Saturday, October 29, 2016

Abbey Calendar for 2017 is Now Available

Since we moved our Abbey from Boulder to Virginia Dale in 1997, 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of our monastic life in the far northern reaches of Colorado. Our Abbey Calendar for 2017 celebrates this anniversary with a review of our history, and photos celebrating the adventures of the past two decades, as well as some much older photographs from our pioneering days in Boulder.

The calendar is available from the Abbey Gift Shop for $12.50.Shipping for first calendar $2.75; $1.25 for each additional calendar ordered -- please call 970-472-0612 for more information or to place an order.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

First Profession of Monastic Vows

On October 7, 2016, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, we celebrated the self-giving of our two senior novices, Sr. Ann and Sr. Catherine, as they made their first profession of monastic vows. Promising obedience, stability, and fidelity to the monastic way of life for three years, they were given new names to underscore their new identities as professed Benedictine nuns.

We are now practicing calling them Sr. Maria-Raphaelle and Sr. Fidelis, and rejoice with them in this major step in faith on their journey to God.

Sr. Maria-Raphaelle and Sr. Fidelis in the guest dining room on October 7, after the Mass in which they professed their first vows as Benedictine nuns.

Sr. Maria-Raphaelle, 25, is one of the six children of Davin and Janet Lee of Huntsvillte, Alabama. She was homeschooled in a lively and inventive family, and spent three years working with  Monrovia Volunteer Fire/Rescue, learning emergency response skills that have already come in handy around the Abbey. One of her four brothers is also a Benedictine, Br. Dominic of St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama. Besides helping in our infirmary, she paints Pascal candles and is learning to accompany our night office of Compline on the psaltery.

Sr. Fidelis, 29, is also one of six, and was also homeschooled; her parents are John and Marie- Emmanuelle Bartle of Victoria, British Columbia. She has a degree in history in art from the University of Victoria, and is another member of the Pascal candle staff. As an accomplished pianist and organist, she often accompanies our singing of the Liturgy of the Hours and Mass.

Besides being artistic and musical, both of the newly professed are always willing to find additional outlets for creativity in garden, kitchen, and elsewhere around the Abbey.

Monday, October 10, 2016

New Novices join our Abbey Community

Three new novices have joined our community  this year. On February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Sr. Catherine Marie Carlin of Lufkin, Texas, received her habit, followed on April 17, the 4th Sunday of Easter, by  Sr. Brandi Lynn McWhorter of St. Louis, Missouri. On September 8, the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary,  Sr. Hillary Kunz of Austin, Texas, joined the novitiate as well.
Sr. Catherine Marie got to know our Abbey several years ago when she was attending Wyoming Catholic College north of us in Lander, Wyoming. As the youngest of a family of ten, she is already well acquainted with community life, and we are all benefiting from her musical and culinary gifts, among many others.
Sr. Brandi Lynn became acquainted with Benedictine life through our brother monks of St. Louis Abbey in her hometown. A convert to the faith, she  worked for several years as an accountant, and is our house expert in Microsoft Excel.
Sr. Hillary Kunz  studied education at Baylor University and has worked as a camp counselor, and in outdoor recreation programs for disadvantaged youth in Austin, Texas. Her extensive travels include walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain and visiting her cousin, Fr. Martin, a Benedictine monk at Norcia, Italy.
Life in the monastery makes use of any and all experience, and we pray for our three new Sisters as they run the course of this more intensive period of their Benedictine formation.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Altar Bread Department passes a milestone

Our altar bread department last month shipped an order with invoice # 10,000 -- meaning, yes, that 10,000 orders, some consisting of many thousands of individual breads, have passed through our packing and shipping operation since it began in 1997.

Sr. Pauline in our altar bread packing room, surrounded by bags of hosts to be shipped, boxes of more hosts to be bagged, and the trademark foam "peanuts" that ensure the breads' safe arrival at parishes and religious communities across the country.

We do not bake the hosts ourselves, but are happy to be able to support our fellow Benedictines, the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri, who have been baking breads for more than 100 years, and have all the requisite equipment for large-scale baking. From them we buy hosts in bulk, then pack them into smaller bags and packages for shipment to our own customers, removing broken or flawed breads in the process. Sr. Augustine, our eldest nun at 91, still puts in a good day's work packing breads, something she has been doing since we started in late 1997.

Although one of our own Sisters had baked hosts back in the 1950s, we had shifted our energies to other work and ministries by 1963. The impetus to bring back altar bread work was our impending move from Boulder to Virginia Dale in 1997. Sr. Regina Krushen started our altar bread department during our early days in the "modulstery" of prefabricated buildings which was our home for the first two years in our new location. As she wrote for our newsletter at that time,

"This ministry serves two purposes for our Abbey. First of all, it is a means of support while our new retreat house and other facilities are under construction over the next couple of years. But more important is the spiritual dimension of this service. As contemplative Benedictine nuns committed to Christ and his Church through our lives of prayer, we endeavor by our altar bread work to share the spirit of our worship in a concrete way with all the faithful."

Sr. Regina died in 2003, but the altar bread department has continued under the guidance of Sr. Pauline, and with the help of other Sisters and many generous oblates and volunteers, who come regularly to spend a few prayerful hours at the contemplative task of sorting the breads.

For more information on our altar bread, please visit  or email us at