Monday, October 20, 2008

From the Cloister to the Crozier

A Quebec diocese now has among that rarest of things: a Trappist bishop.

On Saturday, the Pope named Dom Yvon Moreau, abbot of Notre Dame du Lac Monastery at Oka (near Montreal) as bishop of his home diocese of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatiere, situated along the province's eastern edge.

Ordained for the diocese in 1968, the 67 year-old bishop-elect excardinated from it to join the Order of the Cistercians of Strict Observance -- as the Trappists are formally known -- sixteen years later. In 1990, months after making his final profession in the community, Moreau was elected the fourth head of the Oka house. Before joining the community, he spent most of his ministry in education, including four years as a seminary professor in Nicaragua.

Famed for their silence and simple spirit -- and, across the Pond, their beer -- 'round these parts the Trappists are best known for their houses at -- among others -- Gethsemani, Mepkin and Spencer... and the former's Fr Louis, better known as Thomas Merton. As of this writing, another Trappist serves as bishop in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In accord with the norms of the canons, Dom Yvon must be ordained bishop and take possession of the 87,000-member diocese within four months. Later this week, the community he leaves behind is scheduled to elect its new abbot.

Founded in 1881, the Oka house is scheduled to relocate to a new monastery next year.