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Monday, Mar. 23rd 2020

A Message of Hope

Nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord

A message from Abbot Benedict

Dear friends in Christ,
 
I want to assure all of you that we at Conception Abbey and Conception Seminary College are determined to remain close to you during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and that the mission and ministries of Conception Abbey and Conception Seminary College will continue through these uncertain times.
 
In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans we are reminded of God’s promise to us in the most difficult stages of our journey: “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:37-39)
 
I see this event as not merely a crisis calling us to extremes of effort and precaution for the health and safety of all. It can also be a unique moment of grace and opportunity. It is precisely in times like this that the importance of a stable and supporting community is most evident, and the purpose of a monastery—namely prayer on behalf of the whole world—is revealed as one of humanity’s greatest treasures. For the last 146 years since our founding, the daily prayer of the Divine Office and celebration of Mass by the Conception community has never been interrupted—and the monks are dedicated to maintaining this ministry for the Church and the world during this dangerous period, although now with safe social distancing measures.

In a recent conference with the monastic community, I urged the monks to maintain gratitude and hope as the foundation of their prayers, for we are as a community still able to offer them up together to God, who is generous and merciful, and who knows what He is about even in such uncertain times. If we put our trust in Him and in the work he has given us—the work of constant prayer for our world—we can be sure that God will use that gift to bring about his Kingdom, begun in Christ and continuing in our witness and love for one another.

Daily Livestream of Liturgies

We want to share this ministry of prayer even more fully with all of you by making available online a livestream of our daily Mass and the Divine Office at https://www.conceptionabbey.org/live. Check this site for more details. So many people have shared with us their gratitude for this opportunity to participate in the liturgies with the monastic community, and for the peace and comfort that it brings them. We are truly glad to be able to offer this ministry during these days of anxiety and uncertainty.

Conception Seminary College

And not only will our work of prayer continue, but our program of priestly formation at Conception Seminary College will be maintained—with some necessary modifications. Fr. Victor Schinstock, OSB, President-Rector of Conception Seminary College, and the entire faculty and staff are working hard to ensure that this vital ministry to the future Church will continue. While in-person classes have been suspended, distance learning options are being put in place—not only for academics but also for our programs of human and spiritual formation. We are working closely with the bishops to ensure the formation of their seminarians will continue and remain effective. Our dedication to this apostolate remains undiminished.

The Printery House at Conception

The Printery House at Conception Abbey will continue to offer its special means of spreading the gospel through Christian greeting cards and gifts. You can visit their website at https://www.printeryhouse.org to learn more.

The Abbey Guest Center

While our ministry of hospitality can no longer directly receive guests here on campus (this is necessary for the protection and safety of both them and ourselves), we are looking at creative ways to continue to minister to prospective retreatants through virtual means and online programs. Please be on the lookout for these special opportunities.
 
While all of us have been asked to institute modes of “social distancing,” we must not let that become an occasion of spiritual isolation from one another. Rather let us make it a sign of deeper communion, heart to heart rather than hand to hand. In keeping a safe physical distance from others, we are protecting them and ourselves. This is fundamentally an act of love and not of rejection. All of us are taking these precautions to ensure the future of monastic life at Conception and the continuation of our ministries. The world needs monasteries; young people need a place where they can find God in the midst of a loving and praying community. Our work of prayer is a gift that God wants to give to the world and for the world, and it is a great privilege and responsibility for the monks of Conception Abbey to live this gift.
 
Our hearts are with all who are suffering from this pandemic, especially those who have died as a consequence of its effects. Be assured of our continuing prayers for all. If you have any specific prayer requests, please share them with us at https://lent.conceptionabbey.org/prayer-requests/ and we will place them before the Lord on your behalf.
 
Sincerely in Christ,
Abbot Benedict Neenan, OSB


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