought toward the building of amanifestation of God’s providence. He happily accepted the chapel. Divine Providence had other plans, which were not long inposition, and was thus able to return to the task he loved so much: making themselves clear.PEOPLE. His new duties drew his attention to many directions. He Contiguous to the lot on which his house rested there was awrote articles for the Company monthly magazine, and shared in very large vacant field, in size 80 acres. Without warning the entirethe public relations of his Bruno Company. Father Leonard never field was put up for sale, and the usual sign was stobbed, of allmoved away from his beloved St. Francis Retreat, and chose to places, just next to his house. As soon as the sign was noticed hecommute daily to and from his Birmingham Office. went up to it and looked at it. He thought a while, when suddenly Unable to devote much time to writing, he wrote short bits he was compelled to pull it up out of the ground. He did, and cameand pieces which dealt with his personal observations on life and into contact with the real estate agent. After the usual discussionshe called these his: “EXPRESSIONS”. that go with land purchasing, the deal was signed and the land was Father Leonard’s conservative views in the Catholic purchased on March 25, 1985. Very soon after the purchase of theChurch attracted the attention of a group of Catholic people who land, Father beganwere, themselves, conservative, and whose voice was beginning to construction of abecome loud enough for notice. The changes in the Catholic small frameReligion were not acceptable to them, and they were happy to find chapel. Thea priest in the Birmingham area who thought as they did. In March chapel was ratherof 1981, after much prayer and meditation, he decided to join the modest but quitegrowing ranks of the followers of a certain Archbishop Marcel lovely andLefebvre, of Econe, Switzerland. Archbishop Lefebvre was a altogethercontroversial figure in the new liberal Catholic Church. traditional inConsequently, it followed logically that Father Leonard, a structure and 9 10
  6. 6. arrangement. He offered the First Mass in the new chapel on July night of October 28,13, 1986. From the very first day there were messages of 1988. The stability of theopposition and condemnation. As construction continued, monastic effort wasopposition grew, and when it was time for the First Mass, even the established upon thelocal newspaper, with large front page coverage, entered the scene, arrival of this youngand came forth with picture and article. In spite of the opposition man. He is nowthere was still no feeling of rebellion or opposition. However, the Reverend Fathermounting opposition to his endeavors compelled him to investigate Michael, O.S.B. Othersthe WHY behind it all. Now it was that he began to be convinced followed, and workthat what he was doing was the correct thing to do. began in earnest on the The entire story of Christ the King Abbey is a story of a building of a monastery.gradual development – with one providential feature growing out A permanent monastery was built, but in a different area on theof the providential feature that came before it. It was a growth that acreage purchased earlier. The location of the small frame chapelclearly demonstrated the workings of a Power. was not suitable and failed to provide the privacy required by a contemplative community. Local residents lived quite close to the chapel. The new monastery was completed and ready for occupancy in the year 1990. Next in order of importance was the construction of a proper monastic church. The tiny chapel already in use was quite inadequate for liturgical ceremonies; besides, it was some distance Even though there was no word of advertisement given to away from the monastery. The church was begun in late autumnthe outside world about the work of Father Leonard, it was soon 1992 and the First Mass was celebrated in it on December 24,that letters of interest began to come in. Individual men arrived; 1994. This church was built solely for accommodating thethey asked to be received and allowed to form a Benedictine liturgical needs of the monks. It has not ever been in the mind oftraditional community. Two time small communities were formed the monks to establish a “parish” for the welfare of the laity. Evenbut finding the monastic life to be not what they thought it to be, though people attend regularly the various worship services, theboth groups left. When all hope was gone, a call came in from a Abbey church of Christ the King Abbey is not considered ayoung man, who was calling from Tacoma, Washington. The name “parish” church.of the young man was Joseph Sautner. He arrived very late on the 11 12
  7. 7. [The rest of the history of Abbot Leonard Giardina, O.S.B. is contained in the previous issues of the Speculum Benedictinum. It is a history of trials and tribulations, sufferings and sacrifice, prayer and mortification.] It is worthy of note that the monastery of Christ the King hasnever engaged in debate, or argument or any form of polemic, asothers have. We cannot, indeed, we will not allow the disturbance ofargument or debate or idle gossip and speculation to enter our livesand disrupt the atmosphere of peace and serenity that prevails in ourAbbey. We wish to spend our valuable time in prayer, contemplationand hard work, and we humbly suggest that you do the same. So the Aerial Photo of Christ the King Abbey, 2010Monks pray. Prayer and Good Will, Obedience and Humility are the Please be assured of the Perpetual Prayersonly instruments useful in the restoration of Christ’s Church. of the monks of Christ the King Abbey Please think about placing us in your will or trust. Our incorporated name is: Christ the King Abbey, Inc. 5060 County Road 1635: Cullman AL 35058-1716 (Non-Profit Religious Organization) Mailing address: Street address: Christ the King Abbey Christ the King Abbey PO Box 1616 5060 County Road 1635 Cullman AL 35056-1616 Cullman AL 35058-1716 Several weeks before the death of Abbot Leonard, we monks, with Abbot Leonard’s permission, began the process of reconciliation of our Abbey with the Church. Because of this reconciliation, several monks of the Abbey and the sisters of St. Joseph’s Convent, who did not want to be reconciled to the Church, left voluntarily; St. Joseph’s Convent is closed. The Abbey is not closed, we have closed the abbey church to the public temporarily; the abbey church will reopen to the public shortly. The Mass and sacraments will not change. We monks hope you will read and fully comprehend the following Abbot Leonard Giardina O.S.B. statement: 13 14
  8. 8. You see in this church the monks’ Please list here your very FOR ADDITIONAL MESSAGE empty choir stalls. Is this from obedience special INTENTIONS for which you to the Abbot or disobedience? Two of us From the Holy Rule of Saint wish our prayers and good works Benedict: Chapter 5 remain here in this monastery. Is this (confidential information) and return “Of Obedience”: to the Abbey BEFORE June 1, 2011. from obedience or from disobedience? This paper will be kept on the High Obedience has kept each of us, who “The first degree of humility is remain here, for over twenty years and Altar next to the Tabernacle during obedience without delay.” the months of the Sacred Heart and obedience is now calling upon us to do Precious Blood. The Monks, in their the bidding of Almighty God. Obedience Obedience is such an integral part of daily prayer and work, will remember to the Abbot is obedience to Christ,the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict that one you and your dear loved ones - both obedience to the Church is obedience tocould say that it is the essence of the living and departed. Christ. We, the monks of Christ theHoly Rule. Why is that? The reason is King Abbey are now rendering thatfrom where the Holy Rule derives all of obedience to the Church byits meaning: Jesus Christ, “I came not to submitting ourselves to the authoritydo My own will, but the will of Him that of the Church.sent Me.” PLEASE CUT ON THE DOTTED LINE AND RETURN As Abbot Leonard has clearly Without obedience to the Church, outlined in the past, and was reiterated PLEASE CUT ON THE DOTTED LINE AND RETURNthere is no obedience to Christ. Without on the first Sunday of this year: thisobedience to the Abbot, who represents church of Christ the King Abbey is aChrist, there is no true monastic life as monastic church which was built for theenvisaged by Saint Benedict. The monks. It is not a parish church. Theoriginal sin was committed by an act of doors are open and you are welcome todisobedience and Saint Benedict saw attend; but you are here by privilege, notclearly the teachings of Christ and His by right. As things stand right now, afterChurch that the only true way back unto Mass today, March 6, 2011, thisAlmighty God was obedience to His monastic church will be closed to theChurch which is obedience to Christ. public temporarily. We hope to reopen to Obedience led Noah to build the ark, the public shortly but this is in the handspending 100 years of his life and the of Almighty God. We are unable to giveridicule of his neighbors in doing what a timetable as to when. We monks willAlmighty God asked of him. Obedience continue our monastic life as we haveled Abraham to leave his country and been doing; the Mass will be the same aswhen the promise of Almighty God was it has always been.accomplished in the birth of Isaac, his We ask your prayers that God’s holyson, it was again obedience which led will be done. May God, through thehim to lift the knife in sacrifice. Instead, intercession of our Immaculate Mother,the disobedience of the Hebrews led grant his gift of humility to all of us inthem wandering in the desert for 40 every moment: that humility that makesyears until that whole generation that us, like Jesus and Mary, to be, withoutsinned had died out. Only then did delay, God’s obedient children.Almighty God allow the Hebrews into Please remember that we shallthe Promised Land. It was the obedience continue to keep each and every one ofof Christ that led him into the Garden of you in our daily prayers.Gethsemane where He cried unto hisFather to remove that chalice from Him. Christ the King AbbeyHowever, in that same obedience Christ P.O. Box 1616 then added: “Not my will be done but Cullman, Alabama 35056-1616 Thine be done.” 15 16