Mt St. Mary's Abbey of Trappist nuns in Wrentham Massachusetts, after an enormous influx of new members, decides to send sisters to found a new monastery.


New Melleray Abbey and Archbishop James Byrne of Dubuque invite Wrentham to make the foundation in Iowa.


18 October: 13 sisters, led by Sr Columba Guare, arrive in Dubuque.


We begin making candy to support ourselves. Sr Rosemary goes to Wrentham to learn how to cook caramels, and we call our new industry Trappistine Creamy Caramels.


Br Placid of New Melleray becomes our farm manager. We start withdrawing the land from soil bank and planting Christmas trees, then row crops. Eventually we establish a rotation of soy, corn, oats and alfalfa. Our pasture lands are rented to neighbors for cattle grazing.


We accept our first new candidate.


3 May: The abbey church is built and consecrated.


We raise sheep, mainly to graze the un-tillable land, but also for wool.


7 May: O. L. Mississippi becomes an autonomous Abbey. Mother Columba Guare is elected the first abbess.

22 August: Kathy Lyzotte, the first new member to persevere at Mississippi Abbey, enters as a postulant.


Transfer of major offices in the monastery (prioress, cellarer) from founding sisters to new members.

Major expansion of the candy building.


10 April: Blessing of the new wing begun in 1977 (dormitory, refectory, scriptorium).


Initiation of a Long Term Guest program for women desiring an experience of monastic life.

7 May: Sr Gail Fitzpatrick is elected second abbess of Mississippi Abbey.


Br Placid returns to New Melleray. For the next 5 years we rent or sharecrop most of our cropland to neighbors.


Construction of an acre pond in our farm fields, to help with soil conservation, to encourage wildlife, and to beautify our land.


Renovation of Abbey Church and installation of organ.


Mississippi and New Melleray begin a joint lay association, the Associates of the Iowa Cistercians.


Creation of Mississippi Abbey's first web site.

Our farm is certified organic.


We send five of our sisters, accompanied by two Norwegian sisters from other monasteries, to begin a new monastery in Norway on the island of Tautra, site of a medieval Cistercian monastery.

We hire a professional forester to manage our woodlands.


Construction of a new candy factory. In August we move in and cook our first batch.


Conversion of the old candy house into St Benedict's Welcome Center, housing our first giftshop and our first meeting room for visitors, as well as office space for sisters.


Jan-Feb: Five lay women live with us for 40 days, filmed for a TV program, The Monastery, for The Learning Channel.

Purchase of adjacent 80-acre farm, to shield us from encroaching housing development.

25 March: Tautra Mariakloster (, our foundation in Norway, becomes an autonomous priory.

7 May: Sr Nettie Gamble is elected third abbess of Mississippi Abbey.


1 September: death of M. Columba Guare, our first abbess.


Major renovation of our monastery, including a new senior wing, library and prayer room, adding ramps, converting old library into refectory.


7 May: Sr Rebecca Stramoski is elected fourth abbess of Mississippi Abbey.

8 September: Blessing of our first statue of Our Lady of the Mississippi, placed in our front circle, in memory of M. Columba. The statue was designed and built for us by artist Philip Howie.

The foundresses
The founders in Dubuque, October 1964


The Church
The church, built in 1969


Sr. Columba Sr. Gail
Sr Columba, our first abbess, and Sr Gail, her successor


M. Nettie

M. Nettie is blessed as our third abbess


M. Rebecca
M. Rebecca is blessed as our fourth abbess by Archbishop Jerome Hanus