A closing abbey rescued by lay people

Good story from the STrib.

Blue Cloud Abbey monastery sold to group of Catholic buyers from South Dakota and Minnesota
Article by: CARSON WALKER , Associated Press
Updated: November 20, 2013 – 6:50 PM
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Six Catholic couples from South Dakota and Minnesota have purchased a 108-bedroom rural monastery and now hope to raise enough money to keep it open as a quiet place of renewal.

Blue Cloud Abbey near Marvin in northeast South Dakota, just miles from the Minnesota border, housed Benedictine monks from 1950 until it closed in May 2012. The remaining 14 residents, most of them aging, voted to sell the 80-acre property.

“We can’t reproduce the Benedictines but can continue that tradition of helping everybody who needs help,” said Wade Van Dover, one of its new co-owners.

“There’s 100,000 square feet. It’s a big facility.”

The buyers have signed a purchase agreement that does not allow them to release the sale price, and they have applied for a nonprofit license to accept donations, Van Dover said. They will develop a specific purpose in the coming months that will likely preserve the site’s Catholic identity and continue the monks’ mission of using the monastery as a corporate and individual retreat and a place to host events and faith activities, he said.

“There have been 50 great ideas of what to do with it. We have to define the mission and the vision and move forward,” Van Dover said.

The abbey will likely have side businesses to support the nonprofit, he said. Use of the monks’ wood shop, greenhouse, garden and land for natural beef grazing are among the possibilities.

Besides Van Dover and his wife, Cindy Van Dover, of Big Stone City, the five other couples are: Val and Paula Rausch, of Big Stone City; Jim and Kala Heller, of Aberdeen; Roman and Carol Taffe and Paul and Julie Treinen, of Ortonville, Minn.; and Dan and Michelle Moberg, of Clinton, Minn.

The Mobergs will live at the abbey initially because Dan Moberg knows how to operate boilers and other parts of the operation.

Jerry Klein, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, said the monastery will continue operating separately but with the bishop’s blessing, support and gratitude for the couples’ effort to maintain the mission.

Wade Van Dover said more people will have to step up because the heating bill alone this winter will be about $90,000.

“This group has really stuck their neck out to do this,” he said. “To get this thing bought, we did what we had to do. But there is going to be a fundraising attempt, and there will be a need for people to give their time and talents.”

Fr. Z kudos.

My imagination is running: what could be done there?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. asophist says:

    An idea that’s been floating in the back of my mind for a long time is the foundation (not by me, but of somebody capable of it) of a new order/community of traditional monks and comtemplative lay religious men (like a 3rd order”+”). This may be the spot for such an endeavor. Is there such a thing as contemplative lay religious men (like nuns, only men?) I’m too old to become a priest, but I think I would fit in well with such a lay group and that it would be good for my soul (I am not married). Fr. Z?

  2. everett says:

    Sounds like an order of brothers, perhaps like the Christian Brothers?

  3. NBW says:

    Uncanny, I just started reading “The Rule of St. Benedict” and thought to myself I wish I could live in a monastery. I hope they will keep the monastery up according to what St. Benedict”s rules; and NO LABYRINTHS!!!

  4. ladytatslace says:

    It is a very beautiful place. Both the grounds and the buildings. The priests used to fill in at our parish on occasion. Kudos to the couples who are willing to do this.

  5. flyfree432 says:

    Good news. I was blessed to help Loome Theological Booksellers clear out the abbey library this summer with a good friend of mine. Only the abbot and two brothers were left at the time. The grounds are massive and it depressing to see it so empty. The building is in great shape and it will make a great retreat center in the future.

  6. Cathy says:

    Hospitals used to be a place where sick people could stay and actually convalesce until they were well enough to care for themselves. Now, wellness is decreed despite this capacity and determined by insurance companies despite the common sense of the person or their doctors. Maybe a portion could be used to help especially the single elderly who are returned home with no one to look after them.

  7. votefassino24 says:

    Ready for this brainwave? Timeshare/coop set-up for a huge number of Catholic families to have a place to retreat to when a TEOTWAWKI event occurs (or when the president comes for us during his third term). Plenty of room for farming, and even a small airstrip!

  8. mamajen says:

    I can never get enough of stories like these–regular, determined people turning things around.

  9. CGPearson says:

    I grew up 15 minutes from this Abbey and attended Mass there many times growing up. It’s good to see that it’s found a new home, at least for now.

  10. Supertradmum says:

    How about a lay community for the hard times? We need to get together in communities as a Church in order to survive some of the things to come.

  11. The Egyptian says:

    I know it’s cheeky, but;

    bus stop for nuns in need of re-education, labyrinth withdrawal counseling, etc

  12. William says:

    A seminary. Instruction entirely in Spanish. Drawing candidates from all the hemisphere’s Hispanic countries and regions. Under the direction of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. Where EF and OF meld and a truly new evangelization can begin.

  13. Uxixu says:

    Definitely like the idea of a seminary. Perhaps FSSP?

  14. Matthew the Wayfarer says:

    I just love the name of this Abbey>BLUE CLOUD! Sounds so Mystical & Mysterious. There was a monk there who wrote a couple books that I may still have somewhere in my collection. They were interesting but not great and I could tell he was more a “spirit of Vatican II” kind of monk than a tradition – minded one. BLUE CLOUD ABBEY! May be my kind of place one day.

  15. Elizabeth D says:

    Valley of Our Lady Monastery Cistercian nuns need a new monastery badly and seem to have little likelihood of coming up with the money… of course I do not want them to leave my diocese… depends on how urgently they need a new place. They are used to Novus Ordo but sing the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin Gregorian Chant every day. I believe they would like the idea of having a retreat center, also. http://www.nunocist.org/

  16. flyfree432 says:

    “I just love the name of this Abbey>BLUE CLOUD! Sounds so Mystical & Mysterious.”

    I too was fascinated to learn about the history of the abbey and its name while I was there, and the native American that it was named after, who converted to the Catholic faith and donated land to the Catholic Church to make the abbey possible. St. Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us and keep us from rash judgment.

    I got to keep two boxes of books from the abbey library for free. Newman, Knox, Sheen, Benedict, More, Belloc, Adam, Scopoli, Aquinas, and a slew of expensive Latin liturgical books. My favorite pick was Green Eggs & Ham in Latin. The liturgies were NO, but reverent.

  17. Mojoron says:

    I did a Bing search and the pictures of the abbey are very impressive, a lot larger than one would think and I now understand why it would take $90000 to heat it! This may be an opportunity for catholics to have a place to “retire” both spiritually and fiscally if they so desire. I hope the Fr. Z keep us update on the groups progress or at lease give us a name of the foundation that is in charge of its upkeep.

  18. Lin says:

    votefassino24……count me in!

  19. NoraLee9 says:

    Here’s a suggestion: a men’s college, administered by the FSSP, geared towards preparing the students for professions which would generate enough income to support large families. For example, technology professions, medical professions, etc.

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