Our Blog

New greeter at the St. Francis Retreat Center October 1, 2017

New greeter at the St. Francis Retreat Center October 1, 2017

My name is Joye Crist, and I am the new face you will see at the reception desk at the Saint Francis Retreat Center. I feel extremely privileged to enjoy working here at Mepkin Abbey. Father Guerric, Carole Nicolini and Larry Whittington have greeted and welcomed guests for years here, and this past March, they greeted and welcomed me into the community so that Larry could retire and move closer to his family.

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Father Columba receives the novice habit

Father Columba receives the novice habit

Click here for homily given by Fr. Stan.

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Brother Juan First Vows — Assumption Vespers, August 14, 2017 Given by Fr. Stan

Romans 8: 9 – 30

When we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ it is the very Spirit of God bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

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Mepkin brothers celebrate Br. Joseph’s 90th birthday

Mepkin brothers celebrate Br. Joseph’s 90th birthday

The monks of Mepkin celebrate with Brother Mary Joseph on his 90th birthday, Wednesday, July 12. Please join us in thanking God for his faith, his dedication to living his monastic vocation (74 years so far!), his kindness, generosity, hard work, beautiful voice, example of prayer and ready words of encouragement!

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Sister Sara Fairbanks, O.P. speaks on celibacy and chastity

Sister Sara Fairbanks, O.P. speaks on celibacy and chastity

July 7, 8 & 9, 2017

The monks of Mepkin welcomed Sister Sara Fairbanks, an Adrian Dominican Sister, for a series of presentations having to do with living healthy celibate chastity. At present, Sister Sara is the vocation director for her congregation whose administration is located in Adrian, Michigan. For the previous 20 years Sister Sara served as a professor of theology at Barry University in Miami, Florida. We were fortunate to have had Sister Sara come to teach classes in theology for our men in formation in the past and that experience drew us to consider to have her speak on this important topic.

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Lent 2017

Lent 2017

For monks, we celebrate the Lenten Spring as a time to welcome the new life of Jesus’ resurrection and all the ways God is inviting us to new life in Him. So with everyone else we receive ashes as an outward sign of taking up inward movement toward reconciliation. God calls us to a self knowledge which doesn’t turn away from our need for conversion, for honest assessment of where we are in embracing our commitment of faith and the welcome of the grace being offered to help us change – a behavior, an attitude, a way of thinking.

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Mepkin Community Retreat March 5 to 10, 2017

Mepkin Community Retreat March 5 to 10, 2017

Our Lent began in a grace filled way this year when Sister Mary Ellen of Saint Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham, MA arrived to give our annual retreat. Sister Mary Ellen provided us with a series of reflection on the treasure of monastic life, skillfully weaving together pertinent scripture passages, references to the Rule of Saint Benedict and Cistercian documents and authors, quotes from theologians and other authors as well as personal experiences and adventures.

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Dr. Fritz Bauerschmidt offers classes at Mepkin

Dr. Fritz Bauerschmidt offers classes at Mepkin

During the second week of January Dr. Fritz Bauerschmidt of the theology faculty of Loyola University in Baltimore came to Mepkin to offer classes in Christology to the men in formation.  Having begun a relationship with the Mepkin community back in the 1990s when studying for his doctorate at Duke, Fritz has visited the monastery quite a number of times, and was with us last year for an abbreviated time as a monastic guest.

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Father Gerard Jonas Palmares professes Solemn Vows

Father Gerard Jonas Palmares professes Solemn Vows Read More »

Retreat Center

Retreat Center News

Retreat Center News

Saint Francis Retreat Center books 12 retreatants each week from Friday to Monday or Monday to Friday. Reservations are made online from our website.

We offer an atmosphere of silence and solitude for those with us to come home to themselves and share in our prayer life, menu, and the awesome landscape of the monastery. We offer a variety of retreats listed on our calendar of events.

An individual retreat offers one the opportunity to set one’s retreat format while emphasizing silence, personal prayer and reflection. Retreatants are also invited to join the monks in their public prayer as often as desired. Spiritual Mentoring for a 30- minute meeting with a monk and the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation are available.

Group retreats are also offered around such themes as Initial Retreats for Elders, Care for Caregivers Retreats, Urban Contemplatives Retreats, Contemplative Retreats and other themed retreats.

Rooms in the St. Francis Retreat Center include a bed, desk, reading chair, and private bath. Bed linens, towels, and soap are provided. Married couples can be accommodated in adjoining rooms.

Retreatants take their meals together in a dining facility adjacent to the monastic community’s refectory, with the same vegetarian diet and observing the same silence as the monks. During the main meal at noon a book is read aloud by one of the monks for the benefit of all.

Retreatants may attend any and all prayer services in the Abbey Church and have a designated section in the monastic choir to accommodate them, if they so desire. One of the monks assists the retreatants with the order of prayer so as to facilitate their full participation.

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OCSO Novice Directors gather at Saint Joseph Abbey

IMG_0468On May 16th, Fr. Kevin Walsh joined 14 of the novice directors from other Cistercian monasteries in the United States for a meeting at Saint Joseph Abbey in Spencer, MA. Gathered were five directors from women’s houses (including one from the common observance house of women in Idaho) and ten directors from men’s houses. Sessions were focused on the topic of spiritual accompaniment using Dom Bernardo Olivera’s book A Light for my Path to organize the presentations and discussions.

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Father Jim Caffrey — our new postulant

Fr Jim

On January 12th, 2016, the memorial of Saint Aelred, Father Jim Caffrey began his time as a postulant at Mepkin Abbey arriving from Dublin, Ireland. A priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin, Father Jim had visited Mepkin a number of times, lived with us for an extended period as an observer and came to hold firmly that God is calling him to join the community at Mepkin. It was all the unfolding of his response to God’s call to live the life of a contemplative monk. His years of service as a diocesan priest included parish work and many years as director of the Office for Young Adults. In each parish he offered the faithful the opportunity to learn about contemplative prayer, in particular lectio divina. Kindly keep Father Jim in your prayers and pray for those men involved in a process of discernment with us believing God may be calling them to enter Mepkin.

 

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Jason Allen — with us as an ‘observer’

Jason Allen

We are pleased to have Jason Allen return Mepkin to in order to have a time with us as an observer. Jason has visited Mepkin previously and grown in his belief that God is calling him to take up the Cistercian life of work and prayer living according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. Travelling from Athens, Georgia where he works as a manager of a restaurant, Jason came to us having been discerning his monastic call for many years. Along the way he allowed himself to visit a number of monasteries, speaking with his spiritual director regularly, relying on the wisdom and insight of his spiritual director as he came to more fully understand God’s will for him. Please keep Jason in your prayers as he begins the formal process of application to enter Mepkin.

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Mepkin Abbey Announces the Five Favorites from the 2015 Creche Festival

Mepkin Abbey Announces the Five Favorites from the 2015 Creche Festival Read More »

Mepkin novices attend papal mass in Washington, DC

Earlier this year a letter was sent to all the religious superiors of the United States to invite them and each of the novices in the United States to attend the mass of the canonization of Junipero Serra to be celebrated by Pope Francis at the Basilica National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.  Abbot Stan had to decline but gave his permission for our novices to participate.  And so our Brother Juan and Brother Martin, accompanied by Brother John and Father Kevin travelled up to Washington by car the day before and received wonderful hospitality from Father Brian Shloth at the LaSalette community at their house of studies near the Catholic University of America.  The mass was to be celebrated at 4 PM.  Early the morning of the mass the Mepkin contingent joined the long lines waiting to pass through the security stations with metal detectors and went to their designated places for the mass.  The novices and Brother John were with the huge number of novices inside the basilica.  Father Kevin was outside in the area reserved for the priests who were concelebrating.  There was a wonderful spirit of unity in faith and a prevailing sense of cordiality as the hours passed waiting for the Holy Father to arrive.  As everyone knows, upon arrival the pope passed through the crowd outdoors in the ‘popemobile’ receiving a joyous welcome from all in attendance.  As had been planned, Pope Francis entered the basilica, visited the Blessed Sacrament chapel for a brief time of prayer, and then slowly walked up the center aisle of the basilica waving to the novices who were welcoming him with loud and hearty cheering. (For all of us gathered outside we knew the Holy Father was with the novices as the loud cheering erupted, spilling out to where we were listening to the wonderful music provided by combined choirs and an excellent orchestra).  When he reached the sanctuary, Pope Francis turned and offered prepared remarks to the novices and gave them his blessing.

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Are we helping them to hear the call?

At times it seems there is a collective sigh going up from God’s people and a little moaning attached to the question: “Why aren’t there more vocations in the church today?”  Everyone has a call.  God is certainly inviting some to marriage, some to single life, some to vowed life as a religious sister or brother in apostolic service, some to priesthood, and yes, some to the monastic way.

God has not stopped calling.  We acknowledge there are generous men and women seeking to know God’s will in their lives.  We sense there is something amiss – perhaps lacking.  And we wonder what to do.

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Brother Juan and Brother Martin receive the novice habit for the Solemnity of the Assumption

On the eve of the Solemnity if the Assumption during chapter and before Compline, Abbot Stan clothed Brother Juan and Brother Martin in the novice habit.  Having listened to a reading of a portion of the Prologue and chapter 72 of the Rule of Saint Benedict, the Abbot instructed our brothers in the way of life to which they are giving themselves, exhorting them to be men of prayer, study, regard for their brothers and resolved to constant mindfulness of God.

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Brother Robert receives the novice habit

On Saturday evening, October 31st, the Eve of All Saints, the Mepkin community gathered in the chapter room of the monastery with our abbot, Dom Stanislaus, to pray with Brother Robert, as he was clothed with the novice habit.  Having completed a year of prayer and study as a postulant, living the life fully with all the brothers in the community and having come to believe God is calling him to advance in this monastic way, Robert had asked to receive the novice habit and his request was met with a favorable reply.  A novice wears a white robe, as do all monks, and the white scapular and white cloth belt that identify him as a novice.  Over these garments he wears a white cloak.  The cloak is worn by novices and those in temporary or simple vows.  Robert joins Brother Juan and Brother Martin in the two further years of prayer and study that are the preparation for profession of simple vows.

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Junior Directors Meet at Mepkin

Abby with Bonitas, Dick, Barbara, Thomas, James

Abby with Bonitas, Dick, Barbara, Thomas, James

With great joy, the Mepkin Community welcomed the Junior Directors of the USA Region to Mepkin from July 20 – 26 for their 2015 meeting.   They shared our life for this week, coming to our celebration of the Hours and Mass and eating with us.  Our meals were especially enjoyed by all as we had speaking meals each day for our main meal at noon and for supper.  Breakfast remained in silence.

A further joy was that each evening before Compline two of the directors spoke to the Mepkin community about their own Houses.

Those present were:  Father Thomas of Vina, California; Father Dick of Guadalupe, Oregon; Mother Gail of Mississippi, Iowa; Father Carlos of Gethsemani, Kentucky; Brother Cassian of Conyers, Georgia; Sister Barbara of Crozet, Virginia; Father James of Spencer, Massachusetts; and Sister Bonitas of Wrentham, Massachusetts.

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Mepkin announces dates for Creche Festival

The 13th Mepkin Abbey Creche Festival will be held from November 16 – 22, 2015 and from November 26 – December 5, 2015.

Further information, times and registration will be available on Mepkin’s web site starting October 1,2015.

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Mepkin sends letter to Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston

Mother Emanuel – Letter PDF

June 20, 2015

Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church
Charleston, SC

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The hearts of the monks of Mepkin Abbey have embraced and surrounded you ever since we heard of the tragedy of the night of June 17. This deed, “beyond incomprehension”, has been the subject of our prayer and tears and groanings. We stand with you and by your side as you grieve your loved ones and comfort one another with the balm of faith and your commitment to the love of the Lord Jesus.

You are an inspiration to all of us as your individual and Church response to this massacre has been to offer forgiveness to the one who has inflicted you with such heartbreak. This is what we hear in the Scriptures and in the Church day in and day out. Forgiveness and mercy are the first message of Jesus on the day of his Resurrection, as they were from his Cross. May your Light continue to shine brightly in all the darkness this tragedy has brought upon us. All we can say is “Thank You”, “Thank You”, “Thank You”, for this incredible witness. May new life spring up for you, for our beloved City, Lowcountry and State from the seeds of Love you are planting with your words and actions. The Face of Christ has never shone out with more splendor. Through you, may Jesus inspire us to look deeply into our hearts, to confront the darkness, prejudice and hate we find there, and to work with all our energy to make our city and our state a place of reconciliation. A place where we see each other as brothers and sisters under the Fatherhood of God.

We pledge ourselves to work more closely with one of your daughter churches, Emmanuel A.M.E. of Cordesville, just a few miles down the road from our Abbey, to make this a reality in our local community here.

We pledge our support as well to you, Mother Emanuel, in whatever way we may help.

Your brothers in the Lord Jesus,

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Father Christian Aidan Carr, OCSO, second abbot of Mepkin Abbey, died

Fr. ChristianMoncks Corner — Fr. Christian Aidan Carr, 100, the second abbot of Mepkin Abbey, died June 5, 2015 at the monastery. Born on Sept. 14, 1914 in Galveston, TX, he was the son of the late Helen E. Talty Carr and Daniel J. Carr.

During his 16 years as abbot, Fr. Christian expanded the sense of hospitality at Mepkin; he established the monastic guest program; and he continued the ecumenical efforts initiated by his predecessor, Father Anthony. On Sept. 11, 1987, Abbot Christian welcomed Pope John Paul II when he arrived at the Columbia, SC airport.

On his 75th birthday, as required by the Trappist Constitutions, Fr. Christian submitted his resignation as Abbot. Three years later he went to Uganda to serve as chaplain for three years to the Trappistine sisters of Our Lady of Praise Abbey. After he returned to Mepkin in 1996, Fr. Christian served in several roles, including: providing spiritual direction to retreatants, leading daily tours to the church, serving as a consultant on matters pertaining to canon law, serving various councils and committees, assisting the guest master, and helping in the kitchen on a daily basis.

In 2007 he was awarded the highest papal honor, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, by Pope Benedict XVI in a liturgical ceremony at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Charleston, SC.

Fr. Christian was a civil lawyer and a church canon lawyer. Before entering Mepkin Abbey on Oct. 31, 1969, he was a Conventual Franciscan for 31 years, 24 as a priest, during which time he earned two doctorates; taught dogma and canon law at the Franciscan seminary near Albany, NY; and he served as associate editor and then editor of Homiletic and Pastoral Review during the important years of the Second Vatican Council.

He is survived by his nephew Daniel Stacey (Eve).

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the Mepkin Abbey Church on at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 13, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Mepkin Abbey for Father Christian’s African Missions.

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Mandatum

On Holy Thursday it is the tradition of the Mepkin Community to have the Mandatum — the washing of the feet (some prefer only to have their hands washed) — at our main meal, rather than at the Eucharist. The Abbot and the Council then serve the solemn and joyous meal to all our guests, employees, retreatants and the community. Let us continue to serve one another and so fulfill the mandatum, the commandment of the Lord Jesus to love one another as he has loved us.

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Brother Michelangelo Colussi Died on February 28, 2015

Brother Michelangelo Colussi died just three weeks after arriving at Mepkin to begin his observership. He had spent most of his adult life in monasteries throughout the world, but found the Trappists only three years ago.0

Born in Argentina on March 28, 1957, he came to Mepkin on February 7, 2015. He was found in a coma induced by extremely low blood sugar on February 21. Despite all the best efforts of the emergency room and hospital personnel, he never woke from this coma. He was received into the community as a postulant on February 23 and died on February 28. His body was received on Tuesday, March 3 and he was buried on Wednesday, March 4 in the Abbey cemetery.

He is survived by his 83 year old mother and his one sibling, Ernesto. Both live in Argentina. Ernesto and his wife Liliana have four children, 22, 20, 14 and 8.

Please read Abbot Stan’s homily for more details of this remarkable man.

Memorial Card

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Father Ladislaus Orsy, S.J. visited Mepkin March 6 – March 15, 2015

Returning to share his wisdom with us at Mepkin, Father Ladislaus Orsy, S.J. arrived on March 6th the afternoon that we ended our retreat. In arranging the visit, Fr. Orsy offered to be of service to the community during his time at Mepkin and the abbot asked Father Orsy to speak to the men in formation and to lead several chapters for the entire community.

Father Ladislaus Orsy, S.J.

Father Ladislaus Orsy, S.J.

In open discussions with the postulants and juniors, Father Orsy responded to questions, weaving in teaching on quite a number of theological subjects. Always drawing them to appreciate the moment in church history where we find ourselves, he made many references to the Second Vatican Council and the richness to be found in the documents of the Council.

The style of the chapters echoed that of the sessions with the men in formation. In conversation, questions were raised or Father Orsy Orsy was asked to comment on some particular area in the life of the Church. Mention was made of an emphasis on mercy in the teaching of Pope Francis and his two predecessors. Collaboration among the members in the Body of Christ is a very important as we go forward. The work of bishops as they call and guide God’s People to embrace their full dignity through baptism was mentioned. And the matter of understanding the ways in which the Holy Spirit is at work in the present time summoning us to live fully and deeply our faith in God.

The Mepkin community is grateful to Father Orsy for making time to be with us and offer us insight from own faith and life in the church.

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