Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:
David D. Perata first started visiting the Abbey of Our Lady of New Clairvaux Monastery in 1967. Located in the Sacramento Valley town of Vina, at the time 35 monks dwelt among 450 acres of prune and walnut orchards. He found dirt roads, old board and batten guesthouses, and the magical smell of freshly cut alfalfa.
He’d come with his best pal Joe and Joe’s father. The two boys, both from strong Catholic families, “had rarely had a chance to see a priest or a nun in secular clothes, or sipping a beer, or working on a tractor.”
He fell in love with this Trappist monastery, an offshoot of Gethsemani (of Thomas Merton fame) in Kentucky. He came back again and again as he grew into adulthood.
In 1991, he approached then Abbot Thomas Davis to broach the possibility of photographing and interviewing the monks about their lives. Permission was granted
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