'Millionaire Monks' shutter doors

Nov. 17, 2011 at 8:06 PM

SPARTA, Wis., Nov. 17 (UPI) -- The Millionaire Monks, a monastic community in Wisconsin bringing in annual sales in the millions for its ink and toner business, has closed the doors.

The Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank, despite projecting annual sales of $3.5 million for LaserMonks Inc., stopped operating in the spring and has since sold its abbey in Sparta, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday.

Some have expressed shock at the dissolution of the abbey, saying the Rev. Bernard McCoy, the chief executive officer, never indicated the organization was experiencing financial difficulties.

"It's very troubling," said Terry Nelson of Minneapolis, a former novice of the order who writes about monastic communities in a blog called Abbey Roads. "A year ago he [McCoy] was talking about growing vocations, building a new church. ... And then it's just gone? How can a monastery just disappear?"

Since 2006, the monks' property has been used as collateral for $3.1 million in mortgages, including a $1.4 million load from a nearby nunnery.

The monks moved to Sparta in the 1980s and built the $2.6 million abbey to accommodate about 20 monks. Membership decreased to less than 10 monks and had been at just three at the time it closed.

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