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.

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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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Celebrating our Jubilarians

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Every Thanksgiving we honor our monks who are celebrating special anniversaries. This year our confrere Fr. Rene Guesnier celebrates 60 years of monastic profession. Fr. Daniel Petsche celebrates 50 years ordained a priest.

Fr. René professed vows on September 3, 1957, and was ordained by Bishop John P. Cody on September 21, 1961. His life of monastic labora began as associate editor of Altar and Home, Conception’s liturgical review for the laity (1961–63); during those years he also served as the abbey’s assistant Guestmaster. But his life in the Spirit had a decidedly pastoral inclination. He was soon assigned to assist at St. Joseph’s Church in Springfield MO (1963-64), and then at St. Aloysius in Kansas City MO (1964–67). In 1967 he became a military chaplain for the U.S. Army, serving there for 20 years. His army years took him to far-flung locales, including tours of duty in Vietnam, Thailand and Germany.

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Below: Fr. Rene served as a US Army Chaplain in Vietnam. Fr. Rene gives First Communion to Scott J. Bailey from a makeshift altar (the hood of a jeep) in 1969. Sadly, three days later Scott was killed in an ambush at this very site.
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Originally from Harlan, Iowa, Fr. Daniel learned the value of hard work growing up on a farm. He attended St. Michael’s Grade School in Harlan and went to high school at Conception Seminary High School and St. John’s Seminary in Elkhorn, Nebraska. He went on to join Conception Abbey and professed First Vows on September 1, 1962. He then went on to receive his Undergraduate and Theology degrees both from Conception Seminary College and was ordained to Holy Orders on the Solemnity of the Assumption on August 15, 1967. On that day he began his golden tenure of fifty years of priestly service.

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Above and Below: Fr. Daniel (left) still enjoys playing the accordion after all these years.

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