Author Archives: Meier Sandy

Book: Finding Bethlehem: a Global Journey through the Mepkin Abbey Crèche Festival

Finding Bethlehem

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Potato, Leek, Gruyere, Oyster Mushroom Gratin

Serves 10


  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
  • 1 pound oyster mushrooms, halved if large
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 4 large)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 ¾ cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 ¾ cups whipping cream
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 ¾ pounds russet potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced into rounds (about 8 cups)
  • 2 ½ cups grated Gruyère cheese (about 10 ounces) Guoda works well too.
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Creche Festival Opens at SC Trappist Monastery

The Christmas season is getting under way at Mepkin Abbey near Moncks Corner.

The Trappist monks at the abbey open their 9th annual Creche Festival on Monday.


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Crèche Festival Opens at Monastery Near SC Coast

The Christmas season is getting under way at Mepkin Abbey near Moncks Corner.

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Mepkin Abbey’s 62nd Anniversary Celebration

The monks and friends celebrated the anniversary of the founding of Mepkin Abbey 62 years ago. The Sunday Eucharist on this anniversary day, called “Joy Never Ending” began in the monastic cemetery with a blessing of the graves and prayers for Mepkin’s departed brothers.

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Monastic Guest – Whelden Nettles

Whelden Nettles

I woke up, slightly confused at first. I immediately got out of bed and shut the alarm off, which was across the room. The clock read 2:55 am. I got into the unfamiliar shower. I couldn’t say how long I let the water beat against my head. I put on the many layers of clothes which I had set down on a chair the night before. I combed my hair, took a look at myself in the mirror, and left into the terrible February cold, flashlight in hand. It was raining. I sloshed through the puddles, a parking lot, a foot bridge, and finally the winding sidewalks.

When I took my seat in the church, most of guys were already there. They looked relaxed, as if about to warm up for a soft ball game. At 3:20 am, one of them stood up, walked about two feet, and activated the bells from an electronics box. They rang from a tower right outside, and the noise pierced the 50 foot ceiling of the church. Everyone stood, and I followed suit. As the bells died down, a knock emanated from somewhere. The men traced a cross on their chest with their finger, and bowed deeply towards the front of the church. Some one sang “Lord, come to my attention.” The men responded back “Lord, make haste to help me.” They recited the Lord’s prayer, which was different from the protestant version with which I grew up.

The cantor, with his guitar, began to play, and the men began to sing. I looked at my music stand, and it was littered with pages, books, and booklets. A brother walked over to my stand, saw an opened book, and sternly pointed to the song they were singing.

I had come to Mepkin to make sense of my life and to make sense of myself. But it was too early in the morning for anything to make sense. I got a scant five hours of sleep the night before, as I wasn’t used to an 8 pm bedtime. The Benadryl I had taken to aid my slumber was still doing a number on me. I felt like I was in a dream, as if nothing as fantastic as these ancient practices could actually exist.

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