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St. Michael’s Abbey marks 900th anniversary with inspiring testimony

J-P Mauro - published on 08/22/21

The feature video shows off the new $120 million complex of the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption.

The Norbertine community at St. Michael’s Abbey is celebrating its 900th anniversary, in 2021. To mark the occasion, they have released a short video that highlights the powerful witness of their priests and seminarians. The feature also shows off their new $120 million Abbey, which was dedicated this year as the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption.

“I had never been to any place in the whole world where there were so many young people who wanted to be saints. I had to be a part of it. I had a lot of great things in the world. I had a very prestigious scholarship and I had all the money I needed. I had a future that was very wide open and very bright, but it all paled to what I found when I met the conference at St. Michael’s Abbey.” 

This opening testimony from one of the seminarians at St. Michael’s Abbey set the tone for the feature video. Their breathtaking shots of the Abbey grounds are interspersed with views of seminarians going about daily community life. Each glimpse is supported by the joyful testimony of one of St. Micahel’s Abbey’s enthusiastic seminarians, who derive an ecstatic sense of fulfillment from the contemplative life. 

The seminarians

The video shows the young men praying in community, writing icons, and rehearsing in chamber choral groups among other activities. While the lifestyle seems rigorous, there is an undeniable charm in their schedule of continuous faith practice. One seminarian chuckled as he took viewers through a typical day:

“Here in the monastery you’re constantly being surrounded by your brothers and constantly in prayer. It’s constant training for your heart, your mind, and your soul to be focused on God. You wake up, you pray in community. Before every meal, you pray in community. Before you go to bed, you pray in community.”

One of the most striking aspects of the video is seeing how much fun the seminarians have. These young men are a part of a community that is united behind the one goal, to live a saintly life. They approach each task as another step on the road to the priesthood and they revel as they walk. Life at the seminary is demanding, but they understand that the chores and studies are merely a prelude to their lives as priests. 

Their joviality is only broken by the solemnity of their shared goal. One seminarian especially noted the gravity of taking up the cloth. Set to imagery of seminarians prostrating themselves at ordination, he said: 

“When a man makes a solemn profession, he literally and figuratively is laying down his life for the Lord.”

St. Michael’s Abbey

St. Michael’s Abbey was established as a small community of 7 in the early 1960s. Today the community has grown to include 55 priests and 31 seminarians, with 10 more entering this Fall. By winter of 2021, St. Michael’s Abbey will have 91 men at various stages of formation and service this Fall. 

The Norbertine order is very young demographically, with the average age of 44 years old. St. Michael’s Abbey has always catered to a younger crowd. From the 1970’s to 2019, the abbey ran a boys’ boarding school, and for more than 40 years they have hosted an annual summer camp. The abbey estimates that they have spurred the faith and vocations of over 100,000 boys through the years.

The Norbertine Order was founded by St. Norbert in 1121 and is one of the oldest Catholic orders in the world. In Orange County, California, the Norbertines have been around since 1961, when seven Hungarian priests who fled from Communism founded the community. In 2005, the seminary outgrew their Silverado location and in 2018, they began construction on the new St. Michael’s Abbey. 

Click here for more information on the development and mission of St. Michael’s Abbey.

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