Sitting in the library of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Huntsville Utah back in 2000, I had no idea of the historical and spiritual significance of the place. Little did I know that the monks living there had created a spiritual battleground of prayer, marked by moments of wit, humor, joy, pain, and suffering, all for the betterment of the world. Little did I know then that I was perhaps 100 yards away from a quaint cemetery filled with white, simple metal crosses, where many of the Catholic pioneer monks who had started the monastery in 1947 rested in peace. The others, up in age, were holding the place together until they could no longer hold on. I found out quickly that this was a place I wanted to be. Everyone I knew that knew of this place wanted to be there.
As I learned more about the monastery 23 years later through my searches, my understanding of its significance grew. My mind wandered back to the early sixties and my grandmother, who happened to be Mormon. She was a devoted wife to our grandfather and devoted to her three adopted children due to our mother's suicide. Our grandmother made each one of us feel special. I thought it was just me. My brother thought it was just him, and my sister knew it was just her. With my mind wandering back to the monastery, I clearly remember being in the gift store for the first time.
As I knelt close to the gift store counter to write a check, a hand touched my face, and then the words, "I bless you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." I was staring into the face of a short-statured, yet huge man in his eighties; his eyes smiled at mine, his hair white as heaven, and his demeanor was love, and I felt this love. A few hours later, it was time to go to confession. Five or six monk priests were available. Like others, I had one thing to ask. "Where is Father Pat? What room is he in?" I said my confession; he asked a few questions to help me out. Then for my penance, he asked me if I prayed the Rosary. I said only a few times. He asked, "Do you know the prayers?" I said, "The Hail Mary." He said, "Very good. Go back to your room and pray it ten times and give thanks to God for all your blessings in this life." As I was leaving, he said, "Rich. You know that we all go to confession too, right?" I said, "Of course."
The room I was staying in was filled with history. I cannot even imagine the stories of those who spent time there as well. One small bed, one writing desk with a simple wood chair, and a window gazing into the courtyard where I was lucky to spot Father Pat walking across the courtyard to the gift store. On that night, I took the simple Crucifix hanging on the wall above my bed, laid it on my chest, and slept until the bell began to ring, and priests began to pray. I cannot remember what time it was, but what a night.
The next morning, as two of my friends and I stood in the hall by the library at the front exit from the monastery, Father Pat was walking towards the door where we were standing. After confession the day before, he gave me a Rosary and told me I could borrow it and give it back tomorrow, that he would be working in the gift store. As he approached the three of us, we all reached into our pockets at the same time, and three rosaries came out
This reminded me of how our grandmother made each one of us feel, yet we were not special individually. But we were all special in the eyes and heart of Father Pat, and his heart and eyes were of God. This place, the Monastery of Holy Trinity, was and still is in the hearts of thousands upon thousands like me, I am sure.
As we left the Holy Trinity Monastery that day, I couldn't help but feel a sense of peace and love that lingered within me. The experience of being there, surrounded by nature, good friends, and the spirituality of the monks, had touched my soul in a way that was beyond words. The memory of Father Pat's gentle touch and kind words stayed with me as a reminder that we are all special in God's eyes.
Years have passed since that visit, but the memory of the Holy Trinity Monastery and the monks who lived there still live on in my heart. The Monastery is gone now, but its spirit remains. A few surviving monks still live in separate homes across the country. Father Pat, now in his nineties, still blesses all who come near him, I am sure. His spirit lives on, just like the spirit of the Monastery, the spirit of God. We were fortunate to have found our way there, to have learned from such wise and humble men. Yet, we must never forget Father Pat's words, "You know we go to confession too, right?" My response was, "Of course," and we both smiled.
If you get a chance look up what is called: Monk Profiles: The men of Huntsville, Utah’s Holy Trinity Abbey. Brief yet powerful biographies of the men, the monks who gave up the fast paced world to pray for you and I.