In 1955 the Priory of St. Benedict in Chengdu, China, was canonically transferred to Valyermo in the high desert of Southern California, where it was dedicated as St. Andrew’s Priory (now St. Andrew’s Abbey). The Abbey sits on 1800 acres of land, most of which undeveloped.
The monks engage in a variety of ministries through which the special character of monastic prayer is shared with men and women living in society. First is the ministry of retreats: guests of both sexes are welcome to spend time in the Retreat House, sharing in the prayer-life of the monks as fully as they wish. Such retreats may be made privately or in groups; accommodations for large groups are available at the Youth Center. The resources of the Monastery Library, a 30,000-volume research library emphasizing patristics and Christian mysticism, can be made available to retreatants with genuine research needs. A second ministry is that of teaching: conferences and workshops on various subjects are held at the monastery throughout the year, especially during the summer. Some of the monks also teach part-time at the seminary. Additional ministries include assisting in local parishes and chaplaincies.
To help generate revenue for the Abbey, the monks are actively involved in the daily operation of their ceramics business, where they manufacture hundreds of different ceramic plaques, all designed by the late Maur van Doorslaer of Zevenkerken. They also have a bookstore, which according to some, is the best Catholic bookstore in southern California, as well as an online ink and toner business.
The monastic community of Valyermo, though small, is a reflection of the church of Los Angeles: ethnically diverse. Currently there are monks living in the community who come from different ethnic backgrounds: Chinese, Filipino, Mexican, Caribbean, Samoan, Columbian, Italian. This makes community life all the more interesting!