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‘Mormon Land’: Utahn reflects on his visits to an unlikely monastery in LDS Zion and his life among Saints and monks

Shattered by his parents’ divorce, Michael O’Brien found spiritual fathering, timely mentoring and a path to peace with his trips up “Abbey Road.”

(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) Monks walk back to the monastery at Holy Trinity Abbey in Huntsville in 2010. Salt Lake City attorney Michael O'Brien has a new book about his family's many visits to the Trappist monastery in northern Utah and his life among Catholic monks and Latter-day Saints.

In the 1940s, Trappist monks looked to create new monasteries in unlikely places, places not dominated by Catholics. They found just such a spot in a high mountain valley in Mormon Utah.

For 70 years, Holy Trinity Abbey in the scenic Ogden Valley served as a religious refuge, where monks pondered and prayed, worked and worshipped, lived and died.

For a young Michael O’Brien, torn by his parents’ recent divorce, however, the monastery and his family’s frequent trips up “Abbey Road” offered a more personal connection as the monks provided spiritual fathering, committed counseling, timely mentoring, religious role modeling and paths to peace.

A now-grown O’Brien, a Catholic who works as an attorney in Salt Lake City and often represents The Salt Lake Tribune in legal matters, captures all that and more in his soon-to-be-released memoir, “Monastery Mornings: My Unusual Boyhood Among the Saints and Monks.”

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