- The Washington Times - Friday, October 31, 2003

Some big names in the District’s Catholic community are involved in raising money for a medieval-style monastery in an out-of-the-way corner of northeastern Oklahoma.

Political commentators Pat Buchanan and Joseph Sobran, Ann Sheridan of the Georgetown Ignatian Society, L. Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center and more than 80 guests will kick off a fund-raiser at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Top of the Town restaurant in Arlington.

Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Monastery, a Benedictine monastery in Hulbert, Okla., and a showplace for Gregorian chant and Latin Masses, is trying to raise $32 million. So far, $4 million has been raised to build a large church and living quarters for 60 to 70 monks on a 1,000-acre spread in the foothills in the Ozarks.

Currently, the 22 resident monks live and worship in a converted horse barn with a concrete floor. A few are living in outdoor garden sheds. Another building, which contains offices, a refectory (dinning hall), a shoe and tailor shop, is a large log cabin.

“We just follow the old monastic life. We pray, worship and do manual labor and give counseling to people,” said its abbot, the Rev. Philip Anderson.

“There’s a whole culture war going on and a series of disappointments with the Catholic Church in America,” he said. “People look to this monastery as a new beginning, as a new element that has a solid backing in a long tradition of monastic life.”

The Benedictine order dates back to the fifth century.

The monastery has recruited 11 new monks, he said, and more are waiting to enter once space is made available. Most Catholic monasteries are not recruiting heavily among the young.

“There’s better formation given here and we don’t change lifestyles every three to five years,” Father Anderson said. “The generation coming up is more attracted to traditional styles of liturgy, whereas several generations before them were only interested in innovation.”

The Rev. Antoine Forgeot, abbot of Clear Creek’s mother abbey in Fontgombault, France, will conduct a vespers service at 5:30 p.m. at Old St. Mary’s Church at Fifth and H streets Northwest just before the reception.

The Clear Creek Benedictines, who brought their monastic foundation from France in 1999, are a traditional order and use the 1962 Roman missal (prayer book) in Latin. They were invited by the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, the Most Rev. Edward Slattery.

The 13 founding monks at Clear Creek were all members of the monastic community at Fontgombault, France, or of its daughterhouses Randol, Triors, and Gaussan. Fontgombault, a medieval abbey in central France, is a member of the Congregation of Solesmes, which has 760 monks in 21 monasteries around Europe, as well as in French-speaking places such as Martinique and Quebec.

The Oklahoma monastery, which has a Web site at www.clearcreekmonks.org, is the order’s first English-speaking monastery in the United States.

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