Abbey of Gethsemani monks ending production of cheese, retreats remain popular
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Abbey of Gethsemani is located about twelve miles south of Bardstown and was founded in 1848. It's one of the oldest monasteries in the United States and attracts visitors from all over the world.
Trappist monks lead lives of prayer, work and sacred reading. Sales of Bourbon fruitcake, fudge and cheese made by the monks help fund the monastery. But because of the dwindling number of monks, the production of cheese recently ended.
The fruitcake has received national recognition, but Brother Paul says its not their purpose to seek attention.
“The point of our life is to be irrelevant to do things that are simply not trendy, fashionable or of the time, but to live closer to eternity and things that are of perpetual value,” said Brother Paul.
About 9,000 people attend retreats every year. Brother Paul, who came to the monastery when he was just 17, says he sees many familiar faces each year.
“Although we are enclosed and separated from the world, a lot of the world passes through here,” said Brother Paul.
Ernie Bedard has been attending retreats for 32 years. He’s come back every year since. All who attend are encouraged to unplug and to be silent.
“For me, that’s difficult,” said Bedard.
Brother Paul says retreats are fully booked almost the entire year, with the exception of the colder months.
“To me it expresses a hunger,” said Brother Paul. “They need something. They're looking for something.”
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