ABBOT PHILIP LAWRENCE
Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB, was born on June 25, 1944, in Buckley, Washington. In 1958 he entered the Roman Catholic Mount Angel Seminary High School in Oregon. He then entered the Mount Angel Seminary College, beginning studies to become a priest, and graduated in 1967 with a BA degree in philosophy. He then began the study of Theology at Mount Angel Seminary and upon completion was ordained a priest on May 27, 1977. In 1971 he received his MA in Theology with a specialization in Sacred Scripture.
In 1964, after two years of college, he entered the Benedictine Mount Angel Abbey as a novice and made his first vows as a monk of Mount Angel Abbey on September 8, 1965. On the same day, he was given Philip as his religious name. On September 8, 1968, he committed himself for life as a monk with the celebration of his solemn vows as a monk of Mount Angel Abbey in the Order of Saint Benedict.
Brother Philip taught in the high school, college and seminary at Mount Angel until June of 1974 when, with his abbot’s permission, he went to help at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. He became the Prior of Christ in the Desert in 1976. In 1984 he was elected the first Conventual Prior of the Monastery and 1996 he was elected the Abbot of the Monastery. His work with the community of Christ in the Desert continues today.
BROTHER CHRISTIAN LEISY
Brother Christian Leisy, OSB, was born on December 10, 1952, in Portland, Oregon. He attended Catholic grade school and public high school in Portland until transferring to the Roman Catholic Mount Angel Seminary High School in Oregon, for his last two years of high school, graduating in 1971. Later that year he joined the Benedictine Mount Angel Abbey, and made his first professions of vows as a monk in the Order of Saint Benedict on September 8, 1972. He remained at the Mount Angel Abbey until 1975, having completed a BA in philosophy.
Between 1975 and 1977 Brother Christian was part of Saint Andrew's Priory (later Abbey), at Valyermo, California, and in the spring of 1977,and at the age of 24, came to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert where he made has final, solemn vows as a monk in 1980.
In the summer of 1985 Brother Christian was sent to study traditional Byzantine iconography in Italy, France, and England. He then enrolled in formal theology studies at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome, completing his S.T.B. (sacred theology degree) in 1988. On August 13, 1988 he was ordained a priest at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert.
Before and after studies abroad, Brother Christian has served at the Monastery as Guestmaster, Novice Master, Subprior, Prior, Cellarer, teacher, development director, as well as cook, cleaner, Gift Shop Manager, along with various and sundry
other tasks as a monk and priest. He continues to serve his community in the spirit of obedience and humility.
BROTHER THOMAS BENEDICT BAXTER
Born and raised in Iowa, Brother Thomas-Benedict, after entering religious life in 1972, has made his home many different places both in the US and abroad. Between 1980 and 1983, he was a member of a foreign missionary community that brought assignments in Haiti, Brazil and language studies in Mexico, Br Thomas then worked as a
Starting in 1983 he began work as a diocesan priest in Minnesota for a number of years. While working in parishes there he and two other priests were introduced to the Community of Jerusalem based in Paris, France. This was the introduction to serious monastic living in an urban setting. They spent a year with the community in the center of Paris and then returned in 1992 at the invitation of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to found the Monastery of the Holy Cross on the near Southside of Chicago.
In 2005 Br. Thomas Benedict took time away from his monastic life to experience the life of a lay person by working as a manager at Home Depot in Long Beach, California an d then in Atlanta, Georgia where he gained valuable experiences and insights in consumer based retail before returning to the Monastery of the Holy Cross in 2009..
In the Jubilee Year of 2000, the community became a dependent house of the Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert which made all the monks there members of this monastery in the desert.
As a member of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Br. Thomas has been assigned for long periods as chaplain to the Benedictine Nuns of Our Lady of the Desert near Gobernador, NM and also for several years as in charge of formation of young monks at St Benedict’s Abbey near Polokwane, South Africa.
Currently, he is on a sabbatical year during which he is experiencing hands-on the day to day business of being a part of the team at Monks’ Corner Taproom in Albuquerque.