Our History

From Robert Pichette’s Book appendix

(Robert Pichette, Les Cisterciens en Acadie 1902 – 2002, Quebec 2002)

Awaiting the resurrection
Awaiting the resurrection

1902

April 3, Father Marcel‑François Richard, parish priest of Rogersville, N.B., aware of the anticlerical movement in France, invites the Cistercian monks of the Abbey of Our Lady of Bonnecombe, in the diocese of Rodez and Vabres, Department of the Aveyron, in France, to establish a refuge for their community in his parish.

September 1, Father Richard deeds a large personal property to the monks. It includes dilapidated farms buildings, a small, decrepit house, a sawmill and a grist mill situated near Tunnel Siding, on the Intercolonial railway.

October 12, six monks leave Bonnecombe for Canada. They are: Dom Antoine Piana (1859‑1938), superior, Father Jean Laguet (1868‑1916); Brother Marcellin Maillebuau. (1867‑1944); Brother Paul Ratier (1872‑1927); Brother Raphaël Boudet (born in 1871), and Brother Hippolyte Bru (1884‑1954).

October 31, the monks arrive by train in Rogersville.

November 1, the feast of All Saints, they take formal possession of the land and celebrate the first Office and Mass in their temporary monastery dedicated to Our Lady of Calvary.

site of the first house
Site of the first house

1903

May 9, with the approval of the Most Reverend Thomas E Barry, bishop of Chatham, the monastery is incorporated by an Act of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick under the name The Model Farm and Agricultural School of Rogersville, N.B.

June, Dom Émile Lorne, Abbot of Bonnecombe, arrives in Rogersville with four monks: Brother Augustin Magne (1852‑1918); Brother Humbert Maistre (1873‑1938); Brother Célestin Chastan (1874‑1935), and Brother André Romieu. (1860‑1944).

Dom Émile draws up, on the spot, a rudimentary plan for a wooden chapel and a monastery, which are erected by the monks in a matter of a very short time.

November 1, on the first anniversary of their arrival, the monks move into their new monastery, built to accommodate fifty persons.

1904

  • May 3, Cistercian nuns from Our Lady of All Consolation, from Vaise (Lyon), France, arrive in Rogersville. Housed temporarily in the parish hall, the nuns move into the Cameron farmhouse on June 4.
  • July 12, Pope Leo XIII, at the request of Bishop Barry, gives canonical sanction to the elevation of the monks’ monastery as a Cistercian priory.
  • Second visit by Dom Émile Lorne, who brings four more monks to Rogersville: Father Stanislas Viguier (1838‑1917); Father TimothéeJaillet (1857‑1930); Brother Benoît Couronne (1838‑1905), and Brother Étienne Roques (born in 1885).

1905

  • Third visit by Dom Émile Lorne.  The pontifical decree creating the monastery as a priory for canonical purposes is read in a solemn assembly, chaired by Msgr. Marcel‑François Richard, newly created as a Domestic Prelate of the papal household.
  • July 25, Brother Benoît Couronne dies.

1907

Msgr. Richard visits Bonnecombe, accompanied by Father Patrick Dixon, parish priest at Newcastle. He is received ceremoniously and gratefully as the founder and benefactor of the Rogersville refuge.

1908

Pierre Comeau, from Petit‑Rocher, becomes the first Acadian novice. He is given the name of Brother Joseph (1865‑1943).

1912

August 15, Dom Antoine Piana, directs the recently formed Rogersville brass band on the occasion of the inauguration of a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, erected by Msgr. Richard on the grounds of the church.

1915

June 18, Msgr. Richard dies and is buried in the crypt of the chapel built as a monument to Our Lady of the Assumption. The shrine is, to this day, a favoured pilgrimage site.

1918

May 25, Dom Émile Lorne dies in Bonnecombe.

1919

The monastery is faced with the threat of closure by Bonnecombe. Dom Antoine Piana goes to France and staves off the menace.

1921

September 18, the Cistercians’ General Chapter decrees the holding of a special inquiry into the viability of the monastery.

1922

  • September 15, the General Chapter adopts the recommendations formulated by the commission of inquiry and postpones for two years a final decision as to the future of the monastery.
  • November 1, Dom Antoine Piana is replaced as prior by Dom Hippolyte Bru.
  • November 16, fire destroys the mills as well as the bridge.

1923

September 14, the General Chapter orders a second extraordinary visit of the priory in order to take a final decision as to its future.

1924

September, the General Chapter maintains the priory as a refuge of Bonnecombe and authorizes the building of a permanent monastery.

1925

April 25, the reconstructed sawmill is destroyed by fire.

1926

During the night of July 25‑26, a demented novice sets fire to the barns, the smithy, the bakery, the carpenter’s workshop and the apiary.

1927

  • July 25 the comer‑stone of the new monastery is blessed and laid to mark the 25th anniversary of the arrival of the pioneers.
  • October 6, Father Louis Daigle becomes the first Acadian recruit to be ordained to the priesthood, at Bonnecombe.
list of the founders
List of the founders

1930

  • June 13, the professed monks make their vow of stability at Calvary.
  • June 14, Dom Hippolyte Bru is elected first titular Prior.
  • A post office, under the name North Rogersville is established at the monastery. It was in operation until December 31, 1969.

1931

  • March 1, the newly completed stone monastery is blessed.
  • November 13, the community moves into the new monastery whose conventual church is blessed by the Most Reverend Patrice‑Alexandre Chiasson, bishop of Chatham, on November 15.

1934

July 25, the community celebrates a double anniversary: the 25th anniversary of Dom Hippolyte Bru’s priestly ordination, and the 50th anniversary of Dom Antoine Piana’s religious profession.

Major renovations to the dam are completed.

1936

May 9, the old wooden monastery, converted into a potato warehouse, is destroyed by fire.

1937

  • May 21, Dom Hippolyte Bru resigns and returns to France. Father Alyre Richard replaces him as temporary superior.
  • August 15, a building to house the oblates is finished and opened.

1938

  • July 19, the sawmill is destroyed by fire for the third time. Rebuilt, it will function until the 1950s.
  • October 11, the newly appointed prior, Dom Chérubin Lenssen, from the abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven, Tilburg in Holland, arrives to take up his post.
  • The piggery is built. The raising of hogs will cease in 1968.
  • November 10, Dom Antoine Piana, the founder and first superior, dies.

1939

  • June 18, the monastery passes from the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the bishop of Bathurst (formerly Chatham), to that of the newly created Archbishopric of Moncton.
  • Due to the war, the abbot of Bonnecombe delegates his canonical powers to the abbot of Oka for the duration.

1946

September 11, Dom Chérubin Lenssen is elected titular prior of Calvary and is installed by Dom Pacôme Gaboury, abbot of Oka.

1947

The monks begin the commercial production of cement blocks. This industry will be maintained until 1972.

1948

  • January 13, the community embarks on the production of health products, which will be marketed under the generic label Monacad.
  • May 29, the cornice around the roof is replaced, and the small belfry is removed. It is replaced by a cross.
  • July 22, the cement block factory, the laundry, the carpentry workshop and the henhouse are all destroyed by fire.

1949

  • The monks begin to quarry stone on an industrial basis. This ill‑fated industry will last until 1953, nearly bankrupting the monastery in the process.
  • For lack of recruits, the boarding school is closed.

1951

  • Dom François‑Xavier Huet, abbot of Our Lady of Mistassini, becomes Father Immediate of the priory for a period of two years, as a delegate of Dom Jean Bousquet, abbot of Bonnecombe, and with the approval of the General Chapter.
  • July 15, thunder strikes the carpentry workshop and starts a fire.

1952

October 1, the 50th anniversary of the foundation is celebrated. Father Alphée‑J. Babineau, parish priest of Rogersville, publishes a brief history, in French, of the monastery.

1953

  • October 11, Dom Chérubin Lenssen resigns as prior and returns to Holland. Father Alphonse Arsenault is appointed temporary superior.
  • December 15, Dom Alphonse Arsenault is elected titular prior.

1954

  • The second superior and first elected prior, Dom Hippolyte Bru, dies in Bonnecombe. He was the last surviving founder.
  • May 31, carelessness causes the destruction by fire of the cobbler’s shop.
  • April, the monastery, in debt for more than $200,000 is threatened with seizure of property by Central Trust, in Moncton. Dom Alphonse Arsenault inaugurates a strict regimen of drastic economising.

1956

  • The hothouse was built.
  • October 6, a Pieta is erected on the grounds of the monastery, within the monastic enclosure. It is blessed and dedicated to the monastery’s benefactors.

1957

Dom Alphonse Arsenault writes and publishes a short history, in French, of the monastery, intended as a recruitment tool.

1960

  • March‑April, the first issue of the bimonthly The Sound of Our Bells is published. Both English and French editions will cease publication with the January‑February issue in 1971.
  • September 17, the General Chapter elevates the priory to the rank of an abbey.
  • The community begins the cultivation of Brussels sprouts, along with the entire rural farming community. The production is bought by the McCain agribusiness, based in Florenceville, N.B.
  • November 25, Dom Alphonse Arsenault is elected first abbot of Our Lady of Calvary. His abbatial blessing, by the Most Reverend Norbert Robichaud, archbishop of Moncton, takes place in Rogersville’s parish church on December 8, Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
  • March and April, major renovations are made to the chapel to bring it into conformity with the new liturgical norms approved by the Vatican II Council.

1962

August 20, an intimate celebration marks the 60th anniversary of the foundation.

1963

  • By decision of the General Chapter, the paternity of Our Lady of the Assumption abbey is transferred from Oka to Our Lady of Calvary.
  • The community begins the large scale rearing of poultry and erects the first commercial size henhouse.
  • May 7, lay brothers abandon their black habit for the white habit of the choir monks. Ten years earlier, the obligation for lay brothers to wear a beard had been abolished. Nowadays, the distinction between choir monks and lay brothers has been abolished.

1964

June 18, Dom Pacôme Gaboury, abbot of Our Lady of the Lake, at Oka, and an exceptional benefactor of both abbeys, in Rogersville, dies after more than 50 years as abbot of Oka.

1965

  • The Cistercians leave Bonnecombe.
  • The production of the Monacad products ceases at the monastery. The enterprise is sold to a former employee.

1966

  • February 1, the paternity of the abbey is definitively transferred to Mistassini. Dom Damase Ladouceur, Abbot of Our Lady of Mistassini becomes Father Immediate.
  • July 28, the building of a guesthouse for retreatants, attached to the monastery, begins. Its cost is entirely borne by Oka. The plans are drawn by architect René N. LeBlanc, of Moncton, and the contract is let to Abbey Landry, of Memramcook.

1967

March 5, the new guesthouse is blessed and inaugurated by Dom Fidèle Sauvageau, abbot of Oka.

1968

September 8, blessing of the Our Lady of Lourdes’ grotto by Ardibishop Norbert Robichaud. It stands precisely where the first quarry and road bridge originally stood.

1969

April 18, the monastery is reincorporated by an Act of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick.

During the night of May 1‑2, the former piggery, transformed into a henhouse, is destroyed by fire. 10,000 chicks perish.

1970

  • The monks’ dormitories are transformed into individual rooms. 1971
  • February 14, Dom Chérubin Lenssen dies at Tilburg.
  • After six months as a hermit on the grounds of the abbey, Dom Alphonse Arsenault takes up the reins of government again, at the request of the community.

1972

In September, the community stops the manufacture of cement blocks; the gravel pits having run out. Commercial competition had also become a threat.

1977

August 21, two thousand people gathered for the 75th anniversary celebrations.

1990

June 3, Mr. Léandre Goguen founds the Association of Friends of the Trappists. The Association takes special care of the grotto and surrounding grounds.

1991

  • April 11, Dom Alphonse Arsenault resigns as abbot.
  • October 22, Dom Adrien Bordage is elected abbot. The Most Reverend Donat Chiasson, archbishop of Moncton, gives him the abbatial blessing in Rogersville’s parish church on 8 December 1991.

1992

Modernization of the community refectory.

1993

February 20, because of poor health, Dom Adrien Bordage resigns his charge.

1994

October 30, Dom Alphonse Arsenault dies.

1995

April 24, Dom Maurice Guimond is elected abbot and receives the abbatial. blessing from Archbishop Chiasson in the monastery’s chapel, on May 8.

1999

There are major renovations made to the chapel.

2001

Reorganization of the sacristy, the chapter room and the scriptorium.

2002

Dom Maurice Guimond resigns on November 21 for health reasons.  On December 16 Dom Bede Stockill is elected fourth abbot.  The new abbot was the prior at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey in England and arrived on 19 December to be installed by Dom Jacques Pineault, Abbot of Mistassini and Father Immediate, on December 20th.

2003
Dom Bede Stockill received the abbatial blessing on March 25th, from Archbishop André Richard in the church of Our Lady of Fatima at Collette.  The community at this time counted nine members with stability in residence.  Dom Bede is the 8th Superior and the 4th Abbot.

2004 The Calvary Abbey website was launched.  A new arrangement of movable choir stalls was installed in the chapel as a way of adapting to smaller numbers.  Extensive repairs were made to the three storey chicken barn.  Fr. Graham Touchie was ordained priest.

2005 The silos were demolished and silage bunkers built.

New Heifer Barn
New Heifer Barn

2008 A new heifer barn was built.

2010 Half of the monastery windows were renewed.

2011 The Lourdes Grotto was vandalized at Pentecost.

2012 The land at Shediac was sold. Fr. Roger Neck returned to the community.

2013 The milk herd was expanded and the milk quota nearly doubled.

2014 Geo-thermal heating was installed for the monastery. This also involved installing a more powerful system of stand-by generators for both dairy and poultry and the monastery itself.

2015 Dom Adrien died on 20 May and Dom Maurice died on 29 November.

Our Lady of Calvary Abbey
11505 Route 126, Rogersville NB, E4Y 2N9
Tel : 506 775 2331
E-mail : CalvaryAbbey@aol.com

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