History of St. Procopius Abbey
Benedictine monasteries grow much like natural families when children leave home to set up life on their own. Monks from St. Michael's Archabbey in Metten, Bavaria, first arrived in America in 1846 and founded St. Vincent Archabbey (Latrobe, PA).
In 1885, a group of monks of St. Vincent's formed a new monastic community in Chicago in order to pray and work among the Czech and Slovak immigrants so numerous in the American Midwest.
The monks took over the direction of a parish named in honor of
St. Procopius, and the community selected this saint as the patron of their new monastic house. Known for his great charity and love of the liturgy, Procopius had founded a monastery in Bohemia during the eleventh century and after his death became the first formally canonized saint of the Czechs. His feast day is observed on July 4.
The newly-established Benedictine community of St. Procopius decided over the next decades to found a high school, college, and seminary, and to operate a press. They were also engaged in parish work.
After 1901, the schools began operating in Lisle, 30 miles southwest of Chicago, where the monks had purchased some farmland. In 1914, the Abbey too was transferred to Lisle. The press remained in Chicago until 1975 when it ceased operation.
Blessed by many vocations, St. Procopius Abbey was able to found two new monastic communities: St. Andrew's Abbey in Cleveland, Ohio, and Holy Trinity Priory in Butler, Pennsylvania. As the need for pastoral work among Slavic-language immigrants gradually diminished, the monks directed their efforts ever more to educational work. Yet many still engaged in pastoral work, albeit with less and less ethnic focus.
The growth of the schools eventually led the monks to decide upon the creation of a separate monastic complex. They believed that a new church and monastery would give them a stronger Benedictine identity, improve the contemplative character of their lives, and help them better serve the students and public of the mushrooming suburbs.
Planning for the church and monastery began in 1959, and construction commenced nine years later. In June 1970, the monks moved into their new home. The new Abbey was cited by the American Institute of Architects as one of the most outstanding buildings in the United States.
The Abbey schools, formerly St. Procopius Academy and St. Procopius College, now called Benet Academy and Benedictine University, have grown, now having between them thousands of students. Monks remain engaged as faculty and staff members at the two coeducational institutions.
Also, most of the monks who are ordained help in nearby parishes, especially with Sunday Masses.
St. Procopius Parish, Chicago, site of original monastery of St. Procopius.
Abbot Daniel Kucera, O.S.B., the fifth abbot of St. Procopius Abbey, looks on at the construction of the new monastery complex.
Lady Chapel, decorated as altar of repose for after the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper.
Abbot Hugh Anderson, O.S.B., VIII Abbot of St. Procopius Abbey