The recent headlines about Mount Carmel in Wyoming shutting down have caused much confusion. This remote monastery in the Rocky Mountains has faced turmoil, yet continues its mission. What is the full story behind this cloistered community of Carmelite monks?
Background on the Wyoming Carmelites
The Wyoming Carmelites, officially named “The Monks of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel”, is a community of contemplative monks living in isolation in Wyoming. They follow the original rule of the Carmelite Order, founded on Mount Carmel in the 12th century. The monastery was established in 2003 by Bishop David L. Ricken in the Diocese of Cheyenne. It started with just two monks in a small rented house. Through divine providence and the generous support of benefactors, the community grew over the years, eventually acquiring a remote mountain property near Meeteetse to build their monastery. The Mount Carmel Wyoming Shutting Down seeks to “perpetuate the charism of the Blessed Virgin Mary by living the cloistered eremitical life in solitude and silence”. They have a special devotion to Mary and live a strict schedule of prayer, contemplation, and manual labor. The monks take the traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The community now has over 25 members with a constant stream of vocations.
The Monks’ Mission and Daily Life
The Carmelites believe their cloistered, hidden life brings down graces on the Church. They spend 8 hours daily in liturgical prayer and mental prayer. Their schedule, called an “horarium”, shapes the rhythm of their days between spiritual reading, manual labor, times of recreation, and sleep. The monks support themselves through donations and the sale of coffee and chocolate produced by Mystic Monk Coffee. They also recently started a GoFundMe campaign to fund their new monastery, raising over $17 million so far from mostly Catholic donors. Their goal is to build a sprawling French Gothic monastery that can house their growing numbers.
Controversies and Scandals About Mount Carmel Wyoming Shutting Down
In recent years, some disturbing allegations have surfaced about the Wyoming Carmelites related to financial mismanagement and misconduct. A 2021 report alleged that the monks had misused donor funds, spending lavishly on travel, entertainment, and expensive liturgical items among other questionable expenses. There were also accusations of sexual misconduct against some members. The claims prompted Bishop Steven Biegler to investigate the monastery. The monks firmly denied these allegations, stating that all financial expenditures were appropriate and no sexual impropriety occurred. They have taken steps to increase financial accountability and transparency in response to concerns. An independent group of Carmelite nuns also expressed their support for the monks after conducting their investigation.
In 2022, the monks became embroiled in a legal battle with a former postulant, Augustine Inferrera, who was campaigning to have the order suppressed based on misconduct accusations. The case brought more negative attention to the community. However, the Diocese of Cheyenne found the suppression request without merit after reviewing the evidence.
The Mount Carmel Wyoming Shutting Down Rumors
With growing scrutiny on the Wyoming Carmelites, rumors began circulating in Catholic media about the monastery shutting down. The monks firmly denied these rumors on their website, stating “Mount Carmel Wyoming Shutting Down? NOT.”1. They explained that they did shut down their original monastery in Clark, WY to build their new Gothic monastery in Meeteetse on recently purchased land. The transition between properties likely fueled speculations about them closing. Despite the controversies, their community remains stable and continues to attract vocations.
While the Mount Carmel Wyoming Shutting Down ( Wyoming Carmelites ) have weathered some storms of late, they are still actively working towards their mission of contemplative prayer and building a new monastery. Their future seems hopeful as they maintain faithful support from many followers. Time will tell how these reclusive monks progress with their ambitious plans. Their story illustrates how even monasteries, hidden away from the world, do not escape human faults and must evolve to stay true to their founding vision.