Closing of the Year

The end of the year is an opportunity to review some of the events that closed out our year. We did venture into some significant efforts to reach out in vocational awareness. At the end of October, we hosted a Come and See discernment weekend for men considering vocations. Four men, ranging in ages from 25 to 49 and coming from four different midwestern states, participated in this program. They were introduced to monastic life and the stages of discernment and formation involved in pursuing a vocation. This was the first Come and See program we have offered since the Covid pandemic.

In mid-November (16th-18th), Br. Joseph drove with one of the Mississippi Abbey sisters to the Fully Alive Conference in Indianapolis, IN. This was sponsored by the National Catholic Youth Conference as an opportunity for meeting, worship, and catechesis. A number of religious communities and dioceses sponsored booths to acquaint young people with vocational possibilities available in the church. On December 31st, Br. Joseph and Br. Paul Andrew drove with two sisters from Mississippi Abbey to a SEEK24 conference being held all week in St. Louis. It is sponsored and organized by FOCUS, a group which supports Christian living on college campuses. It is another opportunity to make young people aware of monastic life as a possible vocation in the church of today. The absence of our major organist and cantor has required us to make some simplifications in our liturgy for this week.

Fr. Brendan will be traveling to Ireland on January 6th to participate in some meetings and discernment concerning the future of several monasteries in Ireland. He is the current father-immediate of a grouping of Mt. Melleray, Mellifont, and Roscrea. The abbot general, Dom Bernardus Peteers, will be guiding these discussions. The few monks are scattered over three monasteries and they will be looking for ways to join them more closely together. Incidentally, we do have one Irish monk from Mt. Melleray visiting with us. Fr. Donal Davis arrived in November and will be staying until March when he will return home.

Our guest house had been closed for the annual Christmas break, from December 17th to January 2nd. For the second year, we will be welcoming the Jesuit novices of the Midwest province. With their novice director and staff, they will be staying again for a full month, until February 1st. If this group is as fervent as last year’s, we can anticipate their regular attendance and participation at our Liturgy of the Hours. Our annual Christmas party with the OLM sisters was suddenly cancelled due to one of their community’s testing positive for Covid. A neighborhood family, the Burkes, generously provide the food for our supper together. They kindly served the monks anyway, and brought over ample portions for the sisters to eat in quarantine. A disappointment nonetheless. Wait until next year.

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays preempted our monthly Information Forums, so there is less news to share on that front. We have completed the transformation of a pantry/bread-cutting room into a comfortable and inviting space for our twice-weekly informal sharings after the eucharist. This has proved to be a practical way for meeting and exchanging news of the monumental and trivial. Our best wishes and prayers for a peaceful and joyful New Year.