It’s Beginning to Feel a lot like Christmas


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The monks began the “O Antiphons” yesterday evening at Vespers. The O Antiphons are ancient liturgical texts used at Evening Prayer of the last seven days of Advent. Each of them is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture.

  • December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
  • December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
  • December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
  • December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
  • December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
  • December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
  • December 23: O Emmanuel (O God is with us)

During Vespers on December 17, we sang “O Wisdom.”

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Click below to watch a video of the O Antiphon, which was filmed yesterday.

This afternoon we had our annual employee Christmas Luncheon.  As usual, it was a joyful gather of monks and employees to celebrate the holiday cheer.  We also recognized our employees who are retiring or celebrating milestones in their work career, including 20, 30, 35, and 40 years!  We are bless to have so many wonderful people working with us.

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Renovation Continues


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I took some monastery renovation pictures a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t get around to posting them.  It was around Thanksgiving time when the monks on mission were back home for a few days and they were offered a tour of the monastery.  I hope to get more renovation pictures in the days ahead, but enjoy these in the meantime.

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I’m not sure if Archbishop Jerome’s zucchetto meets proper safety regulations as a hardhat. IMG_7984

Seminary Events


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On Monday some of the seminarians wanted to take their annual Christmas picture.  I took a picture for them last year, which was in the style of an “Awkward Family photo.”  The seminarians donned some pretty hideous sweaters and sent out the cards to family and friends.  This year they wanted to wear cassocks and Santa hats, and give it a “Christmas from the Men in Black” look.  We took the picture outside in the woods behind St. Gabriel’s Guesthouse.

They did both the serious and comical poses.

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They posted some of the results on Facebook for their family and friends to see, and someone used one of my pictures for “Catholic Memes.”  The photo, with the caption, “We’re here to put Christ back into Christmas!” essentially went viral with nearly 900 shares and 5,900 likes.



A little bit of Holiday fun!

Yesterday afternoon we had our going away party for Fr. Ralph (a priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha), the Vice-Rector and Dean of Students of Conception Seminary.  He has been with us for the past 5 years and will be taking a new assignment with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C.  Fr. Ralph has brought much joy and enthusiasm to our community and we wish him well.

Below:  Pictures from the reception.

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Below:  Fr. Ralph (left) and Fr. Samuel (right)IMG_8438

Last, but not least, the seminarians had a music and talent evening in the Alumni Union yesterday.  The show exhibited seminarians playing  a variety of music, reciting poetry and even some comical acts.  It was an enjoyable evening of entertainment.  They are a talent group of men.

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Immaculate Conception


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Today we celebrated our titular feast day, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The mural of the Immaculate Conception dominates the apse of the Basilica.IMG_0514.JPG

Below:  Seminarians and monks line up for the procession at the beginning of Mass.IMG_0545.JPG

Below:  Abbot Gregory presides at Eucharist on this special feast day.IMG_0541.JPG


Outside it was a fairly nice day for early-December.  The construction workers continued their work on the monastery.




Ask a Monk Videos: Part 1


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We started a new series of videos called “Ask a Monk.”  Different monks of Conception Abbey are asked a series of successive questions to which they are expected to give a quick response.  The questions give insight into the monk’s preferences, likes, and interests.  Enjoy these first four videos, and feel free to share them with your friends.


Giving Back

Yesterday evening Conception Abbey hosted its first #GivingTuesday event.  On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world came together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

Conception Abbey accepted and wrapped Christmas gifts of clothing, toys, and other presents to give to underprivileged families.  Monks, employees, and members of the local community came together in order to make a difference in the lives of others this Christmas.

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Yesterday morning I was in Kansas City, Missouri celebrating Mass at Rockhurst High School.  Rockhurst is a Jesuit run boys school.  I had the 7:00am Mass for Fathers and their Sons.  After Mass I spoke at three different freshman classes about Benedictine Monastic Life.  The students had many questions, which I was happy to answer.  I have always enjoyed my visits to Rockhurst.




The Year of Consecrated Life


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It was a beautiful weekend at the Abbey as we move into the Advent Season, a season characterized by waiting for the coming of Christ.  There is also great excitement at the Abbey as we inaugurate the Year of Consecrated Life.  Pope Francis has called this year as a time for a renewal and recognizing the numerous contributions religious men and women have made in the Church and the world.  He exhorts us to “Wake up the world!”  Conception Abbey will participate in various ways for this very special year.

Below:  Calm waters across the lake Saturday afternoon before Vespers I of Advent.IMG_0462.JPG


Above:  The monks pray Vespers I of Advent.
Below:  The Basilica and Advent wreath after Vespers.IMG_0465.JPG


Below:  A video of Abbot Gregory talking about the hope he has for the Year of Consecrated Life.

Below:  The vigil light burns in front of the icon of St. Benedict as a reminder to pray for vocations.  Several holy cards are available for monks and guests to take to pray for vocations to our community.


Rejoice and Give Thanks


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The past few days have been filled with many activities:  Community meetings, celebrations, and a festive meal.  The monks of Conception Abbey have many things for which we are thankful.

Below:  Abbot Gregory leads the community in a series of meetings and discussions.IMG_7842 IMG_7846

Below:  Fr. Macario keeps his head warm with an interesting looking hat as he makes his way to the community meeting held in St. Gabriel Hall.

Below:  Br. Bernard walks over to St. Gabriel Hall on a day that was cool, but otherwise pleasant.IMG_7856

Below: Novice Eric and Fr. Sebastian visit outside during one of the break times.IMG_7872

Wednesday evening after Compline we had our “Gaudeamus” (Let us rejoice).  It is the social time dedicated to honoring our four jubilarians.  The novices, Br. David, and I organized the evening entertainment.  We had some friendly Jubilarian team competition.

The first game featured a PowerPoint presentation entitled, “Spot the Difference.”  Competitors were show two side by side seemingly identical pictures, except that the picture on the right was modified in one way or another.  The first person to ring the bell and identify the picture alteration earned one point for his team.

Can you “Spot the Difference” in the pictures below?

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Below:  All Jubilarians, like Fr. Kenneth pictured here, were given paper crowns (Benedictine medals were printed over the Burger King logos)IMG_7886

The second part of the entertainment featured a quiz about information related to the four different Jubilarians.  Each table formed a team and could work on it together.IMG_7894 IMG_7898 IMG_7902IMG_7911 IMG_7921 IMG_7923 IMG_7934 IMG_7948


It was an evening of entertainment and thanksgiving for everyone!


Blog: 1 Year Anniversary


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The blog started on this day in 2013. And, here we are, one year later.

These days are ideal for a blog about the monastery and monastic life, because there are certainly plenty of activities going on.  The seminarians leave for Thanksgiving vacation after their last morning class.  I’m certain they are excited to get home and enjoy restful time away and probably a few good meals.

The monastic community, on the other hand, remains here, holding down the fort, business as usual.  Our Monks on Mission have returned these last couple of days, and it is always good to see them.  They are those in the community who serve in parishes or chaplaincies on a full-time basis.  We have numerous communities meetings and various business issues and updates to discuss, matters best sorted for when the entire community can be home.

Additionally, it is at Thanksgiving time that we honor and recognize our Jubilarians, those monks who are celebrating special anniversaries of monastic profession or ordination.  This year we have four Jubilarians.  They are:

60 Years Ordained- Fr. Donald Grabner (July 31)
60 Years Professed- Fr. Kenneth Reichert (Sept. 8)
50 Years Ordained- Fr. Anthony Shidler (May 22)
50 Years Ordained- Fr. Timothy Schoen (Dec. 16)

The novices and I have put together a special presentation to honor the Jubilarians.  This will take place Wednesday evening during our social and appetizer hour.  In past years we have organized quiz or gameshows and various audio/visual presentations to entertain the community and make the evening enjoyable, especially for these men who have served the Church for so many years (220 years total).

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I post more information (and pictures) about what we do to celebrate the Jubilarians this year.


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