This is normally a quiet week for the monks. It is usually the time of year when the monastic community has its annual retreat. The seminarians have gone away until August and we transition into the summer months. However, this week is different because the monks are moving out of the monastery to prepare for the monastery renovation. The monks are spending the week moving everything out of the monastery, including their personal belongings. The community is moving to the fourth and fifth floors of St. Joseph Hall, where they will reside for the next 12-15 months while the monastery is completely renovated.
It is a huge project, as you can imagine. A group of seminarians have stayed on for another week to assist with the moving process. Teams of four, including young monks and seminarians are assigned to move different monk’s rooms during the mornings and afternoons. We spent the first day cleaning St. Joseph Hall, removing bed frames and furniture in order to dust, clean the sinks, and mop and wax the floors. The teams worked quickly and furiously and we have been ahead of schedule all week. The rooms in St. Joseph Hall are significantly smaller and closer together, so it will take some getting used to.
Planning committees have been working for months on reallocating spaces that will no longer be available in the monastery for over the next year plus. The monastery was built over 130 years ago and for the first time since the beginning, there will be no monks sleeping under the monastery roof. There will be an extensive demolition and reconstruction phase, updating the building according the fire code and safety regulations.
Below: Tuesday evening, card players get in their last game in the old coffee/mail room before the tables and chairs are removed.
Below: One seminarian worker, Ben Rogers, gives a lift to one exhausted Jacob Begnoche.