November 29, 2017

View The Today Show Segment

The Today Show segment was aired yesterday.  There was a great response.  It was so good that it crashed our website and the server in town.  This was quickly repaired.  If you would like to see it here is a link.

November 18, 2017

New Video Posting

 Recently Iowa Public Television did a piece on us and our candy business.  It is the 8th episode of a show they are doing called Greetings from Iowa.  It is very nicely done.

November 17, 2017


The Today show segment about us has been postponed.  I will post when we get another viewing date.

November 16, 2017

Today Show

We just heard that we will be on a segment of the Today Show on Friday November17.  They filmed the segment a few months ago.

November 15, 2017

New Salted Caramels

Sr Myra salting the caramels
Sr. Mary Therese boxing the caramels

Our Candy season is in full
 swing.  Production is going very well and candy orders are coming in for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This year we have added a somewhat new product 'salted caramels'.  They are really delicious.

Sr. Joan enjoying a salted caramel

October 10, 2017

A Visit with Archbishop Jackels

This past Sunday we had the pleasure of welcoming our archbishop, Michael Jackels for Mass and a brunch afterwards.  We look forward to his yearly visit, but it is not unusual to see him at Monday evening Mass or Compline.
His homily was focused on prayer and gratitude as being one.  A prayer of petition should immediately be followed by a thank you because we know our prayer will be answered by our loving God, though maybe not in the way we first imagined.
After Mass we went to our refectory for brunch.  Our postulant Macerena is a very good cook so we shared her talent with the archbishop, serving egg and cheese burritos and  black beans.  He seemed to enjoy it!

September 21, 2017

Our General Chapter

Every three years all the abbots and abbesses from all over the world meet together to discuss and decide the affairs of the order.  Of course our abbess Mother Rebecca is attending and our sister Grace is there acting as a secretary for the Chapter.  The Chapter is being held in Assisi, Italy a special and holy place to be.

August 18, 2017

Chapter 72

This week we had classes on the Rule of St. Benedict, specifically on Chapter 72, on
The Good Zeal of Monks.  Fr. Terrance Kardong, a well-known scholar on the rule was our presenter.  He has written a commentary on the Rule and books on other monastic topics.  He is a monk at Assumption Abbey in North Dakota.

  Chapter 72
Try to be the first in showing respect to one another
Supporting one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior with the greatest patience
Competing in trying to show obedience to one another
Not pursuing what we think is best for ourselves but looking for what is best for the other
Giving a pure love of brothers to the other brothers
Giving loving fear to God
Giving honest and humble love to their abbot

July 17, 2017

O.Cist. Visitor

Wrapping spring rolls
Sr. Tran
For the past 2 weeks we had a visitor from the Cistercian Common Observance, a cousin so to speak, of our OCSO branch.  Sr. Tran from Vietnam is studying theology at the Divine Word Seminary in Epworth , Iowa.  She is on summer break and wanted  to have a few weeks in a monastery as she is missing monastic life.  We were delighted to have her.  Sr. Tran prepared a traditional Vietnamese celebration meal for us for the Feast of St. Benedict.  It was delicious!  She promises to return for Thanksgiving break and Christmas.
Spring Rolls
Fresh Ingredients
Sauce for Spring Rolls
Chicken Dish
Pork Noodle Soup
Sr. Tran with Sr. Grace

The Today Show

Last week Samantha Wender, a producer for NBC and for the Today show came to film our candy operation and our way of life.  The segment is due to air sometime in September.  The time and link to the website will be posted here as soon as we know the time and link.  Samantha was a delight and was a one woman show doing all the filming and interviewing.

July 13, 2017

Lightning Strikes Again and Again

Shaggy hickory tree
We have had a series of severe thunderstorms this week.  On Tuesday night we had a big strike right outside the senior wing.  The lightning first hit a shaggy bark hickory tree and then hit the elevator tower.  M. Rebecca heard it and thought 'how much is this one going to cost'.  In the morning we found out.  The elevator was not working, nor the fire alarm system.  The sister closest to the hit had her alarm clock fried.  The internet was also out.  Happily, it wasn't as bad as the strike we had last year and most everything was back to normal in 2 days.  Wednesday night we had another strike which severed a large limb off the oak tree next to the shaggy bark hickory tree.  It did not travel elsewhere.  We are grateful for all the rain and the gardens are beautiful.

Downed limb
severed tree

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