Stations of the Cross

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The Stations of the Cross were installed in the Basilica on Thursday. They are the original Stations, but were in need of restoration and touch ups. After they were placed on the wall, I can honestly say that they were worth the wait. They are very beautiful! See for yourself…

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On Friday afternoon the seminarians, monks, and guests gathered in the Basilica to bless the new Stations of the Cross. The community also made the Way of the Cross together.

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Above and Below: Abbot Benedict incenses the Stations as part of the order of blessing.

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Lent Begins

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Yesterday we celebrated Ash Wednesday. We begin our 40 day journey of uniting ourselves to the mystery of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. It’s a time to purify ourselves through practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Conception Abbey is offering daily Lenten reflections for the entire season of Lent. Different monks were asked to write reflections based on the readings for the day. Reflections I wrote are the ones to start the series. You can find them here: https://lent.conceptionabbey.org/

Also, on Ash Wednesday and the Sundays of Lent that monk assigned for the week will offer a video reflection. The video for Ash Wednesday is posted below. Blessings on your Lenten journey!

February Update

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It’s February! The past week has gone by quickly. This past Saturday through Wednesday I had a friend of mine here doing some filming and photography work for me in the Vocation Office. Dave Sotelo was a seminarian for the Diocese of Wichita. He studied at Conception Seminary College for one year and we got to work on some video projects during that time. Since my job assignments keep me busy, I asked him if he would be willing to come to Conception and help me with some monastic vocation promotion videos. I’ll post those videos once we complete them, but he also took some promotional photos which I’ll share below.

Below: Dave is interviewing Abbot Benedict.

Below: There is plenty of good video to edit!

Also, on Saturday, Feb. 3, I dropped by the Infirmary to see how work on the chapel is coming along. One of our employees, Melissa, was working on painting the area behind the altar. I think it’ll be beautiful. Below are a few photos of the progress in the chapel.

Below: A photo I captured with the moon peaking above the Basilica roof.

Infirmary Addition (Interior)

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The construction on the addition to the Infirmary is just weeks away from completion. The exterior work appears complete and I walked through the interior to survey the progress.

Above: A monk’s individual room
Below: View from the window of the personal room.

Below: The new infirmary chapel will be a more spacious and beautiful place for the monks to pray.

Mid- January

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It’s been a busy and blessed New Year so far! I spent the first few days at SLS18 in Chicago, IL. It is a conference put on by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). The gathering was at the McCormick Convention Center and was attended by around 8,000 students. While Chicago in January isn’t my idea of a good idea, the conference was excellent and I was able to connect with many alumni, friends, and spend time with the Newman Center at Northwest Missouri State where I serve as chaplain.

Above: The flight over snow-covered Chicago.
Below: The main gathering space for most of the keynote speakers at SLS.

Below: Reuniting with some of the men who were freshmen seminarians when I served as chaplain at Conception Seminary College, 2015-2016.

Below: Some delicious pizza I shared with the aforementioned group of guys.

Below: The view from my hotel room- I could see Lake Michigan!

Below: Adoration was powerful. I spent the time hearing confessions.

Back at Conception Abbey, we have been getting a fair amount of snow these past few weeks. The monastery courtyard looking southeast from the 3rd floor window.

Above: The Infirmary addition is near completion!
Below: On sunnier days, the snow melted away and the sun casts some beautiful late afternoon shadows.

Christmas Preparations

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There are many activities in these final days of Advent as we prepare for Christmas. The  monks began decorating the monastery, with the church decorations to follow on Sunday afternoon.

Below: Construction on the monastery’s water tower is coming along nice. The new water tower on the southeast side of campus will allow the monks to activate their fire sprinkler system throughout the monastery.

Below: On Wednesday I led a group of 13 college students on a Day of Recollection. They arrived at 2:00 PM and stayed at the Abbey until 10:30 PM. The schedule involved, games, volleyball, Bible Study, Reconciliation, Evening Prayer, Holy Hour, and group reflection. The Holy Spirit was really present and active in their lives!

Below: December 17-23 we have been chanting the O Antiphons. We display our nicely decorated book which we incorporate at Evening Prayer.

Above: Novice Walter and Fr. Macario decorate the monastery dining room.
Below: Br. Cyprian adds ornaments to the tree in the monastery recreation room.

December Update

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There are many things going on during these first couple of weeks of December. On December 8th we celebrated our Patronal Feast Day: Immaculate Conception. The mural of the Immaculate Conception is very prominent in our Abbey Basilica. Seminarians and guests joined us for Vespers I of the feast (pictures below).

On December 12 we had a beautiful bi-lingual Mass in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Seminarians did a fine job with the shrine to Our Lady and with the music during Mass.

The construction work on the Infirmary addition is coming along well as you can see in the pictures below.

Dr. Scott Hahn Talk

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We had the privilege of welcoming Dr. Scott Hahn to speak at Conception Abbey and Conception Seminary College on Friday. Dr. Hahn is Roman Catholic lay theologian, contemporary author, professor, and Christian apologist. He is a former Presbyterian who converted to Catholicism. He is an author of many books.

Dr. Hahn gave a talk to the seminarians at 4:00 PM and spoke to a full Basilica church on Friday evening. Admission to the talk was free to the public.

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Below: Fr. Pat York, Vice-Rector and Dean of Students, was the one who arranged for Dr. Hahn to visit Conception. He invited everyone to a reception after the talk.

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