Today the monks of Conception Abbey celebrate their patronal feast day. Normally celebrated on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was transferred to December 9, since in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar, yesterday was the Second Sunday of Advent. Yesterday marks 140 years of the founding of Conception Abbey, in 1873.
This feast celebrates the fact that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in order to be a most perfect vessel for the Savior, was herself conceived without original sin. The Church received a formal declaration of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of December 8, 1854. In that document Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.”
The monks observed a “Sunday schedule,” with Eucharist celebrated at 10:30 AM. Bishop John Gaydos of the Diocese of Jefferson City was the principal celebrant at Mass. It was a beautiful celebration with the monastic community, seminarians, and other guests who were able to brave the weather and snowy conditions to join us for this special day.
Since I am pictured in some of these photos, I cannot take credit for these excellent shots. Seminarian Dillon Cott, of the Diocese of Wichita, took the pictures of our Eucharistic celebration.
Abbot Gregory (pictured far right in procession) is celebrating today his 17 year as Abbot of Conception Abbey. On this day in 1996, he was blessed as Abbot. May God continue to bless him as our spiritual leader.
Sr. Nancy Kamau, LSSF (pictured above), who takes classes at Conception Seminary College played a role in the Offertory Procession, displaying great balance and poise. Dressed in beautiful traditional clothing from her native Kenya, she processed in carry a bowl of fruit on top of her head, which is a custom of her home country. We are blessed to have such a diversity of cultures at the Abbey, and everyone was grateful to Sr. Nancy for participating in this way. If it were any of the monks or seminarians attempting this balancing feat, we would still be finding apples and oranges underneath the choir stalls days later.