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Thoughts on the 60th Anniversary of the founding of Saint Louis Abbey

By Father Gregory Mohrman, O.S.B. ’76
Headmaster, Saint Louis Priory School

Founding monks

Sixty years ago, on the evening of October 19, 1955, three monks arrived in Saint Louis at Union Station, after having undertaken the long and arduous journey by sea and rail from Ampleforth Abbey in northern Yorkshire. The Abbot and Community of Ampleforth Abbey sent Fathers Columba, Luke, and Timothy at the request of a group of lay Catholic men and women who sought to provide for their sons a classical and Catholic education of the highest excellence.

As those three monks were driven out to their new home on Mason Road and pulled up the drive, the (then-named) Stannard House was ablaze with light, and many supporters and well-wishers waited to welcome them. Their first act, however, was to go to the small Chapel, which had been set up just off the living room of the house. There, they prayed the Divine Office of the Church for the first time on the campus and inaugurated the practice of monastic life, which has continued in an unbroken cycle of prayer and work until this day.

Those three founding monks, together with the lay men and women who shared their vision, established the monastery and school we know today as Saint Louis Abbey and Saint Louis Priory School. From those humble beginnings, the Abbey has grown to 33 monks, the school has grown to over 400 students, and the facilities on campus have expanded to meet the ever-increasing demands of the students and their families. The monks have also broadened their scope of ministry to include pastoral work in Saint Anselm Parish, as well as activities throughout the Archdiocese.

All of this is the fruit of those Founders' dedication and courage. This 60th anniversary gives us all the opportunity to reflect on their vision, and to celebrate its accomplishment. It also is a moment of challenge as we look to the future and seek the Lord's will for our Abbey, School, and Parish, and as we embark on the next decade of the monastery's life.

Let us keep our founders in our prayers, let us pray for all those many people who have been part of the Abbey, School, and parish over the years, and let us pray that our own dedication to the mission and witness of this monastery may be strengthened.

Loving God,

We thank you for the vision and courage

Which our founders showed in bringing the Benedictine monastic life to Saint Louis.

We ask your abundant blessing on them all, living and deceased.

Help us who have received that great legacy

To be faithful to their vision, to be a presence of God in this world,

And to continue to bring to the lives of the young men and their families,

whom you bring here

The warmth of your love, the wisdom of your Spirit, and the thirst for justice

Which will enable them to be a powerful force for good in our world.

Keep us all in the tender care of your Spirit, and bring us at last to that Kingdom

Where you are LORD, for ever and ever.




“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

Prologue, 1

“This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.”

Prologue, 1

“First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.”

Prologue, 4

“If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim. (Ps 33[34]:13)”

Prologue, 17

“Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess 2:12).”

Prologue, 21

“If we wish to dwell in the tent of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds.”

Prologue, 22

“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”

Prologue, 41

“Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.”

Prologue, 45

“The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.”

Prologue, 47

“The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger.”

Chapter 3, 3

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.”

Chapter 4, 20-21

“Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love.” –Chapter 4, 25-26

“Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue.”

Chapter 4, 27-28

“Place your hope in God alone.”

Chapter 4, 41

“Respect the elders and love the young.”

Chapter 4, 70-71

“Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ. “

Chapter 4, 72

“If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.”

Chapter 4, 73

“The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.”

Chapter 5, 1-2

“Speaking and teaching are the master’s task; the disciple is to be silent and listen.”

Chapter 6, 6

“The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (PS 35[36]:2) and never forgets it.”

Chapter 7, 10

“Let us consider, then, how we ought to behave in the presence of God and his angels, and let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.”

Chapter 19, 6-7

“On arising for the Work of God, they will quietly encourage each other, for the sleepy like to make excuses.”

Chapter 22, 8

“Every age and level of understanding should receive appropriate treatment.”

Chapter 30, 1

“Above all, let him be humble. If goods are not available to meet a request, he will offer a kind word in reply, for it is written: A kind word is better than the best gift (Sir 18:17).”

Chapter 31, 13-14

“Let all the rest serve one another in love.”

Chapter 35, 6

“Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.”

Chapter 43, 3

“Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading.”

Chapter 48, 1

“The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.”

Chapter 49, 1

“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35).”

Chapter 53, 1

“Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims.”

Chapter 53, 2

“(B)ecause wherever we may be, we are in the service of the same Lord and doing battle for the same King.”

Chapter 61, 10

They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10).”

Chapter 63, 17

“We wish this rule to be read often in the community, so that none of the brothers can offer the excuse of ignorance.”

Chapter 66, 8

“Trusting in God’s help, he must in love obey.”

Chapter 68, 5

Never to do another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16).”

Chapter 70, 7

“No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.”

Chapter 72, 7

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”

Chapter 72, 11-12

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life?”

Chapter 73, 3

“What book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator?”

Chapter 73, 4


Saint Louis Abbey

Saint Louis Priory School

500 South Mason Road
St. Louis, MO 63141
P. 314.434.3690    F.314.576.7088
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