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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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Abbey Explores Grief as means to Heal

DSCN1201 Bench at River w layers-1@0

Sister Ann, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy in Charleston, came to Mepkin Abbey Thursday to lead a seminar on grief and loss, the first in a series of three lectures on “Discerning the Call of the Second Half of Life.”

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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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