As the new millennium began, the monks of our community were reduced in number and growing older. The Trappist General Chapter voted to close our novitiate. We considered the survival of this contemplative monastery in our missionary diocese to be vital.
A Cistercian abbot and monk from Vietnam had come to visit us earlier, and told us of the continual inflow of vocations to their abbey. After many meetings and much dialogue and prayer, we American monks agreed to offer our whole monastery to the Vietnamese Cistercian monks for a new foundation.
Together both sides worked out an experimental program. A gradual number of Vietnamese monks would come and live as guests in our community. If both sides were satisfied after some years that the results were good, then there would be a formal transfer. The American Trappists would live on as guests in the newly established Vietnamese community here.
We began this program in 2013. More than one visitor said they experienced our group as one community, rather than two communities in the same monastery. The fruits were good, so the feast of Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, August 15, 2019, became the occasion of creating here the new community of monks from the Vietnamese congregation of the Cistercian Order.
We are grateful to God for guiding us in this program, which continues the essential Cistercian monastic life in our Assumption Abbey here in the Ozark foothills of Missouri.