There are various ways to share in our way of life. One may come as a retreatant, or a visitor; or as an associate in the Monastic Center, and now as a Long Term Guest living in the community for one to twelve months, or as a Monastic Brother for indefinite periods of time. For a fuller description of these four ways click on the link at the top menu for “Visit Us”.
On July 13, 2022, at 3:30 in the morning Fr. Kenneth Tietjen died at Stonehill Wellness Center in Dubuque. Fr. Kenneth had been at Stonehill for a few weeks after suffering a broken ankle in a fall. He also contracted COVID. Fr. Kenneth was 93 years old. The funeral liturgy will be celebrated at New Melleray on Monday morning at 9:00, July 18.
On May 7 at 1:00 PM we will have a Memorial Mass in memory of Fr. Xavier Dieter. He died on March 3 and requested a private funeral and burial. Having counseled many men and women over the years, and having worked with our neighbors even longer, providing replacement black angus cattle for their herds, we expect a large number of friends to come for the celebration of Father’s life. A large tent will be provided for an outdoor Mass in front of our Guest House, with food afterwards. All are invited to join us for this remembrance and prayers for Fr. Xavier.
After being closed to the public for several months, our Church, Guest House and Gift Shop are once again open to visitors, retreatants and friends of the monastery.
Fr. Xavier died yesterday evening, Thursday, at 7:45 P.M. He requested a private funeral Mass and burial, with a Memorial Service later on. The Mass and burial will be on Saturday, March 5, just for the monks.
It is 8:20 Wednesday morning. Yesterday the community gathered for the Anointing of the Sick for our brother, Fr. Xavier. He was alert and grateful for the Sacrament. This morning Fr. Xavier has slipped into a coma. The community will gather together again around his bedside to pray for the dying at 9:30. We ask you to join in praying for him wherever you are.
Four more monks have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week. Fr. Brendan has decided to close the Guesthouse, Church and Gift Shop to the public until at least the end of February, for the protection of both our monks and our guests.
The monthly information forum was held on Thursday, January 28th. This meeting is scheduled for the fourth Thursday each month, although Thanksgiving Day and Christmas took precedence and caused its cancelation in both November and December. Nonetheless, there wasn’t a big backlog of information to share. The meeting is an opportunity for all in the community to learn what is happening in the various departments and to ask relevant questions. It is helpful for everyone to know what and why changes have been initiated or to hear how departments have been functioning. It is too easy to lose sight of what others are doing to contribute to the services of the monastery.
Most departments reported normal functioning. With the guest house closed, the opportunity for thorough cleaning and painting continues to be open. A big project is the replacement of all lighting with LED. While installation is expensive, it is energy efficient and more economical in the long-run. We were all reminded to put plastics in the recycle bin. These small steps help to remind us of the larger environmental concerns threatening our globe. This past fall, several culverts carrying water from the building were dug up and replaced. Another culvert draining the north wings of the monastery and buried under the front road will have to be repaired once the spring thaws the ground. That is the best we can do for earthshaking news.
In spite of the fact that this Forum had been canceled in November and December in deference to Thanksgiving Day and Christmas, there was not a backlog of news to share. With the guest house closed because of the virus, thorough cleaning and painting continues there. The monastery itself is beneficiary of extra time and labor for cleaning. Some areas of neglect (e.g., shelves in the library) are being surprised by vigorous attention. A pile of discarded and unneeded clothes was donated to the local St. Vincent DePaul Society. Lighting fixtures are being replaced by LED outlets and lights. This is an expensive initial investment of time and money, but it is energy efficient and more economical in the long-run.
Fr. Stephen reports that he has been getting a few more vocational inquiries. We have been able to host several men seriously discerning a vocation. We do have them quarantined for ten days in the otherwise empty guest house. They eat dinner and supper with the community at separate tables in the refectory. We want to offer them as much of an experience of the monastic life as we can to aid them in their discernment. A Benedictine monk from Subiaco, Arkansas, is with us as a guest for six months as he discerns a possible Cistercian vocation.
With the warmer days of Spring wafting over the monastery’s organic garden, it’s time to plant vegetables. Br. M. Juan Diego posted a list of what is being planted this year:
Beets, 80 feet
Turnips, 80 feet
Green Onions, 300 sets
Large Onions, 250 plants
Potatoes, (Kennebec, Yukon God, Pontiac Red), 4 x 125 feet
Sugar Snap Peas, 100 feet
Broccoli, 17 plants
Kale, 8 plants
Lettuce, Spenach, Swiss Chard, Cilantro, small patches
Rhubarb, 325 feet.
“There is no mistaking what is going on ; it is a regular exodus. It is without head, tail, or leadership. It’s greatest factor is momentum, and this is increasing despite amazing efforts on the part of white southerners to stop it. People are leaving their homes and everything about them, under cover of night, as though they were going on a day’s journey – leaving forever.” So reported the Cleveland Advocate on April 28, 1917. “The Great Migration” of black citizens, about six million people between 1915 and 1970, fleeing the “Jim Crow” south to make new lives in the north and western states. Isabel Wilkerson in the Pulitzer Prize winning “The Warmth of Other suns”, is educating the monks concerning the gritty details of life in the south for blacks prior to the civil rights movement. This is a tough read and some graphic descriptions of violence were not read in the monastic refectory. But we have heard enough to have formed a completely new appreciation of the courage, imagination, and faith of millions of migrants stirred by the most elemental call to give expression to their God-given dignity, as well as a desire to develop their talents. Isabel Wilkerson is the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism.