Huntsville’s closed monastery; an Ogden landmark steeped in faith
As the monk population declined, residents and landowners established the Ogden Valley Land Trust in 1998 in an effort to preserve of the land and rural lifestyles in the area.
Although the Catholic monastery officially closed its doors in 2017, Huntsville resident Bill White purchased the land in 2016. The goal was to work with nonprofits like Utah Open Lands to preserve the land and save it from development.
The land is also known for its rich agricultural traditions.
“The idea is that the land will be put into a conservation easement and will stay like it is now, a farm, forever,” said White in an interview with Deseret News.
Life with the Monks
The Ogden Valley landmark made an impression on Utah attorney and author Mike O’Brien. O’Brien discovered the monks as an 11-year-old boy shortly after his parents got divorced. For O’Brien, the monks took him “under their wing.”
He authored a book about his experiences titled, “Monastery Mornings: My Unusual Boyhood Among the Saints and Monks.”
“These men became surrogate fathers to me. You know, they let me follow them around on the farm. I worked on the farm, in the bookstore, in the chicken coop,” said O’Brien.
He said the monastery became widely known for its farming work. They produced honey, bread, eggs, and beef. But, O’Brien said the community remembered the monks for something else; hospitality.
“They were very, very kind. They welcomed anybody who came to visit them” said O’Brien who noted everyone was treated like family.
“People will remember them for their love and their kindness.”
On the Ogden Valley Trust website, they describe the landmark as “… a symbol of spiritual strength, human industriousness, and communal cooperation.”
The efforts to preserve the land and farming tradition have thus far, paid off. O’Brien said White has worked hard under the banner of conservationism so the land can stay open for agriculture.
“Bill [White] is really good friends with the monks so is trying to preserve their legacy as much as he can.”
According to O’Brien, the monks built friendships with their Latter-day Saints neighbors. White, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, intends to continue running the farm.
“It’s another good example of loving your neighbor as yourself,” said O’Brien.
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