Monday, April 30, 2012


Our Take Back the Site vigils have taken on a sadness that their very quantity has brought on. Last Thursday we had #62. The coverage from our local paper is here.

And this week we will hold #63--as two deaths took place in "our little town" in just 48 hours. We're all a bit beside ourselves about the prevalence and use of guns, primarily among our 20 and 30 year olds--and those involved in drug use or in the arguments that arise in relationships, often aided by alcohol or a combination of things. Not all of our homicides are from these, but it seems as if a majority are. Very sad--for those who knew the victim, those family and friends of the arrested and those everyday citizens who read of these again and again and just shake their heads, wonder and worry. Sadness all around.

The one last Thursday was a member of one of our local cycling clubs (motorcycles) and many of the cyclists attended. In my efforts to take this photo for our own records

the prayer service began, so I just stayed where I was and was caught on camera by the Times News photographer. You'll see me, in photo #9, in the red jacket, amidst the bikers! Photo from the Erie Times News is here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Celebrating Life

From the eulogy for Sister Kathy Ruszkowski, given by Joan Chittister:

"Kathy had the eye and the skill of an artist. Any room that Kathy walked into, however bare and ordinary, became strikingly beautiful under her touch. Most of all, she made artistry around her. She worked in every medium: flowers, cloth,wood, whatever. She left no piece of life where she was untouched by color and form, grace and graciousness. And she did it casually, naturally, wholeheartedly."

"She simply lived artistically trailing beauty for all of us to enjoy as she went. Her works will be on these walls for years. She was one of a kind. She made order out of chaos wherever she went. She turned the haphazard into efficiency and disorder into effectiveness. And she brought a kind of "tidiness" into the lives of everyone around her...if for no reason other than that she herself could not bear not doing everything well, to the utmost, to the ultimate, to some unknown consummate degree known only to her mind's eye foreseen only in her mind's eye for the chapel decorations, or the library courtyard, or the garden with its always very specially chosen colors, or the papers and programs and projects, or the family gifts of all breed and sorts."

"Everything was perfect, right down to her insistence that every hamburger on the community picnic grill be tested by a meat thermometer before serving or that her hair not be messed up as she lay dying! It was a gift, trust me, that was often as much a scourge as it was a joy to many!"

Photo: Sister Bernadette Sullivan

"But it made all of us sharper-eyed about such things than we had ever been before. She saw life through the filter of prayer and made liturgy the very center of her being. The last dance she danced in this chapel in October was a message in itself: it was precise and meditative and meaningful. It was the living incense of her life and it touched to the depths every heart in this chapel and wetted every eye. Because we knew in a way we had never known before that she was dancing the very story of all our lives together."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring Favorites

Every spring I have favorite shots I can't wait to take. Even though every year they probably look exactly alike, I still just can't wait to see them anew and, because of this blog, post their photo again. Do you have your own favorite pieces of spring...a row of daffodils that are just positioned differently from all the others, a bush that is a special color of pink that you wait for each April, or that one dogwood tree you pass on your way to work that seems perfectly shaped? I hope you do. They're just like old friends who turn up and the "conversation" picks right up where it ended last spring.

Right outside my office window, here's that old-fashioned plant, Bleeding Hearts, hanging on those perfectly curved stems that never break.

It doesn't look like this birdhouse will last through many more winters, but it made it again--becoming a new nesting place for this year's babies. Can you see the nesting material that appeared just yesterday?

And, finally, the two-colored dogwood, white with a pink limb grafted in or pink with a white limb grafted on. One way or the other. But what a glorious sight it makes for a week or so--in the middle of the inner city, too.

Amidst all this continuing spring explosion we are walking with sorrowful steps this week as we will be holding our three days of celebration of one of our sisters--who passed into everlasting life April 19th. See her obituary and prayer card here. Please remember us in your prayers. We don't have many funerals where the sister's mother is in attendance.

Thursday, April 19, 2012



is the instructor.
We need no other.

Guess what I am,
he says in his
incomparably lovely

young-man voice.
Because I love the world
I think of grass,

I think of leaves
and the bold sun,
I think of the rushes

in the black marshes
just coming back
from under the pure white

and now finally melting
stubs of snow.
Whatever we know or don't know

leads us to say:
Teacher, what do you mean?
But faith is still there, and silent.

Then he who owns
the incomparable voice
suddenly flows upward

and out of the room
and I follow,
obedient and happy.

Of course I am thinking
the Lord was once young
and will never in fact be old.

And who else could this be, who goes off
down the green path,
carrying his sandals, and singing?

Mary Oliver

Here's an article from USA Today about a visit to a sister-monastery in our Federation, St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas. I think the reporter would have a similar experience if she came to Erie.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Favorite Haunts

Within a radius of 4 miles or so of the Mount, community members have numerous "favorite haunts." If you frequent them you're pretty sure to see a Benedictine there. Here's one: the Iroquois branch of the Erie County Library. The huge main library, located on the waterfront in the middle of town, has only 4 branches now and, lucky for us, one is just down the road. It is located in Lawrence Park, an area that began as a residence for many of the families whose fathers/mothers worked at the adjoining General Electric plant. Remembering those roots, the designer of this newly renovated branch made it into a small old-fashioned railroad station--very appropriate, since our GE plant specializes in the manufacture of train locomotives. (Absolutely beautiful, by the way, when we catch them on the test track that runs right by our place).

Closer to home: here's a look at one of our back door areas--quite functional but not the prettiest of entrances.

However, if you look closely you see something popping up...and

when you get really close, you can see them clearly: beautiful, dainty bell-shaped flowers. Ah, spring!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Calming Down

This is a week of calm--calming down. After four intense days of liturgies, guests, music, hospitality, rituals, special meals, etc. etc. everyone is being overly respectful of everyone else's need to "just be." We're all getting back to those projects and work that were put on hold last Thursday, trying to remember where we are with everything, and even shifting gears for the next events that are coming this weekend--though they are much smaller in scope. Yeh!

To that end I treated myself to a walk around our Glinodo property and caught these rather ordinary, but special to us, pictures from early spring. Yours might be further along than ours, but we're getting there. (Click to enlarge.)

Along the path we found these May Apples just peeking up their umbrella heads.

Here is a build up of shale right in the middle of Seven Mile Creek, seen from the creek trail.

We were on a footbridge that crosses the creek; here's the view looking north, right into Lake Erie.

And here's 180 degrees turned looking south, upstream.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Season Begins

Happy Easter everyone. See our community website here for many more memories of our weekend.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday

Late Holy Saturday afternoon--everything's ready for this evening's celebration.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Read the Erie Times News Friday editorial on our 32nd annual Pilgrimage for Peace here.

Two buses of "pilgrims" leaving the Mount.

The crowd and media at St. Peter's Cathedral.

Bishop Trautman greets Sister Anne and all of us at the First Station.

One of the youngest participants. Her mother first brought her in a baby carriage!

One of the stations: St. Benedict Education Center, where we prayed on behalf of new immigrants. SBEC has many immigrants in their programs.

Holy Thursday

The view out our library windows.

Our dining room--before and after.

After the feast--8:00 pm from the patio.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Triduum

Well, we're "off and running" in a liturgical kind of way, of course! Wednesday night our Holy Week retreatants arrived. Oblates, friends, family members and others will join us for whichever of the days they can: Thursday for the evening liturgy and supper, Friday for the Pilgrimage for Peace and the final station here at 3:00 pm, Saturday evening for the Vigil or Sunday morning for the morning Easter liturgy. Lots of celebrations and beautiful prayer and reflection time.

You can view a preview story of our Good Friday Pilgrimage for Peace from Wednesday's Erie Times News here. There's suppose to be a column about it in Friday's issue, too. Search for columnist Liz Allen.

Here are a couple scenes from around the house, though no one got a shot of the seven deer that passed through our backyard at noon yesterday!

Here's the willow on the west lawn. All around our place it truly looks like Easter. Those of us who are natives of the Great Lakes remember with not-so-fond memories of many an Easter wearing our winter coats over our spring Easter outfits. Not this year!

Here's a new visitor at my window bird feeder--a Downy Woodpecker. He's on the nearby tree scouting things out and then decides to come on over. See good photos of them here on Google Images.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Four Memorable Days

Three Eucharistic liturgies in the last four days and each one outshone the other. Thursday we honored the life of our Sister Benedict Irish, 98. Her family was so moved by the ceremony and appreciative of our rituals, it was quite touching. On the cold but sunny early morning Friday we gathered at Trinity Cemetery for the burial. Another moving and special ritual.

Saturday morning we hosted the Mass of Christian Burial for one of our very involved oblates. Her family estimated a crowd of 25-30 outside of themselves. Our chapel holds about 200, so when we had to put up an extra 20-25 chairs ten minutes before the liturgy started, we knew we were more in the neighborhood of 125-150 besides ourselves! Many were not Catholic, so that always puts a special twist on the experience, both for them and for us. The priest-celebrant was excellent and the music, liturgy and eulogies captured this lovely woman to a tee. A luncheon for all continued the memory sharing and, hopefully, left many of these first-time visitors to our monastery, with unique memories of a special celebration of their friend's life and death.

Passion /Palm Sunday begins Holy Week for 2012. Blessed with creative planners and musicians, our Eucharistic liturgy was wonderful. Sister Dianne took the part of Jesus in the Passion as readers carried her through the story. She sang the significant parts and interacted with a mime, who reacted perfectly throughout.

So many community members were able to participate in these four days it felt like a community extended weekend! All were greatly moved by the specialness of these events and again and again expressed gratitude to all participants, planners and the community in general.

It is always such a pleasure to share our gifts of liturgy and hospitality.

Scenes from our Passion Sunday celebration, including Sister Cindy Hoover who mimed the major characters of the story as they interacted with the Jesus figure.