Conception Abbey and the Conception Seminary College recently launched Brothers Living in Unity, a capital campaign that will benefit the seminary and the monks at the monastery.
Conception Abbey is looking to raise $14.5 million to build a new dormitory for those studying at the college and increase the endowment for retiring monks.
Abbot Benedict Neenan said there are two buildings used as dorms, one which was built in 1929 and one built in 1953.
“These two current dorms are in buildings where we do other things besides having student residents,” Neenan said. “In one building, there's the library and the dining room, and in the other building, we have meeting rooms for guests and so on.”
Neenan said building a new dorm hall will cost approximately $10 million to build but will be more cost effective than renovating the old buildings.
“We thought rather than invest all that money in fixing up those older buildings, those older buildings could be used for other purposes better,” Neenan said.
Neenan said he believes the new dorm will be beneficial to future students studying at the seminary college.
“Students enjoy a better facility. It'll have air conditioning, for example, and elevators, so they don't have to cart stuff up and down stairs when they move in and move out,” Neenan said. “Also, the location on campus of the new building will be closer to their outdoor recreation facilities, ball fields and so on. It'll be more convenient for them in those ways.”
Neenan said the dorm will also bring all of the college’s students together.
“They're currently separated in two different buildings,” Neenan said. “And the new building will have other amenities for them, like places they can study together, and gathering spaces to help them build community.”
Neenan said the other part of the plan is an endowment program which will cost $4.5 million.
“The retirement endowment is really, it's for the future,” Neenan said. “It's to put aside money that we would use the interest from. That's what an endowment does — to help pay the expenses of the older retired monks.”
Neenan said the endowment is much like social security to ensure older monks can easily retire.
“The benefit from increasing our endowment is that the older members can retire more at peace,” Neenan said. “So, that they won't be a burden on the younger generation.”
Neenan said money for the campaign mostly comes from donors.
“We will also approach a number of foundations that would be sympathetic to these causes,” Neenan said. “We're starting that, and we hope to reach quite a few of them, but our own donors have been generous in the past.”
Neenan said Conception Abbey has been able to make improvements in the past due mostly to donors.
“So we built two new buildings and renovated four in the last 20 years,” Neenan said. “And we've done it mainly on the gifts of our benefactors and from foundations.”
Neenan said anyone looking to donate can contact him or the development office at Conception Abbey.
"I'd be happy to visit with them or explain our program better,” Neenan said. “Or they can contact the head of the seminary whose name is Father Brendan. He also would be happy to answer any questions or explain things in more detail.”