March into April

The final days of April offered the opportunity to resume our monthly Information Meeting. In March, Holy Week activities exhausted time and space for that sharing. We were able to communicate about recent activities and developments around the abbey.

A Come and See vocation discernment weekend is planned for the 24th – 26th of May. Six men have indicated an interest in participating in this weekend program. We hope that they will be able to include this in their schedules. One other man is due to join the community for a six week observer program while living within the community. We pray for the light and fire of the Spirit to guide them all in this Easter season.

General maintenance continues with spraying the outside of the church wing to deter assaults by flies and bugs. A project to replace a number of windows in the monastery buildings is in early stages. The older windows fail to regulate the flow of heat and cold with any regard for human occupancy, and some are permanently fixed in place. This is a project which will take some time to gradually complete.

Many new trees have been planted, most in connection with conservation efforts. The high winds have overturned trees and scattered dead branches which now need to be cleaned up. The plan is to purchase a wood chipper and gradually remove the debris. The garden is beginning to yield its fruit: asparagus and rhubarb are first to reach the kitchen.

July 16th will be the 175th anniversary of the founding of our community, and we are still trying to determine appropriate ways to celebrate the day. It should be a day of thanksgiving to our local church, to the sisters of Mississippi Abbey, to our employees, and to all those who have supported us over the years. We may need to have several days and ways to share the celebration of our thanks to God and friends and neighbors.

On March 22nd, we had the joy and honor of a visit from our new archbishop, Thomas Zinkula. He celebrated the Eucharist with us, and then spent some time in an informal discussion with the community. He asked each monk to tell where he had come from and the vocation story that had brought him to New Melleray.

The sisters from Mississippi Abbey joined us in the abbey church for the celebration of the Easter Vigil. A number of guests joined us for the service which began at 4;30 a.m. and ended almost two hours later. The monks and nuns then shared refreshments and concluded this part of the morning with a common celebration of Easter Lauds at 7:30.

Our community has been enlarged by the addition of Fr. Jerome Machar, a monk of Genesee Abbey, who arrived on April 8th. He will be with us for an indefinite period. He comes with a wide range of experience. Currently, he is still recuperating from knee surgery and uses a cane for walking. But he is already presiding at liturgy, filling in as confessor and in the guest house reception.