November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

We wish you all a very Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving as we give thanks for all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on us!
We have a new addition to the monastery.  Her name is Pangia.  She came with the name!  She is a 10 year old Lhasa Apso with a lot of energy.  She loves to take walks and play.  We love her and she has taken to the sisters.

November 5, 2014


Yesterday, November 4th, we celebrated our Golden Jubilee.  We will be celebrating the year but yesterday was the actual day of founding.  We decided to celebrate just among ourselves.  We had a nice dinner and in the afternoon watched slides from over the last 50 years.  We had 3 of our foundresses with us, M. Gail and Srs. Mary Ann and Joan.

The foundresses
Arriving in Dubuque
Hand wrapping caramels
The Grill
Singing for the monks of New Melleray
M. Columba and M.Agnes of Wrentham

October 21, 2014

Candy Season

Sr. Grace
We are in full swing with our candy production.  Production is going very well.  The coating crews are now running double shifts so that we will have plenty on hand for Christmas orders.  The bright crisp days continue and it is so beautiful with all the changing colors.  The abbey grounds are always beautiful but particularly in the autumn.  There is so much to be grateful for.
Sr. Chris
Sr. Gail
Sr. Anna
Sr. Carol

October 13, 2014

Iowa Autumn

We have had a very beautiful autumn.  Last week the season was at its peak for color.  Today the rains are starting which is very bad for the farmers harvesting their corn.  They need dry weather for the harvest.

just down the road from the abbey

October 8, 2014

Blood Moon

At it's peak at 5:25 AM
At 6:50 as it is setting
One of the benefits of rising at 3:30 AM is that you can view the night sky and all the amazing sights it has to offer.  Last night it was wonderful to see the blood moon.  We had a clear sight of it out of the refectory windows.

September 30, 2014

General Chapter Concluded

Our General Chapter concluded this past Sunday.  Our M. Rebecca and Sr. Christine will be arriving home today!
Here is a link to a 2 minute video that gives the feel of the General Chapter.  It was held in Assisi, Italy.

September 17, 2014

Cistercian General Chapter Is In Session

back row center M.Rebecca                            front row right Sr. Christine
simultaneous translation in the aula
Once every 3 years the abbots and abbesses of each monastery along with delegates from each region meet.  We are unique in the church because the monks and nuns are in the same order.  There is wonderful collaboration between the houses and the regions of our order. Mother Rebecca is attending along with Sr. Christine who was voted the nun delegate for the American region. Our General Chapter is being held at Assisi, Italy.

September 1, 2014

Labor Day

This morning at Chapter we had the first presentation of our looking back to our beginnings as we celebrate our 50th Jubilee Year.  Sr. Gail, formerly known as Sr. Bernard dressed in our pre-Vatican II habit.  Then she read a prose/poem written by Sr. Mary Ellen of Wrentham about the founding of Wrentham, our founding house.  Sr. Gail got very choked up while reading about some of the foundresses of Wrentham whom she knew well.  Later,we celebrated Labor Day by beginning our Candy Season.  From Labor Day until the beginning of December we make our candy full time.  When December comes we are busy sending out packages to our customers for Christmas.  This is a special time of year for us.  Most projects stop and only necessary work such as laundry, cooking and cleaning are done because it is all hands on deck to produce the candy which supports us.  It’s special because we work closely together in this endeavor.
Today we had a special Terce in our little prayer room and a special coffee break where we partook in eating some of our own candy.  The biggest hit as always was the Hazelnut Meltaways.  If you haven’t tried them you should.  They are soooo good.  We love the caramels too!

August 29, 2014

Classes with Fr. Michael Casey

Fr. Michael Casey, from Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia is here giving us classes on the 4th Chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict, The Tools for Good Living.  Fr. Michael is a gifted teacher and writer.  He says it as it is with lots of good humor.  The tools for good living are tools to live a life based on the Gospels.  They are relevant to all Christians seeking to follow Jesus is an authentic way.  His new book, Seventy-Four Tools     For   Good Living, has just been published.

August 25, 2014

Our Old Fashioned Pump House

Inspecting a replaced window

Kathy Cone
Recently we have been working on the pump house over on the south farm.  It is very interesting building.  In the back there is a spring fed well that you walk down a set of stairs to get to.  The water collects in this well. The room is very cool and was used for refrigeration.   Upstairs, the hand pump is located in the center room.  This was the water source which supplied water to the farm house.  In the end room a deep concrete square basin is located which served as a root cellar for the winter.  It was also used in the summer to go and sit to cool off from the summer’s heat.
Rob cleaning out the pump room

All new windows and freshly painted!
Our Friends Kathy and Rob Cone worked on the pump house for 4 days, cleaning it out, replacing the windows and rotten boards and painting the outside of the house.  They worked long and hard on the project before returning to their home in Ohio.

August 10, 2014

AIC Hosted at OLM

Once or twice a year the Associates of Iowa Cistercian come to our abbey for their monthly meeting. The lay group, affiliated with both our abbey and New Melleray Abbey, strive to live the Cistercian values in the world.  The meeting usually takes place at New Melleray Abbey because of the larger space. The group comes to Sext and None with Sr. Chris, our choir director, leading the group.
Dom Mark joined us for None
There is always a teaching on a topic pertaining to Cistercian life.  This month, Dom Mark gave a teaching on the Rule of St. Benedict in a very creative way.  He used art  as a tool to teach about the Rule.  This provoked a very lively and enthusiastic discussion in the afternoon session. 

August 4, 2014


We had the great pleasure of a visit from our Archbishop, Archbishop Michael Jackels.  He has been our archbishop for just over a year now.  He was the celebrant for our Sunday Eucharist.  He gave a heartfelt homily about the primacy of Jesus in our Christian life.  He encouraged us and our guests to strive to know Jesus more and more, saying that you can’t love what you don’t know and to truly follow Jesus.  It is clear that this is the standard for our archbishop.
After the Eucharist we had a brunch with Archbishop Jackels.  It was a delight getting to know him better.  We were free to ask him any questions we wanted.  Sr. Christine, who will be going to Italy soon, with a stop in Siena, asked him about his devotion to Catherine of Siena.  He told us how he was introduced to her and how he has read all her writings and how her wisdom was so pertinent to our own times in guiding the Church today.
We also had a lot of fun with teasing back and forth and good humor all around.  After brunch he joined us for Midday prayer.  He left with a very monastic gift, vegetables from our garden.  We look forward to our next visit from him.