Vocation

Gethsemani Abbey, where Merton lived, makes major change

Lower number of men forces monks to drop cheesemaking, but monastery still providing retreats

Thomas Merton put them on the map. Their fruitcakes are definitely not the kind to re-gift. And their fudge is just about as heavenly as fudge can get.

But the Abbey of Gethsemani, near Bardstown, Kentucky, is dropping one of the products whose sale has supported the monastery for years.

Because of the dwindling number of monks, the production of cheese recently came to an end, according to a report by WDRD.

Founded in 1848, Gethsemani is one of the oldest monasteries in the United States and attracts visitors from all over the world.

Although cheese will no longer be in the monastery’s catalog, the abbey will continue to accept visitors.

One of the monks, identified as Brother Paul, said that retreats are fully booked almost the entire year, with the exception of the colder months.

“To me it expresses a hunger,” said Brother Paul. People “need something. They’re looking for something.”