THEODORE NEVE O.S.B
(1879-1963)


Abbot of St. Andre/Sint Andries;
Abbot President of the
Benedictine Congregation
of the Annunciation

  

Abbot Neve

BORN on July 3, 1879, the future Dom Neve attended school and studied philosophy at Louvain from 1890-1899

In 1899 he entered the Beuronese daughter-abbey of Maredsous as a postulant. This was the  period of the controversial labors of another monk (and former prior) of Maredsous, Gerard Van Caloen, who had been assisting in the restoration of the Brazilian Benedictine Congregation since 1894.  In 1898 Van Caloen had been authorized to open a Procura in Brugge for the work in Brazil; but on December 19 of that year Pope Leo XIII published an apostolic letter in which he designated Van Caloen’s work as principally concerned with missionary labor among the Indians of the Amazon.  This shift - long suspected but only now proclaimed officially -  from monastic restoration to missionary work was strongly criticized throughout the Beuronese Congregation, not least at Maredsous.

In 1901 Dom Theodore professed trienniel vows at Maredsous, just as, to the shock of many, Van Caloen’s procura of St. Andre in Lophem was elevated to the status of an abbey and  designated a monastery “for the missions”.  It was accorded all the rights and privileges of a Beuronese monastery; however it was completely independent of Beuron and was eventually affiliated to the Brazilian Congregation, with Van Caloen its first superior.

From 1901 to 1906 Dom Theodore studied theology in Rome at Sant’ Anselmo, the Benedictine house of studies that had recently been restored through the labors of (among others) Dom Gerard Van Caloen. In 1904 Dom Theodore professed solemn vows at Maredsous and in 1905 he was ordained to the priesthood.  In Easter of 1906,  just at the conclusion of his theological studies, he transferred his vow of stability to Van Caloen’s abbey of Sant Andre - a move that was viewed by some at Maredsous as a reprehensible defection.

From 1906-1908 he was assigned a variety of responsibilities at St. André, including cellarer, master of oblates, prefect of clerics, and sub-prior.  From 1908-1912 he served as Prior, effectively local superior of the community, owing to Van Caloen’s perpetual absence in Brazil.  It was during this period and partly through his influence and support, that in 1910 the Apostolic Prefecture of Katanga in the Congo was conferred on Saint-André.

The Newly-Blessed Abbot, 1912

 Abbot Neve and his prior, Dom Gaspar LeFebre

IN 1912 Theodore Neve was nominated abbot by Gerard van Caloen. Neve received the Abbatial Blessing on September 8, and he reigned as Abbot of St. André for fifty-one years, until his death in 1963;  although during the last five years of his life he enjoyed the assistance of his coadjutor, Dom Theodore Ghesquiere.

The Founders of the Belgian Congregation of the Annunciation
Columba Marmion,   Robert De Kerchove,   Theodore Neve

IMPORTANT highlights of his abbacy include the founding of the (Belgian) Benedictine Congregation of the Annunciation in 1920, consisting of Maredsous, Mont-Cesar, and Saint-André.  This was followed in 1921 by the foundation of the  Missionary Benedictine Sisters at Bethanie, near St, André, a congregation of Benedictine nuns who assisted particularly in the African missionary work of the monks of St. André.

Abbot Neve in Si Shan, China.

 Abbot Neve and Abbot Lou Tseng-Tsiang

IN 1929 a foundation was made from St. André in SiShan, China: this foundation was transferred in 1947 to Chengtu, China, and in 1955 to Valyermo, California.

 Pontifical Ceremonial

 Abbot Neve

FROM 1935 to 1955 Abbot Neve served as Abbot President of the Congregation of the Annunciation.  He presided over the restoration in 1939 of the Polish monastery at Tyniec, and in 1947 the foundation of an African Priory at Kansenia.  All these works were the particular concern of St. André, which also undertook in 1962 a foundation in Siluvaigiri, India, which was transferred to Asirvanam, India, in 1963

Abbot Neve died on March 27, 1963.

Adapted from The Benedictine Missionary Movement, by Luke Dysinger, O.S.B., St. Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, CA.


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