The Benedictines of Clear Creek

This is in from the Tulsa World.  The great monastery of Fontgombault in France, near Tours, has a foundation in the USA.   This is an article about that foundation.

Tulsa World

A vision appearing

by: BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer

1/12/08

Monks in Oklahoma are creating a cloistered compound built to last 1,000 years.

HULBERT — A vision born 35 years ago on the campus of the University of Kansas and nurtured in a monastery in France moved closer to reality this week, as monks at Our Lady of Clear Creek Monastery moved into their new residence building.

The building is the first part of a monastic complex that will include an 80-by-180-foot church with a 110-foot bell tower.

"This is a dream come true," said the Rev. Phillip Anderson, the prior, or leader, of the Benedictine community living at the monastery.

"All of a sudden, after all these years, it’s happening," he said.

To a visitor driving the gravel roads of rural Oklahoma east of Lake Fort Gibson, the new monastery emerges suddenly from the landscape, tall and imposing.

The idea of establishing in the United States a contemplative community, where monks would live a cloistered life in a monastery, was inspired in the early 1970s among a group of KU students by a Catholic professor.

Most Catholic monasteries in this country are devoted to service, operating schools and other institutions, Anderson said.

"We wanted to build a community like the ancient monasteries, a place devoted to the contemplative life and prayer."

During the 1970s, a number of the KU students went to France to experience monastic life. Some stayed.

Others left after a few years and later married.

Anderson was among those who stayed, living for 24 years at the Benedictine Abbey of Notre Dame de Fontgombault, originally founded in 1091 in the province of Berry, France.

In 1999, the dream of building a monastic community in the U.S. took root. Anderson, by then a Catholic priest, led a group of monks who returned to this country to establish a community under the authority of the Abbey of Notre Dame de Fontgombault.

With the blessing of Bishop Edward J. Slattery of the Diocese of Tulsa, the community purchased more than 1,000 acres in a picturesque valley cut by the waters of Clear Creek. The property had a large rustic house, which became their home, and they built other modest structures.

But their dream was to build a European-style monastery, constructed to last 1,000 years.

The monastery is being built as Romanesque architecture, in the style of its parent Fontgombault monastery.

On Jan. 2, some nine years after arriving in Oklahoma, the monks began moving into the new residence building, the first part of the compound to be completed.

Adjacent to that building is the foundation and lower level of what will be the church.

The four-story residence building is divided into two sides. The first, which will face a garden courtyard, contains 36 cells, or rooms, for the monks, the members of the monastic community. All but six rooms are filled.

The courtyard and monks’ rooms are part of the cloistered area, not open to the public, as part of the monks’ discipline in separation from the world, and silence.

"This is to create an atmosphere conducive to prayer and communion with Christ," Anderson said.

The other side of the residence building has rooms for eight male guests, each with its own full bathroom.

The rooms are similar to the monks’ rooms but less spartan, Anderson said, and the area will have its own courtyard.

Hospitality is a hallmark of the Benedictine Order, providing a place where visitors can find peace and quiet, and a sense of orientation, sanity and spiritual light, Anderson said.

The lower level has kitchen and dining areas, and other meeting rooms. The original building where the monks lived will be converted into guest housing for couples and families, Anderson said.

The building will be dedicated on April 12.

The Benedictine way of life includes strict disciplines of prayer, study and work. The monks tend sheep, gardens and orchards on the property. They are building wood furniture for the new monastery.

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17 Responses to The Benedictines of Clear Creek

  1. Kevin Fogarty says:

    The Benedictines at Clear Creek are devoted to contemplative prayer but it should also be noted they also do back breaking labor in those rocky fields and steeply sloped woods. Ora and labora might be translated as work hard, pray hard.

  2. Jonathan Bennett says:

    The Benedictine monks at Clear Creek are a great blessing for the United States. I hope the success of their monastery continues.

    There are also the traditional Carmelite monks in Wyoming. Their website is worth checking out- http://www.carmelitemonks.org/

  3. TNCath says:

    We can hear good news anytime!!

  4. JML says:

    Their Gregorian Chant CD’s (I have 3) are wonderful and a great way to stay calm while driving on I-95 in the Northeast.

  5. danphunter1 says:

    Dear St Benedict pray for these good and holy men.
    Does anyone know if there is any guest lodging for laymen and their spouse?
    God bless you.

  6. Daniel Muller says:

    Thanks for posting this, Father. I had not heard the latest.

  7. Barb says:

    Yes there is lodging and many people go there for retreats. Now that the monks have moved up the hill, their former quarters are available. I believe Clear Creek has a web site with information. The monks do not answer the telephone, watch TV, or read the newspaper. You can fax them and they will call you. God bless you. A visit to Clear Creek can be life changing.

  8. Scott Smith says:

    I went to Mass there yesterday for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

    Masses are now in the Crypt Church and, as of this week, there is still not any heat, so bundle up.

    It was very cool to see the sun streaming in through one of the windows highlighting the incense behind the altar. Very cool indeed as you could see the breath of the monks as they sang the office of Terce and Mass.

  9. Matthew Mattingly says:

    This is fantastic news about the Benedictines of Clear Creek Monastery. In only 9 years, they have a community of 30 monks, with more to come. This is due to the holiness of their lives, and the Tridentine Latin Mass. It is interesting to note that there are only about 4 Benedictine monasteries in the USA dedicated to cloistered contemplation for monks. Clear Creek, one monastery affiliated to the SSPX in New Mexico which also has close to 30 monks, 1 house in Louisiana, and 1 in New England somewhere (1 forget). Of course we have the Trappists,(12 houses in the USA), but they have liberalized their life, and adopted some weird liturgical abuses/deviations that they all are very aged communities, and some like New Clairvaux and Ava , and Snowmass will probably close in afew years. Enen the large houses like Gethsemani (250+ before Vatican II), has less than 50 monks….all aged (60+).
    Most Benedictine monasteries in the USA are active, and do education or parish apostolates. They are also for the most part (not all), very liberal liturgically…and a handful of the 35+ Benedictine houses for monks in the USA have had serious disiplinary problems among the community which I’d rather not mention. All of these houses are either stagnant, or declining rapidly. Saint John’s Abbey….which was one of the first to become really bizarre and crazy with the Vatican II reforms and liturgy in the 1960’s, has declined to barely 125 aging monks.
    So Clear Creek, with it’s solid Catholic traditions, the Tridentine Latin Mass, and cloistered conteplative life is a great blessing for the USA Catholic Church. So are the traditionalist Carmelite monks in Wyoming
    who are also growing. As the liberal houses of monks, friars, nuns and sisters die out (and they are rapidly), traditionali houses like these will take their place.
    May God bless Clear Creek, and the Carmelite monastery in Wyoming with many vocations. In afew years, we might read that both houses are making a 2nd USA foundation.

  10. Timothy James says:

    There is a beautiful video on Clear Creek Monastery:

    http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=b16f7fd526d5fc677927

  11. danphunter1 says:

    There is a Benedictine Abbey in Copper Hill, Virginia.
    It is called Syon Abbey, and the monks there offer the Tridentine Mass.
    Does anyone know anything about this monastic community?
    Deo Gratias

  12. B. says:

    @danphunter1:
    Sedes.

  13. Emilio says:

    The priory website is http://clearcreekmonks.org/

    Br. Phillip mentioned starting in this direction after finishing active service with the USMC in 1970, but it seems that Semper Fidelis is still his motto.

  14. danphunter1 says:

    B.
    As in vacant?

  15. Bill Haley says:

    There were actually three professors at KU: John Senior, Dennis Quinn and Frank Nelick. Usually Senior is given the most credit for the fruits that flow from the IHP. Perhaps because he published more popular works than the other two. Perhaps the bringing the monastery back here was his.

    Yet, it is worthy to note that Quinn took the initiative at beginning the IHP and he said the work that spurred him most of all was Pieper’s Liesure, the Basis of Culture.

    I find the monks of Clear Creek to be a great testimony to a beautiful education for which those three professors were persecuted at KU. God has blessed their work and sufferings, not only in Clear Creek, OK, but also at Wyoming Catholic College, another visible fruit flowing from the IHP.

    Thank God for such monks and for such natural foundations upon which God’s grace can perfect, and primarily through the liturgy!

  16. Bo says:

    God has blessed us here in the Tulsa Diocese. Not only has the Bishop welcomed Clear Creek with open arms, he has started a liturgical institute here, and with the aid of two wonderful liturgical scholars (I’m most familiar with the “2nd” in command, Father Edward Yew, “alumnus” of Rome), I think we have much to look forward to in the coming years. For an example of one of the few Parishes built after 1980 that I am aware of that doesn’t look like a strip mall, take a look here at St. Therese’s of Collinsville, OK:

    http://www.liturgicalenvirons.com/pdf/StTherese_ProjectSheets.pdf

    Truly we are blessed…Blessed be the name of Jesus Christ!

  17. JDTreat says:

    “and 1 in New England somewhere”

    That would be St. Mary’s in Petersham, Massachusetts of the Subiaco Congregation, which might be considered a model of the reform of the Reform.

    http://jdtreat.com/petersham.htm