Monks eagerly return to in-person experience, interaction

Fr. Stephen Plank ’81 explains the different words for ‘free’ in French and how they are used to Jacob Becker ’22 and the rest of his French 1 class, including Leonel Chacon ’23 who is learning remotely from the Bronx

The monks, who work in the school, returned to campus after almost a year on March 15. 

Since the monks received both shots of the vaccine by Feb. 8, their doctor cleared them to return to the school building, as they no longer would risk infecting the older monks.

“It feels a little bit strange. I am very happy; I feel more alive,” Br. Luke Clinton ‘79 said. 

Students felt the absence of the monks, especially their everyday interactions with them. The monks felt the same loss of connection. 

“I didn’t really feel that I was fully doing my job,” Clinton said. “I couldn’t cover any study halls, so I wasn’t able to meet or talk with any students. I want to know a lot of students.” 

Working on a job is hard enough for some; however, the process became even more complicated as the monks were forced to work remotely from the abbey only. 

“I sent a lot of emails to students and teachers. I was trying to build relationships,” Fr. John Hagemann ‘67 said. “It is weird because when I am using zoom, I am talking to people, but I still think that I am just talking to a computer.” 

Monks serving as teachers faced severe difficulty as they were given tasks such as teaching a foreign language over a screen.

“It was a lot more difficult to learn French when Father Stephen was online,” Landon Knobbe ‘23 said. “The class didn’t pay as much attention because we would move at a slower pace and learn a lot less in the time we had.”

For Knobbe, being able to have a teacher in the classroom is vital. 

“Having father Stephen back makes French more enjoyable for me; we change how we work with him actually in class rather than when he was online,” he said.

The Mount is produced by the students of Mount Michael Benedictine School.