A Page From Our Forestry Files

The monks of New Melleray have been faithful stewards of about 1000 acres of verdant forest for close to one hundred and seventy years.  In the 1950’s laws changed and the monks became accountable to state representatives.  In the context of newly developed Cost-Share-Programs, the monks in those days were paid by the state to plant certain crops.  One consequence of this more formal procedure was the introduction of careful record keeping.  Late in 2018, Sam Mulgrew, the Executive Director at Trappist Caskets informed Bro. Joseph that the production line was in need of pine wood stock to fill orders for caskets.  Joseph marked off a particular stand of pines along one border of our property because these were shading a neighbor’s farm field and he knew our friend would be pleased to have the trees taken out.  They were also mature and ready for harvesting.  Bro. Joseph subsequently discovered from detailed records compiled in 1957 that about 4,000 pine trees were planted that year.  It is probable that this particular stand was planted at that time since it specifies that a neighbor, who was just out of high school at that time, helped the monks with the large planting.  The boy who worked so hard that Spring day in 1957, may have been paid a few dollars but otherwise stood to benefit in no way from the hard work of this tree planting.  Bro. Joseph was intrigued by the thought that the boy, now a man in his late seventies or eighties might still be alive.  He might be amazed to learn that those seedlings he labored over so many years ago are currently being fashioned into simple and beautiful caskets by way of ministering to the needs of grieving families.  One never knows how the seeds one has planted may spring up and bear fruit in eternity.