More than 50 Norbertine Order priests and 34 seminarians make the tight quarters of the St. Michael’s Abbey in Trabuco Canyon home. There is also the St. Michael’s Preparatory School.

The Norbertine Fathers have said the property isn’t structurally sound enough to support a larger campus for their growing community.

They purchased a 320-acre former ranch about 7 miles north on Silverado Canyon Road to relocate the abbey. Most of the property will remain undeveloped, said Casey Cook, spokeswoman for St. Michael’s Abbey.

A monastery will be built along with an abbey church, convent, an administration building and a cemetery with a chapel. Later, a larger facility with dorms for the prep school will be added.

The project’s architect, Jean-Louis Pagès, was chosen more than a decade ago after the design of an abbey caught the eye of St. Michael’s leaders while touring southern France. Pagès was the architect.

The traditional Romanesque-inspired abbey will feature rounded arches, high ceilings inside and a more than 100-foot-tall bell tower.

The abbey was founded in 1961 by seven Hungarian priests who fled communist oppression.

The Norbertine Fathers have grown to serve the dioceses of Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino and Fresno. They have ministries that go out to hospitals, prisons and convents and hold summer camps and retreats.

Full story at OC Register.