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Benedictine Nuns Building $20 Million Priory, Church Near Ava

The Benedictine’s of Mary is an order of Catholic cloister nuns that follow the rule of St. Benedict which focuses on prayer and work. Their days are spent in prayer and maintenance of their community. All other works are directed to the “glory of the altar” in making vestments and altar linens.
The Benedictines of May, Queen of Apostles which is based in Gower was created in 1995, decided to increase their reach and are now building another priory and church in Ava, the Monastery of St. Joseph. This decision was due to the fact that they were out of room in Gower.
With the invitation of Bishop Edward Rice, of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, eight Sisters followed the call of the Lord to south-ern Missouri, to expand our order and mission. Since then they have grown to 10 living in a converted house at Assumption Abbey that doesn’t meet their needs.
The Sisters are now staying in a former Franciscan retreat center on the grounds of Assumption Abbey. As young women have continued to knock on the door, a logistical crisis has followed. It was necessary to take on the construction of a permanent monastery and church in the Ozark Highlands. A beautiful 250-acre parcel was purchased outside of Ava in 2021 to begin the process in an ideal place for a new house of God.
Ground was broken in the fall for the new priory and Baker Architects were hired to design the new building. The priory will have space to house 48 women, a church, walkway and cloister area.
Excavation has begun on the priory that will be located north of Rock Bridge. The estimated completion for the new Monastery of St. Joseph with concurrent funding is Fall of 2024 and the estimated cost is $20 million.
Phase I will begin with the wood-frame construction of the priory, all site work, and shell of the steel-frame church.
The priory will feature a commercial kitchen root cellar, sewing room, food processing room, indoor green-house, library, reading room, sacristy, dining room, and a parlor/event space.
The church in Ava will share many similarities with the church in Gower, including stone facade bell tower, stained glass windows Baldacchino over the altar, hand-painted murals, Italian marble and groin vaulted ceilings, according Straub Construction.
The purpose of a monastery is to create a space where God is loved and adored in an ordered life of peace, manifested especially in monastic silence and the world-renown Gregorian Chants, sung in their ancient splendor each day. Everyone is welcome to visit the monastery, attend the prayers, and experience an other-worldly peace, a peace which can then be brought back into the world, diffusing light and hope to many.
When the Sisters arrived in Ava, several local families began to attend Mass at their very small chapel, As more families began to hear about the community, and even move to the area, the Sisters had to rent a building down the road, once used for “Friday Night Jamborees!” They make use of it each Sunday and Holy Day to pro-vide sufficient space for all the laity. Even now, the hall has filled up, making the need for construction extremely urgent.

Catholic families wanting to live near the monastery have already purchased property from the sisters. They milk cows by hand, gather eggs, make cheese and pull potatoes from the dirt. Self-sustainability is an ideal passed down from St. Benedict.

They believe farm work keeps you dependent on God and that such work is conducive to simple prayer.
Located near Assumption Abbey, which sits on 3,400 acres, and the Monastery of St. Joseph in the same area are the Nazareth Hermitage and the Holy Archangels Orthodox Chris-tian Retreat Center.