In the late 19th century, a small group of Benedictine monks from Engelberg Abbey in Switzerland arrived in Oregon and made their home on a hilltop in the mid-Willamette Valley. These monks had strong personalities and quickly adopted the independent, pioneer spirit of the early northwest. Despite deeply rooted disagreements, devastating fires, betrayals, the occasional scandal, and almost insurmountable debt and mismanagement, they found a way to move forward. In doing so, the community of Mount Angel Abbey was formed and has persevered through triumph and tragedy throughout its almost 140-year-history.
In the newly released book, Struggle and Ascent, meet the characters, saints, and sinners who forged ahead in the spirit of St. Benedict and made the community of Mount Angel what it is today. Home to the oldest and largest seminary in the western United States, Mount Angel is a place of peace, learning, and culture that welcomes retreatants, scholars, seekers – all who come as fellow pilgrims on this journey of life.
Written at the request of Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., current abbot of Mount Angel, he says this book makes clear, with its recounting of grace in trials, “the story of the shaping of [the] Mount Angel way. How did it come about that we at Mount Angel are who we are today? And given that, how do we regard this treasure received, and when do we risk change? I am asking the question that stands behind the motto of my predecessor Abbot Bonaventure: Nova et Vetera, new things and old. Indeed, new things and old. ‘What will it be?’ is the question every monastery faces every day in all its monastic ways and practices.”