The Art of Lettering

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Br. Michael has been doing calligraphy for years. He has attended many workshops, taught classes on the art in the seminary, and giving calligraphy retreats. In early August, Br. Michael, had two calligraphy retreats- one for beginners and one for intermediate students. He weaved in the Benedictine practice of lectio divina into the lettering process.

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Br. Michael mixes colors for his illuminated letter.

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Br. Michael instructs his students on the proper way to letter.

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This particular illumination was made to adorn the monastic room of our Fr. Guerric.

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20140827-135613-50173484.jpg A closeup of Br. Michael’s illuminated letter.

Funeral for Br. George

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Today, the monks of Conception Abbey celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for our confrere, Br. George.
George

Brother George Strohmeyer, O.S.B., monk of Conception Abbey, died Monday, 25 August 2014. He was 92 years old and had been a monk for 36 years.

He was born on 20 June 1922 near Benoit, Wisconsin, to Engelbert and Frances (Boehm) Strohmeyer. After military service and work in constructon, he entered Corpus Christi Abbey on 15 January 1978 at the age of 55. He was responsibility for the management and upkeep of the physical plant at Corpus Christi Abbey, also serving as tailor and bookkeeper for the community.

At the closing of Corpus Christi Abbey Brother George transferred his monastic vows to Conception Abbey on 18 April 2002. He resided in our Stephen’s Health Care Center, where his later years were spent in rosary making and in praying for the Church and the world.

Brother George was preceded in death by his brothers Leonard Strohmeyer and Lawrence Strohmeyer; sisters Cecilia Pezderic, Lucille Urinko, (both of Ashland WI), Agnes Watson (South St. Paul, MN), Ann Hause (Bruce, WI), and an infant sister Frances. He is survived by three sisters, Mrs. Clara Racine of New London WI, Mrs Deloris Suminski of Ashland WI, and Miss Alice Strohmeyer of Washburn WI; by numerous nieces and nephews; and by his monastic confreres.

First Day of Classes

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After several days of seminary student orientation, the first day of classes has arrived.

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Fr. Macario addresses the new seminarians before the spiritual director’s conference last Friday.

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Fr. Xavier talks about spiritual formation in the seminary.

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On Monday, Fr. Samuel (President-Rector) celebrates the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

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Seminarian Matthew Brady reads the important instructions on the Seminary bulletin board.

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Seminarians stash their book bags at various places around St. Maur Hall before classes.

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Chairs that will soon be filled by students eager to learn.

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Many new seminarians (and some returning students) sit in their first class of the day: Christian Living and Theology.

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Abbot Gregory, one of the professors, welcomes the seminarians and provides a semester overview.

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Fr. Adam offers an overview of his section of the class, which deals with Liturgy.

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Archbishop Jerome will teach the section on morality.

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Picture Time

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It is picture day and registration for the seminarians of Conception Seminary.  The early morning rain did not prevent the photographer from capturing their smiling faces.  This morning the men gathered in front of the Basilica in order to take the group photo.  Afterwards they took separate pictures based on Diocese or Religious Order.

Loud noises from the machinery, several yards away, from the nearby monastery construction made it a bit difficult to hear the photographer’s instructions, but all went well.

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How about some statistics?

This year, Conception Seminary College has 92 full-time students this semester (93 priesthood candidates, which includes an Abbey monk)

  • 54 are returning students, and 38 are new (3 are returning students from previous enrollment)
  • 14 of our students were born in a country other than the United States, including, Guatemala (2), Mexico (6), South Africa (1), Turkey (1) and Vietnam (4).
  • 67 (70%) are Caucasian, 21 (22%) are Hispanic, 6 (6%) are Asian, 1 (1%) is African-American and 1 (1%) is Native American.

The classes this year break down as follows: 19 freshmen, 27 sophomores, 22 juniors, 15 seniors, 4 pre-theologians and 5 LCC students.

17 dioceses and 4 religious communities are represented this year, with Wichita having the largest number (22) and for smallest Lubbock (1).

Our average student age 22.48.

Here is the age breakdown by class:

  • Freshmen: 19.9
  • Sophomores: 21.1
  • Juniors: 23.5
  • Seniors: 23.6
  • Pre-Theo: 29.4
  • LCC: 26.8

15 of our 19 freshmen are 2014 graduates…straight out of high school.

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Please pray for these men, that they may grow in their relationship with Christ!

Beat the Heat

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It was a sweltering 90 degrees at the Abbey today.  Of course we have seen warmer, and during most summers, we would regard 90 as nothing special, but it has been a cooler summer, so it feels downright hot and humid today.

Thunderstorms caused some havoc in the area, mainly with the electricity toward the end of the afternoon before Evening Prayer.  A storm rolled in rather quickly and there were fierce bolts of lightning.  The power flickered several times, then went off completely for a few seconds before turning back on.  That happened several times.  The monks went to prayer in the Basilica, and the rumbling of thunder rattled the stained glass windows.  One phase of the electricity went out when we were chanting the Psalms.  The organ temporarily cut out, but the monks kept on singing.  At one point a power surge caused the fire alarm to go off.  We kept on singing.  Two of the monks had to exit choir in order to take care of the alarm and check things out.

I hit the road on my bike today, but my adventure turned out to have an added twist.  While descending the first hill on Highway V V, I saw another cyclist on the road.  Riding alongside, I said, “Hello,” and he introduced himself as Chris Davis, one of our new seminarians from Manhattan, Kansas.  I told Chris that I was planning a 27 mile ride, and he was welcome to join me and I could show him a good route.  After talking to him, he said he had wanted to pick up a few items at Wal-Mart in Maryville.  So, I told him I would accompany him and show him the way.

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Chris and I rode into town together and chatted along the way.  It was a lot of fun having another person to bike with, especially someone who could keep up.  We stopped at Wal-Mart so that he could pick up a few supplies before heading back.  It ended up being a 35 mile trip, but I might have some company cycling in future rides.

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Back to School

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The new seminarians arrived on Wednesday.  A small group of the returning seminarians were on hand to offer hospitality and assistance to the new students, as part of the Seminary Orientation Team.  The schedule has involved different conferences, introducing students to the various aspects of seminary formation, including academic, character, and spiritual formation.  The evening schedule has allowed time for a social/mixer and icebreakers.  The new seminarians seem to be adjusting well.

The returning seminarians arrive Saturday, August 23 by 5:00pm.  Picture Day and Class Registration is on Monday, August 25, and classes begin on Tuesday, August 26.

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Seminarian Jake Schwindt assists a new student with his bags as he escorts him to his room.

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Seminarian Hayden Charles welcomes a new seminarian in St. Raphael Hall on Wednesday.

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Seminarian John Linnebur gladly carries some supplies up several flights of stairs to a seminarian’s new room in St. Michael’s Hall.

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Moving in. Mom takes a picture of her son as he begins his time in seminary.

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Student President, Nicholas Ashmore, welcomes the seminarians and introduces an icebreaker at the evening social.

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New students relax and play some foosball in the Alumni Union.

 

Please pray for our seminarians as they begin this new academic year!

Monastic Experience Weekend

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This past weekend (August 15-17), we welcomed three men to the monastery for our “Monastic Experience.”  The weekend allows men who are considering a vocation to monastic life an opportunity to learn more about our way of life, join us for prayer, meals, work, and recreation.  Abbot Gregory and Br. Bernard (Novicemaster) both gave conferences to the participants, allowing time for question and answer.

Eight monks gathered for a social, snacks and games on Saturday evening with the three weekend participants, which created a more relaxed environment for everyone to get to know one another.  One participant commented how it was helpful to see the different personalities in the community, and how we interact and live as a community.

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The next Monastic Experience Weekend is October 31-November 2.  We invite men, ages 18-35, to attend the weekend by submitting this registration form.  Please pass on the information if you know anyone who might be discerning a call to religious life and could benefit from this experience.

 

Solemnity of the Assumption

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The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a very festive day for the monks of Conception Abbey.  In recent years and occasionally in the past, this is the day when novices make profession.  If Novice Eric and Joseph persevere, they will profess vows on this day in 2015.

Here is a list of the monks who celebrate the anniversary of their profession on August 15.

Br. Thomas, 1969
Br. Bernard and Fr. Martin, 1970
Br. Justin, 1973
Br. Jude, 1986
Fr. Frowin and Br. Jeremiah, 1997
Br. Elias, 1998
Fr. Pachomius, 2002
Fr. Guerric, 2003
Fr. Macario, 2004
Br. David and Fr. Victor, 2005
Fr. Paul, 2006
Br. Placid, 2008
Br. Maximilian, 2009
Br. Etienne, 2010

Entrance to the Novitiate

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Eric Kral and Joseph Fussner entered the novitiate today in a ceremony this afternoon in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Members of the community gathered for this joyful occasion, chanting verses of Psalm 84 as Br. Bernard, the Novicemaster, led the two novices-to-be to the altar, where they made their petition.
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Abbot Gregory instructs Novice Eric and Novice Joseph about the monastic life and what they are undertaking.

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Br. Bernard (Novicemaster) and Fr. Victor (Socius) clothe the two new novices with the tunic, belt, and short scapular.

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Novice Eric receives the Rule of our Holy Father St. Benedict from the Abbot. The Abbot says, “And now, so that you may know what you are entering, I confide to you the Holy Rule which sanctified our forebears. By God’s grace, may it become your way of life.”

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Novice Joseph receives the Rule of St. Benedict.

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The Abbot and professed members of the community welcome the new novices with the Sign of Peace.

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Novice Eric, Abbot Gregory, and Novice Joseph

Temporary Dining Room

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On Saturday evening, the monks began taking their meals in a new location. We had been eating in the seminarian dining room, but since many of the seminarians return in one week, we had to vacate their space and find our own new location. Obviously none of this would be an issue if the monastery was not undergoing a major renovation. This is where our flexibility and creativity must come into play. The monks have to adapt to their environment.

We are now eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner in what was the old Book Bindery.  The equipment and supplies were cleared out so that our oak tables could be put arrange in the close quarters.  The space is significantly smaller than the old monastic refectory and the seminarian dining room, but we do not have many options during this year of flux.

The monks’ buffet line is now our in the hallway of the 3rd floor of St. Joseph Hall.  We can no longer use both sides of the buffet line because of the narrow hallway, so it takes twice as long for all of the monks to make their way through.  Though it has taken some getting used to, we will adapt and try to bear all things joyfully!
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