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On Saturday, August 19, I attend the Family Vocation Day for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. It was held at St. Theresa’s parish in Parkville, Missouri. The day began with Mass with Bishop Johnston. My role was to set up our vocation booth and help with the “Monastic Day” sessions for the boys attending the vocation day.
Br. Leven from St. Benedict’s Abbey (Atchison, KS) and I had the task of leading three sessions: one with 7-8th graders, one of Kindergarten to 3rd grade, and 4-6th grade boys. We gave them an experience of Benedictine ora et labora (prayer and work). We had them pray the Psalms alternating sides of choir, then they had their morning and afternoon “work” (which ended up just being two fun activities).
The first activity involved copying manuscripts. They boys sat at the tables (while Gregorian chant was playing in the background) and they copied a verse of the Bible, using their best hand-writing, and then they decorated the works with gold and silver crayons.
The second activity was more popular, and understandably so. The boys had the task of building a monastery out of Legos. They had several bins full of Legos and they had to construct the monastery church, dining room, monk rooms, barn, and other parts as well. The first group started the project and the later groups added to the project. By the end of the day there was a fairly impressive monastery building.
I enjoy attending these events because I am able to witness to the Benedictine way of life and encourage young people to be open to God’s call. It was a well-organized event, and our sessions were just one of many things going on throughout the school building. I also participated on a Vocation Panel during the lunch period with other priests and Vocation Directors.
Please continue to pray for vocations!
It has been a busy month and posting regularly has been a challenge. During the month of March we welcomed four monastery vocation guests. For each man, it was at least his second visit, which is always a good sign to welcome men back to our monastery.
Fr. Victor returned from Washington, D.C. and joined us for some board games one evening. Our game of choice for the week has been Ticket to Ride.
March 17-19 I helped out with a retreat in Estes Park, Colorado at the YMCA of the Rockies. There were 130 junior high and high school students on this Discipleship retreat. I heard confessions all weekend, gave a few talks, and celebrated Mass for the group. It was a powerful experience in a beautiful place.
Our Infirmary building is undergoing some construction. We are building an addition which will increase the amount of rooms for the residents and enlarge the chapel. We broke ground within the past week and I am eager to offer photo updates of the progress.
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Moving Day, also known as “Monday”, is quickly approaching. The monks are eager to settle into the newly renovated monastery. There are four “moving teams” assigned and each team will have ½ hour to move the effects of each monk from St. Joseph Hall to the monastery. Monks are asked to have their belongings boxed and ready to move at their assigned time.
Here are some of my most recent pictures of the monastery, taken Thursday afternoon. The monks were permitted to move some of their things over already.
Above and Below: Mass chapel with border detail shot.
Above and Below: Monastery dining room.
Below: Monastery coffee and mail room
Above and Below: Center stairwell and landing
Below: Monks’ rooms
Above and Below: First floor common rooms
Above and Below: New entrance/exit from northwest stairwell
Lastly, enjoy this time lapse I shot Wednesday afternoon.
There is a lot of excitement as the monks finished choosing which room they will occupy when it is time to move into the newly renovated monastery. How are the monks choosing rooms? It is based on seniority. There were three rounds of room selections. When I mention “rounds” you might equate it with some sort of boxing match or NFL Draft style, but it was less dramatic. The first round of the “older monks” (or those who entered monastic life earliest) were able to suggest their “top 3” rooms to the Abbot. Then, the next day a list was posted on the bulletin board showing which monks were occupying which rooms. The second and third rounds followed in the same way. But, for those younger monks (like myself), subject to the 3rd and final round, our top choices may have been selected already. So, we were able to see which rooms were still available and who is staying where.
The great blessing is that each room will now have a sink and some built in storage. We are all grateful for the little things, and I don’t really think there is a bad room in the house.
Amid all the excitement, I decided to scope the monastery out on Saturday and see how well things were progressing. July 1 will be here sooner than we realize and it will be time to go through the big move again.
This is perhaps the most fascinating part of the monastery deconstruction. On the northeast side of the monastery, looking from the 3rd floor, the old stairs were taken away, so you can see all the way to the ground level. A new fire-safe stairwell will go in here.
After the extensive demolition of the monastery, the renovation seems to be going smoothly. The contractor says that we should still be ready for a July 1, 2015 move in date. Within the next month, the monks will pick out their rooms based on seniority. I am still in favor of having some kind of warrior dash competition that requires monks to run once around the monastery building, climb a cargo net, swing on a rope over a pit, then in through the monastery front door, and up the stairs to choose their room. I bet we could raise some money if we opened it to spectators.
These pictures were taken yesterday.