Historic New Brunswick monastery closes because new monks not joining order

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick monastery closing because it can’t recruit new people'
New Brunswick monastery closing because it can’t recruit new people
A historic institution has closed its doors in a rural New Brunswick community. The trappist monastery in Rogersville is no more, as the few remaining monks weren’t able to recruit more people to join them. Suzanne Lapointe reports – May 21, 2024

The historic trappist monastery that has served Rogersville, N.B. for over a century has closed because the order that ran it could not recruit new monks.

The Our Lady of Calvary Abbey has been a sanctuary for the monks who live there and also for the greater community.

Residents and tourists often came to enjoy the grounds and find a moment of peace.

“After 122 years, our life here seems to be coming to an end,” said Father Innocent Ugyeh, the monastery’s father superior.

He says the church voted to close the abbey because of dwindling membership. There are currently only three monks left, one of whom lives in a special care home at age 97.

“Recruitment here is not very possible here. It’s very minimal. Not a whole lot of people want to join,” said Ugyeh.

Story continues below advertisement

The Municipality of Nouvelle-Arcadie is hoping they can become the new owners. Most of the 647 hectares of land was originally donated to the monks in 1902 by Monseigneur Marcel-François Richard, an Acadian Priest.

Richard is an important figure for Acadians, having designed the Acadian flag and founded Acadian institutions like French-language schools.

“In the letter that he sent back then, he was hoping that if the monks left, they would give it back to the community or give compensation to the community,” said Mayor Jimmy Bourque.

“For us, the site is very important.”

Bourque says the site is an important part of the community and they want to use it as a social enterprise to benefit the local area.

“We see it as a retreat, to promote art, culture, history, well being. A lot of people have been going to the grounds for meditation, to reflect on life, and we think  the property could still be used for something like that,” he said.

He said talks are ongoing about the future of the site.

Meanwhile, the remaining monks still live at the monastery while they decide their next steps. A celebration to mark the closure will take place in August.


Sponsored content