HE TRAPPIST MONKS (Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance) have been in Hong Kong since 1950, they fled from the Communist China and built the current Our Lady of Joy Abbey on the distant Lantau Island in Hong Kong. Like the other monks, they lived a simple cloistered monastic life and they prayed the Divine Office seven times a day.
OWADAYS, there are 17 monks at the monastery and they mainly sing the Liturgy of the Hours to simple chant tones in Mandarin. Recently, I was invited to share about Gregorian chant with them, especially with the younger monks. They told me that they are very interested in rediscovering their heritage, and thus singing the more complex Gregorian chant. Here is what we have learned after the first few sessions.
N THE PAST, I have also helped the monks at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, to start a schola formed by monks who are passionate in singing ancient chants. We had weekly rehearsals and individual singing lessons, and I would go to their Sunday Vespers and Benediction every week because the monastery is only 10-minutes-away from the parish I worked at. It was a very memorable experience and I am filled with joy as God leads me to another Trappist monastery, even though these monks really knows how to distant themselves from the outside world (I now have to travel 2 hours by train and ferry to get to this monastery).