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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.

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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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Mepkin Welcomes Three Postulants

Dave Kearney, John Fahrner and Jose’ Vacas

Dave Kearney, John Fahrner and Jose’ Vacas

On Saturday, August 22nd, three men began their formation in the Cistercian life with us as postulants during Vespers. Dave Kearney, John Fahrner and Jose’ Vacas have each lived with us for more than six months in a process of discernment as observers. Through their prayer and participation in our life, each came to understand God truly has called him to join us in living this way to God. And in response to each of their requests to enter the abbot has affirmed their call and been welcomed. Please join us in praying for Dave, John and Jose’ that as they give themselves to prayer, study, manual labor and belonging to a community, they will grow to understand and be ready to profess our vows of stability, obedience, and conversatio morum thereby responding to God’s love in a life lived “under a rule and an abbot”.

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Diocesan Vocation Video

Mepkin is grateful and pleased to have been included in a new vocation video – “Your servant is listening” – released by the Office of Vocations of the Diocese of Charleston. Justin Gaeta, assistant to the Diocesan Vocation Director, Father Jeffrey Kirby, came to Mepkin and filmed the portions of the video relating to our contemplative monastic life. Bishop Guglielmone of the Diocese of Charleston has been encouraging Father Kirby and the staff of the Vocation Office to make the faithful of the diocese more aware of all the vocations being lived in the diocese as well as mindful to pray for and support every vocation. You may view this video at the following link.

Diocesan Vocation Video

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The Solemn Profession of Father Joseph Tedesco ocso

On June 28, 2014, Father Joseph Tedesco pronounced his vows at the celebration of the Solemn Monastic Consecration that took place within the Eucharistic celebration. Abbot Stan was the celebrant and homilist with all the other priests of the community as concelebrants, as well as several priest friends from around the country.    Fr. Joe's Profession-15

After Abbot Stan’s homily (see text under Homilies), Fr. Joe pronounced his vows of Conversion of Life, Obedience and Stability.  Then the solemn professed members of the community extended their hands in prayer over him as the Abbot prayed the prayer of Consecration and Fr. Joe prostrated before him.  Fr. Joe was then clothed in the Monastic Cowl, the habit of theTrappist, and embraced each of his brothers and asked their support and prayers.  The whole mass was a moving experience for family and friends who traveled from up and down the East Coast to be present for the ceremony.      

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Father Feliciano Died on June 24

Father Feliciano Manalili died at Mepkin Abbey early in the morning on Tuesday, June 24 with several of his brother monks around him. The Mass of Christian Burial and interment were held on July 1.

Fr. Feli was born in San Pedro Camuning, in the province of Pampanga, Philippines, on April 13, 1933. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Manila on February 10, 1962 where he had a long ministry in education serving as a director of Our Lady of Peace School in the Diocese of Antipolo. He also was a professor of logic, English, epistemology, and Latin at the Royal and Conciliar San Carlos Seminary in Makati City from which he was an alumnus. He served appointments as the director of the theology department followed by serving as the academic dean of the seminary’s philosophy department.

Father Feliciano Homily

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The Solemn Profession of Father Joseph Tedesco ocso

The Solemn Profession of Father Joseph Tedesco ocso

On June 28, 2014, Father Joseph Tedesco pronounced his vows at the celebration of the Solemn Monastic Consecration that took place within the Eucharistic celebration.

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Four Men Are Visiting Mepkin As Observers

David Kearney, John Fahrner, Father Jim Caffrey and Jose’ Vacas are each with us for an extended visit serving an ‘observership’ while they continue to discern if God is calling them to enter Mepkin Abbey.

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Mr. Joseph P. Kline, Jr. Died on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

Mr. Joseph P. Kline, Jr. Died on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

A long-time friend and benefactor of Mepkin Abbey, Mr. Kline last visited the monastery in August for the dedication of the St. Francis Retreat Center and the Father Francis Kline Memorial Chapel.

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Father Gerard Jonas Palmares Professes First Vows

00293At Vespers on December 3rd, our brother, Father Gerard Jonas Palmares professed his vows of stability, obedience and conversatio morum before Abbot Stan in the presence of the community, his parents and a number of guests. Advent is about preparing ourselves to live for the encounter with God who comes to be with us. In his three years of prayer and study, Father Gerard Jonas has given himself more and more to the monastic way and with the affirmation of the community to advance, he has spoken his vows, received his black scapular and leather belt and taken his place among the professed monks of Our Lady of Mepkin Abbey. In his exhortation, Abbot Stan spoke very specifically to Father Gerard Jonas of his journey to this moment.

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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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