The Vocation of a Religious Brother: Climbing Mountains

Oct 30, 2023

As a Benedictine monk of 38 years I strive to live in balance and good zeal.

On February 7, 1959 I was born in Portland, the Baptized as Ronald James Drnjevic to Paul and Gloria (Garibbo) Drnjevic. Later I had three sisters: Joyce (Tom) Cowdery, Gina (David) Mousseau, Nita (Harold) Hartley, with eight Drnjevic grandchildren. My upbringing was in Bremerton, Washington, 1962 – 1979, where I began a lifelong avocation of climbing mountains, glaciated and spiritual. At 11 I became an Acolyte, at 16 an Eagle Scout, the served as high school Student Body President. At that time my inclination was toward environmental law — until I discerned my true vocation. After two Associates degrees (Arts and Sciences) at nearby Olympic College, I graduated with honors in 1981 from the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma. My honors paper examined the World Council of Churches view of ecology and economy; that prepared me to embrace Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, which I have presented across the U.S.

My grandfather, Nickolaus Paul Drnjevic Sr. (†1977), was born in Croatia, in Opatija (meaning “abbey”) named for a 12th-century Benedictine abbey. My father, Nicholas Paul Drnjevic, Jr. (†2012) was the only alumnus of Mount Angel Seminary with a monk son. During Peace Corps service in NW Liberia, West Africa (1981-1983) I had a profound spiritual discernment experience: after a long crisis I literally heard a voice calling me to Mount Angel Abbey – so I followed. Then, still in Liberia, I taught at an Episcopalian Benedictine monastery school. Before returning to America I was blessed to spend several months making pilgrimages across Western Europe and the Holy Land. At monastic profession, September 8, 1985, I received the name “Cyril,” to honor my Croatian and Italian family heritage: St. Cyril, buried in Rome, evangelized Slavs.

Once at Mount Angel my monastic conversion went slowly because I often avoided the Cross – which we are called to embrace, by trusting Jesus. Two Master’s degrees from Mount Angel Seminary (Theology, 1992, and Divinity, 2000) helped me to fulfill teaching assignments in six disciplines, in all three Seminary levels. Fluency in Spanish came through serving at Mount Angel’s monastic foundation in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, then by an intensive Spanish course in Costa Rica, and through a 25th anniversary vacation across Peru. A great blessing is that I visited Benedictine monasteries with my parents on four continents: North America, Africa, Eurasia, and South America.

Beginning in 1990, soon after Solemn Profession, I started presenting retreats, which has helped me to visit all 50 American States and to lead the nationwide Earthen Vessels Retreats ministry (2000-2018). A Master’s degree in History from the University of Virginia (1996-1998) advanced my teaching role, particularly in Monastic History for our novices. Through archival research at the monastery I have written over 180 Necrology articles, 1 for each deceased Abbey monk. Those contributed to a published history of the Abbey in 2020, Struggle and Ascent: The History of Mount Angel Abbey, by Father Joel Rippinger, OSB, a monastic mentor.

In mid-life I received an assignment to serve as Abbey Warehouse Supervisor / Recycling Coordinator. That came through house maintenance I learned from my father, dating back to age 9. This work fits well in the evolving understanding I share with many people: viewing our material goods as “sacred vessels,” to develop wise management of God’s abundant gifts. This gives me a profound purpose for our Benedictine life and inspires many faithful people.

The pursuit of my vocation came in an ancient way: I sought, and still follow, wise and discerning Confessors and Spiritual Directors, to lead me to Jesus.

Brother Cyril Drnjevic, O.S.B., Benedictine Monk, Mount Angel Abbey

No event found!

2024 June

Week 1

Mon 27
Tue 28
Wed 29
Thu 30
Fri 31
Sat 1
Sun 2
Mon 3
Tue 4
Wed 5
Thu 6
Fri 7
Sat 8
Sun 9
Mon 10
Tue 11
Wed 12
Thu 13
Fri 14
Sat 15
Sun 16
Mon 17
Tue 18
Wed 19
Thu 20
Fri 21
Sat 22
Sun 23
Mon 24
Tue 25
Wed 26
Thu 27
Fri 28
Sat 29
Sun 30