Bible Study

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On Wednesday evenings after ministry at the Newman Center at Northwest Missouri State University, I lead a Bible Study for ten college age men and women. The group is comprised of kids all who have graduated from Jefferson High School (Conception Junction, MO) in the past few years. Jefferson High School is less than 2 miles away from the Abbey.

It’s our second year gathering together for Bible Study. We have covered a lot of different topics and passages during our time together. Typically we start with some sort of opening game, read a Scripture passage and I lead them in a reflection and encourage them to think interact with the Word of God through my asking questions. Since the group have been close friends for years, practically all of them growing up together, we share a lot of laughs too. They are young people who want to grow in their faith and are willing to sacrifice their time to talk about how God is working in their lives. It’s a very rewarding experience as a priest to be able to help them in their faith and enjoy their friendship.

Yesterday evening we talked about the Mass. I gave them notecards with different parts of the Mass printed on them and they had to arrange them in the proper order, beginning with the Sign of the Cross and Greeting, concluding with the Prayer after Communion, Blessing, and Dismissal. Each small group also had a Catholic Mass Quiz that they worked together to complete. We conclude by sharing a challenge and a blessing from the past week, and closing with prayer.

Below: Evening sunset on my way to Bible Study.

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September in Photos

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The month of September is going by quickly. We have had some beautiful weather. Early on we had about a week of rain, which the farmers appreciated very much. Then, we have had plenty of sunshine, so everything is green in a way that we hadn’t seen all summer long.

The seminarians had their first off-campus weekend this past weekend. They were eager to get away for a couple of days. The monks said farewell to two of our confreres within a short period of time: Br. Jeremiah died on September 5 and Br. Stephen died on September 11. We had a couple of beautiful liturgies to assist them with our prayers.

Below: Novice Gregory and I play a deck-building card game called Hero Realms. He glares at me only as an attempt at intimidation. His attempt fails.

Below: Morning fog.

Below: More beautiful pictures from around the Abbey.

Below: Abbot Benedict offers the prayers at the cemetery for our confrere Br. Stephen. The funeral was held on Saturday, September 15.

Below: Br. Placid and Br. Luke enjoy a stroll on a sunny day.

End of August

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How did we get to the end of August?

I flew the drone yesterday to capture some wonderful aerial pictures. Even though we had such a dry summer, recent rains have really greened up the campus.

Below: The novices and juniors playing cards and being goofy one evening.

Above: Marian statue and grotto near the Infirmary garden.

Below: Br. Placid and students hold a work day for the grotto out on the walking trail.

3 Men Clothed as Novices

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“Come, Follow Me.” Just as Jesus once spoke this invitation to his Apostles, three young men discerned that God was leading them to try monastic life at Conception Abbey.

The monks of Conception Abbey clothed with the monastic habit and scapular three new novices on Tuesday, August 14.  These candidates, Cole Johnson, Casey Vandersnick, and Gregory Conti, have spent time preparing for this important initial step in their formation and education. During the course of the next year as novices, they will live with the community and discern whether they believe God is leading them to make a more serious commitment by professing vows, which would take place on August 15, 2019.

These young men will spend up to one year further discerning God’s call in their lives. Cole Johnson, 23, is from Beloit, Kansas, and he spent the past three years studying at Conception Seminary College as a seminarian for the Diocese of Salina. Casey Vandersnick, 21, completed his sophomore year at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He hails from O’Neill, Nebraska. Gregory Conti, 22, is from San Luis Obispo, California. He spent four years studying at the University of Notre Dame and graduated this past May.

Below: Fr. Xavier, Novicemaster, leads the postulants into the Basilica.

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The Abbot asks: What is your request?
The men respond: We seek the mercy of God and fellowship in this community.novitiate entrance 2018_1

Below: Each novice receives a copy of the Rule of St. Benedict.novitiate entrance 2018_2novitiate entrance 2018_4

Below: The monks welcome the new novices offering them the Kiss of Peace.novitiate entrance 2018_5novitiate entrance 2018_6novitiate entrance 2018_7novitiate entrance 2018_8

Please pray for these novices as they begin this important year of formation in their lives.novitiate entrance 2018_9

July Update

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July continues to go by quickly!

Earlier this month, July 13-15, a few of my classmates and I were able to get together at Conception Abbey to spend time together for the weekend. Our graduating class had close to 30 men, but about eight tried to get together, and five of us were able to make it. Two of the five of us are priests, the other three are married. It was great to spend a weekend relaxing, praying, grilling steaks, and recalling fond memories from our years at Conception Seminary College.

Below: Fr. Etienne does the grilling for us (so we were free to play Frisbee!)

It’s now my fourth summer helping out at the Basilica of St. John (Des Moines) while the pastor is on vacation. I arrived on Monday, July 16th. I celebrate Mass daily at noon for the parishioners. This past weekend I also had a wedding and a baptism. In my free time I enjoy exploring the city (and beyond) on my bicycle. Des Moines and places up north have received quite a bit of rain, which has flooded the river. The waters are subsiding, but you can still see areas where there is a lot of water on the trails.

Above: A view north off of the High Trestle Bridge. The water levels are very high.
Below: The High Trestle Bridge is quite the sight.

Below: A flooded bike trail.

Above: The Iowa State Capitol.
Below: An ominous cloud on July 19. That was the day the tornadoes hit in the towns around Des Moines. I didn’t really realize that at the time.

Above: The Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
Below: The Raccoon River Valley Trail that I biked on Monday.

Three New Postulants

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Happy Feast of St. Benedict!

This wonderful feast day is a particularly joyous occasion today as we receive three new members into the monastery. Cole (from Beloit, KS), Casey (from O’Neill, NE), and Gregory (San Luis Obispo, CA) entered the monastery this morning as postulants. Please keep these men in your prayers as they begin their monastic formation.

Below: Somehow I talked them into a jumping photo before their entrance- that or they were so joyful and excited that they couldn’t contain themselves.

Below: The three men knock on the monastery door to request entrance.

Below: Abbot Benedict welcomes them and instructs them in what they are doing, namely, seeking God.

Below: Novicemaster Fr. Xavier, Br. Luke, and Socius Br. David, along with the other juniors wait patiently in the hallway for their arrival.

Above: Abbot Benedict offers them their final instruction and turns them over to the care of the Novicemaster.
Below: Fr. Xavier and the juniors greet the three new postulants.

Please keep these men in your prayers!

Summer Program

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The reason I haven’t posted any new blogs for the past few weeks is because I have been away from the monastery. On June 10th I headed to Creighton University in Omaha to begin a 4 week summer program in Spirituality. I am taking six credit hours toward a Master’s in Christian Spirituality. It took a few days to get adjusted to a new environment and intensive graduate class work. I am halfway through the program and I look forward to returning to the monastery in two weeks.

Enjoy these pictures of Creighton’s campus.




I couldn’t be away from the monastery and in a new area without bringing my bike with me to go exploring. There are numerous trails that I can access near the Missouri river, just a couple miles from Creighton’s campus. I have enjoyed seeing some of these capturing these pictures while out on my bike.

The First Days of June

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On Sunday I took Brothers Michael, David, Luke, Matthew, and Novice Walter to Lake Mozingo for the afternoon. Casey, a young man who will enter the monastery in July, also joined us. We spent the time playing volleyball, kickball, and visiting with one another on a beautiful day. Brs. Luke and Matthew went swimming for a while. The outing was primarily for the three junior monks, a little way to celebrate and enjoy one another’s company during the summer.

The highlight of the afternoon was going to Dairy Queen for ice cream on our way back to the Abbey.

Last week there was a rather strong thunderstorm, which took down a large limb from one of the trees in St. Michael’s plaza.

Below: Br. Blaise, Fr. Daniel, and Fr. Victor at recreation.

Below: Fr. Victor, Br. Anselm and I had a board game night and played Mechs vs. Minions, a new game that Br. Anselm received as a gift from his friend. We enjoy playing board games on occasion.

Oklahoma Visit

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I was asked to attend the diaconate ordination of one of our alumni, James Porter III, who is a seminarian for the Diocese of Tulsa, my home diocese. It was going to be a quick trip to Oklahoma, departing last Friday morning and returning Saturday evening, but I was looking forward to seeing my friends in the diocese.

On Friday I made to Stillwater (my hometown) in order to concelebrate Mass at my home parish. A new St. Francis Xavier Church was recently constructed and it was dedicated in March 2018. It is quite an amazing church from an architectural standpoint alone (as you can see below).


I joined our new pastor, Fr. Brian O’Brien for Mass on Friday.

Before the ordination in Tulsa on Saturday morning, I was able to visit with many more priest friends and alumni of Conception Seminary College, including Fr. Gary Kastl. Fr. Gary was a senior at CSC when I first entered seminary as a sophomore. I hadn’t seen Fr. Kastl in several years, so it was nice to catch up.

Notre Dame Trip

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Last Friday I traveled to South Bend, Indiana to the campus of the University of Notre Dame. I spent the weekend attending the graduation festivities of Gregory, one of the three men who is planning on entering this monastery this July. Though the weather was not the greatest (it was overcast and rained part of the time), it was still a wonderful and joyful weekend.

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Commencement was Sunday morning in the Notre Dame football stadium.
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Below: After the celebrations on Sunday I went to our daughterhouse in Benet Lake, Wisconsin to meet with two other vocation candidates. While I was there I flew the drone to capture some aerial photos of the place. Even though it was still overcast, it’s a beautiful place right near the lake.