Tag Archive: cistercians

My monastic month

The monastic refectory at Mepkin Abbey, South Carolina

I’ve just uploaded five sets of photos to Flickr from August when I had my month at Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina as a monastic guest.  Mepkin is a monastery of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (OCSO), who used to be [and still commonly are] known as Trappists.  Mepkin is a daughter-house of Gethsemani Abbey, in Kentucky, where Thomas Merton was a monk.

I had originally planned to visit Mepkin during my sabbatical time which I was due for about 2010.  My sabbatical got “upgraded” to canon law studies, so my other sabbatical plans got shelved.  This past [North American] summer I thought I’d use the break time to visit Mepkin as I had originally planned since I had the time.  I figured that it might be the last time that I’d have the luxury to do this for some time.

It’s not so easy to find a monastery that you can stay in for more than a few days at a time, but I did find Mepkin.  Their monastic guest programme allows men to stay for a month, and to essentially share the life of the monks, doing everything that they do.  Obviously it is one way to assist those considering a monastic vocation, but the monastic guest programme is open even to those who aren’t looking to enter the monastery (like myself).

My time at Mepkin was very spiritually fruitful, and – I might add – very affirming of my secular vocation!  It was particularly nice to spend time in a community of the same Order in which I was a novice ten years ago (at Tarrawarra Abbey, in Melbourne, Australia).

You can see the photos here.

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wisconsin

This morning I head to the airport to journey to Wisconsin for a canon law conference at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La CrosseRaymond Leo Cardinal Burke [Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura], Bishop Salvatore Cordileone [newly appointed Archbishop of San Francisco], Dr. Kurt Martens, and Mr. William Daniel will speak on such timely topics as: Religious Liberty, Nullity of Marriage Process, Suppression/Mergers of Parishes, and much more.  It’ll also be great to see some of my confreres again after our “summer” break.

Inside the Church at Mepkin Abbey, South Carolina

On  Friday morning I continue the journey to South Carolina.  For the rest of the month I will be staying with the Cistercians at Mepkin Abbey.  I’m very much looking forward to a monastic month, and by the end of it, I should be able to tell you a whole lot more about growing mushrooms (part of the income-producing work of the Mepkin community).  I was, once-upon-a-time, a Cistercian postulant and novice, and I have a great love of the Benedictine Rule and the way of life based on it.  I find that it’s always a great blessing to be able to spend time in a monastery, and am eagerly awaiting arriving there on Friday.  If you could say a prayer that it’s a good retreat I’d be most appreciative, and I’ll be praying for you too.

I am unlikely to have much (or any) internet access until I return to Ottawa in the first week of September for the resumption of classes – my final semester here in Ottawa.

The Cistercian monks in choir at Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky

I’ve uploaded some more photos to Flickr.

These photos are of Holy Saturday morning at Gethsemani Abbey.  On the drive to Saint Meinrad’s we stopped off at a bourbon distillery, since most of the world’s bourbon comes from Kentucky!  There are some shots of the proto-cathedral of Bardstown (it is no longer a cathedral church), and also of a little church near Saint Meinrad’s and a shrine to Saint Joseph.  Then there are some photos of the evening at Saint Meinrad’s, prior to the Easter Vigil.

I’m currently in Chicago.  Three of us fly out from here this afternoon from Italy.

A few photos

Gethsemani Abbey, Trappist, Kentucky

I haven’t had any success adding photos to Facebook, but I have just uploaded the first batch of photos to Flickr.

The photos are of the first day-and-a-bit of the pilgrimage, from Ottawa to Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky.

Gethsemani is a community of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (commonly known as the Trappists).  Thomas Merton was a member of the Gethsemani community.


Tu es sacerdos in aeternum.

Two friends of mine were ordained priests on Saturday.  Fr Samuel Chua and Fr Joseph Chua (unrelated!) are Cistercian monks at Tarrawarra Abbey, Melbourne (Australia).

Tarrawarra Abbey is a community of Cistercian monks in the heart of the Yarra Valley, 60 kilometres north-east of the city of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Founded in 1954 by Mount St Joseph Abbey, Roscrea in Ireland, the monks of Tarrawarra belong to the worldwide Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (OCSO), popularly known as the “Trappists”.
Tarrawarra is the only Cistercian community in Australia.  Samuel and Joseph entered Tarrawarra just a little before I did when I was discerning a monastic vocation.
See Tarrawarra’s Facebook page here.
Congratulations Fr Samuel and Fr Joseph!  Ad multos annos!