Yesterday I had the pleasure of a phone conversation with Abbot Lawrence, the Abbot of St. Gregory's. The benedictine monks, as he told me, are monks who settle in a spot and build a long term community. We will be interviewing him on the site of the original abbey which is described as a very beautiful and special spot and also talking with some of the monks who have fostered sustainability within their community. The beautiful spot where the new abbey is in Shawnee also shares the campus with St. Gregory's University and the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art. The museum came to be because of the travels and art of Father Gerrer who brought together a rich collection of art from all over the world to create the museum as well as his own very fine paintings. Altho many museums are affiliated with universities I have never heard of one also connected with an abbey. We will be lodging in the abbey while we are there filming thanks to the gracious hospitality of the monastery. Here is some history of the benedictine monks in Oklahoma.
Benedictine monks first arrived in what is today the state of Oklahoma in October 1875. Fr. Isidore Robot, O.S.B., and Br. Dominic Lambert, O.S.B., monks of the French monastery of Notre Dame de la Pierre-qui-Vire, entered the Indian Territory at the suggestion of the Bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas. Spending their first few months in Atoka, the pioneer monks eventually settled with the Citizen Band Pottawatomi Indians. In 1876, they established Sacred Heart Abbey, near what is present-day Konawa, Oklahoma. Along with communal monastic observance, the pioneer monks also established a school for the children of Native Americans and white settlers of the region. The monastery at Sacred Heart was known for its strict observance, its generous hospitality, its model farm, and its beautiful formal gardens.