Conception Benedictine Abbey is welcomed as a new IRL Affiliate. They are perhaps one of the best-known abbeys in the US for a variety of reasons. First, they have a printing house that supplies beautiful Christmas cards, icons, note cards and other Christian gifts. Secondly, they have a thriving seminary college, one of the largest of the 40 college seminaries in the US. Thirdly, they have a bustling retreat house. And finally, they are a large community of monks – almost 60 in number!
The abbey was founded in 1873 when Abbot Frowin Conrad and seven novices arrived from Engelberg, Switzerland, to establish a monastic community in Missouri. I like what the abbot wrote in his diary after the founding, in 1883, of a fledgling high school at the monastery: “Omme initium durum,” – All beginnings are hard!! The seminary college was founded in 1887. Currently, 25 dioceses in the U.S. send students to Conception, and student enrollment has increased nearly 75 percent since the mid-’90s to over 100 students.
The magnificent basilica houses the famous Beuronese murals that were painted by the monks between 1893 and 1897. They depict scenes from the life of Mary, Jesus and Sts. Benedict and Scholastica (See Presentation of Mary at right). Some of the murals are replicas of ones done in Europe that were destroyed during World War II and as such are precious mementos of lost treasures. Many of these images are reproduced on the note cards.
St. Benedict said that “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for He himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” The retreat house welcomes guests for private and group retreats. You can also become a Benedictine oblate, that is, a Christian who shapes his or her life in the wisdom of Christ as interpreted by the great St. Benedict.
Young men between the ages of 18-35 who are discerning their vocation may be interested in their Monastic Experience weekend retreat. The next one scheduled is October 31-November 2, 2014.