Strict, Common Observance Cistercians gather to commemorate Carta Caritatis

Cistercians from around the world gathered at Our Lady of Dallas Abbey to discuss the Carta Caritatis (Charter of Charity) from July 16 through July 19. Organized by monks and nuns of both the Order of Cistercians, (O. Cist.)and the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (OCSO), the Carta Colloquium was the first collaboration between the two Observances of its type in North America.

Created in 1119, the Charter of Charity mapped out the relationship among Cistercian monasteries that united them into a religious order as such. Its system of filiations, visitations and general chapters became the model for religious orders throughout the Church.

Fr. Peter Verhalen, O. Cist., Abbot of Our Lady of Dallas, and Fr. Mark Scott, OCSO, Abbot of New Melleray, came up with the initial concept. A steering committee comprised of Dallas monks and two Trappist sisters – Sr. Kathleen O’Neill of Our Lady of the Mississippi and Sr. Maria Gonzalo of Crozet – then organized the event.

The Abbots General of both Observances were among the attendees and most U.S. Trappist monasteries were represented. Discussions were led by monks and nuns of both observances, as well as lay scholars with in-depth knowledge of Cistercian history. Frs. Mark Scott of New Melleray and Elias Dietz, Abbot of Gethsemani Abbey, teamed up to give an overview of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance in the world today.

Many thanks to the Dallas monks for their hospitality and to all the monks and nuns who participated.