Father Robert K. Anderson

Published on Friday, 9 October 2020 17:49


On September 29, 2020, 88 year old monk Father Robert K. Anderson passed away peacefully with his beloved brothers by his side at Hylland Monastery in Tinnsjoen, Norway.

Born in Bristol on January 23, 1932, he was predeceased by his parents, Roy A. and Kathleen A. (Ryan) Anderson, his sister Joan T. (Anderson) Gienty and his brother-in-law John M. Gienty, all lifelong residents of Bristol.

He leaves behind a nephew, Jay Gienty of Bristol, 2 nieces, Ann Daniels of North Attleboro, MA and Eileen Gonsalves of Bristol. He also leaves a great-nephew, 4 great-nieces and 3 great-great-nieces.

Terry entered the Trappist Monastery of Our Lady of the Valley in Cumberland RI in 1949 at the age of 17 and was ordained a Catholic priest.

His daily monastic life held to a strict routine in accordance with the Cistercian order. The community rose at 2 a.m. for prayers, followed by a day filled with meditation, reading and manual labor, retiring at 7 p.m. This was a practice that Brother Robert continued throughout his life. A strict rule of perpetual silence was practiced in those days whereby the monks developed a system of sign language for communication. As a young monk he spent some years in South America.

He built his own hermitage in the mountains outside of Santiago Chile in 1966.

He left the Abbey in Spencer MA in 1967 to settle as a hermit in Telemark, Norway after finding a suitable place with the help of the local Bishop.

At some point he was approved to practice in the Eastern Orthodox Rite and travelled frequently to the Ukraine to say Mass and provide religious support to those in remote areas where there were no priests available. After 10 years alone he was directed by Spencer Abbey to establish a monastery.

He found an old homestead that was vacated in the 1930s and established a monastery at Hylland. A small, contemplative community that cultivates the Trappist spirit emerged. The brothers live in separate hermitages without electricity and running water. They eat, work and pray together. Munken Robert was beloved by the local Norwegian people and was described as a wonderfully knowledgeable and interesting person to talk to. He spoke seven languages, including Norwegian with a Tinn dialect, which he said was easy to learn based on his Swedish heritage. He was described as a generous, rare, open and honest religious leader who will be greatly missed. Father Robert knew as a small boy that he wanted to be a priest. He fulfilled his dreams and lived a long and happy life that he loved, close to nature in a beautiful remote part of the world. His funeral and burial were being planned at the Catholic Cemetery in Oslo, Norway.

Posted in The Bristol Press, on Friday, 9 October 2020 17:49. Updated: Friday, 9 October 2020 17:51.