Expelled by the Chinese Communist regime, the monks of St. Benedict's Priory of Chengtu, China, have found a new home in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. With the authorization of His Eminence James Francis Cardinal McIntyre, Archbishop of Los Angeles, they will soon reopen their monastery under the new name of St. Andrew's Priory on the former Hidden Springs Ranch at Valyermo.
St. Benedict's Priory of Chengtu, founded in 1929 by the famous Abbey of St. Andre, Belgium, conducted a diocesan major seminary and a state-recognized school for non-Catholic students. Shortly after World War II, the Priory established the Institute of Western and Oriental Cultural Studies, with a 10,000 volume library.
On Christmas day, 1949, the Communists took over the city of Chengtu. The institute was dissolved, the library confiscated, and the Benedictine monks put under house arrest. After three years of hardship, the monks were finally expelled from Communist China in 1952.In 1954, the parent Abbey of St. Andre in Belgium decided to transfer the Priory to Southern California. The Cardinal-Archbishop of Los Angeles authorized its establishment in the Archdiocese.
Plans for the remodeling of the Hidden Springs Ranch, Valyermo, are ready for execution. A diary barn will become the monks' living quarters, a stable will be converted to a chapel, where they will celebrate Holy Mass and chant the Divine Office. The main ranch house will be used as a guesthouse for retreatants and visitors who wish to spend a few days of peace and prayer in the monastic atmosphere. Besides leading monastic life and chanting the Divine Office, the monks of St. Andrew's will conduct retreats and devote themselves to intellectual and educational activities. They will also engage in farming, in order to become self-supporting as soon as possible.
Hidden Springs Ranch
The purpose of St. Andrew's Priory in Valyermo is therefore to carry on the ages-old tradition of the Order of St. Benedict, whose motto is - Prayer and Work.
More detailed history may be found in Valyermo Chronicles, No. 235 pgs 8-10, No. 236 pgs 9-11, No. 237 pgs 5-7.