Benedictine Brother Irenaeus Petree made his solemn profession of vows as a monk of Subiaco Abbey on Aug. 31, 2019, in the St. Benedict Abbey Church in Subiaco, Arkansas.
Luke Petree was born and raised in Jefferson City, the younger of two sons of J.D. Petree and Elaine Thompson, and stepfather of Deacon David Thompson.
He was a member of Cathedral of St. Joseph parish and was a pupil in St. Joseph Cathedral School through sixth grade.
He graduated from Jefferson City High School in 1993. He worked in restaurants, bookstores and at other jobs before embarking on an eight-year career with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
He arrived at Subiaco Abbey as a candidate in the spring of 2015 and entered the one-year novitiate in September of that year.
On Sept. 8, 2016, he professed temporary vows, receiving the religious name Irenaeus, after the second-century Greek Father of the Church.
In addition to the studies in his formation years, Brother Irenaeus worked in several areas in the abbey, especially in the production of peanut brittle and Monk Sauce, and as recycling coordinator.
During the past year, he has taken a full-time position in the Development Office and is often the first phone contact people have with the abbey.
He also works in connection with Benedictine Brother Damien Cafaro in providing information about the abbey and offering monk-made products for sale at various events throughout the year in Arkansas and surrounding states.
In the profession ceremony, Brother Irenaeus stood in the sanctuary in the presence of Abbot Leonard Wangler and the Subiaco monastic community, his family, Oblates of the Abbey, and other friends.
He read the profession formula from the chart he had written and then placed it on the altar, where it would remain during Mass.
With raised hands, he sang three times in Latin the ancient profession formula from the Rule of St. Benedict: “Sustain me, O God, as you have promised, and I shall live, and do not let me be disappointed in my hope.”
Then he lay face down on the sanctuary floor and a black funeral pall was placed over him as a sign of his transition to a new life.
He rose and was clothed with the choir robe, the insignia of a solemnly professed monk, and was embraced by all the monks as their new brother for life.
He would wear the robe for three days in imitation of the burial of Christ until a ceremony called Aperitio Oris (opening of the mouth), in which the Abbot opens the robe, which may then be removed, and grants the newly professed monk full rights as a voting member of the Abbey Chapter.
Subiaco Abbey is a Benedictine monastery of the Swiss-American congregation located in Arkansas.
It was founded in 1878 by monks from St. Meinrad in Indiana and the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln in Einsiedeln, Switzerland.
Today, the abbey is comprised of 35 solemnly professed monks and four members in formation.