Anniversary of Basilica Dedication
Today is a special day at Conception Abbey. We celebrate a significant solemnity. It is the anniversary of the dedication of our church, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
On May 10, 1891, Bishop John Hogan traveled to Conception to dedicate the nearly finished new church. Abbot Frown and the early monks had decided that the monastery church would be in the Romanesque style. The founding abbot admired the simplicity of this style.
For one hundred and thirty years, this building has served the community very well. It is the place where we gather several times a day to worship God. It is the place where several hundred monks made their monastic profession. More than a hundred and fifty monks were buried from this church. Thousands of pilgrims come each year – to pray and to admire the beauty of the building.
Abbot Frowin Conrad took pains to build this kind of church. He employed an architect who knew the style well. Together with many skilled workers, they shaped a building that would inspire many.
There is a saying that people shape buildings. They draw plans and design the specifics and engage skilled workers to do the actual construction. All of those people together shape buildings – whether it is a family home or a state capital, a cathedral, or a skyscraper. People shape buildings.
But then, over the years, the buildings start to shape people. A family is shaped by the home in which it lives. A legislature is shaped by the chambers of the capital. A monastic community is shaped by the buildings and the environment in which the members live, day in and day out.
What does it shape us into? In the second reading for today’s Mass, taken from the First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul describes the Church in Corinth as “God’s building.” He describes the Christian community as “the holy temple of God.”
As we monks of Conception celebrate today’s solemnity, we thank God for giving us this beautiful basilica in which to worship God. We pray that we will allow ourselves to be shaped by this building, but especially by the grace God shares with us. May we be God’s building; may we be a temple, holy to God.
Reflection by Archbishop Jerome Hanus, OSB