The monthly information forum was held on Thursday, January 28th. This meeting is scheduled for the fourth Thursday each month, although Thanksgiving Day and Christmas took precedence and caused its cancelation in both November and December. Nonetheless, there wasn’t a big backlog of information to share. The meeting is an opportunity for all in the community to learn what is happening in the various departments and to ask relevant questions. It is helpful for everyone to know what and why changes have been initiated or to hear how departments have been functioning. It is too easy to lose sight of what others are doing to contribute to the services of the monastery.
Most departments reported normal functioning. With the guest house closed, the opportunity for thorough cleaning and painting continues to be open. A big project is the replacement of all lighting with LED. While installation is expensive, it is energy efficient and more economical in the long-run. We were all reminded to put plastics in the recycle bin. These small steps help to remind us of the larger environmental concerns threatening our globe. This past fall, several culverts carrying water from the building were dug up and replaced. Another culvert draining the north wings of the monastery and buried under the front road will have to be repaired once the spring thaws the ground. That is the best we can do for earthshaking news.
In spite of the fact that this Forum had been canceled in November and December in deference to Thanksgiving Day and Christmas, there was not a backlog of news to share. With the guest house closed because of the virus, thorough cleaning and painting continues there. The monastery itself is beneficiary of extra time and labor for cleaning. Some areas of neglect (e.g., shelves in the library) are being surprised by vigorous attention. A pile of discarded and unneeded clothes was donated to the local St. Vincent DePaul Society. Lighting fixtures are being replaced by LED outlets and lights. This is an expensive initial investment of time and money, but it is energy efficient and more economical in the long-run.
Fr. Stephen reports that he has been getting a few more vocational inquiries. We have been able to host several men seriously discerning a vocation. We do have them quarantined for ten days in the otherwise empty guest house. They eat dinner and supper with the community at separate tables in the refectory. We want to offer them as much of an experience of the monastic life as we can to aid them in their discernment. A Benedictine monk from Subiaco, Arkansas, is with us as a guest for six months as he discerns a possible Cistercian vocation.