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History travels to Tintern

A trunk full of history recently made its way to the Tintern Retreat and Resource Center near Oakdale.

The materials – collected by now-retired Father Clifford Stevens – document his dream to form a monastic community there, and include photos, news articles, videos and his writings about contemplative monastic life.

"I wanted the people out there to know the history of the place," Father Stevens said. "I’m 90 years old, so I figured I’d better put things out where they belong."

Father Stevens oversaw construction of the facility as a monastery in 1984 and began work to form the Monks of Tintern.

But health issues interrupted his efforts. The facility eventually served as the home of another religious community, and finally in 1997, was sold to a group of investors for use as a retreat center.

Father Stevens, who lives at Boys Town, said he is happy the facility now is being used as a retreat center.

Open to individuals and groups of all faiths, Tintern is widely used by Catholic schools, youth and other groups. It is dedicated to the ideals of monastic life including prayer, praise, adoration and personal intimacy with God.

"Father had a really beautiful vision of what he wanted Tintern to become and was very driven to achieve that goal," said Becky Kerkman, facility manager and member of St. Boniface Parish in Elgin.

"Sadly it didn’t turn out the way he wanted, but all in God’s plan, Tintern has become what it is today."

Father Stevens’ donations include a 1986 "Life" magazine article and a videotape of a 1987 NBC Nightly News report about the monastery, she said.

The center is storing the items, and they are available to anyone who wants to view them, Kerkman said.

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