First Snow of 2019


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It started snowing yesterday evening and by morning there were several inches of snow. While it may not be the best if you are trying to get somewhere today, the snow looked absolutely beautiful as it clung to the trees. Enjoy these pictures!



SEEK 2019


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Fr. Etienne, Br. Placid, and I spent the past 5 days at the SEEK 2019 Conference, which is sponsored by FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). This year we got a booth to promote vocations to Conception Abbey. On January 2, we loaded up the car and headed to Indianapolis to arrive a day early for the conference. The conference attracted close to 17,000 Catholic college students, men and women seeking a deeper relationship with Christ. The days were filled with opportunities to celebrate the Sacraments and hear some excellent speakers.

Thursday, January 3 was the start of the conference. However, we had the morning to do some sight seeing in downtown Indianapolis. The three of us walked to the State Capital and toured the building (pictures below).


Below: Fr. Etienne posing for a picture.img_5033

Below: View from the gallery of the Indiana House of Representatives.

img_5058Above: A view looking up at the stained glass dome in the Capital building.
Below: September 11 Memorial in downtown Indianapolis.img_5041

We visited the World War Memorial. It was a very fine memorial to our veterans. We talked to the tour guide and were able to get a sneak peak into the main memorial hall, even though it was closed for repairs. The blue lights were on the ceiling of the memorial, and normally the lighted star would be raised and hanging in the center.



The SEEK Conference itself was an exciting and life-changing event for many young people. Our booth was situated among many other religious booths from all over the country. There were other Benedictine monasteries also present from St. Meinrad, St. Procopius, and St. Anselm’s. We had a lot of interactions with young people.

First, we had to get our display set up properly. Below: Fr. Etienne steams the table cloth.


We had various materials and goodies for the students, including pens, Benedictine medals, prayer cards, cookies, bottled water, mints, and even a raffle with different prizes.






Above: We also had a 32 inch TV that played a 19 minute video on loop, showing different of the Abbey and our monastic life.

Below: Visiting with men interested in monastic life.


Below: Abbot Benedict flew in for 2 days of the conference. It was his first SEEK experience and it was a chance for him to visit with the men who have expressed interest in monastic life and to get to see many alumni of Conception Seminary College.


Below: All of us gathered at our booth.



Above: Abbot Benedict blesses some Benedictine medal and religious articles.

Below: Abbot Benedict and I catch up with some priest friends of mine- Fr. Mike Pratt (Vocation Director of the Diocese of Tulsa) and Fr. Kerry Wakulich (Chaplain at St. John’s University Parish on the campus of Oklahoma State University, and he is also my classmate).


Below: The students who won the raffle were pretty excited. We raffled off two Benedictine crucifixes and an icon of St. Benedict.



A few last pictures from downtown Indianapolis including Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Colts football team plays.


Christmas Day

Merry Christmas! Christmas is always a beautiful time of year at the monastery. It takes much work from many people to make our celebrations special and prayerful. Many monks contributed to the decorating of our Abbey Basilica. You can see the pictures below of how it looks.


Below: Many vigils lights are placed all over the Basilica and burn for Midnight Mass and into the morning.

Below: Our musicians also practice a lot in preparation for Christmas. Br. David is practicing on the pipe organ.


Below: After Midnight Mass- I am pictured with Abbot Benedict and four altar servers (local youth from the area). It was a very nice celebration and we had a good crowd of people in the Basilica.


Below: The monks ring the bells by hand. The largest bell will take a person 5-10 feet off the ground. See how the bell carries one of the novices up into the air!


Christmas Day was 45 degrees and sunny. I was able to enjoy a bike ride in the afternoon.


Preparing for Christmas


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These upcoming holy days need lots of preparation, both interiorly (spiritually) and exteriorly (decorations). A group of local youth (my Bible Study group) came to the Abbey Saturday afternoon for Mass, lunch, Day Prayer, cards, quiet time, and Adoration and confession. It was an enjoyable afternoon helping them prepare for Christmas.

The monks have been spending time decorating the monastery and the Basilica. We had our annual tree trimming party on Saturday evening.

Below: Our beautifully decorated O Antiphon book- the antiphons from December 17-23.

Above: Beautiful clouds and weather this week.
Below: Local young adults from my Bible Study spending a little time of prayer and reflection before Christmas.

Below: On Thursday I took Br. Blaise over to visit some of the older sisters at Clyde in their infirmary. A small group of us played the dice game “Farkle.” Sr. Paula won.

Above: The novices hang the Christmas banners in the Basilica.
Below: Monks involved in putting up the decoration and the nativity set.


Below: Who gave Br. Matthew a hammer?


Below: Pictures from Saturday’s Christmas tree trimming party in the monastery. After the party, several monks played some board games. Archbishop Jerome beat Fr. Etienne, Br. Matthew, and Br. David in a new game Br. Anselm got called “Azul.” While the novices play 10-point Pitch at another table.IMG_4957IMG_4956IMG_4958IMG_4959

The community gathers in the recreation room for the annual tree trimming party on Saturday. There were lots of good snacks on hand.IMG_4963IMG_4967

Above: Br. Luke hangs ornaments on the tree.
Below: Br. Cyprian can hardly contain his excitement for Christmas and hanging ornaments.IMG_4965IMG_4971IMG_4968

Gaudete Sunday


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It’s the 3rd Sunday of Advent. “Rejoice” Sunday. And, there are many things about which we can rejoice.

Christmas is coming quickly and tomorrow evening we will begin singing the O Antiphons at Vespers. The weather has been beautiful- sunny and in the upper 40’s and lower 50’s. And, best of all, we had five men visiting the monastery this weekend for our Monastic Experience weekend.

Below: It’s that time of the year when the sun casts long and beautiful shadows in the late afternoon.

Saturday evening we had a social and games with our vocation candidates in the guest dining room. We played a few rounds of Bunco. It’s a simple dice game that is good for a large group and helping people mix and socialize.

A few days earlier, on December 12, we had a beautiful celebration for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was a particularly festive Mass with this nice chasuble and the display with roses in honor of Our Lady.

Giving Tuesday


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Conception Abbey and Seminary College has participated in the Giving Tuesday event for several years. Monks, seminarians, employees, friends and neighbors gather in St. Raphael Hall (the Welcome Center) to donate and wrap gifts, make blankets and stuffed animals, decorate ornaments, and write Christmas cards which will be sent to people in need this Christmas. The goal is to give back and combat the consumerism and materialism that is very strong in during the holiday season. It is a way to share the many blessings the Conception community has with others who are in need.

Below: Br. Cyprian and Troy Bodman (Seminarian for the Archdiocese of OKC) are dressed for the occasion.

Above: Fr. Daniel and Br. David write Christmas cards.

Below: Daniel Chinn, employee of the Abbey, spreads some holiday cheer at the Card Station.

Above: Making blankets!

Below: Matthew Dolechek (Seminarian for the Diocese of Wichita) and Br. Maximilian visit with guests and show off their headwear. 

Above: Employees, Jenny Huard (Director of Development) and Kaity Holtman (Director of Communications) are among those who were responsible for organizing the event.

Below: Johnnatan Ibarra (Seminarian for the Diocese of Amarillo) helps out at the gift wrapping station.

Below: Jonah Beckham (Seminarian for the Archdiocese of OKC) normally dresses like this most days.

I captured some aerial photos on Monday after we the snow storm came through on Sunday. Enjoy these pictures from above!

Snow after Thanksgiving


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We had several inches of snow predicted for Sunday morning, but you never know what to expect. Saturday the temperature was in the 50’s and Saturday evening we had a beautiful sunset (pictured below). 

The snow began falling sometime after breakfast and by the afternoon we had between 6-8 inches of snow. There could have been more, but it was difficult to tell because of the strong winds and snow drifts. Some of the seminarians returned from Thanksgiving break on Saturday in order to avoid being on the roads during the bad weather.

Take note especially with how the snow clung to the windows in the monastery courtyard (pictured above) and in St. Maur Hall (pictured below).

Early in the afternoon, Novice Gregory made his way with me to the gym to exercise. The walk through the fresh snow, and the return walk into the wind was particularly challenging.

Thanksgiving Week


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These past few days we have been having our “Monastery Visitation.” Each monastery has a visitation where three monks appointed by the Abbot President of the Congregation visit the house and speak individually with every member of the monastic community individually. It is a time for “self-evaluation” as a community, to recognize one’s strengths and weaknesses, and to help us prepare for the future and grow. Our visitation started Thursday evening and will conclude this afternoon.

On Thursday and Friday of last week we had some beautiful weather and I was able to get outside for a couple of bike rides. You can see the leaves have fallen off of the trees and the angle of the sun is now casting some really long shadows.

The “Monks on Mission” (i.e. those serving out in parishes) will be home by tomorrow in preparation for our own community meetings and celebration of Thanksgiving. It is an enjoyable time to be together with everyone in community.

Sunday morning we woke up to snow. There was about 1.5 to 2 inches of snow that fell, just enough to cover the ground. Much of it melted as the sun came out, but some still remains.

For the past few years I have been working on a stained glass window project and now I am happy to announce that it is complete! It started with making a stained glass window for the monastery Mass chapel. I completed that sometime in May 2016. The Mass chapel window is a single window, but a double panel, identical to the one seen below. However, in the chapter room, there are two windows and a total of four panels. Pictured below is one of the windows from the chapter room. An identical window is on the south side of the room as well.

You can read more about my stained glass experience and some of the progress along the way in a previous blog post. Now I just have to figure out what will be the next project!

Monastic Recreation


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This past weekend we had two monastic vocation candidates visiting. On Friday evening we had a game night and social. After visiting for a little while, we ended up playing Bang! The Dice Game. It is a hidden identity, bluffing, dice game where you try to eliminate other players based on your hidden character card. It involves a Sheriff, Vice-Deputies, Outlaws, and Renegades. We had a fun time playing.

The novices really like playing walleyball. What is walleyball? It is basically volleyball played inside the racquetball court, where you can also hit the ball of the walls. It is a lot of fun and easy to learn. Saturday morning Br. Luke and Br. Matthew and the two novices were steeped in some intense competition.

More Fall Colors


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These past few days have proven to be one of the most beautiful fall seasons that I can remember. The leaves are especially vibrant, and this weekend we have enjoyed temperatures in the mid-60’s. We had our share or cloudy and rainy days, but the trees are in all their glory and beauty.

Nothing says fall like a long bike ride, which I enjoyed yesterday. I biked to Bolckow, a town about 15 miles from the Abbey. The two trees in their park were among the most beautiful ones I have seen and bright orange leaves were scattered all over the ground.

Below: Enjoy more sights around the Abbey, especially the gorgeous aerial photos!