WY Carmelite Monks: efforts to block their monastery

From a reader:

Your readers might want to know that there is a strongly vocal minority in the Meeteetse area of Wyoming that is trying to delay or even block the Carmelite Monks from building their monastery.  One public hearing has already taken place and another is coming soon.  The monks need two county permits in order to build.  Please, everyone, PRAY that they get the permits.  In addition, you could add your vote to an online poll on the homepage of the Cody Enterprise newspaper: http://www.codyenterprise.com/



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  1. mdillon says:

    Blocking the monastery? It sounds like the typical modus operandi for “tolerant” and enlightened liberals.

  2. GirlCanChant says:

    I can’t imagine why anyone would want to block the building of a monastery. Also, I was unable to vote in the poll on the Cody Enterprise site. Have we broken it already? There is also an article about the potential monastery on the Cody Enterprise site – it featured people with positive opinions. Does anyone know what line the blockers are taking?

  3. Randii says:

    First off, if we assume this is religious predjudice then I hope we have the same assumption about efforts to block the NY mosque.

    Now some say it’s a zoning issue in NYC but if I am to accept that as the reason for the opposition to th mosque I think it equally as likely this is zoning releated.

    A pristene setting locals want to keep as such and not have a huge building placed out in the middle of the spectacular mountain country around Cody.

  4. AnAmericanMother says:


    It worked for me.


    As one of the commenters said, the ‘pristine local setting’ includes heavy industry and double-wides. Plus, this will be on private property well back from the roadway.

    It won’t harm the spectacular mountain country any more than the Biltmore Estate does the Smoky Mountains. And the Biltmore’s much larger (and not as handsome either).


  5. Mark R says:

    It’s a vocal minority. The only unanimous votes I know of were in the Politbiuro.

    Even if I were not a Catholic, I would want to look into this if a monastery were being built in my area…it could change the character of an area or they could be a bunch of creeps. (And for clergy, I prefer the offices of order men to diocesan priests! And I especially have a huge respect for monks…they are not only a Christian instituion, but a human one as well.)

  6. I was able to cast a vote, and the results so far are a bit over 91% in favor of the monastery being built. An article that mentions some of the reasons for local ranchers opposing the monastery is here: http://www.codyenterprise.com/news/local/article_f0be418c-ab14-11df-b3fd-001cc4c002e0.html

    The opposition seems to center mostly around traffic, viewshed issues, and wildlife displacement, particularly elk.

  7. AnAmericanMother says:


    I call irrelevance on the NYC Mosque. The Carmelites aren’t building on top of the site of a national tragedy, nor did Catholics fly airplanes into the Buffalo Bill Historical Center or the Rodeo.

  8. Randii says:

    “The opposition seems to center mostly around traffic, viewshed issues, and wildlife displacement, particularly elk.”

    This was my guess too. No religious bigotry – just typical NIMBY behaviour.

    Still, it’s not good to be looking for anti-Catholic bigotry around every bend. That seemed to be the intimation in placing this is The Last Acceptable Bigotry category and it would better have fit in general news or such..

  9. Liz F says:

    Thank you, reader and Fr. Z, for alerting us so that we can pray!

  10. catholicmidwest says:

    Good call, AnAmericanMother.

    I think there might be another reason for the objections, though. In the middle of the biggest downturn in 50 years, it’s a bit hard to imagine what a dozen or so people are going to do with 145,000 square feet of space enclosed in marble or similar. That on 2500 acres of land. I’m having a bit of trouble imagining it myself. I’m reading that there will be room for 40 “monks” total. Even at capacity, that’s very roomy, downright luxurious, if you want to know my opinion. [You are equating space with luxurious?]

    Don’t get me wrong. I think monasteries are wonderful. I just don’t get this one. This isn’t a “Carmelite” thing. I’m not sure what it is. [I am guessing the Carmelites know what it is.]

  11. Jerry says:

    @Randii – “First off, if we assume this is religious predjudice then I hope we have the same assumption about efforts to block the NY mosque.”

    I don’t recall hearing of the monks being associated with or supporting groups that killed thousands of American citizens.

  12. Jerry says:


    That’s pretty much what I got from the newspaper article. One point of contention is a gift shop the objectors claim was added to the site usage proposal after the monks stated they desire little public contact. The locals may well be wondering what other uses the monks might come up with for all that space after the plan is approved.

  13. catholicmidwest says:

    You know, Carmelites usually live in smaller, more humble houses, usually attached to a large church in a city. They’re fairly poor and they generally do a lot of teaching about prayer, along with performing some apostolates in the neighborhoods. Even the Teresianum in Rome isn’t as elaborate as what’s being proposed in Wyoming.

    Here is the convent where St. Teresa started the Discalced Carmelites. It’s quite small and it’s just that center part tucked into a corner in the photo. You get to it by walking down a narrow lane in the city of Avila. It’s tucked back in behind other things.

  14. Traductora says:

    Randii, it’s sweet of you to be concerned about the Muslims’s religious liberty, but they already have that and there is already a mosque 4 blocks from Ground Zero. However, Islam is not a religion but a political and legal system, and many floors of their new supposed “mosque” are occupied by the Sharia Index Project, an entity that monitors the sharia compliance of the host country. So you might want to rethink this.

    And as for Wyoming, who exactly is opposing it? Wyoming has a lot of Mormons; I knew somebody who grew up there and was the only Catholic in a Mormon town and was taught in public school that the Indians were members of the Ten Lost Tribes and had arrived here in “cork submarines,” which is apparently a Mormon belief. So I think we need to know a little bit more about the neighbors before we can figure out why this is happening. I went to the newspaper link and didn’t see anything about it.

  15. catholicmidwest says:

    Maybe they should start in their present location, doing the good Carmelite work of praying, spiritual direction and other apostolates. Then they can build more as needed to support their needs.

  16. NeoCarlist says:

    @catholicmidwest – I don’t know what it is about Fr. Daniel and his monks that irks you, but your strange little suspicions are way off base. Did you look at the building plan on their website, what the vision is for the place? They have already outgrown their current site, where they are already doing the good Carmelite work. They’re trying to build more as needed, that’s the point here. And, yes, Father is thinking big.
    I know this area. The opposing ranchers are engaging in NIMBY’ism. I have been told that one of the opponents is also a big developer in the area, so claims of ruining the pristine beauty are somewhat laughable.

  17. catholidmidwest: I’m with you.
    I don’t think you’re being nasty, at all.
    Just very practical and discerning.

  18. catholicmidwest says:

    I’m not being nasty. I’ve had some contact with the OCDs and the O’Carms and they don’t build huge monasteries as a rule. I’m being informative.

    I guess I think the insistence on this huge monastery is kind of odd, given the fact that the O’Carms of Ancient Observance were driven out of what is now Israel where they were founded. The OCD branch of the Carmelites, which was the reform movement, was founded jointly by St Teresa of Avila and a man so poor as a child he nearly starved to death. In fact, I have read his own brother did die of starvation. The hand of God and his ability saved Juan de Ypes, who was to become St. John of the Cross.

    Perhaps those managing the aims of this order are thinking more of the Benedictines or something like that.

  19. Stu says:

    This monastery will be a great centerpiece and source of grace for the Catholic community that will no doubt flourish around it. Definitely needed in this day and age just like the monasteries of the Middle Ages.

  20. Luke says:

    I voted on the Cody paper site.

    The proposed building plan is extensive. And yet it appears that the cells will befit the Rule and forty monks will take up a lot of that space. It sounds like Father is getting a large number of vocations–quite wonderful.

  21. catholicmidwest says:


    Like the Abbey at Santa Domingo de Silos or the Abbeys at Cluny & Fontgambault, right? Those are Benedictine Monasteries. There are also Carthusian charter houses that seem to fit your description. And there are Norbertines and some others. But Carmelites don’t really build things like that.

    I hope you are right that we will get some “fortresses of faith.” We’re going into a dark period of history much like the dark period in which the first great monasteries were built and we need bulwarks against the darkness. I certainly agree with you there.

  22. robtbrown says:

    I’m reading that there will be room for 40 “monks” total. Even at capacity, that’s very roomy, downright luxurious, if you want to know my opinion.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think monasteries are wonderful. I just don’t get this one. This isn’t a “Carmelite” thing. I’m not sure what it is.
    Comment by catholicmidwest

    The drawing indicates they want it like the early Cistercian monasteries with individual hermitages. The Carthusian monasteries have a similar design. Have you ever visited La Grande Charreuse or at least seen pictures of it?

  23. catholicmidwest says:

    I’ve seen pictures of it, robtbrown. But Carthusians are whole other thing entirely. Their charism isn’t Carmelite or Benedictine. For one thing, Carthusians aren’t mendicants, but Carmelites are.

  24. Hidden One says:

    There is a difference between “Carmelites don’t” and “Carmelites haven’t“, and I don’t know that any of us commenters possess the spiritual credentials to decide which it is. Is this line taken by some of the commenters akin to someone who may have said a long time ago, “Religious aren’t mendicants” (or, more recently, “Priests don’t live in community with charity as the bond without the vows of religious), or is it more like a modern Catholic saying, “Carthusians don’t spend their lives pulling the dying off the streets of Calcutta”? Because these Wyoming Carmelites are not OCD or O. Carm, it is theoretically possible that their form of Carmelite life is legitimately different from those groups. So, is this particular difference (cf. catholicmidwest’s comment) legit?

    I don’t know, and I wouldn’t bet any one else here does either. I really do not think that most Catholics, especially non-Carmelites, have all that much business saying that it’s one or another. It’s one thing to form a judgment and quite another to express it or to attempt to have it enforced. I don’t know that any of us are even qualified to make the judgment in the first place.

  25. catholicmidwest says:

    Well, maybe you’d ought to ask a Carmelite then. It just seemed odd to me because I know some Carmelites and know something about the order from talking to them.

  26. robtbrown says:

    Like the Abbey at Santa Domingo de Silos or the Abbeys at Cluny & Fontgambault, right? Those are Benedictine Monasteries. There are also Carthusian charter houses that seem to fit your description. And there are Norbertines and some others. But Carmelites don’t really build things like that.
    Comment by catholicmidwest

    Agree. And the Carms–both branches–have never been considered monks.

    This is simply a new style of Carm life.

  27. catholicmidwest says:

    There are some real differences of charism & mission involved here and they are distinct and definable. Specifically, there are rules and constitutions belonging to all these orders which govern their operation and guide their progress. And there are experts belonging to each of these orders whose writings regarding their charisms can be read.

    Here’s a rather nice but short article on the history of the Ancient Order from the British O’Carm site. http://www.carmelite.org/index.php?nuc=content&id=4

    There is no merit to being sloppy about knowing knowable things, Hidden One.

  28. Luke says:

    According to Canon Law they would still be classified as hermits. If they want and can afford the proposed plan, then nothing that they claim to be seems to bar them from it.

    These particular particulars don’t seem to amount to a “hill of beans” with regard to whether or not they should be blocked from building a monastery. They should not be so blocked, of course. If it weren’t for putting elk above human need we might have oil wells in Alaska. I hope that a few displaced elk don’t get in the way of these two permits.

  29. catholicmidwest says:

    Perhaps it is just a new form of Carmelite life, robtbrown. I’m curious how it’s integrated with the rest of the charism, that’s all.

  30. kate_rub says:

    Catholicmidwest – You may not be aware that this group takes its origins from the hermits in the Holy Land at Mount Carmel that first claimed the name Carmel, and not from the later mendicant forms of the order that took on the Dominican/Franciscan model when they moved back to Europe in the thirteenth century.

    So actually a comparison to Carthusian or perhaps Cistercian monasteries is indeed most apt in terms of the space they need.

    As their website makes clear, they are monks not friars; not actives with an apostolate but strictly contemplative.

    Surely as Catholics we should be supportive of all such ventures, these oases in a sea of secularism?

  31. catholicmidwest says:

    But Kate, Carmelites aren’t monks. They’re friars.

    Quoting from the British O’Carm site,

    “This way of life was approved successively by Honorius III in 1226, by Gregory IX in 1229, and by Innocent IV in 1245. In 1247, Innocent IV approved it definitively as an authentic rule of life, amending it to suit Western conditions. These adaptations became necessary when the Carmelites began to migrate to the West to escape persecution, and expressed a desire to lead a life “in which, with the help of God, they would have the joy of working for their own salvation and that of their neighbour.” As a result of the approval of the Rule by Innocent IV, the Carmelites placed themselves at the service of the Church, according to the common ideal of the Mendicant Orders…

    So, from the Carmelites themselves, they are indeed mendicants ever since the adoption of the rule of Innocent IV in 1247.

    As for supporting efforts to make the Church better known and loved, of course I am in favor of them. I don’t know any real Catholic who wouldn’t be in favor of them. But of course, it’s always best if they make sense.

  32. catholicmidwest says:

    Ah, Kate, we may be getting somewhere with this. I may be hearing you say that these men are attempting to emulate the hermits of primitive Carmel before the Rule of Innocent IV in 1247. Is that what you are saying?

    If so, then they are not really O’Carms, OCDs or any of the many orders affiliated with them, which we ordinarily refer to as Carmelites, all of whom take their charisms from that Rule of Innocent IV. They would have a different charism distinct from those orders, and a different identity from them, as well, having not branched off of them at all, but rather being an emulation of something that went before that rule. They would be a brand new foundation of “proto-” Carmelites.

    I wonder if they use the primitive rule of St Albert (1206-1214), before the adaptations of Pope Honorius in 1226, which laid the foundation for what was to come later?

  33. David Collins says:

    Randii et alii, there’s nothing wrong with religious prejudice against Muslims. If Americans had any sense we wouldn’t permit the building of any mosques nor the immigration of Muslims.

  34. Norah says:

    Catholicmidwest, I am sure that the monks would welcome your feedback and questions about their lives and the new monastery. When you get answers to your questions come back here and tell us please.

    Contact Us
    Carmelite Monastery
    P.O. Box 2747
    Cody, WY 82414-2747



    This from the website which has a plan of the proposed cells for the monks.

    I would guess from the size of the buildings are for future generations of monks. My husband, who is a builder, says that later additions are much more expensive than original buildings.

    “The conceptual design for the new monastery and church is “still at a very preliminary stage”.

    One will quickly notice that the Blessed Sacrament is the center of the proposed monastery from which all life, all monastic tradition flows. The Lord’s House, the magnificent gothic church is designed to accommodate 150 laity in addition to the 40 monks. Since the church is truly the dwelling place of our God, it is fitting that the church be worthy of our Lord and Master by being a place of exquisite beauty…the monks’ hermitages or cabins all surround this chapel to the Virgin Mary.

    The Carmelite Rule prescribes that each monk has “an individual, separate cell” where he is to “meditate on the law of the Lord, day and night”. The hermitages are designed to be simple and poor, while being made of durable materials and conducive to solitude. Each monk will have a small garden in the rear of his hermitage where he may work the earth and spend time in prayer outdoors.

  35. JonM says:

    There are many aspects to this, and since I know only headlines about this project, I will keep to generalities.

    Opponents are being NIMBYs with a heaping cup of anti-Catholicism. ‘Rugged individualist’ myth buyers hate the order of the Church and associate monasteries, at least subconsciously, with Scarely Middle Ages.

    The local objections are basless.

    Indeed, any Catholic should oppose any Mosque. Especially one making a huge insulting statement.

    CatholicMidwest is right: the timing is inopportune. We are in a depression and unless the USCCB decides to act constructively and support policies that are at least vaguely Distributivist, most of us can’t support another cause, praise worthiness that it is.

  36. raitchi2 says:

    The audacity of these monks is outrageous! Building a beacon of their faith nearly two blocks from such a historic area. These monks are going to desecrate hollowed ground. What is this country coming to?

  37. Amerikaner says:

    Other articles here – http://www.codyenterprise.com/search/?t=article&q=monastery

    Interesting one about the town taxing the monks for their coffee… The Monks are doing good work to be facing so much opposition and turmoil in the area!

  38. g. thomas ryan says:

    Catholicmidwest and others who want them to be just like O. Carm. and/or OCD,
    As their own website states, they are not. They are independent. As the international and national lists of mendicant Carmelites says by omission, they are not there. They are independent. Another group, earnestly trying to recover founding values. Bravo. BTW, Camaldoli monks in hermitages might be a better comparison, as well as Carthusians…but not Cistercians and Trappists.

    Catholicmidwest, who later feels that we may be getting some place, and others letting the dear monks know what they should do, what would it take to get through your minds that we need to protect and support initiatives from religious groups (most dearly our own Catholic initiatives) in the external forum. Caesar Augustus should NEVER dictate a religious architecture project. Next, Caesar will dictate the catechetical lesson plan or opening hymn. Of course, there are toilet-sewer-septic regs, traffic regs, cuts into public ways regs, coverage of acreage regs, etc. but — literally “for God’s sake” — please let us unite in not pestering the monks with stylistic and size biases…giving local opponents and zoning czars ammo to try to stop the intentions of the monks.

    In the private forum, sure, if you get the monks’ ears and say that (among ourselves) this or that fresh direction might be appropriate, go ahead.

    But feeding info to Wyoming opponents in this public blog is not good. We need to fight to death to protect our rights in the face of Caesar Augustus.

  39. Liz F says:

    Oh my goodness. I can’t believe some of these posts. These monks are so simple and humble and the Glory and Magnificance is for God NOT for them. The want to build some gorgeous to glorify God. If they wanted opulance for themselves they wouldn’t have given up the world like they have. This is crazy. That’s like saying when priests wear gorgeous vestmants at mass it’s because they love themselves. You don’t see that it’s for God? Today we started praying an extra litany for them because they are obviously under assault. They must doing something right! God bless and keep them!

  40. NeoCarlist says:

    @jonm – Actually I’m a rugged individualist “myth” buyer, as are all of my friends out there in Wyoming, all of whom are supporters of the monastery. So, a somewhat mistargeted potshot.

  41. Andy Milam says:

    Speaking about the Muslim v. Carmelite string…As has been said, the Carmelites are not associated with those who are responsible for killing Americans. Also, it is well documented that what the Muslims are doing is what they always do, when they “conquer” a site, they immediately put up a mosque in that place to mark their conquest. We simply should not let that happen. Understanding a political action veiled in religion doesn’t constitute us saying they are simply exercising religious liberty. The religion is a veil. Remember, one of Islam’s goals is to convert the world. This is exactly how they do it. This shouldn’t be allowed, plain and simple. They did it in Israel, they did it in Saudi Arabia, they did it in Egypt, every place throughout history; this is how they do it. To simply allow them to do it here is tacit approval of their action. It shouldn’t be allowed.

    As for the Carmelites, I think that a piece is missing. I don’t believe they are simply building this just for themselves. If you know anything about Carmelite spirituality then you know that part of their charism is to give glory to God. That is why they are building such a large and supposedly oppulent building. If what they are doing is a way for them to glorify God, then I have no issue with how ornate it is. Because it isn’t simply for their own glory, but it is a way for them to give greater glory to God. Build on, I say, build on…

  42. NeoCarlist says:

    @jonm – And “the timing is inoppurtune”? What nonsense. Inoppurtune to build a center of prayer and contemplation and tremendous source of grace in our corrupt world? I suppose the timing of building the early monasteries in the dark ages were “inoppurtune”? You want to wait for the bishops bureacracy to start supporting the economic fantasies of a couple of writers before we build any more monasteries? Good luck with that.

  43. JosephMary says:

    The present population of all the huge state of Wyoming is about 530,000 people, less that the population of, say, Colorado Springs. And about 1/10 of those people live in Cheyenne. The state is very sparsely populated and the wide open spaces are more than plentiful.

    As for elk, there are tons of elk in Wyoming! No shortage there at all and they have a hunting season for elk. I cannot imagine that building a monestary would impact the elk at all.

    I have been to the present monestary. Not real easy to find and for sure “off the beaten path”. You do not have that many people roaming Wyoming to begin with and if more folks are drawn to come and visit, it would only be an economic boon for places like Powell and Cody.

    It seems that most of the excuses for not allowing the monestary are specious. Mabe the next reason will be that it negatively affects the flight patterns of migrating birds or something.

  44. robtbrown says:

    As their own website states, they are not. They are independent. As the international and national lists of mendicant Carmelites says by omission, they are not there. They are independent. Another group, earnestly trying to recover founding values. Bravo.

    Unlike the Dominicans the Carmelites have eremetical roots, thus the monastery makes sense within Carmelite Spirituality.

    BTW, Camaldoli monks in hermitages might be a better comparison, as well as Carthusians…but not Cistercians and Trappists.
    Comment by g. thomas ryan

    The early Cistercians of Robert of Molesmes lived in a community of individual huts linked together (i.e., laura).

  45. irishgirl says:

    I hope and pray that the good monks will get their building permits.

    Sounds like what happened with Mother Angelica when she built her original monastery in Birmingham, Alabama back in the early 1960s. I was reading that part last night in Raymond Arroyo’s biography of her (read it aloud to myself).

  46. Antony says:

    Dear CatholicMidwest and others:

    Praised be Jesus Christ and all His saints!

    Being from the area, and having experience with the good priest in question and his family, I would like to share a few points:

    They are not O’Carm, as has been established by others here.

    They have worked closely with the former local ordinary (+Ricken) and continue to work with the new Bishop of the diocese. None of these plans are impulsive or shoot-from-the-hip.

    They currently occupy humble dwellings. Locals cram into the basement to hear Holy Mass on Sundays in the Carmelite rite. Standing room only is the norm. Fr. Daniel Mary is inundated with new candidates all the time. Most here should not be surprised by this since statistics and common sense show that when orders are truly Catholic, vocations are plentiful.

    Growing seasons are short in that part of the world. Lots of land is needed to support lots of mouths.

    Regarding finances…as a convert once told me about critics of ornate church buildings: God can afford it. It strikes me as the height of stinginess to suggest that a monastery should be built according to standards dictated by current economic conditions. No expense should be spared in it’s construction.

    The Cody area is rapidly becoming the new “Jackson Hole” in Wyoming. The land previously sought by these monks was sold from underneath them and the purchaser was also the founder of Microsoft. These wealthy immigrants do not build humble homes that do not mar the landscape. They pick the most beautiful building sight and then spend the next two years building a palace. Locals ooh and awe over the grandeur of their homes and outbuildings. Having seen this with my own two eyes, I have a hard time not vomiting when I read the objections to this building. One example – On the drive to Yellowstone, plainly visible from the highway to the South, is a large green metal building (and I mean large) that houses, amongst other things, a swimming pool for horses.

    A monastery should be constructed to last until the Second Coming of Christ.

    Fr’s long term plan includes housing for contemplative nuns as well.

    It is easy to armchair quarterback after reading one or two articles and looking at a set of plans. I would ask those who are skeptical to do a bit more research and take a look at what is going on here.

    In Christ,


  47. Larry R. says:

    A couple of more points to add to Antony’s – these monks have been an order for years and trying to build a final facility for the past several. As Antony said, they tried to acquire one lot of land and had it sold out from under them. I can understand why they are concerned about delays to this deal – their contract expires on Oct 1 and after that they may have to start over again from scratch, which in this most recent case was a delay of two years to find another suitable location. Bear in mind, these monks raise funds by selling coffee (which, surprisingly, I have found some people thinking is somehow “improper”) and need space for their manufacturing location. They also want to build a beautiful chapel, which I think is understandable. Most of the 145000 sq ft. will be occupied by those two uses.

    Regarding the “pristine nature” of the area, there is an open strip min about 3 miles south of Meeteetse Rd, the “private road” in question in the article along which the monks which to build. The monastery is not even near Cody – it’s 40 miles south southwest of the town. Looking at satellite maps, there is very little in the way of habitation near their proposed location, and they are many miles from the highway. The facility will sit in a valley, from what I could tell, only 1 or 2 habitations would have even the potential for a sightline to the monastery. There are concerns regarding water use and run-off, which is a joke given the strip mine, IMO.

    I lived in the general vicinity for about a year. There is less an extant anti-catholicism than there is a general distaste for the “different” more marked than one would generally find. My instinct tells me that if this were a protestant or mormon seminary, for instance, there would be fewer complaints. One factor to consider is that the opponents have retained legal counsel already, that does make my ears prick up and wonder if there isn’t some funding behind this opposition that is not generally available to local ranchers.

    One interesting tidbit – one of the complainants is the head of the Meeteetse visitor’s welcome center. One would think she would be open to something that might draw more visitors to the area. Even though this area is near Yellowstone, it’s very sparse and desolate. It does not draw scads of tourists.

  48. Henry Edwards says:

    I have some personal knowledge about the holy Wyoming Carmelite monks. I cannot remember a previous WDTPRS thread in which so much baseless nonsense has been spouted by folks whose previous posts suggest they ought to know better.

  49. “…Catholic Carmelite monks to build a 145,000-square foot French Gothic-style monastery and a coffee roasting facility on a portion of the 2,500-acre property that currently is the Dave Grabbert Ranch.”

    Only in America!

    Also, between this and Wyoming Catholic College, Wyoming may be becomming something of a Catholic mecca.

  50. roamincatholic says:

    Well, I live in “Jackson Hole.”

    As a DRE, I don’t often get away from the Hole, but this past spring my wife and I took the end of the Easter octave and went to visit some friends who live in Clark, where the Monks currently live.

    They are currently living in a house. Other than the fences that surround the property, it would look like a normal (albeit very large, and nice!) house. They built it as a temporary residence, and have made do with adapting it to a monastery, so that when they move to their permanent premises, they can re-sell the house to off-set some of the costs. It seems that they are making many sacrifices to help get their community off the ground, the least of which is having their chapel be what would probably be a recreation room in the downstairs of your house.

    I have to tell you that I am so impressed with these monks. They have a very joyful spirit, and a love of the Lord that is infectious. The new area (as you heard earlier about their previous land bid) that they are hoping to settle in is a pretty desolate area. There’s nothing around there! The fact that they have found a bit of land up in the beauty of the mountains that is affordable is a great blessing from God.

    Stop griping, and go buy some Mystic Monk Coffee to support them.

  51. robtbrown says:

    Well, I live in “Jackson Hole.”
    Comment by roamincatholic

    Do you know a lawyer named Dave Lewis?

  52. teaguytom says:

    We have had this problem in my area of Pennsylvania. Locals, who have had the same rural way of life for decades, were up in arms about Marylanders moving North. They assumed that everyone was automatically a rich yuppie who wanted to buy all their land for their nail salons etc. They even tried to stop school buses from coming in new developments because it wasn’t their “traditional way.” Eventually, most of the locals understood that the newcomers were mostly nice and helped their economy. I doubt the monastery is going to equal building a mine or a nuclear plant.

  53. TravelerWithChrist says:

    “Nothing but the best for our LORD” – from Mother Angelica.

  54. poohbear says:

    In the middle of the biggest downturn in 50 years,

    What better time to start a building project? Imagine all the people who could find jobs because of the construction. What a boon to the local economy a project of this scale could be.

    most of us can’t support another cause

    But many of us support the local coffee shop to the tune of $3-$5 a cup per day, at least during the work week. That adds up to $60-$100 per month. Buying coffee from the monks is more cost effective and supports the cause. Just a thought.

  55. robtbrown says:

    I’ve seen pictures of it, robtbrown. But Carthusians are whole other thing entirely. Their charism isn’t Carmelite or Benedictine. For one thing, Carthusians aren’t mendicants, but Carmelites are.
    Comment by catholicmidwest

    Mendicant simply designates that they originally supported themselves by begging, unlike, say, Benedictines, whose monasteries were working farms.

    I don’t know of any OCarms or OCD’s who now beg.

  56. This may, in fact, be a “new form” of consecrated life; the O.Carm and OCD male communities have never lived like the strictly enclosed O.Carm or OCD Nuns.
    That being said.
    The real issue here, if you will, is the “transparency” and stability of this group; millions of dollars of the faithful are going for this endeavour. It is a risk, if you will.
    I don’t doubt the sincerity and fervor of these Carmelite monks.
    But any new venture, new community in the Church, must go through trials, persecutions and sufferings;
    that ‘tests the metal’, if you will.
    And the need to discern and question is not a necessarily “bad” thing…it’s all a part of the process of beginning something “new”, while yet traditional.
    We have had, unfortunately, several instances of communities, some even with pontifical approval, who have said one thing, done another.
    This does not condemn all new endeavours; but we have to always be careful and discerning…
    the hard-earned money of the faithful, who deserve transparency and sincerity, is at stake here.

  57. Stu says:

    “most of us can’t support another cause”

    Personally, aside from my parish and a pro-life organization, all of my other charitable donations go to traditional religious orders like this on the rise. We need these prayer warriors both strong and in a place to provide anchors of the faith in today’s society.

  58. catholicmidwest says:

    g thomas ryan, you said, “Catholicmidwest and others who want them to be just like O. Carm. and/or OCD,……”

    They’re the ones that are billing themselves as Carmelites. They are not strictly so; rather, they are a diocesan organization, drawing from published sources of the primitive rule of St. Albert.

    You don’t seem to understand how religious orders work.

  59. catholicmidwest says:

    Nazareth priest, you are correct. I used to travel with one whose investigation by the Holy See has just been completed.

  60. catholicmidwest says:


    IF you mean panhandle on the mall, no they don’t.

    But they do depend on voluntary donations for services and support from patrons. That’s how they live.

  61. catholicmidewest: The horrible “rape”, if you will, of good, sincere and devout Catholics, in communities and endeavours that are polluted by filth, greed, sexual predation, and God know what else, is just an absolute scandal.
    What might look like a duck, folks, may NOT be a duck; this is just a very charitable exhortation to ask questions, look around, find out background information, don’t be “duped”…your hard-earned $ need to be given to authentic communities that are doing what they say they are doin’…this has no reflection upon the Wyoming Carmelite Monks…if they have the bishop’s approval, fine…just be careful, y’all. Prayers, love and blessing! FrJM

  62. Maggie45 says:

    Here’s the link to the article:


    One person in the comment section says that it doesn’t seem like the reporter was at the same meeting that the commenter was.

    Here is the monks’ main site:


  63. robtbrown says:

    IF you mean panhandle on the mall, no they don’t.

    But they do depend on voluntary donations for services and support from patrons. That’s how they live.
    Comment by catholicmidwest

    Not really. There are OCarms in a parish here. The priests receive salaries from the archdiocese that are sent to the Order. The same principle applies to any mendicant who holds a teaching or professional position.

  64. ALL: I think you should all pray for them and give them your support, even if only by your prayers and good wishes.

  65. TravelerWithChrist says:

    I’m seeing a lack in a FAITH in GOD from some of the commenters. If you feel called to make donations, do so. If you buy coffee, I can guarantee the Mystic Monk coffee is going to a better cause than Starbucks, and easier on the wallet; why not make the switch. To assume the monks haven’t discerned, shouldn’t have such grand plans, or that in 20 years the building will be empty, in my opinion, sounds a bit like the talk in the 60s and 70s when we greatly changed the design of our churches – for the worse.

    As for the monestary, several lay men are gathering funds and formed a foundation for this endeaver.
    The monks will live in poverty, as it is an essential part of their life. They work eight hours a day six days a week and make nothing from their work. Each monk at the monastery makes nothing at all. Each monk lives in a poor small hermitage heated by a wood stove with a wall around it for solitude.
    The chapel is built for God. It is part of the monks’ charism and tradition to build a beautiful chapel for GOD and small cabins for themselves.

    ST. THERESA of JESUS, like St. Francis of Assisi, and so very many of the saints insisted that while the monastery ought to be simple, the church should be fitting for our Divine King.


    Please check out their website, it is an inspiration.

  66. robtbrown says:

    I’m seeing a lack in a FAITH in GOD from some of the commenters.

    Why must you make it personal?

    If you feel called to make donations, do so.

    Feel called to make donations? I have at various times in my life made contributions to religious houses and/or bought some of their products. I never “felt called” to do so and don’t attribute my actions to the Holy Spirit.

    If you buy coffee, I can guarantee the Mystic Monk coffee is going to a better cause than Starbucks, and easier on the wallet; why not make the switch. To assume the monks haven’t discerned, shouldn’t have such grand plans, or that in 20 years the building will be empty, in my opinion, sounds a bit like the talk in the 60s and 70s when we greatly changed the design of our churches – for the worse.
    Comment by TravelerWithChrist

    I intend to buy some of their coffee. And I think it’s wise to point out that the proposal for their monastery is just that–it will be built in stages.

  67. I just want to say this: check this out according to your abilities.
    God does want contemplative communities to exist and flourish. No doubt about it.
    But make sure your financial help is going to places where there is authenticity and the blessing of the Lord.
    This is no judgment upon this enterprise nor upon any others.
    But be discerning and careful. Your hard-earned money should go to worthy, stable and authentic works of the Church.
    No judgment or aspersions upon anything I, in my own opinion, might think otherwise; just make sure your $ are being used for the purposes for which you give them.
    We have had, unfortunately, some charlatans and wolves in our midst…just be sure you are giving your financial support to those who deserve it.

  68. Joe in Canada says:

    I’m not sure being of diocesan right makes them a ‘diocesan organization’, any more than the fact that the Society of Jesus is of pontifical right makes it a papal organization.

  69. Joe in Canada: By canon law, if you are a public association of the faithful, and thus, with the approval of the diocesan bishop, you have certain rights and responsibilities.
    As for the Society of Jesus; that’s another matter to be addressed by someone much more competent than myself. Prayers and blessing to you, Joe!

  70. Inkstain says:

    I have to admit to being a bit surprised at how divisive the discussions have been regarding these good monks. What, after all, is basis for the criticism?

    That they differ from the Carmelite charism? While they differ in some respects they are reaching back to its eremetic roots. The Teresian reform also met with much conflict and misunderstanding from the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance. The mere fact that this group is different in some respects from the former should not, I think, be of overarching concern.

    Luxury? I mean,.. really? Many of the Charterhouses of the Carthusians are imposing structures but not many would accuse them of wallowing in luxury. The luxury argument was used all too often by protestants against Catholics, how was it wrong for them to apply it then and right for us to apply it here?

    Lack of humility? Consider just for a moment the disagreements raised here, in a firmly Catholic community. Do you think they had not considered such a possibility. They feel a call from God and offer their lives to answer that call, with all the various pains and sacrifices and humiliations that always come with this.

    May God’s will be done in this as in all things.

    Pax Vobiscum

  71. Inkstain: Absolutely.
    May this “new form” of the Carmelite charism be blessed in every way!
    And may they be faithful in their charism,and offer their lives of prayer and self-oblation according to their charism.
    And may all those who contribute to their “way of life” be blessed accordingly.

  72. JonM says:

    I think that there is some unnecessary tension in this discussion.

    To clarify, ‘rugged individualist’ typically (though perhaps not to all) means one who gives primacy to particular civil rights outlined in the American Constitution, is generally opposed to hierarchical structures, and lives ‘on his own.’ For the most part, these are Protestants of various flavors or people who lack much religious conviction at all.

    Catholics don’t fit this mould because we know that we are one human family ultimately and while not immediately responsible for all people in a material sense, we do have to attend Mass and call upon the Angels and Saints for help.

    It’s not a point I want to get bogged down in.

    Regarding the Monastery…

    Many of us do not buy frivolously and so there would be no product substitution. But that is besides the point that CatholicMidwest kindly brought up and was buttressed with Nazareth Priest’s comments.

    There is nothing wrong with attempting to do a little investigation or accounting into a project. I can tell you directly that even at a relatively good parish, there is incredible spending waste and mis-management of funds. For example, to subsidise a bus trip for the ruling clique of lay busy-bodies (of a certain age and who have plenty of money) going to a conference (that may or may not have much of a spiritual effect) in a depression, with funds that many gave that they didn’t have is off-putting.

    Something that we have forgotten since VII is that administration is critical. Many parishes do not have competent and grounded-in-tradition comptrollers or advisors.

    Regarding this Carmelite project, I really have no standing to make specific comments one way or another. But I think it behoves us to delve into the project details and not assume that those who ask questions are attacking anything.

  73. Fr_Sotelo says:

    From everything I read, I like this Carmelite group a lot. They are zealous, faithful to the Church, devoted to Our Lady, and liturgically traditional.

    However, catholicmidwest raises reasonable questions for discernment by the larger Catholic community. Being a fantastic new religious order, I believe, does not give automatic divine approval to all your undertakings; it does not make you immune from questions and concerns as per financial projects. It is just basic Catholic stewardship to ask whether my money should go to this or that project.

    For instance, it is a reasonable concern that this group is called Carmelite, but is not joined to the O.Carm’s or the O.C.D. They are basically a new foundation of diocesan approval. Any properties or assets, in the event of failure (which may God forbid) would revert to the diocese.

    It is also a reasonable concern to ask whether this new building project is truly harmonious to the Carmelite charism, to the best traditions of Carmel as the Church now understands this charism and sees it lived by the children of the ancient observance, or the children of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross. To say, “no, they are different” is fine, but that should clarified. “We are not Carmelite as you presently understand what Carmelite is.”

    If these religious are completely cloistered, the Catholic public will have absolutely no access to these grounds, save for a special and occasional Mass in the chapel. That’s fine, but people should understand this clearly. The idea of people getting to flock to this town to visit this place is not accurate to the spirit of enclosure.

    It is also reasonable to ask whether a European Gothic monastery is best suited to religious who claim they are recovering the ancient ideal of hermitage. Yes, the two can be combined, but it does raise, again, a reasonable question: “If you are a hermit, do you really need the full-blown physical plant of a Gothic monastery? I can understand the personal hut or cabin to live in. The rest of the plant I am not sure about.”

    Gothic buildings cost a lot of money to put up now. A plant that will be utilized by the Catholic faithful, such as a multi-million dollar campus (e.g. TAC college) or a multi-million dollar public Shrine (Guadalupe in Wis. or EWTN’s Blessed Sacrament Shrine) could be seen as a worthy object of sacrifice. But the buildings which are for a group of 40 hermits should perhaps be different, when the appeal is during a time of economic duress.

    This is not to impugn the character of these wonderful monks, or to say there is anything wrong in their tastes and aspirations. I think most Catholics who read of their life come to immediately admire them. But when you ask the larger Catholic community to be the benefactor of such a project, you should expect imput which you may or may not want to hear.

  74. catholicmidwest says:

    Thank you both, JonM and Fr Sotelo. You’ve said it far better than I could have.

    When you see the word “Carmelite” or “Franciscan”, “Dominican” or “Benedictine” in large letters, you automatically refer to large religious orders with hundreds of years of explicit papal approval and a long history of deep faith, social responsibility and history. They’ve stood the test of time.

    For a new group to just claim the title just like that, in bold caps without qualifiers, is more than a little disingenuous. Perhaps they should call themselves “The Brothers of St. Albert” or “Monks of the Ancient Albertine Rule” or “Ancient Hermits of St. Albert” or the “Hermits of Primitive Carmel” or something like that.

    I wish them well if what they have hit upon is a new form of religious life. Absolutely. But this is precisely and exactly an experimental foundation with diocesan approval and that’s all. That’s basic information and should be up-front. Something beautiful could come out of it….or not.

    PS, There’s more to this story, of which the locals are aware. Notwithstanding, how the local people in the town of Clark Wyoming do their property permits and all that is their business, just like in my local township.

    But by all means, if you are in the market for gourmet coffee, look no further. It’s supposed to be good coffee, and might make good Christmas gifts. That’s coming up in a couple of months.

  75. Fr. Sotelo: Very wise and important counsel, here, you give.
    When speaking of “charisms” (and I know this from first-hand experience…a lot of blood, sweat and tears), it is important to be very clear about your mission, the nature of your community, the spirit and the governance. Otherwise, all hell breaks loose in any which way.
    If people are expecting to be able to attend the Divine Office/Mass regularly here when they help to finance this project, there may be some trouble.
    Your point about helping to finance something so very “big” for a group of hermit-monks in this economic crisis holds a lot of water.
    Again, I’m not at all opposed to any of this in the theoretical.
    But charisms have to pass the test of time, persecution, trial and woe; believe me.

  76. catholicmidwest: For the very reason you cite…”When you see the word “Carmelite” or “Franciscan”, “Dominican” or “Benedictine” in large letters, you automatically refer to large religious orders with hundreds of years of explicit papal approval and a long history of deep faith, social responsibility and history. They’ve stood the test of time”, which I could not have stated any better. Our small community, which began in 1987, under the diocesan bishop’s authority, has NOT aligned with any existing Order; we live in the “spirit of the Rule of St. Benedict” and have strong Dominican influence and roots. But we’re not either…we are who we are; if God is going to bless this “dovecot of our Lady and St. Joseph”, then maybe when I’m long dead and gone, there will be a name for it.
    Great insights and commentary.

  77. catholicmidwest says:

    Yes, and all the practical details. There are huge differences between charism types, with respect to all the practical, financial, psychological and social details, both for the people in the foundation and the people who expect things from the foundation.

    Just as the absolute most simple example of something that every religious house has to face: How does the health insurance get paid for? Seriously. Do you self-insure, do you contract it, or do you go without? (YIKES.) Do you send people home if they contract manic-depressive disease or kidney failure 20 years in? Why or why not? Is there a policy? Is there a foundation or a trust for things like that? How do you manage it? Who manages it?

    It’s all very glamorous to have this lovely monastic ideal in your head, folks, but real life, even real religious life, is something else.

    If God wills it, it will remain. If not, then not.

  78. catholicmidwest: Bingo.
    We are under a tremendous stress to provide for our healthcare…it’s just obscene what we have to pay for insurance premiums; there ARE options for religious communities, but you have to have a certain number to qualify.
    As for the other issues; canon law stipulates that a community must care for someone who made final (solemn) profession; you can’t just send them home…and this, as well, is a horrible situation for young, emerging communities.
    Good points you raise.

  79. Supertradmum says:

    All the laity who have expressed negativity towards the Monastery and the friars or monks may be grateful in five years when we have no infrastructure in the USA and need to find housing and simple living at the hospitality of such religious houses as these. Wake up and look at the signs of the times-God is leading such men and women to withstand what will happen to the Church and society in the not-so-far future.,

  80. catholicmidwest says:


    Do you really think that if things go bad in this country, that convents and monasteries are going to take us all in? Really?

    Come. On.

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