Rev. PENNINGTON, Basil OCSO
寧頓神父

 

* Birth in New York, U.S.A.: [28 July 1931]
* Ordination: [1957]
* Arrival in Hong Kong: [1991]
* Death in U.S.A.: [3 June 2005]

Dom Pennington dies after road accident
R.I.P.

Dom M. Basil Pennington, who had contributed a weekly column on prayer and spirituality to the Sunday Examiner for the past 14 years, died, as his brother Trappists were praying vespers at 5:40pm on 3 June 2005, at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Centre in Worcester, from injuries sustained in a car accident on 29 March.

His abbot, Father Damian and great friend, Father Matthew, were at his bedside. He was buried from his home-community monastery, St. Joseph’s Spencer in Massachusetts on the afternoon of 10 June.

On the same day, a semi-private ceremony was held at the Trappists Our Lady of Joy Monastery in Lantau, Hong Kong, where Father Pennington had been a community member for nine years. He began writing for the Sunday Examiner shortly after his arrival in 1991 when approached by then-staff member, Moira Shaw. He agreed to produce a weekly, spiritual reflection. His work kindled widespread interest and he later made a syndication arrangement with other publications. He returned to the United States in July 1999.

He became a renowned authority on centering prayer. An acquaintance from St. James’ Ecopiscopal Church, Michael Povey, noted that he died on the feast of the Sacred Heart and quoted Dom Pennington’s friend, Michael Moran, as saying, “He had the biggest and most loving sacred heart of any human being I have ever known.” Moran said that Father Pennington never wavered in his commitment to support and empower those whose lives are about sacred ministry and explained that in his own life he understood life and ministry as being rich, abundant gifts to be savoured, enjoyed and shared with all in need.

Moran said Father Pennington taught everyone in ministry a most important lesson. “You do not have to carry everything on your shoulders all the time. That’s a great breakthrough for some people. This is a new vitalization within you. (It gives) a sense of how much you are loved and how precious a person you are and that you can really make a difference - you yourself , not what your do, not what you have, not what other people think of you, but you. You are presence… I simply am. And what a wonderful gift (I can be).”

Born in New York on 28 July 1931, he attended school in Brooklyn. He entered the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (OSCO), or Trappists, in 1951 at St. Joseph’s Abbey, his lifelong community.

He took final vows in 1956 and was ordained a priest in 1957. He later studied in Rome obtaining a licentiate in theology and a degree in canon law.

He was a prolific writer and Father John MacGrath, English-speaking chaplain at the cathedral, said he had read six or seven of Father Pennington’s 57 books and “quite a lot” of his more than 1000 articles.” Their theme is much the same as his retreats,” he commented, “centreing prayer, which stresses the contemplative side of the spiritual life and encourages us to listen to God when praying instead of doing all the talking.” He also noted that a good spiritual life apparently leads to a healthy appetite, which he thought helped Father Pennington to always be an entertaining dinner companion.

At Spencer abbey, he was a professor of theology, canon law and spirituality. He was active on his order’s law commission and instrumental in beginning the International Cistercian Studies Symposium. He also was director of vocations from 1978 to 1981.

During the 1970s, his deep fascination with Eastern and Russian Orthodoxy earned him an unprecedented invitation to Mount Athos in Greece, a renowned centre of Orthodox monasticism. He was named as temporary abbot at the Assumption Abbey in Ava, Missouri, in 2000 and later the same year was appointed abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. He stepped down in May 2002, saying he had helped the abbey during a transitional period and believed it was time for the monks to choose someone from within their own community, He then returned to Spencer.

Bishop John Tong Hon said on 10 June that Father Pennington was a delightful and friendly person, accessible, yet deeply spiritual. “He made centering prayer accessible for ordinary Christians; outside the monasteries.”

Bishop Tong added, “He was generous with his time,” noting that he continued to contribute to the Sunday Examiner even after returning to the United States. “We have all benefited from his service and are grateful. We prayer for his eternal repose in the Lord with whom he had such an intimate relationship,” the bishop said.
19 June 2005

 

潘寧頓神父安息
生前推動歸心祈禱

九 十 年 代 服 務 大 嶼 山 聖 母 神 樂 院 的 嚴 規 熙 篤 會 神 父 潘 寧 頓 於 二 0 0 五 年 六 月 三 日 辭 世 。 他 生 前 致 力 推 廣 歸 心 祈 禱 , 過 去 十 四 年 來 一 直 替 英 文 公 教 報 (Sunday Examiner) 撰 寫 專 欄 。

潘 神 父 安 息 彌 撒 已 於 六 月 十 日 在 美 國 麻 省 斯 潘 塞 聖 若 瑟 隱 修 院 舉 行 , 遺 體 下 葬 隱 修 院 墓 地 ; 香 港 大 嶼 山 聖 母 神 樂 院 同 日 亦 舉 行 安 息 彌 撒 , 追 悼 這 位 一 九 九 一 年 至 九 九 年 間 , 與 他 們 一 起 在 神 樂 院 生 活 的 會 士 兄 弟 。

神 樂 院 院 牧 李 達 修 神 父 六 月 十 四 日 說 , 潘 神 父 三 月 底 遇 車 禍 後 , 神 樂 院 一 直 替 他 祈 禱 , 「我 們 得 悉 他 離 世 的 消 息 , 都 很 難 過 , 但 相 信 天 主 會 收 納 他 的 靈 魂」 。 李 神 父 說 , 潘 神 父 在 港 期 間 致 力 推 動 歸 心 祈 禱 , 在 神 樂 院 、 以 至 聖 神 修 院 都 曾 舉 辦 歸 心 祈 禱 工 作 坊 。

潘 神 父 一 九 三 一 年 七 月 生 於 美 國 紐 約 , 一 九 五 一 年 加 入 麻 省 熙 篤 會 聖 若 瑟 隱 修 院 , 五 六 年 發 永 願 , 五 七 年 領 鐸 品 , 其 後 往 羅 馬 聖 多 瑪 斯 大 學 和 額 我 略 大 學 進 修 , 先 後 獲 神 學 和 教 會 法 學 位 。

潘 神 父 著 作 等 身 , 著 書 約 五 十 七 冊 , 撰 文 逾 千 篇 , 其 中 一 個 主 題 就 是 歸 心 祈 禱 (centering prayer), 因 為 他 認 為 歸 心 祈 禱 在 天 主 教 傳 統 中 給 遺 忘 了 。

八 十 年 代 , 潘 神 父 不 時 往 海 外 主 持 靈 修 講 座 和 避 靜 , 足 跡 遍 及 印 度 和 菲 律 賓 , 一 九 九 一 年 開 始 居 於 香 港 大 嶼 山 的 聖 母 神 樂 院 , 至 九 九 年 七 月 返 美 。 二 千 年 二 月 他 獲 密 蘇 里 州 的 聖 母 升 天 隱 修 院 任 命 為 臨 時 院 長 , 同 年 八 月 在 佐 治 亞 聖 神 隱 修 院 選 為 院 牧 。

至 二 0 0 二 年 五 月 , 他 宣 布 會 辭 退 院 牧 一 職 , 因 其 角 色 只 屬 過 度 性 質 , 期 望 隱 修 院 能 夠 在 本 身 團 體 內 選 出 繼 任 人 。 同 年 七 月 他 正 式 返 回 斯 潘 塞 隱 修 院 , 繼 續 隱 修 和 寫 作 。

香 港 教 區 輔 理 主 教 湯 漢 六 月 十 日 說 , 潘 神 父 為 人 喜 樂 友 善 , 兼 具 屬 靈 深 度 , 「他 把 歸 心 祈 禱 推 廣 給 普 羅 教 友 , 帶 到 神 樂 院 之 外」 。
2005 年 6 月 19 日


先賢錄--香港天主教神職及男女修會會士 (1841-2010), 天主教香港教區檔案處, 2010.