There are just a few of them left.  The brothers and priests who founded Ascension Priory near Jerome are aging out.  This is a nice way to say many of them have died, and the survivors are now dealing with the inevitable impact of old age.  The Benedictines have turned over much of the facility to missionaries from Mexico, who work to evangelize throughout Idaho.

The welcoming sign over the main entrance is very much truth in advertising.  Driving home from another assignment on Saturday, I stopped for a visit.  I was told I was free to explore.  I visited the chapel and spent some time deeply in prayer.  As I left the sanctuary, I encountered a friendly man walking and carrying what looked to be a cup of coffee.  He stopped and we talked for 20 minutes.  It took me a few minutes, but I figured out he was a priest.

Credit Bill Colley.
Credit Bill Colley.

Father Hugh Feiss is a native of eastern Oregon.  He may be living a monastic life, but I quickly discovered he knows a lot about the world around him.  In our conversation, we reflected that much of the divide in America today is driven by news media.  Mostly television news.  There are no TVs at the monastery!

I mentioned that I had recently heard a story about a celebrity Christian convert.  The former atheist said our battle was essentially between the good and ourselves.  Father Hugh appeared to nod his head in agreement.

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When I left the building, I wondered why I had waited so long to pay a visit.  It’s clear that without some of the conveniences of modernity, you get clarity about your surroundings and your role on this planet.

When the Benedictines are gone, the missionaries will carry on.  For a while.  Then, they’ll eventually pass.  Who’ll take their place?

One thing that remains from my conversation is a discussion about a coming revival of faith.  A long-deceased Capuchin I knew once pointed out that as the world grows more complex, people find answers in God.

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