The month of January has reintroduced us to the hard realities of severe winter weather: plenty of snow and frigid temperatures. The weather has made traveling hazardous, and one of the monks can personally vouch for its dangers. While returning to the monastery from celebrating the eucharist for our sisters at Mississippi Abbey, Fr. Jonah had the misfortune of sliding into a snow plow. He was on the monastery road and within sight of the monastery itself when he attempted to pass the plow. He skidded into the back of the plow and severely dented the door on the passenger side of the car. Fortunately, he was not hurt and the driver of the plow didn’t even realize contact had been made. The door has since been repaired and the car is back in service.
We began the month with our annual corporation meeting for Trappist Caskets on January seventh. We are incorporated as a 501(d) group for the purposes of paying our dues and taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. This is a tax category which can apply to communal groups (e.g., Hutterites, Amish) who share an industry’s profits, without the individuals having personal access to these funds. It does require that we meet at least once a year, elect officers, and review business minutes. Enough monks were present to insure that we had a quorum for the meeting. It was chaired by Davin Curtiss, one of the attorneys of the firm of O’Connor and Thomas who have represented us for many years. The weather and precautions due to COVID prevented the presence of some of our advisors, so the discussions were brief and decisions were swift.
COVID did finally gain entrance into our cloister. Fr. Brendan, our superior, seems to have contracted the virus and tested positive after evidencing some symptoms. The unconfirmed source might well have been contact with our sisters at Mississippi. Four of the nuns there tested positive and the community went into quarantine. Fr. Brendan himself has kept in quarantine in the house and is waiting for a negative test before reappearing in the community. This has slowed down efforts at community and council meetings. The regular information meeting was not convened again this month.
During the cold weather, some interior areas of the monastery are being repainted and old and stained carpeting is being removed. Most of the carpeting was installed in the 1970’s and has absorbed the wear and accidents of the years.