A Pilgrim Abbot for Holy Resurrection Monastery

Monasteries of monks and nuns are living signposts of how we ought to live out our baptismal call.

Abbot Moses (third from left) and his community
Abbot Moses (third from left) and his community (photo: Courtesy Photo)

Many saints throughout the ages have likened the Christian life to a pilgrimage. Our true home is Heaven and our walk through this “valley of tears” is a preparation for our homecoming in his Kingdom. We begin our journey at our Baptism wherein we are “clothed with Christ” (cf. Galatians 3:27) and are called to keep our baptismal garment unstained.

We are all called to this vocation. Monastics are merely those men and women who live out this pilgrim and baptismal call in a more intentional way. As I’ve written many times, monasticism serves as the “reference point for all the baptized” (Orientale Lumen 9) and so I’m pleased to report on some wonderful news from our friends at Holy Resurrection Monastery in St. Nazienz, Wisconsin

Earlier this year, on Feb. 22, Abouna Moses was elected and blessed as the new abbot of Holy Resurrection Monastery. Abbot Moses has lived out his vocation as a monk with a true pilgrim spirit. He’s been on several pilgrimages. His most recent one, marking his 25th year as a monk, was in 2022, when he walked from Westminster to Rome along an old, yet less-trodden, pilgrim trail. As an Eastern Catholic, that pilgrimage was especially poignant as it begins at a church dedicated to St. Peter (Westminster Abbey is formally known as the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster) and ended at the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome.

In 2021, he walked “the Wisconsin Way,” one of the few U.S. pilgrimage routes. This route includes the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, the National Shrine of Our Lady Help of Christians, Holy Resurrection Monastery and the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. As a stop along this pilgrim way, the monks of Holy Resurrection Monastery have become quite adept at offering prayer and hospitality to pilgrims. And, of course, Abbot Moses has walked the Camino de Santiago. His latest jaunt down that pilgrim trail was in 2014. 

It is this pilgrim spirit that Abbot Moses brings to his new ministry as the head of the monastery. Coupled with this spirit is a deep rootedness in diakonia. Abbot Moses is a hierodeacon (deacon-monk) and has been for many years. In the Christian East, the abbot of a monastery need not be a priest. The only requirement is that he be chosen from among the life-professed monks. A monastery after all, while being hierarchical, does not have to be an overly “clericalized” institution. Traditionally monasteries have ordained only the number of clergy that they need, which allows them to retain a balance as the “icon” and reference point for the baptized.  

Holy Resurrection Monastery’s dedication to prayer, the ascetical life and hospitality make it an ideal place of pilgrimage for the faithful. In my several years of getting to know the monks, they have always been willing to share Christ with anyone willing to listen. I’ve grown used to turning to them with my prayer requests for family and friends. HRM, like most monasteries of the East, will enroll names of the living and deceased in their diptychs. Diptychs, coming from the Greek meaning “two-hinged,” is a book containing names of people who are prayed for by the monks during the Divine Liturgy and several times throughout the year during the Liturgy of the Hours. This is a beautiful monastic practice that now encompasses thousands of names at HRM. 

On the pilgrimage of life, Catholics ought to see monasteries as places of refuge and hospitals for sinners. Too often, well-meaning Catholics have little understanding of monastics or relationships with them. For too long, we’ve viewed monasticism as elite and foreign to the “ordinary” living out of the faith. These are myths based on poor catechesis and it’s time they fell by the wayside of our pilgrimage.

Monasteries of monks and nuns are living signposts of how we ought to live out our baptismal call. While we in the world generally cannot leave and join a monastery, an occasional pilgrimage to a monastery gives us an opportunity to learn from the intentionality of the monks. Getting to know them better opens up opportunities for the laity to become monastic oblates or to find a long-awaited spiritual director.

Holy Resurrection Monastery is a jewel in the crown of monastic life in the U.S. If you have a chance to visit, take advantage of the hospitality of the monks and pray for Abbot Moses as he continues on his new ministry!

Abbot Moses was recently featured on Power & Witness with EWTN’s Father Mark: