Honoring a departed loved one brings us on a journey of tradition and contemplation. The monks of New Melleray Abbey revive tenets of old world craftsmanship to hand-build each Trappist Casket in the serene prairies of Iowa. Using the natural resources of regional forests and their own award-winning 1,400-acre timberland, each casket is made with a deep reverence for God’s green earth.
Trappist Casket Family Counselor Marjorie Lehmann works with people around the country in their unique time of need: “I see works of the Holy Spirit through the monks, customers and employees,” she says. “Hearing the life, and end-of-life stories, from families all over the United States keeps my heart focused on what is really important in life. We are here to help one another.”
This World and Beyond
This order of Cistercian monks, following the ancient Rule of St. Benedict, migrated to America’s pristine heartland from Ireland in 1849. In response to the Potato Famine, Bishop Loras, Dubuque’s first archbishop, offered the order this farmland to serve as a haven for peace and worship, as well as to develop agriculture in the newly founded state of Iowa.
Today, this peaceful order works in collaboration with local lay artisans to craft traditional, beautiful caskets and coffins. In service of faith, each piece is prayerfully made using mindful stewardship of environmental resources. The designs are simple, the mission, true: to bring sacred comfort in the final length of one’s earthly journey. Working with oak, cherry, black walnut, and simple, understated pine, the sacred work of monastery supports its mission of mercy.
“The order is self supporting with ‘Ore et Labora’, meaning ‘prayer and work,’” Lehmann said. “The monks’ lives consist of the constant rhythm of coming together seven times a day for prayer, and making a living by the work of their hands, while praising God.”
Memories Live On
At the monastery, life is lived in service of providing comfort and solace in a family’s time of need, with each piece crafted in contemplative prayer. Each casket is individually blessed – which marks the beginning of this unique journey: “Each person honored with a Trappist Casket or Urn is remembered in a memorial mass here at the Abbey,” Lehmann said.
“Their name is inscribed in a memorial book and a tree is planted in the monastic forest on the grounds of New Melleray Abbey as a living memorial for the deceased,” he added. “We send a note to the families to let them know how they are supporting a ministry, and a card upon the one year anniversary of the passing. The monks of New Melleray Abbey pray for the deceased and their families. We invite the families to attend the memorial mass and to visit our workshop and see our ministry. Our customers are welcomed to call us anytime they need.”
Each casket comes with a cross, personalized to include the name and dates of the deceased. This family keepsake is a way to honor the memory of a loved one every day.
To learn more about styles, amenities and personalization and engraving options, visit Trappist Caskets online or call 866-274-6398. All caskets are available for immediate shipment, with counselors available to work directly with funeral homes to ensure seamless delivery.
“Our solid wooden caskets come from nature and return to nature,” Lehmann said. “It makes a beautiful gesture of appreciation for the gifts that God provides for all of us. We don’t just provide a product, Trappist Caskets and The Monks of New Melleray Abbey provide a beautiful ministry in acts of love and mercy.”