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Benedictine monks first arrived in what is today the state of Oklahoma in October 1875. Fr. Isidore Robot, O.S.B., and Br. Dominic Lambert, O.S.B., monks of the French monastery of Notre Dame de la Pierre-qui-Vire, entered the Indian Territory at the suggestion of the Bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas. Spending their first few months in Atoka, the pioneer monks eventually settled with the Citizen Band Pottawatomi Indians. In 1876, they established Sacred Heart Abbey, near what is present-day Konawa, Oklahoma. Along with communal monastic observance, the pioneer monks also established a school for the children of Native Americans and white settlers of the region. The monastery at Sacred Heart was known for its strict observance, its generous hospitality, its model farm, and its beautiful formal gardens.

 

To the left is a photo of how Sacred Heart Mission appeared in the 1890's. To the right is a picture of our founder, Rev. Isidore Robot, O.S.B., who was named Abbot honoris causa and the first Prefect Apostolic of the Indian Territory. In many ways, he can be considered the founder of the Catholic Church in what is today Oklahoma. He is buried in the cemetery at Sacred Heart Mission near Konawa.


In addition to their monastery and schools, the Benedictines of Sacred Heart Abbey established over 40 parishes and missions throughout the Oklahoma and Indian Territories, including several present-day parishes in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa. In fact, Rome chose the first two Vicars Apostolic for Oklahoma from among this group of missionary Benedictines. In this way, one can say that the Church in Oklahoma is built upon the foundation laid by Benedictine monks.


 
 
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