Assumption Abbey belongs to an international federation of autonomous monasteries forming the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance. This is the only Order in the Church where the men and women form one fully united Order, together electing one Abbot General and one General Council. This close collaboration of monks and nuns is very enriching.
The Cistercian Order was established in France near Dijon in 1098 by a group of Benedictine monks who wanted to live Saint Benedict's Rule for Monasteries in its fullness. This means a life marked by separation from worldly affairs and a quietness that allows the monks and nuns to give themselves more freely to lectio and prayer, praise and worship, and contemplation of our God of love. This means a life of fraternal support where the members of the community fully share a life together, work together to support themselves by the labor of their own hands, and support each other in fidelity to pursuing their high ideal.
Saint Benedict had written his Rule early in the sixth century, bringing together the wisdom that had come from the early monastic foundations in eastern Christendom as well as that which had grown up in the West. Under the inspiration of leaders like Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the Cistercian Order grew rapidly and soon had monasteries in every part of Christendom. Through the centuries, like other religious orders and the Church as a whole, the Order had its ups and downs. In the seventeenth century a renewal took place, stemming from the monastery of Notre Dame de la Grande Trappe. Thus arose our well-known Nickname of Trappists. It was monks from this monastery who first came to America in the beginning of the nineteenth century.
After the Second World War our Order experienced a great renewal and rapid growth, sending forth groups of monks and nuns to establish many new monasteries even in remote parts of Africa, Asia and South America. It was at this time that the monks of New Melleray Abbey, near Dubuque, Iowa, sent a band of monks to establish Assumption Abbey in the beautiful Ozarks in southern Missouri on September 24th in the Holy Year of 1950. In that year the Pope solemnly proclaimed the doctrine of the Assumption, the age-old belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary was taken, body and soul, to heaven to be with her Son, an event celebrated each year by the Catholic community on August 15th. To celebrate this wonderful mark of filial piety and Mary's glory, our Abbey received its name.
Hidden in the hills, the Abbey has grown quietly. The lodge by the river that first housed the community was outgrown and a cinderblock monastery was constructed on top of an adjoining hill. This, too, is now proving inadequate for our increasing numbers and we completed a new construction program which includes, with the help of our generous benefactors, more monastic cells and also an infirmary and seniorate for our older men as they grow toward their 80s and 90s, an enlarged guesthouse to welcome visitors and retreatants, and above all a church designed to receive and celebrate the graces of the 21st century.