Silently the new church instantly lit up.
The assembled emitted a hushed, brief gasp at a moment meant to remind them that Christ, as Scripture says, is a “light to enlighten the nations.”
The dramatic illumination, which followed the lighting of the altar, was among several time-honored traditions celebrated on Tuesday, May 4, at the dedication of the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption at the new St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado Canyon.
The long-awaited dedication, delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and two major fires in 2020, marked a cherished milestone after more than 15 years of planning, design and construction of the nearly $120 million St. Michael’s Abbey, a seminary and home to the Norbertine Fathers.
Unstable land and a growing community of Norbertines forced the relocation of the abbey from its original location just nine miles away in Trabuco Canyon. Private donations made the new home possible, and ground was broken on March 18, 2018.
“We are gathered here with joy to dedicate a new church by celebrating the Lord’s sacrifice,” Bishop Kevin Vann said at the start of the dedication in the courtyard of the 40-acre main complex, which includes a monastery, convent, administration building, and a cemetery with a chapel. The new abbey was designed by French architect Jean-Louis Pagès….
Although St. Michael’s Abbey is not a parish church, it will offer daily Mass to the public, in addition to eventually hosting retreats, providing adult educational opportunities, and serving as a regional center for music, history, culture, art, and literature.
The 3 ½-hour dedication ceremony began outside the church with a procession on a sunny morning as bright-orange California poppies bloomed on land ringed by canyon ridges.
Leading the procession was an icon of St. Norbert, commissioned by Abbot Rev. Eugene Hayes, that depicts St. Norbert in a central panel surrounded by 12 scenes from his life. It was followed by a Reliquary Ark, carried by five prelates, their red and gold silk damask copes gently rippling in the breeze, that contained sacred relics that later were placed inside the altar — including a portion of the rib of St. Norbert.
Abbot Hayes delivered the homily during the dedication Mass inside the church, built in a Roman basilica architectural style with colorful and bright blown stained glass. The jewel of the art in the church will be a bright Venetian mosaic of stone, tile, and glass depicting our Lady of the Assumption (17 feet tall) on the Triumphal Arch, yet to be installed but projected onto the proscenium as an image for the dedication….
The above comes from a May 20 story by Greg Hardesty in the OC Catholic.
Good for the Norbertines!
(On the other hand, I do wonder if Bp. Vann will now let Muslims go there to pray.)
Some Norbertines gave a video tour to some Catholic school students, but you may be interested as well. It’s at:
As you’ll see, the church was not quite completed at the time of this tour, in early February. But, the Norbertines provide some good catechesis for the children, and us adults too.
It’s inspiring to see beautiful Catholic architecture and liturgical worship.
If any of you feel called to view the entire dedication and Mass (almost 3-1/2 hours), it’s linked here:
And, let us pray for the priests and other men serving at this abbey and beyond it.
Thank you, Deacon Anderson, for the link. I have heard nothing but good about the Norbertines here. Now I know why. Not only did the tour guides give an excellent Catechism on the meaning of the Church structure, but their English is great. The one monk used “different from” instead of the incorrect phrase “different than”. I have heard governors and even heads of colleges say “different than”. My public school English teacher in the 1950’s – 1960’s, in a working class neighborhood, drilled into our heads “different from”, not different than”. My English has gotten worse over the years, but I remember that.
I assume the Muslims would not ask to hold a Friday service at the Abbey. I hope the Bishop would permit Muslims to visit the Abbey on a respectful basis, obviously not receiving Commuion.
I noticed that the Norbertines mentioned in their videos, that few young men who enter the Norbertines actually stay for life, and become priests– perhaps only about 30%. I wonder if this is true with most men’s religious orders? And how about diocesan seminaries? Well, I hope the new St. Michael’s Abbey is very successful, for the glory of God! Wonder if they miss their school?
If it weren’t for gay men becoming priests there would hardly be any priests.
Thanks for the video link. I watched it. I don’t think I’d like attending Mass at that church. The altar is way in the back and it’s impossible to see anything from the pews. It’s obviously not a parish, and it’s primarily for the canons regular who belong to the community. But still, I don’t want to go to a Mass where I’m so far away I can’t see what’s going on and won’t feel a part of the Mass. No doubt it will attract all the people who don’t like Vatican II and normal parishes. Whatever.
I enjoyed following news about the young baseball star, Grant Desme, when he entered the Norbertines. However, as the years went by, he finally discerned that God was actually calling him to marry and be a father, and have children! So he left– and re-entered the baseball world. Wonder if his dream of marriage and children came true?? I never saw any news items about that. Good, solid Christian athletes can be a tremendous influence for good, on young boys, as they are growing up! I bet he will help many to find God!
The post I submitted on May 24 at 1:56pm, is a further response to my post of May 24 at 11:51am. I put it by mistake as a reply at first, to someone else’s post! Sorry!
Would be far easier and waste less of people’s lives if God would be more timely and communicate more clearly what he wants them to do. Especially in this case: the guy left a promising baseball career in his prime youth, only to decide eight years later that he should play baseball after all but then had to settle for a tertiary league nobody watches nor follows because he was too old for MLB. Could have been a big star if he had just stayed in MLB instead of wasting eight years on a dead end with the Norbertines. Sometimes I think so-called “discernment” is a joke. People don’t have a clue but want to convince themselves they are doing what they are meant to do, so they say they discerned to whatever decision they make based on feelings or hunches. How many people have “discerned” and then reversed course years later? What was the authenticity of that discernment?
Anonymous, it seems you misunderstand discernment. It’s a process. And, time discerning one’s vocation, whether to Holy Orders, religious life or marriage is not “wasted.” Entering a seminary or religious community is often part of that process. If one leaves before ordination or final vows, there is no shame in that. I know of several good husbands and fathers who spent time in a seminary and/or a religious community (as well as a few good wives and mothers who spent time in a religious community). Who are we to judge the “authenticity” of another’s discernment? Usually people date more than one person before marriage. We’ve done marriage preparation for engaged couples. A few have determined that they were not called to marry each other and broke off their engagements. Though painful, that’s good. Sometimes people don’t understand discernment, and maybe even decision making as well. (I don’t agree with your broad statement, “People don’t have a clue…,” as if none do.) Anonymous, if you haven’t already done so, I encourage you, and all people who haven’t done so, to discern their vocation. A good spiritual director can help. May God bless and guide all who are discerning their vocations.
So what about divorced people who are not given an annulment who discern that they should marry again outside the church? I know people who have made that decision. They discerned that the church erroneously denied them an annulment, and they go to Mass and communion while living in adultery. Now, you can say that their discernment was fraudulent because no true discernment can go against church teaching. Nevertheless, these people say they discerned that God’s will for them is to remarry even if it is contrary to church law and teaching. They discern that the church is wrong. They are convinced God is pleased with their decision and supports their decision. They receive communion like nothing is wrong, and their lives are by all appearances in good shape. So much for discernment. So much for church teaching. Same with gays who discern that they should same sex marry, that that’s God’s will for them. Discernment is just people doing what they want, what they feel. It’s a fancy term to give decisions the appearance of greater weight and authenticity. I didn’t just choose, I discerned. Wow.
Sorry you are disappointed in God. His ways are not ours, and certainly not yours. Put away the bitterness.
I’m just wary of people throwing around the word discernment so lightly to justify whatever they want to do and imply that God supports their decision.
I agree. The word discernment is overused. People have used that term to defend their decisions to go against the teachings of Christ. Yet, discernment is a good and needed thing. Discernment of spirits is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12). Again, a good spiritual director can help one with discernment. (And, some things are simply a matter of making an informed and prudent decision.)
That might be true, Anonymous, but on the other hand, he probably learned many things in the Norbertines that will help him greatly later on in life. Had he stuck with the MLB, he might have made a mess of his life. Only God knows. As I said to someone today, the experience we get from every decent job we have had or vocation we entered looks good on a resume to someone.
The thing with this sort of trying to put the best possible face on everything is that the what ifs can be turned around. What if he had stuck with the Norbertines and his preaching brought thousands of people back to the church and to greater holiness? See? It works both ways. Had he stuck with the Norbertines, the church might have been much better off. Maybe he discerned out of the Norbertines incorrectly. If only God knows, then what’s the point of us trying to decide anything?
Correction: stuck with MLB.
Patience is a virtue. Patience gains all things.
Who says it is supposed to come easily?
Who says it is supposed to be quick?
What are you talking about? This guy had a talent for baseball and he threw it away by entering seminary in his 20s, which are the prime baseball career years. If he had become a Norbertine priest, it would have been a worthwhile sacrifice. But he didn’t so those years were wasted. Now? It just looks like wasted time during what could have been a very productive period of his life had he stuck with baseball, which he eventually tried to resume but too late in his life because his prime athletic years were behind him. He missed out.
Your values are very worldly.
Here is the way I see it. For us to grow and mature, we have to try many things. When young, we had a Pastor who used to say, “God always writes straight with crooked lines.” (attributed to St. Terwsa of Avila.) Life is a lot like that. All of our rich and varied life experiences work together, in God’s great and marvelous Plan, to make us better people, and glorify Him. It is always disappointing to see a young man discern to leave the seminary/religious order novitiate– especially one who seems like he could perhaps attract and bring other young people to Christ. But there is another way to see that. Isn’t it great that a young athlete/former Norbertine novice like Grant Desme is an “all-male” young fellow– not a member of the sick, deviant “LGBT”s. He can still be a powerful advocate for Christ, by coaching, and Catholic marriage, and fatherhood. He will surely bring many blessings to his parish. Great.
Sorry, in my post of May 24 at 9:30 pm, I misspelled St. Teresa of Avila’s name!
A long time ago, I knew some ex-seminarians who were talented musicians. They left seminary because they discovered their same-sex attraction was too overwhelming, in the all-male environment. And they decided to leave, get a job, lead their own life, their own way– and “run around with the boys.” And be Church-employed, too, and receive all the Sacraments! Dishonest, deviant, sinful, and a danger to the Church! Most are now dead from AIDS. We should be happy to see an honest, normal, natural, fine young fellow, who is an ex-seminarian, who loves all-American baseball, wants to marry and be a good Catholic husband and father, and coach young athletes– and hopefully lead them to Christ!
What about Fr. Jonathan Morris, the FOX News priest commentator in the Archdiocese of New York, former Legion of Christ member, who “discerned” that he should never have been ordained and sought laicization, it was quickly granted, and now is married?
Are you people saying that God led him to get ordained only to lead him later to leave priesthood and get married because that path was best for his growth? Sorry, but that just sounds like you’re making things up in order to have every outcome seem to be the best because that’s what you want to believe or have to believe.
Especially in the case of Fr. Morris, who was so public and well known and admired… leaving the priesthood probably scandalized a great many Catholics. And he had a big church wedding in the cathedral to boot.
In this case you have to admit that “feeling the call” was wrong… either “feeling the call” to be a priest or “feeling the call” to quit priesthood and get married.
He said he decided to leave the priesthood. After years of struggling. Maybe you shouldn’t try to use people that you don’t know to prove your point.
Anonymous– I never heard of this former priest. It is not recommended that people make discernments alone, but with a priest or spiritual director to help guide them. The founder of the Legion of Christ, Fr. Marcial Maciel, was a dangerous criminal sex offender, who brutally raped seminarians, and fathered illegitimate children with mistresses. His religious order, the Legion of Christ, was in an extreme crisis due to his horrific sins. Nobody making comments on this website, can possibly know the mind of God. ! People try to discern what they believe to be God’s Will for them, the best way they can. Many make huge blunders. Sometimes people unknowingly even follow the voice of the Devil, not the voice of God. Discernment of spirits is an art. St. Ignatius of Loyola’s famous “Rules for Discernment,” from his “Spiritual Exercises,” is a renowned resource. Also, in our era, Fr. Timothy Gallagher, O.M.V., has a very good program, based on Ignatian spirituality.
How many poor people could be fed, clothed and housed with $120 million dollars?