Our Blog

Brother Anthony Maria Odom’s Profession of Simple Vows

00292On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception at Vespers in our monastic church, Brother Anthony Maria Odom gave himself more fully to God by his profession of first vows according to the Cistercian tradition. With the monastic community, retreatants, guests and friends praying with and for him, Rodney Odom, now Brother Anthony Maria, spoke the words of the three vows: stability, obedience and conversatio morum that express his commitment to live as did Mary – open to receive God’s Word and lovingly doing God’s will.

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Study Days With the Novices of Belmont Abbey

Study Days With the Novices of Belmont Abbey

group2Mepkin’s two novices and one postulant journeyed with our novice director to Belmont, North Carolina to participate in a program of study coordinated by Sr. Jeanne Margaret McNally, RSM, PhD, JCL. Hosted at the motherhouse of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas South Central Province in Belmont, Father Jonas, Brother Anthony Maria and Brother Ken joined with the four Benedictine novices and one observer from Belmont Abbey for a program designed under the umbrella of an appreciation for the encyclical ‘Lumen Fidei’ of Pope Francis. The presentations were: Living the Law, offered by Rev. Philip Scarcella, Ph.D, JCD; Faith and the New Encyclical, offered by Dr. Ronald Thomas, Jr. of the Theology Department of Belmont Abbey College; The Monastic Tradition and Social Justice, offered by Sister Rose Marie Tresp, RSM; and The Contemplative Life, offered by Father Kevin, M.Div of Mepkin. There was an informal gathering with Sister Jane Hotstream, RSM, President of the South Central Province of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, allowing for some conversation around recent developments in the dialogue between LCWR and the Vatican body asked to clarify some positions or holdings of the women religious who belong to the LCWR. A final session entitled Challenges and Encouragement in Religious Life was offered to those in formation from Mepkin Abbey by Bishop William Curlin, Bishop Emeritus of Charlotte. Mepkin and Belmont Abbey, through the efforts of Sister Jeanne Margaret, have a history of these study days. It has proven especially helpful to our men in formation to help them understand the active apostolates of religious in the world around us. And our visit to a Benedictine monastic community who live in the midst of their college campus providing higher education is both enlightening and a cause to more deeply appreciate our way of separation and hiddenness. These days afford the opportunity to pray with and observe Benedictine monks who are in service to the church as educators while engaging us in reflecting on the disciplines and values which are essential to the Cistercian tradition.

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David Kearney – Observer

DSCF0005David Kearney who is discerning a call to enter Mepkin has been staying with us for three months as an observer. From Ohio, Dave had come on retreat to Mepkin in the past and initiated a conversation to explore the possibility that God might be inviting him to become a Trappist.

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Mepkin Abbey Sponsors Training for Wisdom Circle Facilitators

The Heart of Aging with Wisdom and Vitality

Sage-ing Circle™ Facilitators (SCF) Curriculum

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2014 Mepkin Abbey Lecture Series “Discerning the Call of the Second Half of Life”

  • Thursday, January 16, 2014 2:00 – 4:00 PM
    “The Sparrow and the Falcon: Reflections About Time, Eternity, and Identity”
    Fred Brancato, Ph D
  • Thursday, February 13, 2014 2:00 – 4:00 PM
    “Bursting the Myth: Aging and the Older Brain”
    Rosemary Cox, LCSW
  • Wednesday, April 2, 2014 2:00 – 4:00 PM
    “Dreams for the Second Half of Life”
    Harry R. Moody, Ph D
  • Wednesday, April 2, 2014 6:30 – 7:30 PM
    “Meister Eckhardt in His Times and Ours”
    Harry R. Moody, Ph D
  • Thursday, September 4, 2014 2:00 – 4:00 PM
    “Creative Living Options for Future Elders”
    Lyndall Hare, Ph D
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Seniors shown that aging is a gift

MEPKIN ABBEY—The monks of Mepkin Abbey want people entering the second stage of life to open their eyes and see aging as a period of growth instead of decline.

To that end, Trappist Father Guerric Heckel was instrumental in creating a series of lectures and retreats that focus on the self development and spiritual growth of senior citizens.

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Francis Retreat Center and Fr. Francis Kline Memorial Chapel Dedication

Mepkin Abbey dedicated the St. Francis Retreat Center and Fr. Francis Kline Memorial Chapel on Sunday, August 25, 2013 with a Concert in the Abbey Church, and a Dedication Liturgy on the grounds by the Retreat Center and Chapel. About 350 people attended the event, including Fr. Francis’s family.

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Chris Davies, Observer

Chris Davies–observer

After having made several brief visits to allow himself to better know our life, Chris Davies resided with us for the month of August as an observer. Chris is a native of South Carolina and lives in Mount Pleasant. He works in the computer programming field and has been more and more drawn to the contemplative way. Transitioning for this time at Mepkin was a real shift in gears for Chris as only days before he began his month of observership he had just returned from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. The abbot, Father Stan, asked Chris to speak with the monastic community in chapter sharing some of the experience of being with Pope Francis and the many who had journeyed to Brazil for this event. For Chris, his involvement with the Young Adult Ministry of the Diocese of Charleston has proved enriching to the development of his spirituality and helped to deepen the yearning for a fuller relationship with Christ. During his time in discernment at the Drexel House under the auspices of the Vocation Office of the Diocese of Charleston, Chris’ appreciation grew for the liturgy of the hours and praying in community. Kindly remember Chris in your prayers as he continues to discern. And please pray for the other thirteen men who are in contact with us to explore a possible vocation to the contemplative monastic life.

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Happy 99th Birthday, Fr. Christian

The community gathered in the refectory on September 14 to celebrate Fr. Christian’s birthday.

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September 6, 2013 Letter to Elected Officials

Abbot Stan and the Brothers today sent a letter to elected officials pleading with them not to utilize military strikes in Syria. Below is a copy of that letter. In addition, to be in solidarity with Pope Francis’ call for a prayer vigil, on Saturday, Sept. 7, the Mepkin community will offer special prayers, including community prayer in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, for a peaceful resolution to the conflicts in Syria and the Middle East.

The letter below was sent September 6, 2013:

President Barack Obama
Senator Lindsey Graham, R, SC
Senator Tim Scott, R, SC
Representative James Clyburn, D, SC
Representative Mark Sanford, R, SC

Dear President Obama and Distinguished Leaders of South Carolina:

Please, Please, Please, no military strikes in Syria.  Let us use our leadership responsibilities in the world to act in solidarity with the international community to bring about dialogue and human negotiations to resolve this conflict.  In the words of Pope Francis of Rome: “I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.”

We, the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey, are praying and fasting in solidarity with Pope Francis of Rome, with Ahmad Badreddin Hassou, the Great Mufti of Syria, other Muslim groups, tribal communities, the Druzes, the Ismaelites, other components of Syrian society and with all religious leaders of good will in our world.  We do this with the intention to avoid further bloodshed and sorrow to the people of Syria: Muslim, Christian, and other faiths.

The international community CAN bring about dialogue and negotiation to resolve this conflict.  We MUST do this in the name of all the Syrian people and indeed in the name of humanity itself.

Thank you,

Abbot Stan and the Trappist Monks of Mepkin Abbey

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Ken Grooms — Observer

Ken GroomsMepkin Abbey welcomed Ken Grooms for a three month observership in May. Ken is actually returning to South Carolina. He was born in Charleston and raised in Goose Creek. After completing a degree in philosophy at the College of Charleston (with a minor in music, playing trumpet for the Charleston Symphony), Ken did graduate studies in philosophy at the University of South Carolina. His desire to pursue further studies took him to Fordham University in New York City where he began to do volunteer work with the Missionaries of Charity in the Bronx. His work with Mother Teresa’s sisters became full time when they asked him to run their men’s shelter in the Bronx. And he was also working one day a week at their shelter for HIV patients in Manhattan. While giving himself in service in these efforts Ken was befriended by other volunteers which led him to Long Island where he was employed as a cook for the retired priests of the Diocese of Rockville Centre at their residence for senior priests. The desire for contemplative life was growing all through these years. And having visited Mepkin along his journey, he made contact to explore whether God might be calling him to our life. Ken has initiated the process of application and hopes to enter Mepkin in the near future.

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Piccolo at Mepkin

Some 280 folks visited Mepkin on Memorial Day to hear the Ensemble of St Clare at Mepkin Abbey perform a musical treat of Telemann, Bryars, Handel, Albinoni, Villa Lobos and Mozart. It was a sold out performance and then some — but all went away energized by the splendor of the music and the artistic brilliance of the musicians.

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Columbarium at Mepkin Expanding

Jim Rozier says it is the best deal around.  Rozier, the former Berkeley County Supervisor, is talking about the columbarium at Mepkin Abbey, which sits peacefully along a gravel walkway with an oak-tree lined grassy knoll on one side and sweet grass plants on the other.

Since the monks are often busy and have little contact with the outside world, Rozier oversees columbarium activity. He has been involved with the Mepkin community since he was a child. “The goal is for the columbarium to blend in and become part of Mepkin,” Rozier said.

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Contemplative Aging Retreats

Mepkin Abbey, a Cistercian monastery, provides a serene place of natural beauty and quiet – the perfect setting – to help participants find the contemplative practice best suited for them. During the Contemplative Aging Retreat various contemplative practices are explored as a way to welcome the inner life of self development and spiritual growth as we move into elder-hood. Through contemplative dialogue and sharing common experiences and fears of aging, participants have an opportunity to view aging as a gift. In companionship with fellow elders, the retreat is an opportunity to harvest the wisdom aging brings and to find spiritual ways to navigate its stages.

The retreat begins Friday evening and lasts until the noon meal on Monday. It is conducted by one of the monks with a qualified team. Twenty participants can be accommodated. A limited number of rooms are available at the Abbey for those who may wish to join the monks for their times of prayer. Others will be housed off-campus but meals are provided on campus.

At the end of the retreat the group will decide how it wishes to continue the experience of the retreat. CAC Contemplative Aging Cenobium (where the fruits of the practice are shared) is a community of anointed elders, those who have made the initial retreat, who continue to stay in conversation on the Abbey’s CAC webpage, come together, as often as possible, for ongoing support and lectures on the unique opportunities aging offers.

Mepkin Abbey offers three Contemplative Aging Retreats a year for Novice Elders. The intent of these retreats is to introduce or foster contemplative practices which welcome the inner life of self-development and spiritual growth rather than clinging to past achievements. They offer the companionship of others to help discover the secret of making old age an achievement to savor and a success to enjoy.

Responses from the Inaugural Contemplative Aging Retreat

“What a gift to have shared this time with good people of great life wisdom”
“What joy to spend time with people among whom the longing is so strong.”
“Committed and empowered to be a witness to a contemplative understanding of aging in whatever way is needed.”
“Graced. Challenged. Focused.”
“A sacred moment, cleansed, empowered, determined. May I be faithful.”
“Called, consecrated, pilgriming toward you, O God, awake, grateful, companioning aging others on theWay.”
“Blessed, embraced, empowered, sent forth to find and share God in all things and all things in God”

Next Contemplative Aging Retreats:

June 7 – 10, 2013 and October 4 – 7, 2013
Retreats begin Friday and end at Noon on Monday.

For more information contact Fr. Guerric Heckel, ocso at guerricheckel@gmail.com
Download Information & Registration Form


Advanced Contemplative Aging Retreats for Anointed Elders will be announced at a later date.

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Merry Christmas from the Monks of Mepkin Abbey

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