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Oklahoma monks' Spartan life is Christian “witness to the world”

Monks at Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma, view their simple monastic life as a way to live out their faith as witnesses to the importance of a life focused on the Lord.
by Carla Hinton Modified: March 31, 2013 at 3:54 pm •  Published: March 31, 2013

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Romans 12:1-2

— When monks at Clear Creek Abbey don their simple black habits each morning, their day is patterned much like the one before: eight hours of prayer in Latin, basic meals and manual labor.

However, what springs forth from this routine — a focus on the Lord — is anything but mundane, the abbey's leader said.

Abbot Philip Anderson said this simple way of life is the way he and 40 other monks at the rural Cherokee County monastery are living out their Christian faith.

He said the disciplined, strict monastic life hearkens back to monastic living of yesteryear.

“It is a witness to the world — a witness to the existence of God,” Anderson said.

A simple life

He said the simple way of life at the abbey is precisely what he had in mind when he chose to leave his life as a Kansas college graduate in the 1970s for a monastery in the heart of France. He said 31 young men from America just like himself chose to enter Our Lady of Fontgombault Abbey in France on the condition that they would become monks and eventually be sent back to the United States to found a monastery.

Only seven of the Americans, Anderson among them, of course, saw the plan come to fruition when Clear Creek Abbey was founded in 1999.

Anderson, 60, said at least one of the would-be monks left the monastery and later married while another went to work for a computer company in France. He said many of the others left because it was difficult to be away from their native country and adjusting to having to learn a new language and culture; plus the cold, damp winters were not easy.

Anderson said the seven Americans that helped found Clear Creek were joined by several Canadian and French monks for a total of 13. He said new members began coming right away, in part, because there are not many American monasteries that adhere to the type of spartan living of Clear Creek.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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