Fr. Warren Heidgen, OSB

My life journey began in Oak Park, Illinois, on November 16, 1934.  The first son of Leon and Teresa (Haas) Heidgen.  They took me to St Edmund Church in Oak Park to be baptized in early December 1934.  That began my life journey as a Catholic. I was raised with my brother, Charles, and sister, Mary Terese, in what would be called a “good Catholic home”.  Mom and Dad were raised in good Catholic families, Mom, on a farm, Dad, in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and then later from age nine through high school, in Grand Junction, Colorado.  My grandpa and grandma Heidgen were a little part of my life growing up, and uncles and aunts, my Mother’s brothers and sisters, were good models of being Catholics during time I spent on their farm.  The generosity of my Mom and Dad was displayed by welcoming into their home my Aunt Jenny Seitz, who was widowed young in life with no children and did not want to return to the farm in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  She lived with us until her death when I was in high school.  My Dad’s cousin, Edna Noblet, an unmarried woman, moved into the Chicago area and lived with us.  She worked at Brock candy company, so always had chocolates around the house to enjoy.  These two extras made for a busy but supportive family life. I still remember going with my Dad to St Celestine Church in Elmwood Park, Illinois, as a youngster in preschool and early grades each Sunday to help him usher.  When we moved to Elmhurst, Illinois, I entered the fourth grade of I C, Immaculate Conception School.  I would graduate from high school in 1952.  Sr. Benita, CSA, as fifth grade teacher, began to raise in me and in the whole class of 50+, a social consciousness and the stirrings of thoughts of priesthood.  In 6th grade, I became an altar server, often being assigned the 6:30am Mass, which my Dad would often attend also. In my high school years in the parochial school, the majority of my teachers were Sisters and we did have priests of the parish teaching religion.  Sr. Amadea, CSA, made a great impact on my early maturing as young Christian.   For several years in her literature classes we were exposed to Christian Great Books, Bernanos, Mauriac, Peguy, Cardinal Suenens, to name a few.  Sister Amadea also got me involved in the student newspaper and yearbook as writer. This was planting some seeds for a vocation.  There never was a “lightning strike” or a mystical moment to direct me to priesthood.  In my high school years, I played football and baseball, lettering in football for three years.  I was big for my age!  I enjoyed dances and proms, receiving my Eagle Scout Award, delivered the local newspaper, got my driver’s license at legal 15 years old, and would work on my uncles’ farm in the summer time.  And enjoyed a good group of six guy friends who liked to camp, fish and swim together.  Three of us eventually joined religious communities, but only  I persevered. I had two cousins who were in religious communities:  Fr. Edward Vollmer, a Benedictine and George Haas, who was in Jesuit formation.  I wrote to both of them, beginning in the middle of my junior year of high school about the two communities.  There never was a serious thought about diocesan priesthood.  One of the things I was concerned about was the time of preparation before ordination.  I chose the Benedictines and Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City, Colorado, since it was about nine years after high school to ordination whereas with the Jesuits it was at least thirteen years. There never was any pressure from my family but there was subtle encouragement all along the way.  I did visit the Jesuit formation house in Florissant, Missouri, twice; and Fr. Ed Vollmer would be in the Chicago area at least once a year, so I got a sense of Benedictine life as he was living it, as a priest assigned to parochial work.  I was accepted into Holy Cross Abbey College in September 1952 as a freshman.  The Abbey required two years of college before considering entering novitiate.  It was a postulancy.  There were about ten of us in the college level and some high schoolers that lived in the same area of the monastery building that also was like a  “minor seminary”.  At the end of the two years, I applied to Abbot Leonard Schwinn and Holy Cross Abbey to be admitted to the novitiate.  I was accepted. Another young man also was accepted, Tobey Miles, from Boulder, Colorado. Fr. Philip Boyle was our novice master.  We were his second or third group of novices.  It was a closed novitiate (we lived apart).  We attended Office and meals with the entire community but did not have any other association with them.  We also had a “socius” (companion) Fr. Louis Kirby, who also gave us some classes on Benedictine history, and did accompany us with some of our outside work projects. This began in July 1954.  The scholarship on Benedictine monasticism was not terribly well developed at that time, but did have some good commentaries on the Rule of Benedict.  The classic “handbook” of Benedictine spirituality at that time was the Tyrocinium Religiosum; it was the Vade Mecum, to serve as a text-book and guide to the science of perfection.  We also had a class two times a week on the Rule of Benedict, going through it, verse by verse and with class input and the reading of various commentaries. I wrote a personal commentary on the Rule of Benedict as a yearlong project.  I was accepted for first vows and made them, along with Toby, now Frater Andrew Miles on July 11, 1955.  Holy Cross Abbey had the policy that community names were given at the beginning of novitiate and I was given, after some discussion, Frater Warren.  We had no real vacation after novitiate but helped with Camp Holy Cross and did, with all the other clerics and majority of the brothers, go to Abbot’s Lodge for about ten days to hike, fish and relax.  This was a good time to experience a different form of community life, which was the real attraction for me in choosing a Benedictine monastery.  In the fall of 1955, I continued with classes in Holy Cross College:  philosophy, Latin, biology, math, history, both American and world literature.  We would have some assignments in the Abbey School: I was a football coach for freshman and sophomores, helped in the Bear’s Den, the student rec center (snacks, pool, book store) besides monastery tasks. Camp Holy Cross was another activity of the Abbey for seven weeks during the summer.  Over several years I was the archery coach for campers aged 7 to 13.  I was activities director for a couple of summers, and for two years after ordination, was the “traveling salesmen” for camp and school, spending about five months on the road—January to May, recruiting campers and students as far away as Chicago and Houston and all towns in-between.  Since the only students in the college were Benedictines, there was no formal graduation ceremony, but after my senior year of college, I entered into the study of theology.  Since the number of clerics was small, we had only one cycle of classes----you started wherever the group was in a particular course--- e.g., third year of canon law, not beginning in front of the book.  Abbot Leonard was wise to send some men to Europe for advanced studies, and I benefited from them, especially in Dogmatic Theology and Canon Law and, to a less extent, Sacred Scripture.  The flavor of the Vatican II spirit was already entering theology schools of Europe.  I was ordained at the end of three years of Theology, April 30, 1960.  I applied for and made Solemn Vows on July 11, 1958.  Since the Abbey School was still in session, my first Solemn Mass was not until June back in Elmhurst, at I. C. Parish.  My parents had a very nice dinner and reception planned after the Mass.  My two cousins served as deacon and subdeacon of the Solemn High Mass with Monsignor William Plunkett, pastor, as Assistant Priest.  Fr. Anselm, one of my confreres and teacher, preached the homily.  My parents gave me a solemn set of European made vestments as a gift.  The chalice was a gift from my grandfather Heidgen. In the spring of 1961, I received priestly faculties and was soon assigned to a parish for the summer, St. John the Evangelist, in Longmont, Colorado.  It was one of the Benedictine parishes in Boulder County.  I had hoped that I would be able to continue education in math or business but the Abbot kept me on a parish.  In August, I was transferred to Sacred Heart of Jesus in Boulder as an assistant to Fr. Edward Vollmer, the pastor.  While I was there, the new church was built, and it had some of the designs that are common in church buildings in the 80’s and 90’s.  But there was no baptismal font in the rear of the church.  It would have taken up too many pew rows. In spring of 1962, I wrote Abbot Leonard about going to school and he said I was needed on the parish.  After asking once more a year later, I stopped that.  In fact, I really began to enjoy parochial work, even though as the lowly assistant.  I worked in the parish school, both the junior high and grade levels, visited the hospitals, and got to know families through various work projects with them.    In January 1964, Abbot Leonard asked me to be the recruiter for the Abbey School and Camp Holy Cross.  I had that assignment until September 1965 besides being the Camp Director in 1965.  Then I was assigned back to Sacred Heart of Jesus in Boulder, as assistant and then in 1968, appointed pastor.  In February 1966, Fr. Edward was elected coadjutor abbot of Holy Cross Abbey.  Even though there were three of us Benedictines living in the rectory, and we shared meals together, we didn’t pray together very often.  We were three bachelors living together, but did have the Benedictine spirit and that charism spilled over into our parochial work, especially what can be done to build community within the parish.  We would always attend Abbey meetings and retreats, even though it was more than 100 miles away.   In the late 60’s there was a good deal of monastic renewal  going on, and I kept myself informed, but could not contribute much from a distance.  When we were called to the Abbey for an election of a new abbot in 1979, Abbot Bonaventure was resigning due to age restriction; I had in my mind to ask the new abbot about a change in assignment.  I had been pastor for 11 years, and had earlier been in Boulder as assistant and it was time to move on.  Those were great years for parish ministry, with the enthusiasm of renewal after Vatican Council II. The entire parish staff and I were focused on what would be best for the people.  We carried that into both school and religious education programs.  I did have some run- ins with the CUF but was able to weather the storms. It turned out I didn’t have to ask for reassignment, as I was elected abbot on June 9, 1979, as the sixth abbot of Holy Cross Abbey.  There were some nice good bye parties in Boulder and on July 25th I was blessed as abbot by Bishop Charles Buswell, who had ordained me.  These were good times for me in my spiritual growth.  The fifteen-hundred anniversary of the birth of St. Benedict was going to be celebrated in 1980, the Sesquimellenium, and this brought out much good work on the Rule of Benedict, and for my part, like a second novitiate, renewal of my Benedictine heritage and life. RB 1980, The Rule of Benedict translation and commentary, of 1980 was a project of the American Benedictine Federations.  The scholars did a wonderful job of translating and writing essays on Benedictine life.  My copy of the RB 1980 is heavily underlined.  We had several good programs for monastic renewal and community development.  The type of person that I am, I would ask individual monks to carry on a project and expected them to do that, but in fact, they did not get completed.  The community and I became at odds with each other, and I chose to resign in March 1985. I took some time to refocus. I went to Arizona and stayed with my parents for several months, then returned to the Abbey and took care of the tree farm with Fr. Philip, made the three month recyclage program at Sant Anselmo in Rome and then in spring of 1988 began working in the diocese of Colorado Springs, a few months at Divine Redeemer as administrator, then assigned as pastor to St. Rose of Lima in Buena Vista.Those fourteen years were wonderful for me.  I developed a good parish life and community, formed some lasting friendships, and was able to accompany four different groups of young people and parents to World Youth Days in Paris, Rome, Toronto and Cologne.  Lay people did all of the organizing of these pilgrimages and I was the parish priest with them.  Many of those kids and their parents stayed active in youth and parish programs. While in Buena Vista I was the dean, (of a priests’ deanery) and then later the diocesan model changed to vicariates and I was vicar of the Western Region.  Bishop Hanifen used this style to share his authority of governance and exercise of accountability.  It worked well and the six vicars would meet quarterly for the good of the whole Diocese.   In 2002, some change of personnel happened in the Diocese and I took a sabbatical, which the Diocese partially funded at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.  When I returned in January there was no assignment in the Diocese of Colorado Springs so I worked in Pueblo Diocese for six months until St. Mary of the Rockies in Bailey, Colorado, was assigned to me as Administrator.  This lasted three years.  I was able to bring my good and long time experience in parishes to help this struggling parish begin to form some definite community spirit.  When I left there in 2007, I felt I was handing over to the new pastor a healthy community. Holy Cross Abbey had been my home as a member since 1955 but on July 8, 2002, the monks voted to begin the process of gradually downsizing its operations under the direction of the American Cassinese Congregation.  With the eventual closing, monks began to look for another abbey or a diocese to join. I myself didn’t move on quickly, as selling the Abbey property was going to be the finalizing of the closing, but I did visit several abbeys and after two visits to Assumption Abbey in Richardton, North Dakota, asked to move there, which I did in September, 2007.  I became a member of this Abbey on May 23, 2008.  This coming to Assumption Abbey is the first time that I have lived the monastic life full time for a good number of years.  It is good for me.  It is a healthy way of life---prayer, fraternity, Liturgy, serving the needs of the monastery and, for me, lawn mowing, caretaker of the cemetery, helping in the garden and orchard, and doing what needs to be done to keep the property looking respectable, and helping in parishes that need extra priestly presence. Writing this “vocation story” has been a good examen for me of where I am now in my monastic journey.  There are no real highlights that stand out, but the on-going striving to be faithful to the monastic call, and live as a Catholic, monk and priest, is a good way of life for me, and I WOULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN!  Much of my priestly life was on a parish, yet I always kept the sense that I am a monk as an impetus to good ministry.  I lived alone often but never felt lonely.  It was a different version of being a hermit.
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Fr. Warren Heidgen, OSB

My life journey began in Oak Park, Illinois, on November 16, 1934.  The first son of Leon and Teresa (Haas) Heidgen.  They took me to St Edmund Church in Oak Park to be baptized in early December 1934.  That began my life journey as a Catholic. I was raised with my brother, Charles, and sister, Mary Terese, in what would be called a “good Catholic home”.  Mom and Dad were raised in good Catholic families, Mom, on a farm, Dad, in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and then later from age nine through high school, in Grand Junction, Colorado.  My grandpa and grandma Heidgen were a little part of my life growing up, and uncles and aunts, my Mother’s brothers and sisters, were good models of being Catholics during time I spent on their farm.  The generosity of my Mom and Dad was displayed by welcoming into their home my Aunt Jenny Seitz, who was widowed young in life with no children and did not want to return to the farm in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  She lived with us until her death when I was in high school.  My Dad’s cousin, Edna Noblet, an unmarried woman, moved into the Chicago area and lived with us.  She worked at Brock candy company, so always had chocolates around the house to enjoy.  These two extras made for a busy but supportive family life. I still remember going with my Dad to St Celestine Church in Elmwood Park, Illinois, as a youngster in preschool and early grades each Sunday to help him usher.  When we moved to Elmhurst, Illinois, I entered the fourth grade of I C, Immaculate Conception School.  I would graduate from high school in 1952.  Sr. Benita, CSA, as fifth grade teacher, began to raise in me and in the whole class of 50+, a social consciousness and the stirrings of thoughts of priesthood.  In 6th grade, I became an altar server, often being assigned the 6:30am Mass, which my Dad would often attend also. In my high school years in the parochial school, the majority of my teachers were Sisters and we did have priests of the parish teaching religion.  Sr. Amadea, CSA, made a great impact on my early maturing as young Christian.   For several years in her literature classes we were exposed to Christian Great Books, Bernanos, Mauriac, Peguy, Cardinal Suenens, to name a few.  Sister Amadea also got me involved in the student newspaper and yearbook as writer. This was planting some seeds for a vocation.  There never was a “lightning strike” or a mystical moment to direct me to priesthood.  In my high school years, I played football and baseball, lettering in football for three years.  I was big for my age!  I enjoyed dances and proms, receiving my Eagle Scout Award, delivered the local newspaper, got my driver’s license at legal 15 years old, and would work on my uncles’ farm in the summer time.  And enjoyed a good group of six guy friends who liked to camp, fish and swim together.  Three of us eventually joined religious communities, but only  I persevered. I had two cousins who were in religious communities:  Fr. Edward Vollmer, a Benedictine and George Haas, who was in Jesuit formation.  I wrote to both of them, beginning in the middle of my junior year of high school about the two communities.  There never was a serious thought about diocesan priesthood.  One of the things I was concerned about was the time of preparation before ordination.  I chose the Benedictines and Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City, Colorado, since it was about nine years after high school to ordination whereas with the Jesuits it was at least thirteen years. There never was any pressure from my family but there was subtle encouragement all along the way.  I did visit the Jesuit formation house in Florissant, Missouri, twice; and Fr. Ed Vollmer would be in the Chicago area at least once a year, so I got a sense of Benedictine life as he was living it, as a priest assigned to parochial work.  I was accepted into Holy Cross Abbey College in September 1952 as a freshman.  The Abbey required two years of college before considering entering novitiate.  It was a postulancy.  There were about ten of us in the college level and some high schoolers that lived in the same area of the monastery building that also was like a  “minor seminary”.  At the end of the two years, I applied to Abbot Leonard Schwinn and Holy Cross Abbey to be admitted to the novitiate.  I was accepted. Another young man also was accepted, Tobey Miles, from Boulder, Colorado. Fr. Philip Boyle was our novice master.  We were his second or third group of novices.  It was a closed novitiate (we lived apart).  We attended Office and meals with the entire community but did not have any other association with them.  We also had a “socius” (companion) Fr. Louis Kirby, who also gave us some classes on Benedictine history, and did accompany us with some of our outside work projects. This began in July 1954.  The scholarship on Benedictine monasticism was not terribly well developed at that time, but did have some good commentaries on the Rule of Benedict.  The classic “handbook” of Benedictine spirituality at that time was the Tyrocinium Religiosum; it was the Vade Mecum, to serve as a text-book and guide to the science of perfection.  We also had a class two times a week on the Rule of Benedict, going through it, verse by verse and with class input and the reading of various commentaries. I wrote a personal commentary on the Rule of Benedict as a yearlong project.  I was accepted for first vows and made them, along with Toby, now Frater Andrew Miles on July 11, 1955.  Holy Cross Abbey had the policy that community names were given at the beginning of novitiate and I was given, after some discussion, Frater Warren.  We had no real vacation after novitiate but helped with Camp Holy Cross and did, with all the other clerics and majority of the brothers, go to Abbot’s Lodge for about ten days to hike, fish and relax.  This was a good time to experience a different form of community life, which was the real attraction for me in choosing a Benedictine monastery.  In the fall of 1955, I continued with classes in Holy Cross College:  philosophy, Latin, biology, math, history, both American and world literature.  We would have some assignments in the Abbey School: I was a football coach for freshman and sophomores, helped in the Bear’s Den, the student rec center (snacks, pool, book store) besides monastery tasks. Camp Holy Cross was another activity of the Abbey for seven weeks during the summer.  Over several years I was the archery coach for campers aged 7 to 13.  I was activities director for a couple of summers, and for two years after ordination, was the “traveling salesmen” for camp and school, spending about five months on the road—January to May, recruiting campers and students as far away as Chicago and Houston and all towns in-between.  Since the only students in the college were Benedictines, there was no formal graduation ceremony, but after my senior year of college, I entered into the study of theology.  Since the number of clerics was small, we had only one cycle of classes----you started wherever the group was in a particular course--- e.g., third year of canon law, not beginning in front of the book.  Abbot Leonard was wise to send some men to Europe for advanced studies, and I benefited from them, especially in Dogmatic Theology and Canon Law and, to a less extent, Sacred Scripture.  The flavor of the Vatican II spirit was already entering theology schools of Europe.  I was ordained at the end of three years of Theology, April 30, 1960.  I applied for and made Solemn Vows on July 11, 1958.  Since the Abbey School was still in session, my first Solemn Mass was not until June back in Elmhurst, at I. C. Parish.  My parents had a very nice dinner and reception planned after the Mass.  My two cousins served as deacon and subdeacon of the Solemn High Mass with Monsignor William Plunkett, pastor, as Assistant Priest.  Fr. Anselm, one of my confreres and teacher, preached the homily.  My parents gave me a solemn set of European made vestments as a gift.  The chalice was a gift from my grandfather Heidgen. In the spring of 1961, I received priestly faculties and was soon assigned to a parish for the summer, St. John the Evangelist, in Longmont, Colorado.  It was one of the Benedictine parishes in Boulder County.  I had hoped that I would be able to continue education in math or business but the Abbot kept me on a parish.  In August, I was transferred to Sacred Heart of Jesus in Boulder as an assistant to Fr. Edward Vollmer, the pastor.  While I was there, the new church was built, and it had some of the designs that are common in church buildings in the 80’s and 90’s.  But there was no baptismal font in the rear of the church.  It would have taken up too many pew rows. In spring of 1962, I wrote Abbot Leonard about going to school and he said I was needed on the parish.  After asking once more a year later, I stopped that.  In fact, I really began to enjoy parochial work, even though as the lowly assistant.  I worked in the parish school, both the junior high and grade levels, visited the hospitals, and got to know families through various work projects with them.    In January 1964, Abbot Leonard asked me to be the recruiter for the Abbey School and Camp Holy Cross.  I had that assignment until September 1965 besides being the Camp Director in 1965.  Then I was assigned back to Sacred Heart of Jesus in Boulder, as assistant and then in 1968, appointed pastor.  In February 1966, Fr. Edward was elected coadjutor abbot of Holy Cross Abbey.  Even though there were three of us Benedictines living in the rectory, and we shared meals together, we didn’t pray together very often.  We were three bachelors living together, but did have the Benedictine spirit and that charism spilled over into our parochial work, especially what can be done to build community within the parish.  We would always attend Abbey meetings and retreats, even though it was more than 100 miles away.   In the late 60’s there was a good deal of monastic renewal  going on, and I kept myself informed, but could not contribute much from a distance.  When we were called to the Abbey for an election of a new abbot in 1979, Abbot Bonaventure was resigning due to age restriction; I had in my mind to ask the new abbot about a change in assignment.  I had been pastor for 11 years, and had earlier been in Boulder as assistant and it was time to move on.  Those were great years for parish ministry, with the enthusiasm of renewal after Vatican Council II. The entire parish staff and I were focused on what would be best for the people.  We carried that into both school and religious education programs.  I did have some run-ins with the CUF but was able to weather the storms. It turned out I didn’t have to ask for reassignment, as I was elected abbot on June 9, 1979, as the sixth abbot of Holy Cross Abbey.  There were some nice good bye parties in Boulder and on July 25th I was blessed as abbot by Bishop Charles Buswell, who had ordained me.  These were good times for me in my spiritual growth.  The fifteen-hundred anniversary of the birth of St. Benedict was going to be celebrated in 1980, the Sesquimellenium, and this brought out much good work on the Rule of Benedict, and for my part, like a second novitiate, renewal of my Benedictine heritage and life. RB 1980, The Rule of Benedict translation and commentary, of 1980 was a project of the American Benedictine Federations.  The scholars did a wonderful job of translating and writing essays on Benedictine life.  My copy of the RB 1980 is heavily underlined.  We had several good programs for monastic renewal and community development.  The type of person that I am, I would ask individual monks to carry on a project and expected them to do that, but in fact, they did not get completed.  The community and I became at odds with each other, and I chose to resign in March 1985. I took some time to refocus. I went to Arizona and stayed with my parents for several months, then returned to the Abbey and took care of the tree farm with Fr. Philip, made the three month recyclage program at Sant Anselmo in Rome and then in spring of 1988 began working in the diocese of Colorado Springs, a few months at Divine Redeemer as administrator, then assigned as pastor to St. Rose of Lima in Buena Vista.Those fourteen years were wonderful for me.  I developed a good parish life and community, formed some lasting friendships, and was able to accompany four different groups of young people and parents to World Youth Days in Paris, Rome, Toronto and Cologne.  Lay people did all of the organizing of these pilgrimages and I was the parish priest with them.  Many of those kids and their parents stayed active in youth and parish programs. While in Buena Vista I was the dean, (of a priests’ deanery) and then later the diocesan model changed to vicariates and I was vicar of the Western Region.  Bishop Hanifen used this style to share his authority of governance and exercise of accountability.  It worked well and the six vicars would meet quarterly for the good of the whole Diocese.   In 2002, some change of personnel happened in the Diocese and I took a sabbatical, which the Diocese partially funded at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.  When I returned in January there was no assignment in the Diocese of Colorado Springs so I worked in Pueblo Diocese for six months until St. Mary of the Rockies in Bailey, Colorado, was assigned to me as Administrator.  This lasted three years.  I was able to bring my good and long time experience in parishes to help this struggling parish begin to form some definite community spirit.  When I left there in 2007, I felt I was handing over to the new pastor a healthy community. Holy Cross Abbey had been my home as a member since 1955 but on July 8, 2002, the monks voted to begin the process of gradually downsizing its operations under the direction of the American Cassinese Congregation.  With the eventual closing, monks began to look for another abbey or a diocese to join. I myself didn’t move on quickly, as selling the Abbey property was going to be the finalizing of the closing, but I did visit several abbeys and after two visits to Assumption Abbey in Richardton, North Dakota, asked to move there, which I did in September, 2007.  I became a member of this Abbey on May 23, 2008.  This coming to Assumption Abbey is the first time that I have lived the monastic life full time for a good number of years.  It is good for me.  It is a healthy way of life---prayer, fraternity, Liturgy, serving the needs of the monastery and, for me, lawn mowing, caretaker of the cemetery, helping in the garden and orchard, and doing what needs to be done to keep the property looking respectable, and helping in parishes that need extra priestly presence. Writing this “vocation story” has been a good examen for me of where I am now in my monastic journey.  There are no real highlights that stand out, but the on-going striving to be faithful to the monastic call, and live as a Catholic, monk and priest, is a good way of life for me, and I WOULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN!  Much of my priestly life was on a parish, yet I always kept the sense that I am a monk as an impetus to good ministry.  I lived alone often but never felt lonely.  It was a different version of being a hermit.
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