Home » Destinations » U.S.A. » Spencer, Massachusetts: Saint Joseph’s Abbey

Spencer, Massachusetts: Saint Joseph’s Abbey

About Saint Joseph’s  Abbey:

Trappist monks from France first came to the United States in 1803 and established a “mother house” in Kentucky in 1848.   Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts was settled in 1950 by Belgian and French Trappist monks from Nova Scotia and Rhode Island.

Saint Joseph’s Abbey is a cloistered Roman Catholic monastery of monks of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, popularly known as Trappists. Set apart from the actions and trends of most of their neighbors, they live a contemplative life, dedicating themselves to the praise and worship of God in a hidden life within their monastery. Following Saint Benedict’s sixth century Rule for Monasteries, the monks live in silence and solitude, in prayer and penitence, thus rendering God “a service that is at once humble and noble.” Since the brothers are of one heart and one mind, they have everything in common for the monastery is a school of love.

Guests are invited to join the monks in Vigils, Lauds, Mass following Lauds, Sext, None (prayer of Divine Office), Vespers, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and Compline.

Adjoining the monastery is a small Retreat House with eleven private rooms each with a private bath, linens are provided. There are two retreats per week: Monday afternoon to Friday morning or Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. The retreat house closely conforms to the atmosphere of the monastery. The celebration of Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours frame the structure for each day with a generous amount of time also set aside for private prayer, reading and contemplative quiet.

Conferences are given by one of the monks on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for weekday retreats and on Saturday and Sunday for the weekend retreat, with time available for private conversation with him or the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Work has always been greatly esteemed in the Cistercian tradition, since it gives the monks the opportunity to follow in Christ’s footsteps and share in His Divine work of creation and restoration. This sometimes hard and redeeming work provides for their own livelihood and for their care of the poor.

In 1954, shortly after their arrival in Spencer, a small stove-top batch of mint jelly was made by the monks with the great excess of mint from the herb garden. Since monastic austerity at that time precluded the jelly from being served to the monks at meals, it was sold at the Porter’s Lodge.  Today, to support themselves, the monks offer their own Trappist jams and jellies as well as a fine selection of religious books and other gifts are available at the Abbey bookshop located at the entrance to the property.

They also operate Spencer Brewery, America’s first Trappist brewery…… producing stout, pilsner, lagers, ales and more.

And another endeavor is The Holy Rood Guild, whereby they make liturgical vestments.

Guests are invited to join them for the following services (check their website for times):


Traveling to Saint Joseph’s Abbey:

Address:  167 North Spencer Road, Spencer, MA 01562

Tel: 508.885.8700  Fax: 508.885.8701

email: monks@spencerabbey.org

Click here for the official website of Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA.

⇐ Back to Catholic shrines and places of interest in the U.S.A.