Our community first began under the aegis of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in 1995, in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania. We were originally called the Oblates of Mary, Queen of Apostles for a two-fold reason. First, to indicate the offering of ourselves to the Benedictine family (Oblatae is Latin for “offered”). And secondly, because we had consecrated ourselves to Our Lady, and offered ourselves to her service. We began following a monastic horarium as laid out by St. Benedict in his Rule, chanting the traditional Divine Office in Latin as prescribed.
In March 2006, we accepted the invitation of Bishop Robert W. Finn to transfer to his diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri. We were established as a Public Association of the Faithful with the new name, “Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles”. By the grace of God and through the fatherly solicitude of Bishop Finn, we were raised to the status of Religious Institute of Diocesan Right on November 25, 2014.
It was at the foot of the cross that the Lord entrusted St. John and Our Lady to each other with the words “Son, behold thy Mother” … “Mother, behold thy Son.” (Jn. 19:26-27) John, the first priest to offer the Sacred Body of the Lord, and representing all priests, was to be spiritually supported by His Mother. Mary was to be materially supported by John, “who took her unto his own.” We know that the Lord left her behind on earth for a reason: to nurture the infant Church by her prayer and example, to be a presence and support for the Apostles amidst their untiring labors.
According to tradition, the Apostles disbanded after the martyrdom of St. James in Jerusalem. St. John went on to found the “seven Churches of Asia” mentioned in the Apocalypse, and made a home in Ephesus where his new Mother might dwell. This is confirmed by the fact that at the time of the Council of Ephesus, churches were named after saints who had lived or died in the locale. Hence there still stands in Ephesus the ruined basilicas of Holy Mary and St. John.
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, a mystic of the 19th Century, received detailed visions of Our Lady's final years and assumption, which were dictated to the German poet, Clemens von Brentano. The writings were taken in hand many years later by skeptical Lazarist Fathers stationed in Turkey at the close of the nineteenth century. Sister of Charity Marie Mandat de Grancy challenged the men to go look for Our Lady's house on Bubul Dagh as described by the visionary. This they did, and found the ruins of a monastery of women at the foot of a deteriorating little house, tucked in the secluded mountainside exactly as described by Emmerich. The local Turks had long held that this was indeed Our Lady's house, where she spent her final earthly days. Bishop Roncalli (later John XXIII) visited, as did Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
This little home is the very inspiration for our own house of prayer, the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus. Its very obscurity remains an inspiration to us. It is that little house that served as a powerhouse of prayer to the infant Church. Though little is written of it, we do know that St. Paul wrote in the final lines of his first Epistle to the Corinthians that he would “tarry at Ephesus,” which he did for two years. His stay occurred at a decisive moment in the formative years of the Church. When he wrote his Epistle to the Ephesians, he addressed them as the “fellow citizens of the saints of God,” (Eph. 2:19) and that, in all probability, he visited the Mother of God to receive encouragement and strength as he went out again, on fire to spread the Word of God. Most scripture scholars agree that St. Luke, also venerated at Ephesus, must have received the Infancy narratives first-hand from Our Lady. Since the Evangelist was baptized by Paul, after the Apostles had fled Jerusalem, it must be deduced that he also sought her out at Ephesus, perhaps en route to his See at Antioch. Independent of the “eyewitness account theory,” many other Scripture scholars have projected the Gospel's authorship as having been undertaken within the ancient city.
Having received our call to emulate Our Lady in her final, hidden years, we offer our lives in prayer and sacrifice for priests. These are the new apostles of the Church who bear her truth to the world. We anticipate the coming of the Lord as Our Lady anticipated her Assumption, singing the psalms as she did, until we are admitted into the life of endless praise that is to come. In the meantime, we extend customary Benedictine hospitality most especially to priests, our spiritual sons, and strive to offer them the spiritual refurbishment so often denied them in their zealous work. We hope to see them return to the vineyard with renewed ardor to win souls. We have left all to be one with Christ, our Spouse, and we repeat what He Himself said of His newly ordained: “And now I am not in the world and these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name which Thou hast given me; that they may be one as we also are.” (Jn. 17:11)