Closing of the Year

The final days of December lead us into the celebration of the Nativity of Christ and the manifestation of God’s gift of love to all people.  He abides with us as the constant offer of peace, harmony and love  among all peoples and with the creation he renews to sustain us.  We wish the blessings of this season to all and pray that the New Year will be a time of peace and good will.

Fr. Brendan has returned from Ireland and officially became our superior ad nutum. He was appointed by Dom Peter McCarthy, our Father Immediate, after consultation with the community.  Fr. Brendan assumed office on December 1st, several days after his return.  He has appointed Fr. Ephrem as prior and Br. Paul Andres as sub-prior.  These will be members of the superior’s council.  Also appointed to the council were Fr. Stephen and Fr. David. Br. Joseph was chosen by the community to be its elected representative.  The Constitutions of the Order  (Cst 38) say The abbot’s council is composed of  at least three brothers of whom at least one is elected by the community. While larger than than some previous councils, it will give a broader level of experience to help in the decisions that will have to be made in the imminent future.

Unfortunately, Fr. Brendan was in contact with someone who was diagnosed with Covid.  He is now in quarantine in the community and will not be able to share in our Christmas celebrations.  Fr. Ephrem, the prior, will have to stand in for him at midnight mass.  The closing of the guest house for the Christmas holidays (from December 20 to January 3rd) now serves a double purpose in limiting contact during this time of increased Covid infections.  Although we will open again on January 3rd, we are limiting the guest house to half occupancy (14) and request use of masks and that retreatants be vaccinated.  The monks have received booster shots this December. The annual Christmas party that is held for our employees was cancelled again this year because of Covid.  It had been a good opportunity for the community to meet and thank our employees for their generous service.

The reconstruction work on the south side of the monastery building has been successfully completed.  Deteriorating cement was replaced and rubberized covering installed to prevent leaking into basement areas.  The work was somewhat delayed because of a saw which had to be replaced.  Fortunately, good weather prevailed for most of the work time and the job was completed before hard frosts began.  A ramp which had descended rather steeply into the basement area was leveled so that an entry can be made on even ground from the outer area.  We welcomed the end to the sounds of drilling and jackhammering.  Some damage was inflicted on trees surrounding the abbey during some severe wind storms in late fall.  The damage was cleaned up, and several dead trees were removed to make room for new plantings.  The cedar fence demarcating the enclosure in front of the guest house was also completed while the weather remained mild.