June 26, 2017

Liturgy Classes

Last week we had liturgy classes with Fr. Michael Joncas.  Fr. Michael teaches at St. John's University in St. Paul Minnesota.  He is also a well know composer best known for songs such as “On Eagle's Wings” and “I Have Loved You”.  We studied   the history of the Mass and the history of liturgical music.  Fr. Joncas is a wonderful and engaging teacher.  His often said phrase about specifics in the liturgy was "I just love this".  It was very evident that he loves his work.

June 14, 2017

Visiting with the Conversi

Last weekend our community visited with the Association of Iowa Cistercians Conversi group.  The Conversi are people interested in the associates group but live too far away to come to the monthly meetings.  Once a year as may as can come to Mississippi Abbey/New Melleray Abbey for a retreat.  This year and for the past several years one Conversi drives to the retreat from Spokane Washington.
During their visit they shared about how  important the group is to them and how grateful they are for the spiritual formation it provides.  One member said:this is not a chat room, we really are a faith community.

June 2, 2017

Junior Seminar at New Melleray

Last Sunday we invited the juniors attending the Junior Seminar over to our abbey.  The juniors of our order meet yearly for two weeks to study together and to get to know other juniors in the order and experience Cistercian life in another monastery.  Juniors are monks and nuns in simple vows preparing to make solemn profession.  We visited with them in our Chapter Room.  Then they had a tour of our candy operation and of our farm.  We prayed Vespers together in Church, followed by a pizza supper in our refectory.  We then prayed Compline together and the juniors returned to New Melleray for another week of classes.

May 19, 2017

Old Friends

This past month we have had several OCSO visitors.  The first was Sr. Sheryl Chen one of our sisters who joined our foundation of Tautra Mariakloster.  She speaks fluent Norwegian and became a Norwegian citizen.   She came to visit for several days on her way to Los Angeles to visit her elderly parents.  She brought with her a hand painted silk scarf that Sr. Brigit of Tautra Mariakloster painted as a gift for her mother.  The sisters sell these scarves in their gift shop.  Sr. Brigit paints them free style with no pattern or sketch.  Amazing!.

Next was Sr. Mary Ellen from Wrentham.  She came to give our AIC (associates) members their yearly retreat.  Sr. Mary Ellen gave us our community retreat last year.  She is a wonderful retreat director.  Sadly she could only stay 24 hours but it was so good seeing her again.

Lastly, we have Fr. Brendan as our retreat director for this year.  Fr. Brendan is currently superior at Holy Trinity Abbey in Utah.  He was formerly abbot of New Melleray for 30 years. The retreat conferences are on the interior life of a monk or nun.  They are very insightful and thought provoking.

May 13, 2017

The Passing of Sr. Mary Ann Sullivan

Enjoying friends

Sister Mary Ann Sullivan of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, died on May 13, at 6:00 PM at the Abbey. 

Sr. Mary Ann Sullivan was born on July 20, 1937 in Washington, DC, the eldest of nine children born to Edward and Marian Sullivan. She entered the Cistercian monastery of Mt. St. Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham, Massachusetts, on September 14, 1957 and made her solemn profession on October 13, 1962. Two years later, Sr. Mary Ann was sent with 12 other sisters to found a new monastery, Our Lady of the Mississippi, in Dubuque, Iowa on October 18, 1964.

Writing icons

This icon of the Annunciation reflects the beauty and giftedness of our Sr. Mary Ann. It is the icon she wrote in memory of her beloved deceased sister, Nancy. Of all the art forms Sr. Mary Ann used in service of the community-- silk screening Christmas cards, water color painting, pastel sketching, calligraphy--iconography was the artistic expression dearest to her heart.
  Of all the art forms Sr. Mary Ann used in service of the community-- silk screening Christmas cards, water color painting, pastel sketching, calligraphy--iconography was the artistic expression dearest to her heart.

A person of keen intellect and an avid reader, Sr. Mary Ann shared her love for our Cistercian Fathers and Mothers by teaching our sisters in formation and by choosing readings for community liturgy for decades. Sr. Mary Ann remembered what she read! When any of us wanted to trace a quote from one of the early Church or Cistercian writers, we would go to Mary Ann.

Sr. Mary Ann had great love for Pope Francis. She read his book of homilies slowly during her last Lent and asked for that book to with her even when she could no longer read.

Faithful to the divine office
Through the years, as community artist, directress of junior studies, cellerar, sacristan, vegetable gardener, and well-remembered portress in our gift shop, the center of Sr. Mary Ann’s life was prayer. If she promised to pray for you, you could be sure that you would have a place on her daily prayer list.

Sr. Mary Ann will be remembered for her deep love of God, her unfaltering faithfulness to monastic life, her humility, obedience and gentle, caring love for others. She could tease with a twinkle in her eye!

There will be a wake service in conjunction with Compline for Sister Mary Ann on Monday, May 15, at 7:15 PM, and the funeral will be in the Abbey Church on  Tuesday, May 16, at  10:00 AM.

Enjoying the grounds

With her flower garden

Learning photography

April 26, 2017

Employee and Volunteer Brunch

 After our Sunday Eucharist last week we invited our employees and volunteers and their families to have bunch with us.  This is a yearly affair to thank our volunteers and employees for their wonderful service to us.  It was a beautiful day with the crab apple trees in full bloom and warm and sunny.  We are very blessed to have such good and faithful people helping in our work.

April 24, 2017

Early Arbor Day

We have lost several trees around the house this past year.  The tall pine in front of the Abbey took a direct hit from lightning last fall and utterly destroyed it.  A few other trees took hit and an oak was cut down because it was diseased.  So on Friday several trees were planted around the            house, most of them decorative.  They are pretty tall so they should grow fast.

April 7, 2017

Sr. Esther's Designs

Sr. Esther and Dale Mueller at the new ambo.
1991 Sr. Esther from Santa Rita Abbey in Arizona came to help us with a renovation of our church.  Sr. Esther was a church designer in Italy before she entered the Cistercian order.  She did the designs for us but never saw the work in its completed form.  We asked her to return to help us design a new ambo as ours was too low and not at a good angle for reading. So a few weeks ago Sr. Esther came and did design and made the changes to the ambo and also raised the altar, put arms on the presiders chair(previously we couldn't use it as some of our chaplains needed arms).  She also designed a new holder for our icon.  She worked very hard and had assistance from a stone mason and our farm manager Dale Mueller.  We love what she did and are grateful to her and her community.


Presiders Chair

Icon Stand

Raised Altar and Ambo

Stand detail

March 14, 2017

Listen to Compline on our Website.

You can now listen to Compline on our Website.  It is accompanied by the harp.
It is listed under the drop downs Our Life, Prayer, Divine Office, Compline.  Click here to listen now.

February 2, 2017

Receiving the Cistercian Habit

Today on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple, Verena Bonitz, received the Cistercian habit of a novice.  The novice also receives the Rule of St. Benedict and a cross made from wood from our property.  She will spend the next 2 years studying the Rule and inculcating the monastic way at Mississippi Abbey.
Verena receiving the habit from M. Rebecca
Verena has chosen to change her name to Sr. Mary Gabriel.
The Annunciation means a great deal to our new novice and thus the choosing of Mary Gabriel.  M. Rebecca mentioned in her Chapter talk this morning that Pope St. John Paul II saw the feast of the Presentation as a second Annunciation, thus tying the two together.
Sr. Kathleen (novice director) with Sr. Mary Gabriel
Sr. Mary Gabriel is from Germany and has lived in the states for several years and is fluent in English.

January 11, 2017

New Wheels!

Sr. Mary Ann got the best present ever for Christmas this year.  She has waited 79 years for her own set of wheels and she finally got them.  Sr. Mary Ann has been using a leg/ankle brace for several years and it is not doing its job lately.  The scooter keeps her off her feet and gives her the freedom to get around by herself.  To make up for walking less she works out every day on our New Step machine.