Reporting Matt Brickman
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) – Who makes the best maple syrup in Minnesota?
WCCO viewers chose their favorite — St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., where monks have been tapping trees since World War II.
There is something undeniably spiritual about these woods on a clear spring day.
“A great sense of being one with nature, coming back to life, the winter’s over, sap is flowing,” Brother Walter Kieffer said.
Kieffer has been tapping trees since he was a student at St. John’s Prep in 1962.
“It was sort of a closed operation,” he said. “I mean it was for us, about us, and now that we’ve opened it up, of course, there’s much much more people who can enjoy it.”
These woods host thousands of students each year, learning about syruping and getting to taste a treat that’s more special than they know.
“Just in our great hall, or our gift shop, we could maybe sell out in a week or two, at market price,” Kieffer said.
But this syrup isn’t for sale. It’s destined for a higher purpose. The brothers of St John’s give the syrup away instead to those who give of themselves.
“As a gift, it’s something to be treasured,” Kieffer said. “A true present is something that you give and not expect to receive.”
And just being in the woods brings Kieffer closer.
“To see nature come back to life is a real resurrection and it’s through nature I think that I get a lot of my spirituality,” he said.