Skip to comments.Monks' once-flourishing business ends
Posted on 11/26/2011 11:17:01 AM PST by Daffynition
They were dubbed the Millionaire Monks, a small monastic community in rural Wisconsin feted around the world for its wildly successful Internet business selling laser printer inks and toners.
As recently as 2009, the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank was projecting annual sales of $3.5 million for its for-profit business, LaserMonks Inc. And their prior and chief executive officer, Father Bernard McCoy, was talking expansion - of both the company and the abbey.
Today, the monks' 15,000-square-foot home on 500 acres in Sparta, Wis., is all but empty. They sold off their belongings - everything from furniture and farm equipment to religious artifacts - at an auction last month. And they have put much of their land and buildings up for sale.
(Excerpt) Read more at kansascity.com ...
Ignorant and bigoted anti-Catholic comments arriving in 3, 2, 1...
A sad story.
The Obamaconomy kills jobs.
I’ll go first...
Why are monks involved in for profit business? Oops sorry to be so bigoted.
I used to get my toners and ink cartridges from these people. They were the nicest people to do business with. My problem is that we used so few cartridges at my business (and would run out of fresh ones at the most inopportune time) that I didn’t provide enough business for them. So, I would order in bulk, and the recharged cartridges would (on occasion) dry out. But, they always replaced them at no charge, if I made a call. I am sorry to see them shut down. I always wanted to go over there to attend Mass, but I never did.
I only make “anti-Catholic” (pro-Christian) comments on Catholic threads that attack protestants (with titles like... “When will stupid, ignorant protestants come back to the true church?”)
How do you think they are going to support themselves? It's not like they have a parish that pays them a salary derived from donations. Monks work. Always have; always will. Some monks make brandy, fruitcakes, package coffee, candy, train dogs, etc. These monks supply recycled ink and toner cartridges. They are not on welfare, so what's your beef?
I know it is a quaint concept in the modern world we live in, but the monks are involved in a for profit business so they can earn a living and be self-sufficient.
Another victim of the 0bama Depression.
You should read the book, The Monks of New Skete, if you are interested in dogs. They raise and train German Shepherd Dogs that are impeccably behaved.
Their business may be for profit, but that profit likely funds their other ventures.
Hmmmm I guess I have no idea why monks exist. Seems like a very strange concept to me.
It wasn't for profit. The proceeds were used to support not just their organization, but nuns and other parishes, as well.
One thing I noticed is how, over their long history, they never defaulted on a loan and aren't defaulting on their loans now. They are selling everything to pay off their debts.
What a difference from lots of folks across the country who merely throw up their hands and beg at the altar of Uncle Sam, expecting the tax payer to pick up the tab.
God bless them.
OK, here goes...you sell computers printer cartridges for $100 that cost you $90 to produce. That makes $10 profit. You now take that $10 and: buy food to survive, buy oil to heat the house, pay your electric bill and whatever it costs for normal people to live. That’s what’s done with the profit.
It’s kinda like a fraternity that devotes itself to God.
...and ask Mr. 6-pack, b/c he has visited the monks of New Skete.
When I was an exchange student in France, the family I was living with always made an effort to buy spinach from the monastery in the city. Growing spinach was the only way those monks made money, and my family wanted to support them.
Anti-catholic = Pro-christian? LOL
That’s mighty Christian of you.
They also take in way-faring FReepers and invite them for dinner...:-)
My daughter gave me one of the early New Skete books when I got my first big dog. I have always been in awe of them when I saw the picture taken in their refrectory with a dozen men at a long table and their dogs lying peacefully behind their chairs. No dog was begging, whining, jumping on the table, nothing.
I just experienced that for the first time this year at Thanksgiving! I put the food on the dining room table and we sat down to eat. The dog just sat down too. I suddenly realized that he had never seen us eat in the dining room before, so he didn’t beg. After dinner, we gave him his treats and scraps in the kitchen and we did it again for another meal like that. I mentioned it to my daughter, and my son in law proclaimed, “I’ve never eaten in your mother’s dining room either!”
By golly, I think he’s right. We’ll have to change that the next time he comes for dinner.
Back in “the day,” monks lived from rents from huge landholdings, land given to them as pious donations by noblemen and women because the nobles wanted monks and nuns praying round the clock. Quaint idea.
At that time, there was relatively little business activity anywhere. Trade was primarily barter and local. Land was the currency. Monks had it because it was given to them so they could be free to pray. I’m talking early Middle Ages, 500s-900s. Things were different in the Mediterranean world to some degree—more commerce, but even there, land was king, so Byzantine monks also had landed estates from which they lived. Peasants worked the land and paid rent. This was true for both nobles and monks.
THen came the growth of commerce in northern and western Europe. Monks adapted, drew from various privileges to collect tolls or operate mills (indirectly) etc.,granted them by the authorities (i.e., kings, high nobles). In the later Middle Ages, the relative value of land compared to commerce declined and not only monks but also nobles gradually lost ground to the commercial bourgeoisie. We’re talking 1100s-1700s. The kings reduced nobles to pawns of absolute monarchy in the 1500s and 1600s,handed out lands and monopolies to their cronies. In Protestant countries they stole the monks’ lands and gave them to their cronies. In Catholic countries, the monasteries survived, mostly from landed estates and income from the peasants who farmed it but with commerce on the side. For instance, the Trappists in Belgium and Benedictines in Bavaria became famous for beer brewing.
Eventually, the bourgeoisie toppled the absolute monarchs but not before “enlightened” monarchs in Catholic countries destroyed most of the monasteries. Then the French Revolution confiscated and destroyed all monasteries in France and Napoleon did the same in most of the countries he conquered.
When monasteries were restored after Napoleon was finally sent packing, they had to start from scratch. They did own lands but rarely enough to provide enough income to support them. The 1800s were an age of commerce. Monks adapted. THey almost always had a few hundred acres that produced food for their own tables and, until fairly recently, often farmed that land with their own hands.
But small-sized farming in the US has been destroyed over the last 50 years. Monks had always done offshoots of farming—fruitcakes, candies, breads etc. and they kept up with the trends by using mail order to deliver.
Like any other intelligent person, they have always been on the lookout for new ways to support themselves. Some of them did contracted web designing. The Cistercians in Iowa make solid hardwood caskets, simple in design but beautiful, at prices lower than the rip-off business carried out by the mortuary industry. In the Carolinas, they had large cage-layer poultry operations, until officious bureaucrats shut them down. Others run schools. Others have printing operations. The Carmelites in Wyoming do mail-order gourmet coffees. The Carthusians worldwide survive in part from royalties from their secret recipe Chartreux liqueur which they used to make entirely themselves (lay brothers did the actual work) but now contract out but retain control of the recipe and assemble the spices themselves. Carthusians in Slovenia grow pears inside bottles on their trees, then harvest them, wash the bottles and fill them with brandy and sell them as novelty items in gift shops.
Monks are lay people who have made a commitment to a life of prayer that parallels the vow married people take as a commitment to raising children. They have to support themselves, one way or another. From the very beginnings of monasticism (in the New Testament), work was combined with prayer.
Perhaps when th business became too much for the four monks, they turned it over to a two-woman marketing group (Sarah Caniglia and Cindy Griffith) that studied the monks’ culture and beliefs and then developed a business plan around them. (Caniglia and Griffith run MonkHelper Marketing, Inc., the company that manages LaserMonks.com on the monks’ behalf.)
That business plan has as its core two principles: giving all of the profits generated from the business back to the community through various kinds of charity; and customer service based on the tradition of hospitality the Cistercians have provided to strangers for nine hundred years.
Something went badly wrong.
Joe, are you in that picture? You are very fortunate for your encounter. Everything I have ever read about the New Skete Monastery recommends them as a fine group. Same with the Laser Monks in Spring Green.
“I only make anti-Catholic (pro-Christian) comments on Catholic threads that attack protestants (with titles like... When will stupid, ignorant protestants come back to the true church?)”
Ooooh! Can you direct me to at least one of those threads with a title like that? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one! ;)
Great story! They are inspiring sertvants, in more ways than one. ;)
They exist to pray without ceasing, as St. Paul told us to do. One can pray without ceasing while working in the world and being married (by internalizing prayer, using the “Jesus” prayer, “practicing the presence of Christ.” But one can also pray without ceasing by creating a committed community that prays a daily cycle of prayers and liturgy.
It went on in Jesus’ day in the temple. The Apostles attended those daily prayers according to the book of Acts. It’s ancient and it’s biblical. The roots of it go back to the “Schools of the Prophets” that gathered around Elijah and Elisha and others in the Old Testament.
It’s just plain common sense. If you love God, you want to pray as much as you can. Most people are busy with family but they’ll pray as much as they can. If you give up family to join a community or choose not to remarried after being widowed, you can pray more constantly. Both ways of praying as much as one can are good.
But different. And ancient. And New Testament. (Did I mention the committed virgins and the enrolled widows that St. Paul speaks of???? Monastic communities go back to the very earliest days of the Church.)
Just like Obama.../s off
Oddly, the Christian groups who proclaim that “we are true New Testament Christians” rarely are so New Testament that they maintain the enrolled widows and virgins as praying communities as described in the New Testament. It’s just one example of people thinking they are going back to the original “pure” or “primitive” Christianity and avoiding all the “human traditions added later by apostate Christians, i.e., Catholics” but who are very selective in which NT practices they “restore.”
Meanwhile, Orthodox and Catholics have had monks, nuns, communities of professional prayers that grow out of the New Testament enrolled virgins and widows all along.
So they don’t need to restore NT practices. They’ve been doing them all along.
May they find a new venture and thrive.
Are you the handsome one in the middle hugging the GSD? You are a lucky man, I’m told, to have a New Skete dog. A few years back, I remember reading that there was so much demand and such a long waiting list for their puppies that they were not taking any new orders.
LOL...the handsome one in the middle is the GSD ;-)
They shoulda just stuck with brewing beer and ale!
You don’t even know how a nonprofit business works do you? Didn’t think so.
Perhaps monks and nuns who make things should stick to NON-tech stuff and stay with the old-fashioned things. Hard to explain it but I think the simple food, soap and such keep the religious closer to God.
Doesn't make that much sense but then it's just a SENSE I have about it.
it’s not anti-christian to point out a cult, we are supposed to call down the false prophets.
“How do you think they are going to support themselves? It’s not like they have a parish that pays them a salary derived from donations. Monks work. Always have; always will. Some monks make brandy, fruitcakes, package coffee, candy, train dogs, etc. These monks supply recycled ink and toner cartridges. They are not on welfare, so what’s your beef?”
They should survive like the monks in Belgium and make beer. Good Trappist beer. The best beer in the world!
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