Reminiscent of the great monasteries of Europe

Construction well underway for Norbertine Fathers’ 55-acre St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado Canyon

(photo courtesy of St. Michael’s Abbey)

On rugged hillside in Silverado Canyon – where hawks circle overhead and the wind whistles through the branches of California live oak trees – workers are constructing a massive stone abbey.  

Reminiscent of the great monasteries of Europe, the long, Romanesque-style church has a 100-foot bell tower that juts into the horizon and graceful rounded arches. In fall 2020, if all goes according to plan, the church will accommodate 500 people for Mass. 

The Norbertine Fathers’ 55-acre St. Michael’s Abbey expansion is well underway. 

“It’s very exciting to see a project that began in 2006, with strong fundraising efforts in 2015-16, finally coming to life,” says Father Justin Ramos, O. Praem., head of fundraising for the expansion project. 

Matt Construction of Santa Fe Springs is building the project, which includes a monastery where the fathers and seminarians will live; a convent; an administration building with offices for Abbot Eugene Hayes, O. Praem. and his staff; and a large guest house. Included also are conference rooms, a cemetery, crypt, and cemetery chapel. 

Matt Construction has worked on many prominent projects in Southern California and beyond, including the Petersen Automotive Museum, The Broad, and the Music Center Plaza. The project’s architect, Jean-Louis Pagès, was chosen more than a decade ago after his design of an abbey caught the eye of St. Michael’s leaders while they were touring southern France. 

Fr. Ramos believes that holy intervention is one reason the expansion property was made available to the Norbertine fathers. He describes a 2006 hike in Silverado Canyon during which he and some companion priests agreed that the property was desirable for the abbey expansion. The Norbertine fathers secretly erected a statue to St. Joseph on one of the hilltops and asked the saint to look favorably upon their possible purchase of the land. Their initial efforts failed, but six years later the fathers were able to buy the land, and they discovered that St. Joseph’s weather-worn statue remained on the hill where it remains to this day. 

Full story at OC Catholic.

Comments

  1. God bless them. Nothing but good will come from this project.

  2. Clinton R. says

    May the Lord bless the Norbertines. The monastery is looking great. Beauty and tradition lead many souls to Christ.

  3. Brian D Kelly says

    Hard to believe the abbey has grown like this since I was there as a seminarian in 1972-4. Very fond memories. Some of the older priests may remember me as Frater Michael.

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