The beautiful 70 acre campus of natural desert upon which we are blessed to live has a rich history. We look forward to sharing the sacred beauty of this place with you on your spiritual journey.
History of Sacred Place
There is a history of communal residence on our land. Archaeologists tell us that remains of a long abandoned Pueblo suggest decedents of neighboring Indian People inhabited our land when St. Norbert was preaching in 1121. When the Spanish Explorer Juan de Oñate came to the area in 1598, the indigenous community that made their home in this sacred place was one of approximately seventy small pueblos in the middle Rio Grande Valley . The descendants live in nearby Pueblos such as Isleta, Santa Ana , Santo Doming, and San Felipe.
For the next 300 years, sheep grazed on the land under the flags of three different countries. The Spanish claimed the territory, and in 1743 turned over a large parcel known as the Pajarito Land Grant for private agricultural use. When Spain withdrew in 1821, Mexico took control of the land for the next twenty-seven years. After the Mexican-American War in 1848, the United States took possession of the land.
In the late 1940’s, Bernard may, a former World War II pilot, purchased seventy acres forming the boundaries of the current property. He built a family home, airstrip, and small airplane hanger on his land.
May sold the land to the Community of Dominican Sisters from Philadelphia in the 1950’s. They built a dormitory for short-stay retreats in 1960. In the mid-1980’s, the sisters built a small convent, four hermitages, and the Chapel of the Baptist. In the meantime, the Dominican Sisters sold the Retreat House to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe but continued to run it.
Our community purchased the retreat center from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 1995. In 1998 we began Phase I of the long-range development plan which included building Santa Maria de la Vid Church, renovating the May home to serve as our communal dining facility, converting the former airplane hanger into a temporary library, renovating the former retreat center dormitory into a private residence center for our men and renovation our Bethany Guest House (the former convent) and the Hermitages to make them more suitable for retreat guests.
We are now completing Phase II of the three-phase building process. This phase addresses the need for a Residence-Living Center and a Library-Spiritual Learning Center. Our Library-Spiritual Learning Center and our Residence-Living Center will enable Santa Maria de la Vid’s future as an abbey. With our church, we were given a place for liturgy. With our library, we now have a place for study. With our residence, we have a place to rest and renew ourselves for our ministries. These are the three pillars of abbey life. We take our committed lives into the community which we serve.
As Norbertine brothers we will have an everlasting presence on this land. Already four of our brothers have their earthly resting places here in our communal cemetery. We have dedicated our lives to our ministry in New Mexico and made this place our permanent home now and for many generations to come.
A permanent outlook is reflected in how we approach the land and the structures that we establish. Implicit in each move that we make is our sacred obligation to brothers that we have yet to meet, brothers not yet born. We are living ancestors of Norbertine priests, brothers, and laity yet to come into their roles in service to future generations. We are deeply dedicated to that responsibility. Our planning reflects a commitment to centuries of sustainability.
Abbey Church of Santa Maria de la Vid
Bethany Guest House (For Groups or Organizations) is the ideal location for group day retreats or small group over night retreats. It provides a comfortable, intimate and home-like environment in a peaceful secluded setting. • Spacious living/meeting/dining area • Large outdoor private covered area • 2 1/2 baths • 6 bedrooms • full kitchen • laundry
Chapel of John the Baptist The Chapel of the Baptist is a rustic adobe chapel set apart from other structures alone in the desert. It is an ideal place for private prayer, meditation and contemplation. The Blessed Sacrament is in reserve in the chapel. It is open to the general public as a place of solitude and spiritual refreshment. It may also be used by groups on retreat for prayer and worship.