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Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Clear Creek Monastery expanding"

Monastery “speaks” to those who live there

From the Muscogee Pheonix

By Liz McMahan
Photos by Jennifer Lyles

LOST CITY — The simple beauty of cross-shaped blooms on the dogwood trees along the road leading into the Our Lady of Clear Creek Monastery belie the enormity of the priory ahead.

The four-story buff brick-and-concrete building, with its shiny copper roof and trim will be dedicated and blessed by the bishop in ceremonies today.

The monastery sits on 1,000 acres in the rugged Cherokee County hills, where moonshine makers used to operate their stills on Clear Creek.

The entrance to the building looks out over an open meadow that stretches to the foot of a rock- and tree-covered hillside. Deer grazing there seem oblivious to the imposing building, the noise of construction equipment and the movement of the workers.

The building is harder to ignore for the people who live here — 30 monks of the Benedictine Order.

The European-style monastery is a dream that started more than 30 years ago among a group of University of Kansas students who were looking for something more meaningful than just going to church, said Father Phillip Anderson, the monastery’s prior. A prior is the person who governs a small monastery.

Anderson was among those Kansas students searching for more meaning in life in the turbulent college campus revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.

“We were looking for values, and we found something,” he said. “This really speaks to us.”
Anderson was among a group of KU students who lived for 24 years at the Benedictine Abbey of Notre Dame in France — a monastery built in 1091.

In 1999, they returned to the United States — to the Clear Creek property and lived in buildings on the grounds until they recently moved into their new quarters.

The larger of the new buildings at the monastery is a residence building. It includes rooms, or cells, for each monk, quarters for visiting males, a dining hall and a study room.

The smaller, front building is called the gatehouse or welcome center.

There also is what appears to be a very large concrete pad in back of the welcome center and to the side of the residence building.

It actually is the roof over a crypt, the monks’ temporary sanctuary, and the basement to a huge church to be built there. The clusters of iron rods sticking out of the concrete are where the church columns will be, Anderson said.

Eventually, two other buildings will be constructed to surround a courtyard in back of the residence hall, he said.

Cost of the two completed buildings is about $12 million, according to an article by the Catholic News Service. Funding comes from financing, private donations and the support of the monks' motherhouse in France, CNS reported.

It will take several years to complete the project, Anderson said. However, the history of monasteries has been that some took as long as 1,000 years to build. They were constructed by hand.

This is a different time, he said. This monastery is being built by Manhattan Construction.

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