At an open public hearing before the Park County Board of Commissioners, the monks were given unanimous approval to proceed with building the new monastery. The Monks of Mt Carmel know that their calling to live a radical monastic life, in fidelity to the original vision of the Carmelites, is special. They embrace it courageously in and for the Lord and His Church. Now they will be able to build a new Mt. Carmel for America. When the history of the Third Millennium is written, this monastery will be one of many where historians recount the rebirth of Christendom.
CODY, WY (Catholic Online) - "Praised be Jesus Christ" said the joyful voice of a monk on the other end of the line. Within minutes I heard another joyful voice, Fr. Daniel Mary of Jesus Crucified, the Prior of this burgeoning monastic community in Wyoming formally called "Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary". I had another absolutely delightful conversation with this wonderful priest and spiritual father. My last conversation with him was in August. I wrote an article based upon it entitled "Mount Carmel for America: Carmelite Monks, Messengers of New Springtime" This Monk's love for the Lord and His Church is contagious.
The last time we spoke, Father shared the monk's hopes to build a new monastery to house their growing young community. The artist's rendering of the 144,000 square foot French Gothic style monastery alone can send one to their knees to worship, it is so beautiful. The property will also house one of the enterprises which help the monks to be self sustaining, Mystic Monk Coffee which has grown so rapidly in popularity it has outgrown its current cramped quarters where the monks roast it, grind it and package it.
Since our last conversation I had read of concerns raised by a few neighbors about the purchase of 2500 deeded acres of undeveloped ranch land for this apostolic undertaking. Some stories online speculated it may have had something to do with the monastic way of life and devout Catholic faith of the monks. However, the reasons were really quite simple. These were ranchers, good folks, who seem to have been mainly concerned about whether the building of the monastery would change the nature of the ranchland, change the lifestyle and bring a lot of traffic. Father and the monks were able to assuage their concerns that this was a monastery and only those coming for Holy Mass, Confession or spiritual counsel would make the trek up what will be a seven mile road onto Mt Carmel.
So, now the good news; on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 1:00 p.m., at an open public hearing before the Park County Board of Commissioners, the monks were given unanimous approval to proceed with the building of Mt. Carmel for America. The commissioners wanted to know whether the land will continue to be used for ranching. The monks were happy to report that it will. They intend to keep the property as a ranch as well as work the land for farming. Father Daniel Mary explained to me that with the growing resurgence of vocations to the lay brotherhood (not all monks are clerics) the Lord had already brought ranchers to the community who would help with 1,000 head of cattle that will graze on Mt. Carmel.
None of this is new to this monk; Father Daniel Mary grew up on a ranch roughly six or seven miles from the property. His father is a rancher whose reputation is well known in those parts of Wyoming. His son speaks so highly of his natural father that, as a father of five grown children myself, it warmed my heart to hear it. He dreamed of establishing a monastery in Wyoming as a younger man. He knew that the beauty of the land, the rugged simplicity and faith of the people, and the challenge of the times required such a place. That dream is becoming a reality for this man of living faith.
Fr Daniel Mary emphasized that all of the monks, even the "choir monks" will "work the land". He explained, "This helps us go back to our agrarian roots as monks and forms our young men in manly character. Young men need this kind of manly way of life which involves hard, physical work like clearing timber, growing gardens, tending to crops and ranching. It helps us to stay rooted in a deep, agrarian identity as monks and as men".
The Carmelite monks in Wyoming are hardy men with even hardier hearts, dedicated to the Lord and His Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. They have revived the ancient tradition of Carmel, returning to the original charism and the ancient traditions. He takes great joy in sharing the enthusiasm of the growing number of young men who are joining or discerning the community, seeking a full monastic life, and in some instances, seeking the eremitical life. There will be hermitages on Mt. Carmel for those monks called to respond to the invitation of the Lord to that special way of life in Him and for His Church.
In his plain spoken, naturally supernatural manner he explained that he considers Mount Carmel part of a "monastic flowering" in our day. We spoke enthusiastically about Church history and how monks and similar monastic flowerings have preceded the great renewals in the Church in centuries past. With great delight he told me the young men seeking to live this life say to him "Reverend father, can we just follow the way of the Saints". And this holy priest fully believes that, in his own words, the "surest way to go in bringing back the great monastic tradition of Carmel as a gift to and for the Church is to follow the way of the Saints".
In concluding our discussion he told me a very heartwarming story of the only resident who spoke at the recent public hearing. When the commissioners opened the floor for discussion, before unanimously voting to approve the requests presented by the Monks, Father Daniel Mary admits that he was a little concerned. After all, there had been some concerns from neighbors before. However, only one woman spoke, an older woman named Susan. Turns out Susan had been in the Courthouse to get license plates for she and her husband's new truck when she saw the sign indicating there was going to be a public hearing on the Monks request to build on that property.
When the commissioners asked for public comment she stepped forward and spoke, "I want everybody to know, I love these monks. They are the best neighbors we could ever have. They pray for us all. I want all of you to know that these monks should be given full approval for everything they ask for." Susan then came up to the monks and thanked them, leaned down and kissed the head of Fr. Daniel Mary and then left the hearing room. The second part of the session concerned the requests for "Mystic Monk" Coffee to build a new facility. It was also approved.
When the second session was complete, the monks received news that Susan had driven home and accidentally left her truck in gear when she went to get out. In a freak accident, she was run over and sustained very serious injuries. Susan died that very day. Of course the monks were shocked! They immediately drove to the house. They found her grieving husband and went inside to console him. They hugged him. He asked "Why"? Father Daniel Mary then explained to me what they told Susan's husband. They explained her act of kindness at the hearing. In the midst of his tears of grief he said it helped to make sense of it all for him; it was his wife's "last act of love."
The Monks of "Carmel of the Immaculate heart of Mary" come to us at the beginning of the Third Christian Millennium as a gift and a prophetic sign. These are real monks and real men, passionately and courageously in love with the Lord Jesus Christ and dedicated to renewing in our day the great treasury of monasticism. Vocations are not a problem for these monks; they receive hundreds of inquiries a year. They will build a place from which prayer will rise to the heavens, renewing the Church so that she can continue her redemptive mission in our age. The beauty of the monastery they will build will be added to the beauty of 2500 deeded acres of ranch land. This land is enhanced by over 6,000 acres of forested land surrounding Mt. Carmel which is part of a National Forest lease and cannot be developed.
The Monks of Mt Carmel know that their calling to live a radical monastic life, in fidelity to the original vision of the Carmelites, is special. They embrace it courageously in and for the Lord and His Church. Now they will be able to build a new Mt. Carmel for America. I have said it before and I say it again - with even more conviction - when the history of the Third Millennium is written, this monastery will be one of many where historians recount the rebirth of Christendom. The building of this monastery is Good News for the Monks of Mt Carmel and Good News for the Church in the United States. They need our prayer and they need our financial support to build Mt. Carmel for America.
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