The Abbatial Blessing 

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Abbot Benedict was blessed as the 10th Abbot of Conception Abbey in a beautiful ceremony on Sunday, January 15th. While the weather prevented many guests from attending, we were able to live-stream the liturgy online.

You can still watch the video by clicking here

Below are some pictures from the ceremony at which Bishop Johnston presided.




Below: Conception Abbey’s 10th Abbot (Abbot Benedict Neenan) and the 9th Abbot (Abbot Primate Gregory Polan)
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SEEK2017 

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On Monday evening, January 2nd, Br. Etienne and I traveled with 45 students from Northwest Missouri State University to attend SEEK 2017, the Catholic college student conference put on by FOCUS.

Monday evening we departed Maryville, Missouri at 9:30 PM en route to San Antonio, Texas. I’m not one for long bus rides, but the 15-16 hours of total travel time was not as bad as I had expected. Nevertheless, we arrived in sunny San Antonio on Tuesday afternoon feeling like we had spent all night on a bus (oh wait, we actually did!). The tiredness and memories of attempting to sleep upright quickly faded and were replaced with excitement and warmer weather. While the warmer 70 degree weather disappeared and was replaced with 30 degree temperatures, the excitement remained.

The Downtown Riverwalk area is absolutely beautiful, with its lights, restaurants, and the numerous hotels were the 12,500 students who attended the conference were staying. Haven’t been to the Riverwalk? Just enjoy these pictures.

There were spectacular speakers at the conference: Matt Hart, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Lou Holtz, Matt Fradd, Dr. Edward Sri, Sr. Bethany Madonna, Sarah Swafford, and many more. Each morning began with the celebration of the Eucharist. It was powerful concelebrating Mass with more than 200 priests in the long procession. One of the speakers that I enjoyed in particular was Coach Lou Holtz (pictured below).


Thankfully the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center is capable of hosting such a large crowd of people. One of the best things was walking around the convention center and running into countless priests and students that I have crossed paths with over the years.

We ran into many priest alumni of Conception Seminary College, including Fr. Sam Matthiesen and Fr. Adam Droll of San Angelo, Texas.

We were also able to do some sightseeing during walks between the convention center and the hotels. I was able to catch up with a few monastic vocation candidates as well during the trip.

Perhaps the most powerful experience was Thursday evening during the Adoration and Reconciliation service. There were more than 300 priest hearing confessions for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Apparently the line for Reconciliation became so long that it was a fire hazard. Many of the students on our bus shared their conversion experiences and encounters with Jesus Christ during the ride home. It was a graced time for everyone.

Celebrating Christmas

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One of the best things about Christmas in the monastery is that our life is so united with the Church’s liturgical year, that we truly experience the celebration of Christmas throughout the Octave. For most of society, once December 25th is passed, Christmas is officially over. These days within the Octave of Christmas have been very rich liturgically and enjoyable with brothers in community.

Below: The Basilica looks beautiful this time of the year, especially with the crib in the minor apse.




Additionally, we have had some pleasant and sunny days. I captured some of the scenes around the Abbey.


Below: Abbot Benedict out for a walk on a cool December day.

Monastic Life

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Please be sure to check out the blog on Conception Abbey’s main website to see my latest contribution: 5 Ways to Live Like a Monk in the World.

Yesterday evening we had two vocation candidates arrive. On Friday evening we will have six more arrive for the weekend, and we will add one more on Saturday evening. Yes- that is a total of nine men visiting the monastery this weekend and further exploring if God is calling them to monastic life at Conception Abbey. It is always a joyful time to share such with others the wonderful call to be a monk. Please keep these men in your prayers!

This past week we have had several special feast days (Immaculate Conception, Gaudete Sunday, and Our Lady of Guadalupe) which gave us the opportunity to use some of our more elegant vestments and decorations.

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Video: Encountering Christ

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Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception! 

Today is our big feast day as we celebrate this wonderful Solemnity for the Church and our community which is under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception.

I completed a video and launched it this morning on Facebook and YouTube. It communicates the importance that monasteries have in the world, especially amid the many distractions and voices that we encounter on a daily basis. Conception Abbey is a place of peace and silence, and a community that fosters an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. I hope that you enjoy this video and share it with others.

Please pray for vocations to our community- that many young men follow Christ in our monastic way of life.

Giving Tuesday 

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Conception Abbey hosted its annual Giving Tuesday event where seminarians, monks, employees, and members of the local community looked to make Christmas a little more special for many families in need. St. Raphael Hall was filled with people between 6:00-8:00 PM who were giving back in various ways. Some were making ornaments, some were writing Christmas cards, while others were making blankets that would be given to families in the local area.

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

We seek to call people to charity and generosity amid a consumeristic and individualistic world. It is Conception Abbey’s way of giving thanks for the many ways we are blessed and sharing those blessings with others.

What are you grateful for?

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The monks of Conception Abbey are grateful for so many of God’s blessings!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Conception Abbey Elects New Abbot

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This afternoon the monks of Conception Abbey gathered together to elect their 10th Abbot. In September, Abbot Gregory was elected as Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation. During the past months we have been praying and preparing for the election of a new Abbot. This afternoon the community elected Fr. Benedict Neenan as Abbot of Conception Abbey. Please keep Abbot Benedict in your prayers as he begins his new role.

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Fall Production

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This past weekend Br. Cyprian and the seminarians put on their annual fall play. This year it was a sci-fi farce called “The Aliens are Coming!” They had three performances throughout the weekend and seemed like they really enjoyed performing. It was entertaining. Here are a few pictures from the play.

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