By Brother Jude Person, O.S.B.
Special to the Catholic Key
On Friday and Saturday, August 14-15, 2015, the Benedictine monastic community of Conception Abbey rejoiced in the advance of two young men to new stages of consecrated life. On August 14, Father Adam Haake began his canonical novitiate, and on August 15, Novice Eric Kral pronounced triennial vows as a professed monk of the community, becoming Brother Luke. Both of these young men come to Conception Abbey from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
Brother Luke (Eric) Kral, son of David Kral and Janet Kral of Lee’s Summit, MO, was born in Bowling Green, OH, but has made his home in the Kansas City area since childhood. He attended the University of Missouri in Kansas City, where he studied philosophy and music, earning a BA in 2012. While at UMKC, Eric began volunteer work with A Simple House, living out the gospel mission by ministering among families in project neighborhoods and the homeless. Though he found great satisfaction in both this “friendship ministry” and in the personal asceticism it fostered in his own life, Eric began to feel the stirrings of a more contemplative calling. He spoke with the diocesan vocation director, and at his urging made a discernment weekend at Conception Abbey. He returned to Conception as a volunteer worker in 2012 to experience the community and its apostolic works first hand. He became a postulant in 2013, and entered the novitiate in 2014. Upon his profession of vows, Brother Luke received an assignment to work as Director of Admissions and Director of Student Activities for Conception Seminary College.
Novice Adam Haake, an alumnus of Conception Seminary College, has been a priest of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph since his ordination in 2012. He is the son of Patrick and Mary Haake of Raytown, MO, where he was born and raised in a devout and close-knit Catholic family. While studying at the University of Missouri, Adam became involved in the Newman Center, and with other Newman members made a retreat at Conception Abbey in 2004. This first encounter with Conception planted the seed of a monastic vocation, but Adam also recognized a calling to priesthood, and that became his initial focus. He became a seminarian for the diocese, enrolling at Conception Seminary College in 2006. While Adam went through the stages preparing for priesthood during four years attending the North American College in Rome, the notion of monastic life continued to grow as well. Upon ordination he began a period of pastoral ministry. He found this time to be both spiritually fruitful and rewarding, but still acknowledged the inner call to consecrated life in community. He was given permission by his diocesan superiors to try his monastic vocation, and came back to Conception where that process has now begun for him.
As spiritual father of the monks of Conception, Abbot Gregory Polan, O.S.B., presided over both entrance to the novitiate for Novice Adam and profession of vows for Brother Luke. Abbot Gregory pointed out the challenges that Novice Adam would encounter, but also reminded him that monastic life and prayer is truly the Work of God, who shapes each of us to serve in the way that He knows to be best. Our friendship with God, our fidelity to our consecration—that life in which we are set apart in witness to the gospel—will bear fruit in ways we cannot imagine. At the profession ceremony, he reminded Brother Luke that it is by the renunciation of our own will that God does in us what we could never do alone. The evangelist Luke, who would now be Brother Luke’s patron, records that Mary’s act of self-renunciation—accepting Gabriel’s words that she would become the mother of the Savior—immediately flowers in her act of service to her cousin Elizabeth. And from this desire to serve is born her great Magnificat, the song that becomes the prayer of the whole Church in service to God and his people.
Conception Abbey rejoices that our observance of the Year of Consecrated Life has been so blessed. May God’s gifts to us flower in graces for the Church and the world!