— By Josh Newton
TAHLEQUAH — A 23-year-old monk from Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey’s Benedictine monastery returned Friday morning after he became lost Thursday.
Cherokee County Sheriff’s Investigator James Brown didn’t know the monk’s name but said the man was feeling ill Thursday around 4 p.m., so he decided to rest while other residents of the monastery took a daily walk.
“When he woke up, he figured the others were on their walk, so he went to go join them but ended up getting lost,” said Brown.
Authorities from several fire departments and other agencies aided the monks in a search-and-rescue effort Thursday evening, until the darkness and terrain forced the search to be put on hold. They returned Friday morning to continue the search.
Brown said the missing monk was dropped off at the monastery at about 10:30 a.m. on Friday.
“He had made it all the way to [Lake Fort Gibson] from Clear Creek, a pretty good hike,” said Brown. “He was lost and as it got dark, he figured he better find a place to hole up, so he found a cave down by the lake and stayed in the cave over night.”
While walking back Friday morning, the monk stopped at a home and was able to get a ride from a resident.
“When they brought him back, he was soaking wet and cold. We called EMS just to check him out, but he was OK; just real cold and wet,” said Brown.
Clear Creek Abbey was founded in 1999 by monks from the Abbey of Fontgombault, France. Several dozen men who spend their days in prayer and study, among other activities, live at the monastery situated northwest of Lost City on approximately 1,000 acres.
Josh Newton writes for the Tahlequah Daily Press.