In the mid-1980’s, a group of three missionary priests, who had served in Haiti and Brazil, came together to address some of the challenges of evangelization in the modern world. They recognized that the mission requires a strong liturgical life as a foundation, as well as the supports of a witnessing community. These reflections led to the founding of the Monastery of the Holy Cross in 1988. The goal remained evangelization, but the mission had moved from areas of the developing world to the modern ‘desert’ of the city, beset by violence, alienation and spiritual poverty.
In 1990, Joseph Cardinal Bernadin invited the community to Chicago to create an oasis of silence and prayer, witnesses to the contemplative life. In the year 2000, the community entered the 1500-year-old tradition of Benedictine monasticism as a dependent house of the Abbey of Christ in the Desert in New Mexico. From its modest beginnings, the community has grown and now numbers ten monks, with an average age of just under 50. The monastery was canonically elevated to the status of an autonomous house in December of 2011 by Abbot Bruno Marin, OSB, Abbot President of the Subiaco-Cassinese Congregation.
Today, the community continues the work of evangelization by the joyful celebration of the liturgy, using traditional Gregorian chant. The monks were given a closed former parish church when they arrived in Chicago, and have lovingly been restoring it to vibrancy. This has included the commissioning of icons and statuary, as well as the installation of a new high altar.
The community has become known nationwide for its distinguished scholarship on Gregorian chant. Locally, the community has continually attracted Oblates (lay associates) who participate in the life of the monastery in various ways. Living traditional Benedictine life in a major city is an ongoing challenge, and more so as the community is self-supporting. It seeks to continue its course of growth, not only to provide proper living and work spaces for new members to the monastic community, but also to share with an even greater number of people the joy of encountering Christ in the liturgy and in silent prayer.