US Juniors Convene at Holy Cross Abbey

For the first time since the COVID pandemic began, the junior Trappist brothers and sisters of the United States were able to gather for their Junior Conference April 26 through May 7. The conference is (usually) an annual event for Trappists still in simple vows to gain theoretical knowledge about the monastic tradition, to experience life at another OCSO monastery and to share experiences with their peers in the Order.

Hosted at Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Va., this year’s conference included 16 monks and nuns from Holy Cross, Wrentham, Spencer, Crozet, Gethsemani, Santa Rita and Mississippi abbeys.

Fr. Michael Casey, OCSO, of Tarrawarra Abbey presented conferences each morning on the common life. During these classes, he shared content from his new book “Coenobium: Reflections on Monastic Community,” along with supplementary materials and his own experiences. During the afternoons, the juniors broke into small groups for discussions based on what they had learned during the morning.

The juniors celebrated Mass and much of the Divine Office with Berryville’s monks. For the “little hours” of Terce, Sext and None, they prayed separately in their classroom or Berryville’s retreat house chapel.

On Sunday, May 1, they took a field trip to Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, located in Crozet, Virginia about two hours away from Berryville. There, they shared a celebratory meal with the sisters on their 35th anniversary of Crozet’s foundation. Sr. Eve-Marie of Crozet also gave a tour of the monastery’s cheese operation.

Many of the participants said their two weeks together amounted to an encouraging, refreshing and inspirational experience. On Saturday, May 7 they returned to their monasteries with new friendships and a wider perspective of their vocation within the Order and the Church.