Monks to offer ‘New Melleray Contemplative Experience’ for first time

Will be Aug. 7-19; men ages 21-45 invited to take part

By Dan Russo

Witness Editor

PEOSTA — The Trappist monks of New Melleray strive to “flee forgetfulness” through a life of work and prayer.

Father Alberic Farbolin, O.C.S.O, recently explained that this concept means Christians should not let the hustle and bustle of the world distract them from spiritual priorities.

“Don’t forget all the most important things,” said the monk. “Don’t live in oblivion.”

The Trappists are now offering the “New Melleray Contemplative Experience” to men ages 21-45 to help them in this effort to be mindful. The two-week “significant immersion experience” gives participants the opportunity to live with the monastic community for two weeks Aug. 7-19.

It may seem impossible to get youth to give up technology like television, smart phones and tablets for that long, but the monks are betting some will be open to the adventure.

“People are getting so much stimulus,” said Father Farbolin. “There’s a real danger of people becoming oblivious. We’ve learned that young people benefit from (exposure to monastic practices) very much. For thousands of years, people have sought the company of monks.”

The monks are also hoping to get something out of the program by learning about the younger generations that will take part in the program. The “New Melleray Contemplative Experience” is not just for people considering a monastic vocation — it is for any young men looking to deepen their faith by “drawing on the 1,600-year-old genius of Benedictine monasticism,” according to Father Farbolin.

Although the monastery has offered programs to the public in the past and allows visitors to stay at its guesthouse, the “Contemplative Experience” is a new and unique opportunity.

Participants in the program will reside in the guesthouse but take breakfast and the mid-day meal with the community in the monastic refectory. Their evening meal will be taken in the guesthouse, where the abbot or a monk will occasionally join them.

During their two-week stay, they will have free access to choir, the garden and the grounds within the enclosure. The library and computer lab will be accessible to participants during blocks of time.

Participants will be expected to attend daily Mass, Vigils, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline.

Participants will be offered three conferences a week during their two-week stay. Manual labor, an important feature of this program, will be offered in the company of a monk in one or more of the following: Trappist Caskets, garden, maintenance, plumbing, house cleaningor garage. They will work each afternoon, six days a week.

For more information on the “New Melleray Contemplative Experience” or to apply, email Brother Paul Andrew at brpaulandrew@newmelleray.org. Information on the Trappist community at New Melleray can be found at newmellaray.org.

Photo: A monk of New Melleray Abbey in Peosta engages in some spiritual reading, a part of the daily routine of Benedictine monastic life. (Contributed photo)

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