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.

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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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Pumpkin Carving 

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Monday evening the novices and juniors carved pumpkins. It was a great community bonding experience. Most of the monks who participated carved two or three pumpkins each. Even two monks from St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison who were on retreat joined in on the fun. 

Monastery Rock Climbing 

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Every fall the novices and juniors have an outing. This time around, I was in charge of organizing the event and taking them. I asked them what they would like to do for fun. Bowling? Mini-golf? They were all interested in going to a rock climbing gym. So, I called around and found a place in Blue Springs, Missouri that gave us a great group rate.

The primary purpose of our outing was to visit one of our monastic confreres who is in the hospital. We all loaded up in a mini-van after having celebrated Vigils, Lauds, and Mass. We prayed the Rosary together on our way to the Kansas City area. After a nice visit with our confrere in the hospital, we ate our sack lunch as we drove to the gym in Blue Springs.

It was a great team-building exercise. The Ibex Climbing Gym in Blue Springs was a great place for a group of six energetic men. First we went through a one hour long training course where we learned how to tie our own knots and how to belay one another.

Above: Novice Arturo, Novice Walter, and Br. Luke practice tying their knots. Safety first!

Above: The climbing instructor had us practicing how to belay one another, giving us the proper commands so that no one got hurt. Br. Luke belays (below) Novice Justin.

Above: Fr. Paul and Br. Matthew scale the wall.

In addition to climbing with harness and rope, the gym also offers “bouldering”- a form of rock climbing that is performed on large boulders, small rock formations or artificial rock walls, without the use of ropes or harnesses. Novice Walter (below) demonstrates.

Novice Arturo (above and below) uses various training equipment.