TREMEMBE, Brazil, NOV. 30, 2004 (Zenit.org).- In a rare outing, an entire monastery of Trappist monks went on a pilgrimage.
The 25 members of Our Lady of the New World Monastery, of Campo do Tenente in the state of Parana, went on pilgrimage last Monday to the place where the first monks were established in Brazil, as well as to the Basilica of Our Lady Aparecida, in Sao Paulo.
This unheard-of event for the Trappist community was due to an exceptional celebration: the centenary of the arrival of the Trappists in Brazil, the centenary of the crowning of the statue of Our Lady Aparecida, and the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
It was a way of honoring the “father and mother” of the community of monks, said the prior of the community, Trappist Father Bernard Bonowitz, during his homily at a Mass celebrated in the Basilica of the Good Lord Jesus in Tremembe. He was referring, respectively, to the first Trappist monastery in Brazil and to Our Lady Aparecida.
The first monks of the order arrived in Brazil and established themselves on Sept. 13, 1904, in the city of Tremembe, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Sao Paulo, in a 17th-century coffee estate that belonged to the baron of Palmeiras, a place that became famous as the Monastery of Our Lady Star of the Sea (“Maristela”).
Its presence was essential for the economic growth of the area, thanks also to the introduction of modern techniques of rice cultivation.
The Trappists started the first theology course in the region, through the contact of the community’s prior with Father Leon Dehon, who sent some priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Dehonians, to oversee the Faculty of Theology, which is now celebrating its 80th anniversary.
In the 1920s, the monks of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, as the Trappists are formally known, left the Monastery of Tremembe and returned to the city of Campo de Tenente, further south, where they are still today and where in 1997 they founded the Monastery of Our Lady of the New World.
Father Bonowitz, the monastery’s prior, told ZENIT that he thought this pilgrimage was unique in the order’s history, as it involved an entire community whose rule includes prayer, meditation and work.