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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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Job 38:1, 8-11;  II Corinthians 5:14-17;  Mark 4:35-41

Be still, my soul: the Lord is at your side…. Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end…. Be still, my soul…. Be still, my soul…. Be still, my soul.

What amazing words we sang after our five minutes of reflection and prayer on the tragedy which has occurred in our midst in these last days.  What a powerful Gospel to hear on this first Sunday after such a senseless massacre of human life in our city.  Quiet, be calm, be still, Jesus cries out.  Can we hear him?  Can we repeat: Be still, my soul…. Be still, my soul when everything within us is in turmoil, in anguish, in deep sorrow and deep anger?  There is only one thing that gets us through these kinds of tragedies: our faith.  As we sang last night: when we pass through the storms of life, increase our little faith.  These are not our words to others, these are words to ourselves.  We are not preaching to others, we are speaking to our own souls: Be still, my soul: the Lord is at your side…. Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know the Christ who ruled them while he dwelt below.

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Isaiah 35:1-10;  II Corinthians 4:13 – 5:10  John 14:1-9c

“What a piece of work is a man!  How noble in reason!  How infinite in faculty!  In form and moving how express and admirable!  In action how like an angel!  In apprehension how like a god!  The beauty of the world!  The paragon of animals!  And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

Father Christian Aidan Carr, Conventual Franciscan for 31 years and Trappist monk for another 46, spent all his life grappling with this question.  And his great gift was to lead others to face it, uncomfortable as this always is.  What is this quintessence of dust?  We are never finished with all the real questions of life, nor was Christian.  Even on his death bed he declaimed this Shakespearian monologue by Hamlet in perfect diction.  What is this quintessence of dust?  We go from insight to insight, from partial grasp to partial grasp.  As with the divine reality, so human life is a mystery before which we constantly are called upon to fall down and take off our shoes.  In that context, what are some of the intimations of truth we can glean from the life and the wisdom of the man who lies before us?  What legacy does he leave with us?

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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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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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Fr. Nicholas Amato Gave Mepkin’s Annual Retreat March 1 – 6, 2015

Fr. Nicholas was this year’s retreat master at Mepkin. A priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Father Nicholas has served in a number of pastoral roles in his diocese as well as Superintendent of Education.  He is currently on staff at Saint Luke’s Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland and provides assistance with programs at the Shalem Institute in Washington. D.C.

Father Nicholas Amato

Father Nicholas Amato

Mepkin has enjoyed a long relationship with Father Nick which flowed from his participation in our Monastic Guest Program.  He returns frequently to renew himself by joining with us in our prayer and life.  As a principle partner in the development of our Priest Wellness Program, we are most appreciative for all he contributed to this effort on the part of the broader church.  More recently he has been working closely with Father Guerric (our guestmaster) and has been offering retreats for those seeking to follow the contemplative way.

Entitling the retreat “Reclaiming Our Joy”, Father Nicholas guided us through reflections grounded in the work of a respected author who helps those with addictions re-pattern their thinking and behavior.  His knowledge of the writings of Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O. on centering prayer figured significantly in the retreat.

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Mepkin Welcomes Robert Dunigan

IMG_8605Robert Dunigan entered Mepkin as a postulant in October on the Eve of All Hallows (October 31st).

From Goose Creek in South Carolina, Robert’s entrance allows us once again to say we have someone from South Carolina in our community. Born in 1982, Robert grew up in a number of places as his father’s career in the Air Force moved the family with each new assignment eventually bringing them to the Charleston area. With a talent for computers and technology, Robert pursued education in that field and worked for a local firm that does this work. Upon entering, since we already have brother in the community with the name Robert, the abbot and Robert and Robert Dunigan have decided that he will be known by his middle name and be called Brother Scott.

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Br. Robert Wojociechowski died Saturday, January 31, 2015

0Born June 19, 1929, Br. Robert entered the Trappist order on Dec. 17, 1950 and made his solemn profession on June 24, 1956.
The reception of the body will be Friday, February 6 at 12 noon; the funeral will be on Saturday, February 7 at 3 p.m.


Br. Robert Wojociechowski, 85, of Mepkin Abbey passed away Jan. 31, 2015. A monk for 64 years, Br. Robert entered Gethsemani Abbey on Dec. 17, 1050, was sent to Mepkin on Oct. 19, 1955 where he made his Solemn Profession on June 24, 1956.

He was born on June 19, 1929 in Detroit, MI, son of Edward Wojociechowski and Wanda Kaspzyk Wojociechowski. Surviving are a brother, Floyd Alberts, of Flat Rock MI; a sister, Margery Pupa, of St. Clair Shores, MI; a sister-in-law- Judy Wojociechowski, of Inman, SC; several nieces and nephews and his brothers in the community of Mepkin Abbey.

Br. Robert’s funeral mass and burial will be held at Mepkin Abbey on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at 3 p.m.

Read Homily

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Sister Nadia and Father Brian speak with the monks about Christians in Iraq January 28, 2015

The monks of Mepkin Abbey were very fortunate to have Sister Nadia of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena of Mosul (part of the Dominican Family) with us on retreat. Sister is a native of Iraq and has just completed studies as a nurse practitioner at Barry University in Miami. While with us on retreat – which was a break before going to Michigan to intern and practice what she studied before returning to her country – Sister Nadia accepted the abbot’s invitation to speak with the community about the current reality of life in Iraq and that part of the world for Christians. Shortly after Sr. Nadia arrived for retreat, Father Brian Pierce, O.P. came to Mepkin to continue work writing a new book. Having recently returned from Iraq and Syria to visit the refugee camps there with Father Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. (former Master General of the Dominican Order), Father Brian joined Sister Nadia to speak with the community in chapter and inform us of what he and Father Timothy found on their trip. Each speaker’s words were very enlightening and gave us insight into the courage of those living in most challenging circumstances as they profess their belief in Jesus. It heightened our awareness of the complexity of what we are learning about from various news sources. And it informed our prayer as we daily remember all those who are suffering and longing for peace and security to be restored.

Sister Nadia

Sister Nadia

Sister Nadia spoke in general of the history of her country and the peaceful coexistence of Christians and Muslims for many years. So many of the services provided by her sisters in education and health care benefit the entire population of the region – both Christians and Muslims. Drawing a map she explained what has happened in the regions of her country and for countries along the borders in recent years as religious fanaticism has changed the relationships of neighbors who used to be very comfortable with each other. For Sr. Nadia’s own family, in recent months word came that they had two hours to flee before ISIS troops would enter their neighborhood. In fear and anxiety they left with only the clothing on their backs and things they could carry. All the Christians travelled to the camps for the displaced. Sadly neighbors once considered friends were calling them on their cell phones to say: “We are now living in your house. Remember your jewelry, we have it now.” … and the like. You may find more information and photographs on the internet.

Father Brian Pierce, O. P.

Father Brian Pierce, O. P.

Father Brian described the warm welcome he and Father Timothy received as they visited various schools and efforts under the auspices of the Dominicans. Acknowledging at the same time that there is fear and the disquiet because of the threat of violence at any time.

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The Plight of Christians in Iraq ~ January 5, 2015

Brian Pierce OP, Province of St Martin de Porres, United States. Former Promoter of the Nuns.

Brian Pierce OP, Province of St Martin de Porres, United States. Former Promoter of the Nuns.

Timothy Radcliffe OP, Province of England, Former Master of the Order of Preacher

Timothy Radcliffe OP, Province of England, Former Master of the Order of Preacher

Note: The following piece was received from Fr. Brian and Fr. Timothy, seeking to raise awareness about the plight of Christians in Iraq.

At the invitation of Fr. Amir Jaje OP, the Vicar of the Arabic Vicariate of the Province of France, we made a visit to Iraq, from January 8th to 16th. We are very aware of how superficial our understanding of this complex and beautiful country and its suffering, but even so we would like to share what we have heard and seen, the hope that our brethren and sisters keep alive, and what we can do to support them. Please forgive any inaccuracies.

Our brothers and sisters belong to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating almost from the time of Christ. They are our elders and so we must be with them in this terrible time. Also the suffering of Iraq is symptomatic of the crisis of our whole world. ISIS, or Da’esh as it is more usually called in Iraq, is a child of our times. Its violence derives, at least in part from the violence of Western culture, with its love of guns. The jihadists love to watch our films with all their endless killing. We are complicit with what is happening here. Our invasions triggered the crisis that the Iraqi people now endure.

We started in Baghdad. A travel website advised us not to go at all, but if we did, to remain within the fortified Green Zone, where nearly all foreigners are sheltered. If one travels outside that fortress, the advised means of transport are either helicopter or armoured car. Neither the brethren nor the sisters had either of these! As we drove around Baghdad with our brother, Amir, at no time did we experience any tension or feel any threat. Everywhere we were welcomed with a generosity which is astonishing, given how our countries have played a part in the explosion that is ripping apart this country.

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Father Ladislaus Orsy, SJ Visits Mepkin to Help Celebrate Father Christian’s 100th Birthday

attachmentThe monks of Mepkin are grateful to Father Ladislaus Orsy, SJ for coming to help us celebrate Father Christian’s 100th birthday. As a gesture to recognize our second abbot’s years of service in seminary education previous to entering Mepkin, and his contributions in service to the Order by reason of his academic credentials in theology and law, Father Orsy was kind enough to honor Father Christian by offering two chapters. In each chapter Father Les reflected on the church 50 years after the Second Vatican Council. His particular emphasis was on material having to do with the dignity of the human person (Dignitatis Humanae), an area of great personal interest for him and a theme to which the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has drawn attention in a recent address.

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Mepkin Honors Father Christian on his 100th Birthday

Fr. Christian with his nephew, Dan Stacey and Dan’s wife Eve at Fr. Christian’s 100th birthday celebration.

Fr. Christian with his nephew, Dan Stacey and Dan’s wife Eve at Fr. Christian’s 100th birthday celebration.

Sunday, September 14th, 2014 on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the Mepkin community celebrated the 100th birthday of Father Christian Carr. Father Christian’s nephew, Dan Stacey and his wife, Eve, joined the community at the celebration of the Eucharist and for Midday Prayer and the noon meal. Father Christian served as the second abbot of Mepkin and in his abbatial service saw the community through important years of transition following the Second Vatican Council. He is remembered for encouraging a deep sense of hospitality as is recommended in the Rule of Saint Benedict. In the years since he retired as abbot, Father Christian has served for a time as chaplain to our Trappistine sisters in Uganda, been most generous for a long while in offering visitors an orientation and tours, as well as guiding those who have sought his wise counsel in spiritual direction. With the community, Father Christian’s family and our retreatants were a select group of friends whom Father invited to be with him for the ocasion.

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New Psalters at Mepkin

IMG_7751 copyAbbot Stan distributed new Psalters to the community on August 23rd, 2014 to replace the books the monks at Mepkin have been using seven time a day, seven days a week for the past 38 years. “Prayer comes from God himself….and the Psalter is prayer inspired by God,” said Abbot Stan.

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