Richardton – Home of a Monastery on the North Dakota Prairie

Richardton, North Dakota.

On our way to Albuquerque and our annual family reunion, we headed west to travel a new route to Denver. Instead of our usual trip south to I-80, we headed on I-94 west and then south through Rapid City to spend some time in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Our route took us west to Dickinson, ND then south to Sturgis. As we got near the small town of Richardton, the two tall spires of the parish at Richardton’s Assumption Abbey rose above the town. Though I’ve been by the abbey many times, it was time we stopped to look around.

It was a quiet morning at the Abbey. There were only a couple of cars in the parking lot on this early summer morning. The architecture of the church building, however, is stunning. We spent a short time wandering on the grounds and I captured a collection of High Dynamic Range (HDR) images. As it turned out, there were only three images that I felt worth sharing. My favorite is featured above. The abbey is over a century old now, having been authorized by Fr. John Shanley, Bishop of the Jamestown Diocese. Shanley is a historic name around Fargo as Bishop Shanley moved to Fargo soon after his appointment at Jamestown. Shanley High School is a Catholic academy here in Fargo.

The latest information on the Abbey’s history web page mentions the membership of the monastic abbey in 2006 at 60 with 35 living and working at the Abbey. The remaining numbers work outside the abbey in nearby communities and other outreach activities. The Benedictine Monks moved from the Devil’s Lake area to Richardton in 1899 and today the parish supports around 280 households in the Richardton area.

My final image is a slightly different view of the church itself. The abbey is composed of several buildings. The spyres seen from the highway are actually part of St. Mary’s Church.

In the coming weeks, Travel Tuesday posts will feature stops along our road trip to New Mexico. See you next Tuesday.

John Steiner


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