Meeting of the Abbots

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This summer we seem to be having more individual guests and guest groups than in past summers.  These past few days the 32 members of the Swiss American General Chapter arrived for meetings which began Thursday evening and ended with a banquet after Vespers on Sunday evening.  Many monks were involved in coordinating the events and extending hospitality to our guests.  Immediately after the chapter delegates left Sunday evening and Monday morning, the priests of our own diocese, Kansas City-St. Joseph began arriving for their annual retreat. The priests will be joining us for Mass and Vespers on Tuesday.

Abbot Primate Gregory also attended the Chapter. In their meetings Abbot Vincent Bataille, O.S.B. was re-elected as the Abbot President for the Swiss-American Congregation.

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After Vespers on Sunday, our guests joined us in the monastery for a social and banquet.IMG_9653IMG_9667IMG_9678IMG_9698

Restoration of the Stations of the Cross

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A few days ago, Brothers Michael and Placid worked on packaging up the old Stations of the Cross. The Stations were in the original Basilica and they will be restored and put into the current Basilica church. The monks are very excited about this project which has been a long time in the making. The Beuronese artwork of the Stations of the Cross actually predates the murals in the Basilica. They will need to be cleaned and restored. For this reason, they are being sent to New York, and we expect to have them back to put in the Basilica later this year.19059604_10103037090139154_3490115516422952546_n19059925_10103037090069294_8650202294717279057_n19059957_10103037090204024_3542488018533036818_n19060195_10103037090074284_6189669483780034246_n19059865_10103037090004424_3927417052560855511_n19145749_10103037090144144_7444253864663692059_nstations

Mid-June Musings

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We are in the middle of June and there are plenty of things going on around the Abbey. We have one vocation guest visiting right now, and one more to join him in about a week. The weather warmed up into the 90’s this week and construction is moving quickly on the addition to the Infirmary. See the progress below.

The clouds have been particularly beautiful as well as the other sights around campus.

We continue to welcome a steady flow of guests during these weeks. Next week many Abbots from monasteries throughout the United States will be here for the General Chapter, which we will host this year. Many monks will be involved in extending hospitality to them.

Discerning your Vocation

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Many young people feel the call to religious life, but many things hold them back. Some do not know the best way to discern their vocation. Abbot Benedict offers this practical advice for those who might find themselves in this situation. Obviously, prayer is the first and primary factor when it comes to discernment, but Abbot Benedict rightly adds that it is important to “test” one’s vocation.

Please share this video with those you may know who are discerning religious life.

Launching into June

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There are plenty of good things happening around the Abbey during this first week of June. For example, Br. Anselm received three queen bees in the mail for his beehives. I saw him walking back from the post office in front of the monastery, looking rather closely at the box he tore open. I just figured someone had sent him some chocolate and he was really hungry. But, instead, I saw a sight I’ve never seen. Bees shipped in the mail! Have a look yourself.

For several years Br. Anselm has been keeping bees on the Abbey property, but since he lost one of his hives during the winter, he is working to replace it and continue his work.

In other news, a seminarian who is working here this summer was flying a small drone (not the drone I fly) and he got it stuck in the tree outside the westside of the monastery. I called our friendly neighbor and electrician, Darrell Schieber, to see if he would retrieve it for us. Darrell gladly assisted, venturing up to the upper part of the large tree in his bucket lift and plucking it off the branch with his hand. It’s wonderful to know such good people.

Speaking of aerial photography, I took a few more beautiful pictures during sunset the other evening. We are having some gorgeous evenings.

I’ve been working on some videos lately, so be sure to check back to see some of the videos when I publish them.

End of May

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I flew the drone on Wednesday to capture these beautiful pictures of the monastery.

Below: You can see the progress being made on the addition to St. Stephen’s Infirmary.

On an evening walk I captured this rainbow looking to the east. The clouds were particularly beautiful that evening.

One evening Fr. Etienne (just one week ordained) and I tested out a new board game the other evening: Forbidden Island. It is a 2-4 player cooperative game. There is one way to win, but four ways to lose! We ended up winning both times and determined that we really enjoy this game.

In the evenings I’m working on finishing up the last two stained glass windows for the monastery. They will be installed in the monastery chapter room. Take a look at the pattern and assembly process below.

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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.