Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Return of the natives

We've left the hot and sunny shores of the Gulf Coast of Florida, their beauty and lifestyle already a memory.
Now it's the Great Lake Plains again with their lush and growing grape vineyards, a newborn fawn the size of a small dog seen in our backyard this week, and the celebration of the summer solstice with bright sun, low humidity and a 76 degree high temperature.

To top it all off I had to go to our next door neighborhood town of North East this evening and while there, parked in a metered spot.

I had quarters, but I couldn't resist--used nickels and dimes instead: Quarter =30 minutes, Dime = 12 minutes. Nickel = 6 minutes!

Ah, home sweet home!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Monastic life in Florida, 2 of 2

The altar at Holy Name Monastery.

A unique wall-hanging in the guest wing.

The backyard of the one-story monastery. Their bell tower kind of looks like a oil rig, but is very nice.

Their new bishop came for the blessing of the guest wing. He is 6'8" and towered over everyone. Then he added a mitre. WOW. Can you say James Comey?!

Another beautiful Florida flowering plant. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Monastic life in Florida, 1 of 2

Gecko are everywhere. Here's one caught in the act of "expanding"! Google says it's related to breathing, social interaction and sniffing!

We could not figure out what these cemented into the grass all over campus things were. Umbrella holders? They are for Disk Golf which is big in the south! 

It's always great to see a whole different world of flowers and foliage.

I think a hawk, in a tree covered by hanging Spanish Moss.

Birds of paradise growing naturally.

Lake Jovita, home to a number of alligators (!!!), is the jewel of the campus. Benches are everywhere.

In 1889 a group of Benedictine monks from Latrobe, PA arrived here and helped establish the first Catholic college in Florida. It was named for Pope Leo the Great (XIII) and Abbot Leo Haid, OSB, the college's first president. Also in 1889 Benedictine sisters from Pittsburgh arrived and began Holy Name Monastery. Today the 14 sisters and dozen monks still have a role in the University, which is, by enrollment, the fourth largest Catholic College in the USA--behind Notre Dame, Loyola and St. John's (NYC).Beautiful campus, too.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sand Hill Cranes

Have arrived in St. Leo, Florida, about 45 minutes northeast of Tampa and the home to two Benedictine houses: St. Leo Abbey of monks and Holy Name Monastery of sisters of our federation. We are staying at St. Leo University, an interesting situation, as it almost died away a few years ago, but was resurrected as primarily an online university! And it is flourishing! See here.

It has a very lovely campus with those long and low tan or stone buildings that seem to be what Florida is built on. Here is a statue of what I suspect is a Benedictine monk directing a young man. The arches help show you how stunning the architecture is here. Function for sure, but much more beauty.

And, to that end, St. Leo is home to some of the (famous) Florida Sand Hill Cranes.
We've seen them already, but haven't heard their unique call.




Sunday, June 11, 2017

Thomas Merton

A week with Thomas Merton and his "takes" on monastic life. Very fine. Well-presented by Bonnie Thurston, a Merton scholar. Enjoyed by all. We are blessed indeed.


“Every moment and every event of every person's life on earth plants something in their soul.” Thomas Merton, OCSO

Things in the grass with which one becomes enamored when walking around on retreat!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

#100 and continuing

Late in 2016 we welcomed to Erie Tom Roberts, the National Catholic Reporter's editor-in-chief, outstanding writer-in-chief, supporter of women religious-in-chief and all around dedicated Catholic and truth seeker-in-chief.

Tom came to Erie to work on some stories, one of which was to hear about our Take Back the Site Vigils for homicide victims and to consider a story of the collaborative efforts made by the three communities of women religious in Erie who sponsor them. Soon after he left, the 100th vigil (since we held #1 in November 1999 in the parking lot of a local Dairy Queen) occurred.

Tom is one busy guy and there are lots of current news and assignments he has to cover, but last week, true to his word, the article on our TBTS--in the streets public prayer--was published online. You can read it here.

Thanks, Tom, and thanks to all the sisters and oblates of the Benedictines for Peace committee who have been so faithful in organizing and continuing these powerful, yet terribly somber and sad events. They indeed have had an impact on our city and its residents.

Oh, one note: in the very last photo in the article you'll see a tall man in a suit and tie in the back left. This was a photo from TBTS vigil # 104 a couple weeks ago--his first one to attend, though he told me that he had been hearing about them for years. Who is he? He's the favored candidate running for mayor this November for the City of Erie!






Sunday, June 4, 2017

Come Holy Spirit

This weekend we experienced two wonderful liturgical events: the First Monastic Profession of two of our sisters during Evening Praise on Saturday night and the great Feast of Pentecost on Sunday morning. They were both marvelous, joyous, deeply moving and significant experiences, especially, I hope, for the large crowd that attended the Mass on Pentecost.

Our presider, Father Mike, gave fine reflections, the two sisters who planned the liturgy were creative and inclusive and at the very end, when a rousing song began for the closing, we had some spontaneous dancing break out in the center of chapel, similar to what happens at Easter.

This never fails to remind me of a note that went up on our main bulletin board a number of years ago from the planners of the Sunday liturgy. Here is what it read: "At tomorrow's Mass we'd like to have spontaneous dancing accompany the closing song. There will be no practice."

A number of very large gardens are in neighborhoods in the small townships and boroughs surrounding Erie. Many of them open their gardens to the public every year. It's a lovely gesture and these self-guided tours are very popular. We drove out to one last week and caught this beauty in one of the flowered areas. I'd say it is about 12-14" in height. Just stunning.