News from Our Lady of the Mississippi
Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 10:04

On the feast of the Assumption our postulant Mary Hastie received the habit of a Cistercian nun and became a novice. Mary has a great devotion to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and took the name Sr. Mary Thérèse. Sr. Mary Thérèse is a native of North Central Iowa and worked in health care before entering Mississippi Abbey.

In the photo are Sr. Kathleen, the novice director, Sr. Mary Thérèse, and Mother Rebecca.

News from Genesee
Monday, August 12, 2013 - 10:00

Fr. James Oropel, OCSO, Novice of our monastery of Our Lady of Atlas in Midelt, Morocco, spoke to us about the current state of the Atlas community, the surviving community of Our Lady of Atlas originally of Tibhirine in Algeria that was disbanded by a terrorist attack back in March of 1996. In May of that same year the bodies of seven of the nine members were found. The community is being refounded in Morocco with the hope of returning to Tibhirine someday where the monastery remains intact awaiting their return.

There is a brief history of the community on the Order’s web site at Our Lady of Atlas and their web site (in French) can be found at The Monks of Tibhirine. It is interesting to note that two of the original Atlas community survived the 1996 massacre one of whom, Fr. Jean Pierre Schumacher, nearly 90 years, old is still alive and well.

Many of your may be familiar with the Atlas story from the movie Of Gods and Men available in DVD and Bluetooth format.

Fr. James is an American citizen from the Philippines ordained as a priest for the San Bernardino diocese in southern California six years ago. Feeling a call to monastic life and to the community of Atlas in particular he entered there some six months ago and received the novice habit this past July 11th, Feast of St. Benedict.

Since at the present time the community is not able to form new members adequately it was decided that he and one other novice be sent to larger communities with a viable formation program. Fr. James came to Genesee for one year of monastic formation during which he will follow our novitiate program while his fellow novice went to Citeaux in France. At the end of the year they will return to Atlas for their canonical novitiate.

New Superiors at New Melleray and Holy Trinity
Monday, August 5, 2013 - 08:52

The monks of New Melleray are happy to announce the appointment of Dom Mark Scott as superior of our community. Dom Mark is 65. He entered New Clairvaux Abbey, in Vina, California, on October 15, 1978, and made his solemn profession on January 5, 1986. He was ordained a priest on October 31, 1987. Thirteen years later, in August of 2000, he was appointed superior of our foundation, Assumption Abbey, in Ava, Missouri. In December of 2001 the Ava community elected him as their abbot for six years. After completing his term of office he was chosen to be the editor of the Order's journal, Cistercian Studies Quarterly, which he managed from an office at Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky. Dom Mark was chosen by our Father Immediate, Dom Augustine McGregor, the abbot of Mount Melleray in Ireland, to be superior after consulting the community here. We rejoice in his appointment and his willingness to assume this responsibility for the next twelve to eighteen months.

Dom Brendan Freeman, tenth abbot of New Melleray, having reached the required age for retirement, 75, has been asked to be the temporary superior at our community in Huntsville, Utah, Holy Trinity Abbey. It is a small, aging commuunity in need of outside assistance to provide for their elderly members and to plan for the future. Fr. Brendan, having received the approval of our new superior, will take up his new responsibilities in September. He has also been asked to give the annual retreat at several of our communities.

From the News at New Melleray Abbey's website.


Abbatial Election at New Melleray
Monday, July 29, 2013 - 11:09

Following the retirement of Dom Brendan Freeman, who has served as abbot since 1984, the monks of New Melleray Abbey will elect a new abbot on August 3.


Junior Directors' Meeting
Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 09:45

The junior directors, those monks and nuns who oversee the continuing formation of those who have made simple profession, met at Gethsemani Abbey from June 10 thorug June 17. Eleven communities were represented.

They shared ideas about their work by reflecting together on a recent book by Michael Casey, OCSO.

July 11: Feast of St. Benedict
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - 16:13

The Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance has its origin in that monastic tradition of evangelical life that found expression in the Rule for Monasteries of Saint Benedict of Nursia. The founders of Cîteaux gave this tradition a particular form and the monasteries of the Strict Observance strongly defended certain of its principles. In 1892 the three congregations of the Strict Observance combined to form a single order, now called the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance.

This Order is a monastic institute wholly ordered to contemplation. The nuns / monks dedicate themselves to the worship of God in a hidden life within the monastery under the Rule of St Benedict


Maggie Ross on Santa Rita Abbey
Monday, July 8, 2013 - 07:15

Maggie Ross has this on her blog Voice in the Wilderness:

To recognize our own emptiness so as to receive the gift of wisdom: this is the task entrusted to the theologian. It is to be like the nuns at Santa Rita Abbey who wait in quiet—just standing there in choir doing nothing—anticipating the ringing of the bell that summons to psalmody.
God does not fill in the gaps where human reason fails. Nor does God like a divine Superman vanquish intolerable suffering. God does not erase human longing and want, but is present amidst it. There is in us a wide open space—a gap—from which we dare to speak the question "Who is God?" In the very asking we are making room for some small manifestation of who God is. Whatever answer may come it too must remain unsaid so that we might make a space fitting for the silence that is the contemplative's home and the theologian's workplace.

Like the Cistercian contemplative life, theology is a discipline of learning how to see, how to read, how to recognize the presence of God amidst our own brokenness and weakness as the region not only of wound but of wisdom, a wisdom that is to become in us a balm for the wounds of the world. At the conclusion of Lauds on my last morning at Santa Rita, the Prioress brought us into the Our Father with these words: "Father of peace, increase in us your peace so that we might be peace in the world for which we live." Words to live by even as we give testimony to unsaying with the one and only life we have to live.  — Michael Downey


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