New Book a Look Back at Growing up at Holy Trinity Abbey

Mike O’Brien shares his unusual coming of age among a community of Trappist monks — a story of hope, humor, and heart

cover jacket of Monastery Mornings book

“O’Brien reminds those of us who have been hanging on by our fingertips why we still love the Catholic Church and what it is called to be: a place of service and mercy…where the core message is love.”

Judith Valente

Monk with a young Mike O'BrienAugust 17, 2021 — Salt Lake City lawyer and debut author Michael Patrick O’Brien invites us to go back in time and up into the mountains of Utah to the scenes of his youth, not in a suburban home with a white picket fence, but in a Trappist monastery. Monastery Mornings: My Unusual Boyhood Among the Saints and Monks  is O’Brien’s love letter to the brothers of the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity in Huntsville, Utah – the monks who raised him.

In his warmhearted memoir, O’Brien describes how a small, insecure boy with a vibrant imagination found an unlikely family in the company of these Cistercian monks in the mountains of rural Latter-day Saint Utah. Struggling with his parents’ recent divorce, Michael O’Brien discovered a community filled with warmth, humor, idiosyncrasies, and most of all, listening ears.

Filled with anecdotes and delightful “behind the scenes” descriptions of his experiences living alongside the monks as they farmed, prayed, buried their dead, ate, and shared the joys of life, Monastery Mornings speaks to the value of spiritual fatherhood, the lasting impact of positive mentoring, and the stability that the spiritual life can offer to people of all ages and walks of life.


Mike O'Brien, author of Monastery Mornings bookMichael Patrick O’Brien is a Catholic writer and lawyer living in Salt Lake City, Utah. One of his first jobs was working as a reporter for his hometown newspaper. He wrote for his college newspaper while earning a Government/Theology degree from the University of Notre Dame, and movie reviews during law school at the University of Utah. Mike is a partner at the law firm of Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough. Mike is married to Vicki, a preschool teacher, and they have three adult children, and one grandchild.


Praise for Monastery Mornings:
My Unusual Boyhood Among the Saints and Monks

“Michael Patrick O’Brien writes, ‘For me, one of the light’s most recognizable garments is the simple black and white robe of a monk, and the light’s ever soothing embrace is the sweet memory of my monastic mornings.’ In that sentence, he sums up his decades-long adventure with the spirited monks of Holy Trinity Abbey, a Catholic oasis in the middle of Utah’s Mormon country. He was fortunate to come of age under the tutelage of Trappist monks, and to enjoy close relationships with men who choose the search for God over the more mundane lures of the world. O’Brien began visiting Holy Trinity in 1972 at the age of 11 at his mother’s urging following his parents’ divorce. The abbey remained a constant in his life until its closure in 2017. This beautiful memoir portrays his monastic friends as both exceptional and ordinary, holy and all-together human. In doing so, O’Brien reminds those of us who have been hanging on by our fingertips why we still love the Catholic Church and what it is called to be: a place of service and mercy. A place where, like Holy Trinity Abbey, the core message is love.”

Judith Valente, co-author of How to Be: A Monk & A Journalist Reflect on Living & Dying, Purpose & Prayer, Forgiveness & Friendship

Monastery Mornings is as much a memoir about a sensitive Irish American boy’s journey into manhood as it is an unabashed love letter to Huntsville, Utah’s beloved Trappist monastery. O’Brien’s detailed history of the monastery and endearing portraits of the monks who helped raise him provide a compelling backdrop to a compassionate, brave personal narrative that both amuses and inspires.”
Jennifer Napier-Pearce, former executive editor, The Salt Lake Tribune

“The author of this charming volume combines his life’s story with that of the famous Utah Trappist monks. A consummate storyteller, O’Brien shares his remarkable journey by weaving the tale of the Abbey of the Holy Trinity monks with his own search for a life of belonging and meaning. The final result is as entertaining as it is enlightening. An extraordinary contribution and achievement.”
Br. Columban Weber, OCSO, Abbey of Gethsemani