Name of Church St. Michael’s Abbey church
Address 19292 El Toro Road, Silverado, CA 92676 (about 7 miles inland from the I-5 freeway in Orange County, California). Due to the limited space of its current site and encroaching development, the Abbey plans to relocate in the future. The community has purchased 320 acres of land in Silverado Canyon, and construction is expected to begin later this year. Support for the growing community is welcome; visit the website for information about making donations.
Phone number 949-858-0222
Mass times Sunday: 11 a.m. sung Latin Novus Ordo Mass; weekdays, 7 a.m. The Norbertines also gather in the church at different times throughout the day and pray, including the rosary, vespers, holy hour and benediction. Visitors are welcome to come to the church for private devotion or to join in the Norbertines’ prayers. See the website for specific schedule.
Confessions daily at 8 p.m. in the Abbey Church
Names of priests Abbot Eugene Hayes leads the community; Fr. Hugh Barbour serves as prior. Abbot Eugene has led the community for 20 years. Overall, the community has nearly 80 members, both priests and men in formation.
School One of the abbey’s chief apostolates is St. Michael’s Preparatory School for boys grades 9-12.
Liturgy Participate in the Sunday Mass with the aid of English-Latin booklets offered when you arrive.
Music The priests and seminarians are well-trained in Gregorian chant. In addition to the Mass, community prayers are sung.
Homilies For more than 50 years, Norbertine priest have been making an often quiet, but significant positive contribution to the life of the Church in Southern California. They assist at parishes, teach in schools, and even staff St. John the Baptist Parish in Costa Mesa and Ss. Peter & Paul Parish in Wilmington (Los Angeles). They are well-formed, traditional, pious and reliably orthodox. Their priests are both intellectual, and often good-humored. They’ve done well for vocations at a time when many larger, better-known religious communities are dying out. The priests are easily identified by the white cassocks they wear. They take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, plus a 4th Norbertine vow of Conversion of Ways (changing your habits so they are like those of Christ; an effort to think and act as Christ did).
Fellow parishioners St. Michael’s Abbey has a loyal following among conservative Catholics, including younger families with many children.
Parking There is a lot near the church.
Acoustics Fine. The chant fills the church with beautiful music.
Cry room No.
Additional observations Founded in 1121 by St. Norbert, the charism of the Norbertine Order is to combine the contemplative life of a monk with the active life of a parish priest and to tie this work to the community in an abbey. The community’s motto is “Prepared for Every Good Work”; its essence or “heartbeat” is fervent devotion to the Holy Eucharist. The order’s primary apostolate is the education and moral formation of youth, preparing them to be good Catholics as well as productive, stable members of society. Norbertines operate autonomous abbeys, and have a superior in Rome. They are not monks, but canons regular, meaning they live the monastic life but are engaged in an apostolic work and the care of souls.
St. Michael’s Abbey was founded in 1961 by seven Norbetine priests on a 34-acre cow pasture in southern Orange County. The seven original priests were from Hungary—only one is still alive—but left their homeland due to persecution from its communist government in the years following World War II. In a hair-raising escape, the seven crossed the country’s roughest terrain, dodging police patrols, cutting through barbed wire, tiptoeing through minefields and swimming across a 60-foot wide river holding their clothes on their heads. Their leader was Abbot Ladislas Parker (1915-2010). Like many other religious orders, in the years after Vatican II they saw their vocations disappear, but remained faithful to Catholic teaching and the teaching authority of the Church. The vocations returned, and the community has done well since.
Bishop Kevin Vann, the diocesan bishop, has been a good friend to the community and regularly visits for prayer and recreation. In 1996, the Abbey established a foundation for cloistered, contemplative women in Tehachapi in the Diocese of Fresno. They are served by priests of the Abbey. The community has a newsletter, The St. Michael Messenger, which can be found online at www.stmichaelsabbey.com. They also offer a summer camp for boys ages 7-12.