Organ Concert to be Held at Conception Abbey

An organ concert entitled “A Benedictine Liturgical Year” will be held at Conception Abbey at 8PM Thursday, June 2, 2016 in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

Conception Abbey is happy to host Br. Dunstan Townsend, OSB of the Companions St. Luke for a recital of works by Benedictine composers ranging from the 16th to 21st centuries. Composers included in the recital are Adriano Banchieri, Dom Paul Benoit, Narcis Casanoves, Michael Anicetus McCabe, Valenin Rathgeber, and Christopher Uehlein, all who are members of the larger confederation of Benedictine monks worldwide. 

The organist, Brother Dunstan Townsend, OSB received a Bachelor of Music degree in Organ Performance from the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music in 1977, studying organ and harpsichord with Dr. Charles Schilling. During the summer of 1977 he was a student at the Royal School of Church Music in Croydon, England, studying organ with Christopher Herrick, who was then sub-organist of Westminster Abbey. In the late 1980's graduate studies in harpsichord were taken with Professor Sylvia Ghiglieri at California State University, Stanislaus. Br. Dunstan has served as organist and choirmaster at Lutheran (2 synods), Roman Catholic, and Episcopal parishes in and around Stockton, California for the last 40 years. He is currently organist at The Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist in Stockton, one of the historic churches founded in 1850. Br. Dunstan professed final vows in the Episcopal-Benedictine community of the Companions of St. Luke in June 2015. He serves the Companions as one of the community organists, as well as Oblate Formation Master.

“A Benedictine Liturgical Year” is part of a series of events to be held at Conception Abbey to celebrate the 125 year Anniversary of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, which serves as the spiritual hub of the monks of Conception Abbey.  


Br. Etienne Ordained to the Diaconate

Abbot Gregory Polan, Br. Etienne Huard, and Bishop James V. Johnston after the ordination of Br. Etienne to the diaconate.

On Thursday May 19, 2016, Br. Etienne Huard, OSB, was ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop James V. Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph. Witnessed by his brother monks, family, and friends, it was a truly joyful occasion for all as Br. Etienne takes the final step before his priestly ordination next May.

Br. Etienne is a native of Wichita, KS and the son of Constance and the late Steven Huard.  He graduated from Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Wichita, KS before attending Conception Seminary College to discern a vocation to the priesthood.  While at CSC, Br. Etienne fell in love with the rural setting, prayer life, and strong sense of community that he found among the monks of Conception Abbey.  Deciding to discern a vocation to the monastic life, Br. Etienne entered the monastery in June of 2008 and professed vows on Aug. 15, 2010.  Over these past few years, Br. Etienne has enriched Conception Abbey by serving as Director of Admissions of Conception Seminary College and Assistant Vocations Director for the monastery, while also pursuing the art of photography with work featured in items sold by The Printery House.

This fall, Br. Etienne will return to St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, PA for his last year of seminary.  Upon completion of his studies, Br. Etienne will receive a Masters in Divinity and a Master of Arts in Systematic Theology, as well as complete all formation needed to be ordained to the priesthood. He will also continue his ministry assignment as the chaplain for the St. Vincent College Women’s Lacrosse and Tennis teams. Br. Etienne looks forward to completing his final year of seminary and returning home to Conception Abbey next spring.


Abbey Basilica Celebrates 125 Years

Abbey Basilica Celebrates 125 Years

On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, the monks of Conception Abbey celebrated the 125th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Construction of the Basilica began in 1881 and was completed with the dedication on May 10 of 1891. Raised to the status of a minor basilica by Pope Pius XII in 1941, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception has been the spiritual center for over 426 men who have professed vows as monks of Conception Abbey and the 6,548 alumni of Conception Seminary College, as well as the surrounding community and over 8,000 guests each year.  Special events to celebrate the 125 years of the Basilica are being planned throughout the year.


Abbey Trails 2016

Abbey Trails 2016.

Check out your Abbey Trails 2016 finish times here!

21st Annual Abbey Trails a Success

Conception Abbey & Seminary College welcomed 196 registrants Saturday, May 7th to the 21st Annual Abbey Trails 5K Run/2 Mile Walk and Health Fair. This year’s event drew 90 people for the two-mile walk and 73 for the run. Participants enjoyed a brunch and health fair, and the top two finishers in various age groups received prizes.

Seth Arnold of Goddard, KS and student at Conception Seminary College was the overall winner in the men’s category this year, finishing the 5-kilometer course in 18:32, followed by Tomas Sandoval of Conception, MO at 18:57.

The women’s overall winner was Tracy Jones-Martin of Houston, TX who finished at 21:59, followed by Lindsey Barnes of Elmo, MO at 22:11.

The age-group 1st place winners in the men’s 5K were: Ayden Ritchie (0-13); Kevin Rawson (14-19); Hayden Charles (20-29); Fr. Paul Sheller, OSB (30-39); German Tronco-Delgado (40-49); Michael Driskell (50-59); John Pierce (60-69).

The age-group 1st place winners in the women’s 5K were:  Madeline Koch (0-13); Malloree Arn (14-19); Lindsey Barnes (20-29); Deanna Bowers (30-39); Lina Rich (40-49); Rebecca Taylor (50-59); Shari Staehling (60-69); and Nola Zeltwanger (70 and up).

In the two-mile walk participants estimated their completion time before the event and then tried to finish closest to that time.

The age-group 1st place winners in the men’s 2-mile walk were: Caleb New (0-13), Jacob New (14-19); Dale Sheller (20-29); Eric Sheehan (40-49); Andrew Distler (50-59); Br. Michael Marcotte, OBS (60-69); and William J. Marcotte, OSB (70 and up).

The age-group 1st place winners in the women’s 2-mile walk were: Aubrey, Mattson (0-13); Kristin New (14-19), Brooke Conrad (20-29); Natalie Gray (30-39); Sherry Muse (40-49); Laurie J. Schneider (50-59); Koleen Kolenc (60-69); and Sharon Marcotte (70 and over).

The proceeds from Abbey Trails go to promote healthy lifestyles among the monks, seminarians and the surrounding communities. Since we are physical, intellectual, and spiritual beings, we here at Conception Abbey acknowledge exercise as an important factor in maintaining a balanced and healthy life. One of the ways we do that is through our annual Abbey Trails event.

Next year’s Abbey Trails is scheduled for Saturday, May 6, 2017. For more information on Abbey Trails contact Jenny Huard at (660) 944-2823, or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tower Topics - Spring 2016

Check out the latest issue of Tower Topics!



Fr. Timothy Enters Eternal Rest

At 9:10 p.m. on Wednesday, 2 March 2016, our beloved confrere, Father Timothy Schoen, O.S.B., passed unexpectedly into eternity.  Earlier in the evening, Father Timothy had informed our Infirmary staff that he was having difficulty breathing.  He was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of the Mosaic Life Center in St. Joseph, MO, where efforts to ameliorate his situation proved unavailing.  In recent years Father Timothy had suffered from numerous health-related issues, but his condition, though serious, was not seen as immediately life-threatening.  But the Lord of the Harvest, who chooses for us the moment we enter earthly life and the moment we depart from it, had determined that the time had come to end the earthly travails of his good servant.  When the Master’s call came, Father Timothy was most certainly ready to respond with joy and alacrity.

Frank Anthony Schoen was born in Kansas City, MO, on 4 July 1940, the son of Frank J. and Helen (Immenschuh) Schoen.  He was baptized one month later at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Kansas City and placed under the patronage of Saint Francis.  From his early years, Frank displayed a remarkable aptitude for music; at the age of five he took up the piano, moving on to the organ at age 13.  His brief flirtation with childhood sports ended abruptly when he broke two fingers making, as he later described it, a “clumsy catch.”  Thereafter, at the insistence of his instructors, both his attention and his devotion were given to music.

But music was not the sole object of the young Frank’s attentive devotion.  Even as a grade-schooler, he began to recognize the stirrings of an interior inclination to religious devotion as well.  The sense of a call to manifest this dedication to God in priestly service gradually emerged, and from that time onward his purpose never wavered.  He attended St. John’s Seminary High School in Kansas City, and from there advanced to Conception Seminary College.  After earning a Bachelor’s degree in 1961, Frank was sent to study theology at the North American College in Rome, where his matriculation coincided with the most significant ecclesiastical event of the age: the convention of the Second Vatican Council.  As a seminarian in Rome Frank thus had an opportunity to observe first-hand some of the events that would come to shape the Church he was preparing to serve.  Having completed his seminary studies with a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology, he was ordained to the priesthood on 16 December 1964.

However, the young Father Frank soon discovered that discernment of his own religious vocation had by no means ended.  While a college student at Conception, he had been able to cultivate his personal appreciation for the intimate connection between music and liturgy.  His years of work and study among the monks had awakened in him the further recognition that his spiritual life was strongly inclined to contemplation as well as to liturgical prayer.  As a pastor, fewer opportunities to engage this facet of his spiritual life were available to him.  He eventually found his way to the Shantivanam House of Prayer in Easton, KS, where, under the direction of fellow Conception-alumnus Father Ed Hays, he began a series of monthly contemplative retreats.  It was at this time that Father Frank determined to return to Conception Abbey, this time as a postulant seeking entry into the monastic community.

Upon completion of his monastic novitiate, Father Frank professed first monastic vows on 7 September 1985, receiving the name Timothy.  His work in the community was, naturally enough, largely focused on music.  He was among the principal organists of the abbey from that time onward, and taught classes in voice, piano and organ in the seminary college.  He was given the opportunity for further studies, obtaining a master’s degree in Liturgical Music from Saint John’s University, Collegeville MN, in 1996.  He was particularly adept at choosing musical pieces perfectly suited to the occasion; few were unmoved by his triumphal performance of Charles-Marie Widor’s famous toccata to accompany the recessional of many an Easter Sunday Vigil Mass, after which spontaneous applause never failed to break forth from his energized hearers.    

 Father Timothy’s works and interests were not limited to music and liturgy.  He served the community in many other capacities as well, from refectorian to porter to assistant choirmaster.  He was an avid gardener, and for many years his carefully cultivated African violets graced many sunlit windowsills and tabletops in our monastery common rooms.  He was also a great lover of poetry; his homilies were rendered thoughtful and beautiful by frequent allusions to Eliot, Yeats, and especially Auden, whose meditations on the Church’s liturgical life found singular resonance in Father Timothy’s own spiritual pondering.  Perhaps more importantly, Father Timothy was also a popular spiritual director, both within the monastic and seminary communities and beyond.  He ultimately found that taking up the mantle of monasticism had only enriched his profound dedication to pastoral service in the care of souls.

As both musician and liturgist, Father Timothy was an avowed perfectionist.  This personal quality had been the occasion of some dissatisfaction as a pastor in his rural Missouri parishes, where practical concerns often necessarily outweighed aesthetic ideals.  As a monk, Father Timothy had greater occasion to exercise his delight in beauty and precision in performance, but he continued to bear his own perfectionism as something of a burden—a burden which his confreres will admit having shared.  Yet it too became an occasion for grace, giving Father Timothy an opportunity to cultivate the virtue of patience in a special way.  This virtue he was further called upon to exercise in his later years, as diminishing health and mobility took their toll on his ability to live up to his own ideals in the performance of his monastic and priestly duties.  His unexpected death, in the heart of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, allows us to reflect on the mercy of God in Father Timothy’s life, as he most certainly reflected on it himself.  May he now enjoy the true perfection of the Heavenly Liturgy, where among the choirs of angels and saints he sings the praises of the merciful God whom he served with such dedication as both priest and monk. 

Father Timothy is survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Paul B. (Mary Ann) Seibold, Jr., of Gladstone, MO; by his niece, Mrs. Brad (Karen) Evans of Lee's Summit, MO; by his nephew Mr. Paul J. Seibold, also of Gladstone, MO; and by his monastic confreres.

Vespers of the Faithful Departed were prayed at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, 4 March 2016, and Mass of Christian Burial celebrated at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, 5 March 2016. We commend our beloved confrere to your prayerful remembrance.  May he rest in eternal peace!




Aerial Video from the Abbey

The monks of Conception Abbey used a drone with video camera to capture these stunning shots of campus. Even during late January and early February the campus reflects God's beauty.

Please pray for vocations. 

Celebrating Christmas

A behind-the-scenes look at the preparations and celebration of Christmas at Conception Abbey.


Monks Give Thanks

Novice Eric Becomes Brother Luke

August 15-

After spending one year in the novitiate, where he discerned and tested his vocation to monastic life, Novice Eric professed first vows in the presence of family, friends, and his monastic brothers.  It was a powerful ceremony as Abbot Gregory bestowed upon Novice Eric the name "Luke", under the patronage of the Evangelist St. Luke.  Novice Eric was welcomed as one of the community and is now known as Brother Luke.  Brother Luke was appointed as the Director of Admissions and Student Activities in Conception Seminary College.


Forming Future Priests

The monks of Conception Abbey discuss their mission in forming future priests, a task they have been involved in since 1886.


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