Br. Etienne Ordained a Priest

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Our confrere, Brother Etienne, was ordained a priest Thursday evening. His family, friends, and monastic brothers were present for the joyful occasion. Fr. Etienne had studied theology at St. Vincent Seminary (Latrobe, PA) these past four years. Now that he has completed his studies, he will be assigned as the Kitchen Master and as a chaplain in the seminary to the freshmen class. We are very excited for Fr. Etienne and grateful to have him back among us full-time.


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Congratulations, Fr. Etienne!

Seminary Graduation

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On May 13, thirty-one seminarians completed studies at Conception Seminary College, one of the largest classes in recent history. We wish them the best of luck and continued prayers as the discern God’s will for their lives.

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Anniversary of Basilica Dedication

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May 10, 1891 was the Dedication of the Abbey Basilica. Every year we celebrate its anniversary, and now we are up to 126 years. For Conception Abbey it is observed as a Solemnity. We are grateful for being able to worship in such a beautiful church.

Yesterday evening we celebrated First Vespers of the Solemnity and the seminarians were present.

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Today we celebrated Mass of the Anniversary of the Dedication and Abbot Benedict presided.IMG_2676
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On this special day, we light all of the candles that on are on the pillars of the Basilica.
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The First Week of May

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There were plenty of activities going on this past week, and the next week it looks like it will continue. May 13-14 is graduation weekend for Conception Seminary College.

On Saturday, April 29, we had some bad weather, mainly strong winds and rain. A large branch from the tree in the cemetery split from the base.

The Infirmary addition is making very quick progress as you can see below.

The weather this past weekend was absolutely beautiful. This was great especially for two reasons: On Saturday morning we had our annual Abbey Trails 5K Run and 2-mile walk. We had 163 participants outside on a perfect morning. I ran the 5K and placed 3rd overall and 1st in my age group. I enjoyed visiting with our many friends and neighbors who joined us for the event (especially Tam Meyer who is making fun of me in the background).

runwinnersAbove: Seminarian Seth Arnold took 1st place for the second year in a row. Laura Foley of Columbia, Missouri took 1st for the females.

You can view the full results here

I was also very happy to host more than 30 retreatants for the weekend. They were friends I made during my time in the Spiritual Mentorship Program, a two-year program, helping train men and women to journey with others in their spiritual life. The program concluded in January 2017 and we wanted to have a follow-up retreat. Many of the participants had never been to Conception Abbey before, so I was happy to welcome them. Included in the group is Sr. Susan Pieper, AVI (Apostles of the Interior Life) and Fr. Steve Sotiroff, a priest of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois. They loved praying with the monks and enjoyed the beautiful weather and Abbey grounds. The weekend retreat was filled with so many blessings and graces.

Infirmary Addition 

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Workers are making quick progress on the addition to St. Stephen’s Infirmary. The expansion to the Infirmary will include six additional rooms, a chapel, among other things necessary for caring for our elderly and infirmed monks.

Easter celebrations continue as we enjoy the spring weather. Here are a few pictures from the beauty we are experiencing around campus.

Happy Easter 

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Easter Blessing to you!

We had a beautiful Triduum and celebration of Easter. We had our usual Easter Vigil at 4:30 AM, which finished up right around 7:15 AM. It was nice having a couple of monastery vocation candidates with us for these sacred days.

Easter Monday we had the Benedictine Sisters from Clyde over to our monastery for Evening Prayer in the Basilica and a nice festive meal. It is a wonderful annual tradition that we always look forward to. Below: The monks welcome the sisters in front of the Basilica Monday evening.

I saw some recent photos of Abbot Gregory online. Of course, as the Abbot Primate, he is in Rome, but seemed to have a beautiful celebration of the Easter Vigil at Sant Anselmo.

Meanwhile, at Conception Abbey, the weather has been beautiful. It will be especially joyful to celebrate Easter week in some nice weather.

South Dakota 

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On Tuesday I was in Yankton, South Dakota, just over the Nebraska border. It was my first time in South Dakota. The purpose of my trip was to visit a monastery vocation candidate who is college senior at Mount Marty College. It was a beautiful and sunny day as I got the extended tour of campus. The Benedictine Sisters of Yankton, Sacred Heart monastery, are situated on the campus, so I was able to stay in their guesthouse.

There is a beautiful view of the river, which I was eager to see.

Below: Bishop Martin Marty’s house. Bishop Marty was a Benedictine bishop and missionary in America. He was the first Abbot of St. Meinrad Monastery in Indiana, the first Vicar Apostolic of Dakota Territory, and the second Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Cloud.

Recent Ongoings

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It has been a busy month and posting regularly has been a challenge. During the month of March we welcomed four monastery vocation guests. For each man, it was at least his second visit, which is always a good sign to welcome men back to our monastery.

Fr. Victor returned from Washington, D.C. and joined us for some board games one evening. Our game of choice for the week has been Ticket to Ride.


March 17-19 I helped out with a retreat in Estes Park, Colorado at the YMCA of the Rockies. There were 130 junior high and high school students on this Discipleship retreat. I heard confessions all weekend, gave a few talks, and celebrated Mass for the group. It was a powerful experience in a beautiful place.

Our Infirmary building is undergoing some construction. We are building an addition which will increase the amount of rooms for the residents and enlarge the chapel. We broke ground within the past week and I am eager to offer photo updates of the progress.

Ask the Abbot

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Since Abbot Benedict’s election in late-November, I have wanted to film a few videos on him. A couple of years ago I started a fun series of videos called: “Ask a Monk”. This video features Abbot Benedict. Listen to his responses to the questions and get to know some of his preferences.

Mid-February Update

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Somehow we have found ourselves halfway through February. The past few weekends I have been helping out with retreats for college students, which have proven to be very enjoyable work. This weekend I’ll travel to visit a monastery vocation candidate. There has been strong interest in the monastery lately and I’m always eager to share the joys of monastic life with men who are seeking God’s will in their lives.

Abbot Primate Gregory has been back visiting the monastery since this past Wednesday. He was at the Abbey giving a weekend retreat that focused on the Call Narratives in Scripture. He will attend the Abbot’s Workshop in California before returning to Rome, Italy. It is always good to have him back home and to visit with him.

From Thursday of this week onward, we have projected highs in the 60’s for the temperature. It certainly makes me wonder what March will bring, but for the meantime, we will gladly take this beautiful weather.

I made my way around campus taking a few pictures. Enjoy the beauty found this time of year!