Abbey Church Re-opens June 19th
This Father’s Day, Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary College will cross a major milestone in its path to recovery following flooding this past March. For the first time in over three months, the Saint Joseph Abbey Church will resume regular and daily services for the public and monastic community. Regular church services begin on Sunday, June 19 at 7:30 a.m., followed by coffee in front of the monastery. Please note that due to ongoing reconstruction, restroom availability will be limited to Benet Hall only (across the parking lot from the Church). Visit saintjosephabbey.com/prayer-schedule for all mass times.
The Abbey Church, one of the 31 buildings that were damaged when the Bogue Falaya River overflowed its banks on March 11th, has remained closed to the public ever since. Although the church itself did not flood, the basement did -- destroying electrical and air conditioning systems crucial for maintaining the integrity of the church’s murals by artist Dom Gregory de Wit. Cleanup started immediately following after the flood.
The absence of the Abbey Church has weighed heavily on Abbot Justin Brown, O.S.B., and the monastic community.
“The church is the heart of our lives here. You sometimes take for granted that we readily have access to this beautiful, peaceful church. Not until it’s missing from your daily life, do you realize how much it means to not only us, but also the community at large. The many inquiries I receive asking when it will reopen are a testament to the passion parishioners have for the Abbey Church. Having it back will be like having our hearts back,” said Brown.
The emotional toll the absence of the church has taken on the monks resonates strongly with those that know the Abbey well and have prayed frequently in the church, including Dr. Normie Miller, a veterinarian whose patients include none other than Abbot Justin’s goats at the Abbey.
Miller has been attending daily mass at the Abbey for the past five years and says nothing comes close to the feeling you have by going receiving the blessed sacrament there.
“Daily mass has been very special to me. I greatly miss it. I was devastated when I learned that the Abbey had flooded. It breaks my heart to not only see the destruction, but also the burden it has placed on the monks. With the church reopening, I think many will begin to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the Abbey,” said Miller.
Of the first three phases of recovery for the Abbey and Seminary College – identified as clean up, remediation, and reconstruction, phase two of remediation has recently been finalized with reconstruction next on the horizon. Total costs are expected to approach $30 million. Apart from the Abbey Church and the cemetery, the grounds of the Abbey remain closed to the public, including the gift shop, Pennies for Bread and the Abbey, and the Christian Life Center. Visit helptheabbey.com to find out how you can be part of the recovery.