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.
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This morning we received our fourth postulant for the summer- praise God! Nicholas hails from Jacksonville, Florida and has come such a long distance to seek God at Conception Abbey. The community is excited to welcome him as he begins his journey in monastic life. Please keep Nicholas, and our other men in formation, in your prayers.
The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri (just two miles down the road) asked me to do some aerial photography and videography with the aerial drone. I had been wanting to take pictures of their beautiful grounds. They have a nice community and many extraordinary buildings. Enjoy these pictures from the air.
Every year the different classes in the seminary college will organize a class outing. Usually these occur in the spring semester, particularly when the weather is nicer. The freshmen class traveled to Lake Viking to the home of friends of mine. They were generous enough to allow the 25 of us to spend most of the day at their beautiful place.
The weather was absolutely perfect, 75 degrees and sunny. Though the water was too cold to swim in (though that didn’t stop some from jumping in), the men enjoyed the peaceful environment outdoors and took turns using the two kayaks. There were plenty of activities inside, but the majority of the seminarians could not pass up being outside, sitting on the dock, playing catch with a baseball in the yard, or having a bonfire in the evening.
Three of the seminarians cooked a delicious supper- chicken fajitas and quesadillas, as well as hamburgers on the grill.
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These days of the Sacred Triduum at Conception are very beautiful and a powerful experience. It is good to have many guests with us for the liturgical celebrations.
Yesterday we celebrated Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Abbot Gregory presided at the Eucharist and participated in the Washing of Feet.
Below: Seminarian Dave Sotelo (Wichita) captured the beautiful and clear night sky full of stars above St. Maur Hall.
I am spending the Triduum ministering to the people of St. Patrick’s Parish in Ford City. It is about a 30 minute drive from Conception Abbey and it was my first time there. It is a beautiful and small rural church near King City, beyond Stanberry, Missouri.
Above: There is a pasture next to the church with a good amount of cows that were watching me.
Below: I saw these three beautiful trees and it made me think of Good Friday- with Jesus on the cross (the “tree”) with the two criminals at his side. The sun is pouring through the middle tree, which represents Jesus.
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Saturday, Oct. 18– The long awaited Seminary Soccer-Volleyball Tournament is just around the corner. The seminarians are getting excited about it all. The six team round robin volleyball tournament begins at 7:00PM and will have teams from St. Joseph’s College Seminary (Chicago, IL), St. Meinrad (St. Meinrad, IN), St. Gregory the Great Seminary (Seward, NE), Josephinum (Columbus, OH), and two Conception Seminary teams (Conception, MO).
We have been practice for over a month and a half. Yesterday evening was the last practice before the tournament. I gave the seminarians their new team jerseys and had them pose for team photos. Seminarians find ways to make things fun.
In addition to the fun photos from last night’s practice, we also took some “promotional” photos that we put on posters and placed around campus in order to get people excited for the game. Today, the seminarians were able to wear their jerseys over their class day attire polos.
This past weekend was Conception Seminary’s Family Weekend. Most parents arrived sometime on Saturday to check in on their sons. Hopefully everyone was found in good form. Saturday was a beautiful sunny day to walk around campus. One could see many younger siblings running around and enjoying themselves, hanging out with their older brothers.
Families joined the monastic community for Evening Prayer on Saturday, followed by a social in St. Maur Hall. Many dropped in the television lounge to catch part of Game 2 of the ALCS between the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals, a game that the Royals ended up winning. After the social, everyone headed to the dining room for a festive meal. Later in the evening, the Seminary Mariachi band entertain the guests.
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Conception Abbey hosted the Tri-C Celebration (the communities of Conception, Conception Junction, and Clyde). It started with the annual Lollipop Parade at 12:30pm, traveling from the St. John Paul II Recreation Center to the Basilica Parking Lot.
The “100 year after” Community picture was taken in front of the Abbey Basilica at 1:00pm. The 1914 picture featured 403 people sitting and standing on the north side of the Abbey Basilica. The new picture was to commemorate this original picture and celebrate those who helped make the Tri-C area what it is today. I had the privilege of being the photographer for the group picture! I was hoisted up in a bucket truck in order to get a few different perspectives.
Eventually someone will count and see how many people were in the new photo. Any guesses?
Below: The event kicked off with the parade. Abbot Gregory and Sister Rita were the Grand Marshals (they were clearly enjoying it too much).
Below: A little fun I had with the group photo (click for details).
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It is a great joy and blessing to be a monk and a priest. I enjoy the benefits of common prayer, community life, and I am able to take pastoral assignments, particularly on the weekend. Several weeks ago, I saw on the calendar that I would be assigned for three weekend Masses at St. Gregory Barbarigo parish in Maryville, Missouri. Saturday Mass at 5:00pm and Masses at 8:00 and 10:30am. Maryville in late-September. Immediately I thought of doing something I have wanted to do for a long time: Bike to my parish assignment.
I told Prior Daniel that I would not be needing a car for my weekend assignment. He gave me a quizzical look. “I’m biking,” I announced with great excitement. One less car.
The forecast looked promising, showing sunny and 75 on Sunday, but 70 and scattered storms on Saturday. However, when Saturday came around, it cleared up perfectly by the afternoon. I knew that I would have to take a backpack for a change of clothes. Cycling shorts, bike cleats, and a colorful jersey are simply not suitable ministry attire. Plus, I planned to stay overnight in the rectory. I packed my backpack with black slacks, a clergy shirt, black shoes, toiletries, Clif bars, and my homily.
Seminarian Chris Davis, also an avid cyclist, agreed to ride with me into town. We had made the trip several times before. Chris said he had to pick up a few items at Wal-Mart anyhow. We fought a terrible head-wind on the 18 mile trip to the church, rolling along the country roads and chatting as we pedaled. It took right around one hour to get there, the wind was pretty brutal. It was also a new experience carrying more weight on my back. I arrived 25 minutes before I had to hear confessions, just enough time to get cleaned up.
The weekend was fantastic, the people were kind and hospitable- God is good. I was able to eat supper on Saturday and brunch on Sunday with parishioners. I had spent the summer of 2012 serving in the parish when I was a deacon, so I got to know many of the parishioners. I have returned several times since then, and it is always filled with great blessings.
On Sunday after the last Mass, the parish had their annual carnival, “Family Fun Fest.” Many of the Northwest Missouri State football players were present to help with the games, which went over very well with the kids. There was everything from a giant inflatable obstacle course to horse rides to food and beverages. I visited with parishioners for a while, but knew I would have to get back on the road. The wind was blowing strong again like yesterday, but this time it was a great tailwind! I cruised down Highway 71 going about 25 mph.
Fr. Samuel, the President-Rector of Conception Seminary College and my monastic confrere, is also a fan of cycling. He is a bit more of a “casual cyclist”, and he definitely enjoys getting outside on a beautiful day. I told him I would meet him out on the road at 2:00 on Sunday afternoon.
We headed to the nearby town of Barnard. It is a 23 mile round trip from the Abbey, but since I came in from Maryville, my odometer ended up showing just over 40 miles for the afternoon. It was a great weekend of ministry and exercise. Indeed, God is good.
Above: The last hill, with the Abbey towers welcoming us home.