Thomas S. Monson’s Thirty Year Absence from [BYU Speeches]

When I was a youth, I learned two things about BYU that set it apart from what I would be able to experience at other colleges. One of these things was that apostles frequently addressed the student body at devotionals and firesides. During my time there, a typical year would include a half dozen apostles speaking in the Marriott Center usually on Fast Sunday evenings and about as many Seventies at Tuesday morning devotionals. (Seventies were fewer in number and longer serving then, and so many of them had more of a personal identity to us.) I was present for four talks by Gordon B. Hinckley and one by the President of the Church, Ezra Taft Benson. The format was rather different from General Conference talks, and added to the range of preaching and teaching I received.

Thinking on those experiences, it occurred to me that I never heard Thomas S. Monson speak in the Marriott Center. I checked the archive at and was surprised to learn that over a thirty year span between Jan. 16, 1973 and Sept. 7, 2003, he was not there. Since 2003, he was returned five times. Checking on the other apostles of the last three decades, President Monson is quite an exception in this regard. Absences from BYU of four years or more are hard to find. Elder Packer spoke there in ’80, ’85, ’91, ’95, and ’03 with much more frequent visits in the ’70s and since 2003. Elder Holland was away between ’97 and ’04, Elder Eyring between ’01 and ’06, Elder Wirthlin between ’86 and ’92, and Elder Maxwell between ’99 and ’04. Howard W. Hunter spoke to the school in ’72, ’79, ’87, and then ’89, ’90, ’92, and ’93.

Only two apostles had gaps comparable with President Monson’s, and even theirs were much smaller. Before his death in 2004, Elder Haight’s last BYU devotional was in 1987. N. Eldon Tanner, ordained an apostle from 1962 and dead in 1982, spoke to the BYU students four times in ’75, ’76, 78, and ’79. I could speculate why Thomas Monson was absent, but others may like to put their two bits in first.

Update: Due to information pointed out in the first comment below, I changed this post’s title from “Thomas S. Monson’s Thirty Year Absence from the Marriott Center” to “Thomas S. Monson’s Thirty Year Absence from [BYU Speeches].”

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About John Mansfield

Mansfield in the desertA third-generation southern Nevadan, I have lived in exile most of my life in such places as Los Alamos, Baltimore, Los Angeles, the western suburbs of Detroit, and currently the northern suburbs of Washington, D.C. I work as a fluid dynamics engineer. I was baptized at age twelve in the font of the Las Vegas Nevada Central Stake Center, and on my nineteenth birthday I received the endowment in the St. George Temple. I served as a missionary mostly in the Patagonia of Argentina from 1985 to 1987. My true calling in the Church seems to be working with Cub Scouts, whom I have served in different capacities in four states most years since 1992. (My oldest boy turned eight in 2004.) I also currently teach Sunday School to the thirteen-year-olds. I hold degrees from two universities named for men who died in the 1870s, the Brigham Young University and the Johns Hopkins University. My wife is Elizabeth Pack Mansfield, who comes from New Mexico's north central mountains and studied molecular biology at the same two schools I attended. We have four sons, whose care and admonition, along with care of my aged father, require much of Elizabeth's time. She currently serves the Church as Mia-Maid advisor, ward music chairman, and choir director, and plays violin whenever she can. One day, I would like to make shoes.

7 thoughts on “Thomas S. Monson’s Thirty Year Absence from [BYU Speeches]

  1. Not quite sure why that archive would give you bad info. I was personally there in 1989 when he spoke (in that case as a last minute replacement from Hinckley). The BYU Broadcasting page has devotionals by President Monson from 1975, 1977, 1985, 1986, 1989, twice in 1991, 1994, 1997, 1998, and 2000.

  2. Well, let’s just turn the conspiracy theory on it’s head and say there must be something wrong with the editors/administrators on the speeches site! They’re boycotting those speeches for content!

    Speaking of which, I don’t have the links, but I remember seeing on the BYU-I devotional page, some talks, which were recent (and some that were old) that said they would not be released or transcribed. It made me really wonder what was said! But I’m assuming perhaps the format just wasn’t conducive to a transcript or audio recording rather than the Quorum of the 12 stepped in and axed it from the record.

  3. This is peculiar. The Speeches site has books available for each academic year going back to 1996-1997. BYU Broadcasting shows us that President Monson gave a devotional “In Search of Treasure” on March 11, 1997. The Speeches collection lists that as one of the contents of that year’s book, but clicking on that individual title pulls up “Invalid request.” All the other individual titles work fine at pulling up the individual talk. “Your Choice” fromm Mar. 10, 1998 and “What God Expects” from Sept. 12, 2000 don’t show up in the collections at all, at least not under those titles.

  4. BYU Speeches will remove any speech at the request of the speaker. My understanding is that the most common reason to request removal of a speech is because that speech will be appearing in a newly-minted compilation sold through Deseret Book or something else like that. I have personally emailed BYU Speeches to inquire into missing pieces and received this response from them more than once.

  5. Speeches are removed from the list at the request of the speaker! Are you kidding? That’s what Congress does.


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