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tv   Benedictine Monks in Oklahoma  CSPAN  March 11, 2018 2:19pm-2:31pm EDT

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block is a great example of one of the artists we have collected. watch american artifacts today at 6:00 eastern on c-span three. this year, c-span's touring cities across the country, exploring american history. next, a look at our recent visit to shawnee, oklahoma. you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> i like to describe it as a match only god can make in heaven. the original monks arrived in new orleans in 1872, thinking they had an invitation from the catholic bishop of new orleans to establish a monastery there, but when they arrived he said what are you talking about, i'm looking for missionaries not
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monks. years these two monks were looking for a permanent home but cannot find the right situation where they were really wanted, for whatever reasons, it was very complex. at the same time, the american indian peoples were being removed to this territory because the increasing white population did not want them in the land where they were trying to expand, and so they were being removed. this territory, i suppose, was chosen because, to put it bluntly, no white people wanted this territory yet good the monks that nobody wanted went to a land that nobody wanted to server people that nobody wanted, so was a match made in heaven. today we are at st. gregory's abbey, shawnee, oklahoma, 21
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monks. st. gregory's abbey has been in shawnee for a little over 100 years. we have been in what is now oklahoma for 142 years. we came when it was indian territory in 1875. our founders were from france, and after the civil war a larger number of native american tribes and peoples were being relocated to indian territory. a good number of these tribes and nations were catholic and needed catholic ministry, catholic education, but there was no structure of the catholic church in the region. our two monks were looking for a permanent location to establish our community, so when the bishops of the united states established the indian territories its own region of the church, they asked us as monks to come and provide that ministry and education programs to native american people, so we
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explored the whole territory and eventually entered into an agreement with the pottawatomie nation that had recently been moved into the territory and established sacred heart abbey, academy, and mission. that was a home base for us, and we ended up actually establishing some 45 catholic church communities around what is now oklahoma, and we also established, interestingly enough, three schools for african children who were the children of persons who had been slaves of indian tribes, so the original sacred heart, which was begun in 1876, had a monastery, a school for boys of all ages from elementary through college, a school for girls similarly, a convent where sisters of mercy lived to teach the girls.
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it was a whole working farm, like a small village, and all of it burned one night in 1901. miraculously there was no loss of life or injuries in the whole complex. it burned for about 30 minutes. people don't always remember that we rebuilt sacred heart, a second school, monastery convent, but we moved from there to shawnee after rebuilding sacred heart. i am proud of my community in the sense that those first generations of monks very closely identified to the indian people. in 1889irst land run that opened part of oklahoma to white settlement, one of arm
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preached a france, very fiery sermon to the non-indian people who had lined up on the banks of the river waiting for that land run, and he was reminding them that the land they were entering was not inhabited, and he used language and the story of exodus in the bible, saying if you treat the people here unjustly, their cry will reach the ears of the lord and there will be consequences, and so i am very proud of that advocacy that our monastic community had for the indian people at that time. today st. gregory's abbey has 21 members in the community. our monks range in age from 34 to 95. we all have different
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personalities, interests, skills, abilities, and in our different stages of development in life, and really that is what makes for a healthy community, so some of our monks have been dedicated to manual labor, the grounds, the gardens, taking care of our campus, working in the greenhouse, taking care of the facilities, but we all live in this community and follow the same pattern of life each day in terms of our schedule. our daily schedule does not vary much. we have arising ballot 5:30 in the morning, through the course of the day we gather for communal prayer five times a day. so we gather in the church at 6:00 a.m. for prayer service that lasts about 35-40 minutes, then we have a break for about 30 minutes, during which time one can eat breakfast, which we
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eat in silence, then at 7:15 we gather in the church again for our morning praise, which lasts about 30 minutes, then we have a work period from 8:00 to noon, then at 12:05 we gather again in church for our midday prayer, which lasts about 10 minutes, followed by lunch, during which we can talk at lunch, then we have another work period from 1:00 to 4:30, then we gather for mass, and then we follow that with our evening meal which we eat together in silence. we start together and stay at the table until the last person is finished and then we rise with prayer. so we are being nourished not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually.
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we follow that by a period of recreation, which is something that can be lost in our culture, about 45 minutes where we gather in our community room and some monks play dominoes, some cards, some read the paper, some watch the evening news, then the first part of wheel of fortune, then sometimes squeeze in a nap, but we are all there together affirming this value for each other, then we gather one last time in church at 6:45 for our evening prayer, and that lasts about 30 minutes. after vespers, the evening is open. in the summer months there is still sunshine to do outdoor tasks. there is no curfew or bedtime, but that bell rings at 5:30 in the morning to start that cycle all over again.
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so it is a way of life that is designed to promote a balance between prayer and work and study, a balance between solitude and community, a balance between dialogue in silence, and we strive for balance. i suppose what i would want people to know and realize is that from the earliest centuries, monasteries have been places of hospitality, we welcome people to experience our to find some kind of meaningful assistance wherever they might be in their lives, and that we also can benefit from their visit to come to see god at work in those around us, and that is people of faith, to beno
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able to share this life together in this place that is set aside for this journey, so i would want people to know the abbey is a place of hospitality, and the values we try to live our human values that perhaps ourvery -- that perhaps very connected, rapid, short attention span culture, that is filled with all kinds of noise, could benefit from, to step aside to experience the healing that can come about in a lifestyle of balance, of silence, of reflection, and attentiveness to what is happening in the world around us. welcome. come and visit. staff recently
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traveled to shawnee, oklahoma to recently learn about its history. learn more about shawnee and are other stops on c-span.org/cities tour. you're watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. tv,, on american history gary kremer, executive director of the state historical society of missouri discusses his book. the book traces the military history of african-americans, looking at the transition -- traces the hit and the movement to missouri's urban areas to seek new opportunities. the kansas city public library hosted this event. it is about one hour and 20 minutes.

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