Guare, Columba

From Biographia Cisterciensis

Columba Guare OCSO

Columba Guare OCSO

1st Abbess of the Trappist Abbey Our Lady of the Mississippi in Dubuque, Iowa, USA, 1970–1982

* 4 Nov. 1926 Montpelier, Vermont
1 Sep. 2009 Dubuque, Iowa

Mother Columba was born Margaret Guare on Nov. 4, 1926, in Montpelier, the only daughter of Thomas and Florence Emmons, and sister to Thomas, John Richard and Paul Guare. She attended St. Michael's High School in Montpelier and graduated from Trinity College in Burlington with a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts.

After college, Margaret did graduate work in social service at Fordham University in New York City for one year. During that time, she visited the Cistercian (Trappist) monastery at Mount St. Mary's Abbey in Wrentham, Mass.

Margaret entered Mount St. Mary's in 1951 and was given the name of Sister M. Columba on Feb. 12, 1952, the day she received the habit. She made first profession of vows on Aug. 15, 1953, and solemn profession on June 28, 1957. At Wrentham, she held the office of cellarer for many years and was a famous writer of skits and poetry for the community. She left Wrentham to make the foundation of Our Lady of the Mississippi in October 1964, with 12 other sisters, and was named superior of the new community by Mother Angela Norton, Abbess of Wrentham. In 1970, the foundation became an independent abbey and M. Columba was elected abbess. She remained in that office until 1982.

1979 major offices in the monastery (prioress, cellarer) were transferred from founding sisters to new members and the candy building was expanded, 1980 the blessing of the new wing (dormitory, refectory, scriptorium) followed. In 1982 the Long Term Guest program for women desiring an experience of monastic life was introduced.

In December 1982, Mother Columba helped to establish a house of prayer among the poor in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She returned to Dubuque in 1987, and shortly thereafter was asked to be the temporary superior for the Trappist sisters in Stapehill, England. She resumed her life in the Mississippi community in 1989.

Mother Columba celebrated her Golden Jubilee of Profession with the community, her family, and friends, on Aug. 15, 2003. She received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Papal award in April, 2004.

She died Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009. Services were held at the abbey's chapel on Sept. 2, with a con-celebrated Mass including the abbott of New Mellary, and the Archbishop of Dubuque.




Citation: Guare, Columba, in: Biographia Cisterciensis (Cistercian Biography), Version vom 23.7.2011, URL:,_Columba

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