Monday, April 19, 2004

Where a fallen bishop goes to heal

From Where a fallen bishop goes to heal:

"The entrance to Mepkin Abbey is a long, private driveway lined with ancient live-oak trees, scenically draped in Spanish moss. Go straight, and you reach a beautiful, terraced garden sewn with azaleas and camellias, overlooking a calm, lonely stretch of the Cooper River.

Turn before that, and you will reach the riverside monastery itself, where 27 Trappist monks live, following a regimen that has its roots in the 11th century. They pray communally seven times a day, and if you arrive at the right time, you will hear the church bells toll. The monks will be found in their white, hooded robes, manning their prayer stalls, singing and chanting the Psalms.

These days, you also will see a guest, not robed but in civilian dress, sitting among them. He is Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell, who resigned as head of the Palm Beach Diocese 25 months ago after confessing to sexual improprieties. He has lived here ever since in the seclusion of this Catholic monastery."

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