Donor Thank You

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On Sunday we invited our donors and benefactors to join us for Mass, a banquet, and an open house and tour of the newly renovated monastery. Many local friends from around the Abbey were also invited to take a look at our new house.  The Basilica was completely filled with guests as we extended our hospitality and communicated our gratitude.  Thank you!

Above:  Guests even fill the north transept for overflow seating.
Below:  Abbot Gregory is the principal celebrant and homilist.
  
  

Below:  Monks were stationed in the various rooms on the first two floors of the monastery to offer information about the rooms.
  
Above:  A tour of the sacristy with all of the accessories out on display.
Below:  Br. Maximilian explains what goes on in the sacristy to guests.
  

Above:  A future monk in a few years, perhaps?
Below:  Brother Luke welcomes guests in the junior recreation room.

Above:  Fr. Norbert walks with a group of guests.

A New School Year with New Leadership

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We officially welcomed Fr. Brendan Moss, O.S.B. (St. Meinrad Archabbey) and Fr. Pat York (Diocese of Wichita) to the Conception Seminary community.  Fr. Brendan was installed as President-Rector in a very beautiful and joyful ceremony on Sunday.  He was joined by family, friends, monastic confreres of St. Meinrad, and the Conception community.  Fr. Pat takes over as Vice-Rector and Dean of Students.

I made a couple fun videos of each of the priests so that everyone can get to hear some of their interests and responses.  Check out these two videos!

Below:  Sunday’s celebrate began with Eucharist with Fr. Brendan presiding and preaching.  He took the Oath of Fidelity at Mass.oath
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After Mass, all gathered for a festive banquet meal.banquet

After the banquet, there was the opportunity for guests and benefactors to take a tour of the seminary residence floors.  The Inauguration, which included an academic procession, took place at 1:30 PM.basilica
Below:  Abbot Gregory installs Fr. Brendan as President-Rector.
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Above:  Fr. Brendan addresses all who were assembled.
Below:  Fr. Brendan, Abbot Gregory, and Archbishop Jerome sing the closing hymn of thanksgiving.three

Seminary Orientation 

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The new seminarians arrived and are slowly getting accustom to campus.  As the new freshmen chaplain, I have the privilege of living on the residence floor with 26 freshmen.  Yes, it is good news…numbers are up, with total enrollment at 108.  This news is a great cause for hope in the Church.

The freshmen seem to have a variety of interests, but I was surprised how many of them play the guitar.  I haven’t counted the precise number of guitars, but it’s probably close to 10.

Almost all of the seminarians on the 4th floor of St. Michael’s Hall have one roommate, and they already seem to enjoy spending time with one another. 
  
  

Seminary Community Council President, Kevin Lenius, leads the group of 50 new students in an ice breaker during the social Thursday evening.
  
  

Below:  Fr. Macario and the seminarians are playing a game of Jenga.

Below:  Other seminarians are playing giant Jenga.

Below:  Fr. Xavier, Director of Spiritual Formation, offers some words of wisdom with a conference on the seminary spiritual practices and schedule.  

Open Hearts, Open Doors

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These past few days have been filled with God’s many blessings.
On August 14, Novice Adam Haake, a priest of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, who has discerned a call to monastic life at Conception Abbey, is testing that call in the novitiate.  During this one year period of discernment, he will pray and work as one of the monks and see if God is leading him toward profession in our monastic community.  Please keep him in your prayers.
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Above:  Novice Adam is clothed with the tunic and short scapular.
Below:  Novice Adam receives a copy of the Rule of St. Benedict.
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The following day, after completing his one year novitiate, Novice Eric made simple vows (for 3 years).  As part of the ceremony, he receives a new name from the Abbot.  Novice Eric became “Brother Luke”, named after the 3rd Evangelist, St. Luke.  It is wonderful to have Brother Luke in our midst.
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Above:  Brother Luke signs his profession document on the altar.
Below:  Brother Luke is greeted by Abbot Gregory with the sign of peace.IMG_6627 IMG_6633

Below:  Brother Luke and his family.IMG_6650

Continuing the festivities on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15), the monks had another open-house.  This one was specifically for the family of the monks.  All were able to tour the first two floors of the newly renovated monastery.IMG_6703

Above:  Br. Etienne gives a tour to his mother and brother.
Below:  Br. Maximilian and the Burkhart clan take over the monastic refectory.IMG_6705 IMG_6715 IMG_6716 IMG_6726 IMG_6734 IMG_6739

Last, but not least:  August 15 is a special day for many of the monks.  In recent years, it is the day when monks make their profession of vows.  Gathered below in this picture are the monks who professed on this day.  All are lined up in order of when they professed vows.Kral_16

Br. Thomas, 1969
Br. Bernard and Fr. Martin (not pictured), 1970
Br. Justin, 1973
Br. Jude, 1986
Br. Jeremiah, 1997
Br. Elias, 1998
Fr. Pachomius, 2002
Fr. Guerric, 2003
Fr. Macario, 2004
Br. David and Fr. Victor, 2005
Fr. Paul, 2006
Br. Placid, 2008
Br. Maximilian, 2009
Br. Etienne, 2010
Br. Luke, 2015

One Week

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In just one week the new seminarians will be arriving at Conception Seminary College.  Those monks directly (and indirectly) involved with their formation are making preparations during these last days.

Just this morning I sat in on a meeting planning the arrival of the freshmen class, which I will oversee this year.  We have 26 freshmen!  I will be making room assignments over the next 24 hours.

In the meantime, we continue to have beautiful weather, with highs in the low to mid-80s.  Hopefully this trend of nice white clouds will continue as we welcome the seminarians and their family as they move in.


These are exciting days for the monastic community as our monastery continues to attract new members.  Praise God!  On Sunday we received Nicholas Marie as a postulant.  Postulant Nicholas is on silent retreat these days with Postulant Adam Haake and Novice Eric Kral.  Postulant Adam will enter the novitiate on August 14 and Novice Eric will profess simple vows on August 15.  It is always a joyful occasion for the community to celebrate these ceremonies.In other news, I acquired a new board game for the monks to play during recreation periods.  I am a big fan of card and board games and Tuesday evening, Br. Etienne, Br. Anselm, and I played Pandemic for the first time.  Unlike most competitive board games, this is a cooperative board game where 2-4 players join together to “save humanity” from a worldwide epidemic.  We played two times on Tuesday evening as we learned the rules.  Our verdict:  It is a really fun game and adds a new twist to board games by playing cooperatively.  I figured that a game like this would either foster community life or drive us far apart.  The former has been true thus far!  We look forward to playing again sometime soon.  It seems that the monks are always trying to save humanity from destruction.
  

Br. Etienne and I went for a 15 mile bike ride after Compline the other evening.  He (and his impressive beard) are pictured as the sun begins to set.
Br. Placid finished placing the brick around the large tree in the St. Joseph-St. Michael plaza. The inside is now filled with rocks and plants and looks very nice.  There has been a lot of work done on campus this summer, and still more to do.

Summer Projects

The new students arrive for seminary orientation in less than two weeks. There are many small projects to complete before then. I was recently appointed as chaplain to the Freshman class, so this year I will reside in St. Michael’s Hall with the incoming Freshmen. 

The chaplain quarters needed a little work, so Postulant Adam and I are working on re-painting the walls. 

We have had three monastery vocation guests visit this past week. We put them to work on some of the projects. Br. Placid and one guest placed the brick around the large tree in the St. Joseph plaza area. It turned out very nice. 

Hopefully the rain holds off for a while. The weather record for the year showed that we have had more than 31 inches of rain for the year by the end of July. 

Please pray for all those seminarians preparing to arrive shortly; enrollment looks like it will be close to 110!     

   

      

On a Mission 

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I have been substituting at the Basilica of St. John in Des Moines, Iowa for the past couple of weeks and will be here through the end of the week.  When the pastor, Fr. Aquinas Nichols, takes his summer vacation, usually one of our monks is asked to staff the parish.  In recent years Fr. Albert has come to help, but since he was already traveling a lot this summer with our new seminary rector, I was asked to fill in.

The Basilica is a beautiful and very historic church in Des Moines.  Fr. Aquinas has put a lot of time and energy into ensuring a reverent celebration of the liturgy.  There is also an excellent parish staff and several deacons who assist in various capacities.  It makes coming here and assisting with Mass and the other sacraments a very smooth process.

The experiences I have had are too innumerable to recount, but I assure you they have been filled with many blessings.  I have celebrated the daily Mass for the parish and 3 weekend Masses.  In addition, I have celebrated one wedding and two funerals and visited the hospital to anoint a man.  This is very valuable and important experience that I might not otherwise have at the monastery.

Below:  The Basilica of St. John is a very large and ornate church.
  
  

The non-liturgical highlight of Des Moines has been being able to ride their amazing bike trails, which extend throughout the city and beyond.  Last week, I rode the trail north toward Madrid and Woodward, Iowa, where I was able to cross the famous High Trestle Bridge.

Whatever your calling in life, it is important to have healthy and creative outlets!
  
  

Nature, Up-close and Personal

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I had a good response from the blog posting of our Br. Etienne’s macro photography, so I decided it was worth posting more.  He takes some amazing detailed shots of flowers and insects, and it reveals a certain beauty in ways that the human eye isn’t normally able to see.  Enjoy!IMG_5067

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Out in the Summer Heat

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It is been a busy week and I have not been able to get these pictures up sooner. As these warm summer days continue, the work outside the monastery goes on. The sidewalks are looking very nice  and will serve the monks and our guests well for many years to come. On the south side of the monastery there is the addition of the patio area for the monastic community which we will be able to use during recreation and at other times.


  
  

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