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.

Freshman Talent Night


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Last night’s Freshman Talent Night was very entertaining.  The Freshman class of Conception Seminary worked hard to put together a show that featured songs, skits, dance, impersonations, and several videos.  This year’s theme was “Saturday Night Live.”  Seminarians, monks, and faculty attended the event which lasted just over one hour.  The event offers the opportunity for the Freshman class to exhibit some talents that others may not know they have, and it is also a chance for them to build community and work together.

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Morning Ministry


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I had Mass at 7:30am for the Benedictine Sisters of Clyde all week long.  Just about every day I had to scrape ice off of the car in the morning.  It was a cold week!IMG_0371.JPG




Below:  The best thing about being out and about in the morning–Sunrise!


Below:  Clyde still has one of the most beautiful chapels.


Camino Presentation


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My 200th Blog Post!

Yesterday evening, Novice Joseph gave a presentation on his experience hiking the Way of St. James Pilgrimage across Spain (Camino de Santiago), which he walked with his brother in the fall of 2012.  He provided a slideshow, shared his stories, offered spiritual insights, and answer our questions about the Camino.

It was an engaging presentation, which made some eager to walk it themselves, and made others realize it was not for them.  Each day they would walk between 15 and 23 miles, staying at small hostels with rooms containing numerous bunk beds.





Snow Again


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While the temperatures fell on Tuesday of last week, the snow fell on Saturday morning.  There is something magically and nostalgic about the first substantial snow, but the fairytale feelings quickly went away when I was brushing snow off of the car Sunday morning before Mass.

I am assigned this week to have Mass for the Benedictine Sisters at Clyde.  I drove there carefully for Mass, and though the main highways we cleared, the county side roads were a little slick.

Other than my trip to Clyde, it was a quiet weekend.  It is the first weekend in a long time that I have not been out on my bicycle, so I found that I had a little more free time.  I caught up on some reading and played a board game with a couple of the monks.







The Chill


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The best way to stay warm these days is to stay busy.  Everyone is still getting used to the cold weather, it came on rather quickly.

Yesterday evening we had another beautiful sunset.  I took the picture out of my window on the 5th floor of St. Joseph Hall.IMG_7678IMG_7681

The other day I had finished all that I was going to be able to complete in the office.  So, I headed out on the trail to the Marian Grotto.  It is a beautiful walk, but the wind has a bit of a bite to it when it is only in the upper-20’s.  I had not made the walk in months.  I appreciated the fresh air, well, until I had to turn around and face the wind.IMG_0269.JPGIMG_0273.JPG


Below:  I forgot to post these next two pictures from last weekend.  On Sunday afternoon, during the Seminary’s Encounter with God’s Call weekend, Fr. Macario and I gave a talk on Monastic Life.  Fr. Macario explains what drew him to enter Conception Abbey.  My promotional pop-up stand is in the background!IMG_0259.JPGIMG_0243.JPG


Below:  Wednesday evening, I taught the high school religion class at St. Columba’s parish in Conception Junction.  I taught them about the Mass.  After administering a quiz, I made a few of the group dress up as priests, monks, and servers.  I explained the different vestments to everyone.  Their classmates were humored by their new look.IMG_0274.JPG




First Snow?


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Yesterday at 2:45pm it was 70 degrees outside.  Later that night it was 31 degrees.

No thank you.  I was not ready for that.

Knowing that it was going to get colder today, I went out yesterday for what might be my last bike ride outside for the season.  It was comfortable, but a bit windy.  However, on my way back, the wind from the north picked up significantly.  In fact, it was blowing so hard, it was kind of scary.  I was afraid a big gust of wind was going to tip me over and throw me into the ditch.  On top of that, the breeze was very cool.  The temperature had dropped quite a bit in the one hour that I was out.

Below:  I captured this picture of the setting sun from my room.  I had my camera in my office, so I ran downstairs to get it, and by the time I got back, this was the most I could capture.  That sun sure sets fast!IMG_7664

Below:  This morning there was this strange white residue on the Basilica roof.  Snow?  You can’t be serious.

Below:  Get out the coat racks and winter coats!  The monks have their coat rack in the stairwell in St. Joseph Hall.IMG_7673

Current temperature at 9:15am:  24 degrees ( says it feels like 9 degrees!)



Encounter Weekend


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This past weekend was our Encounter with God’s Call weekend.  Conception Seminary College invited a record-breaking 115 young men to “come and see” the seminary, visit with the seminarians, and hear a series of talks.  Never before have we had over 100 young men for an Encounter, which are held once in the fall and once in the spring semester.

The high numbers can be attributed first to the Holy Spirit, but also to the work of Fr. Macario, Director of Admissions, his assistant, seminarian Travis Crotty (Diocese of Sioux City), and all of the priests, chaperones, and vocation directors who arranged for these young men to visit the seminary.  Represented were the following Dioceses:  Amarillo, Cheyenne, Davenport, Des Moines, Dodge City, El Paso, Grand Island, Jefferson City, Kansas City in Kansas, Kansas City-St. Joseph, Lubbock, Oklahoma City, Salina, San Angelo, Springfield-Cape Girardeau, and Wichita.

There were more guests than we had beds (a good problem to have).  Some people had to “camp out” on the floor in a sleeping bag.  I have been in charge of Encounter weekends in the past, but this time around my role was limited (and with such a large group, I was completely content with that!).  I helped with the design for the printed booklets, heard confessions Saturday and Sunday evening, and gave an optional talk Sunday afternoon on “Monastic Life.”

There is certainly no shortage of young men willing to listen to the Holy Spirit working in their lives.  Everyone should do what they can to encourage young men to consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.  At the very least, all of us can pray that the Lord of the Harvest sends laborers to serve faithfully!

Below:  Guests and chaperones arrive Saturday afternoon and are greeted by the seminarians.IMG_7555

Below:  Seminarian Travis Crotty checks names off of the master lives and assigns rooms. IMG_7556

Below:  Seminarian Chris Davis welcomes one of the weekend guests. IMG_7560

Below:  Evening prayer and Adoration begin the weekend. IMG_7571

Below:  Seminarians serve as “ambassadors” and lead small groups throughout the weekend.IMG_7590 IMG_7596 IMG_7597

Below:  A full house for conferences in St. Maur Hall. IMG_7620 IMG_7622IMG_7632

Fall Production


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Every Fall semester, Br. Cyprian and the seminarians of Conception Seminary put on a play in St. Michael’s Gymnasium.  This year Conception Seminary College presents, “Murder at the Goon Show,” by Douglas Winters.  A most hilarious comedy-spoof-murder mystery in two acts.  They work long hours in order for the show to come together.  I watched the beginning of it yesterday evening in order to snap a few pictures for promotional purposes.

Friday, Nov. 7 and Saturday, Nov. 8 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014 at 2:30 p.m.

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1,500 Miles…and Counting


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As the temperatures get cooler, I am happy to announce that this week I reached my 1,500 mile biking goal for the year.  All of my bike rides for the year began at the Abbey.  The outdoor biking season is not necessarily over, but I prefer not to bike in temperatures below 50 degrees, especially if the wind is blowing.  Biking has provided great exercise and a nice break from sedentary office work.

Here are some fun facts for the year.

  • My first ride of the year was on February 22.
  • As of today, I logged 78 individual rides, averaging 19.5 miles per ride.
  • My longest ride was 67.5 miles.
  • September was my best month, with 362 miles.
  • My top speed was 43 miles per hour.
  • An overwhelming majority of my rides were alone, but I did bike with 4 different individuals throughout the year.
  • I was featured twice in local newspapers.  Once in August for taking 1st in a local triathlon, and once when I biked to my parish assignment in September.

What do the winter months hold for an avid cyclist?  Since I am not a fan of cold temperatures, I have a bike trainer, so I spin inside and still benefit from the exercise. However, nothing quite beats being outdoors and cruising down the road.

Below:  Video from my recent ride.

Below:  A few pictures from the road on my most recent ride.






If you see a cyclist on the road, give him some space and pass carefully!


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