Monday, April 29, 2013

Seven straight days

After the LCWR Regional meeting in Washington I came home to an all-day workshop, a planning meeting and then our spring community weekend. All were very good, but that was some busy set of days--none of which were actually at either of my offices.

The workshop was held at our Bayfront Convention Center which has the most beautiful setting you could imagine--right up against the waterfront on Presque Isle Bay. Here's the view from the meeting room--our Bicentennial Tower and a calm and peaceful bay, now that the storms of winter are long past.

After the weekend meetings, at which our excellent presenter had the awareness to mention the sunny and warm weather and encourage us to enjoy the outside over lunch and during breaks, we were able to get in a walk and here's what I saw:

One of our eastside gardens.

My favorite white hyacinth, though it looks a little ragged this year. Must have had a tough time in the spring rains and wind!

The first sunset of the season---a beauty.

In our new website feature "What Sisters are Reading" we are up to four books (Shantaram, The Vatican Diaries, No Ordinary Time and Consecrated Religious Life) with a fifth one to be posted tomorrow. I'm trying to have one ready every week or 10 days. So far the response from the "invitees" has been most encouraging. We are definitely a community of readers.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Washington in April

We had to travel to Washington, DC this week for a regional meeting. It was an easy driving trip on which I discovered that spring begins and ends at the Mason-Dixon line. As soon as we passed into Maryland the trees were covered with new leaves, bushes were flowering in pinks and purples and flowers were everywhere. On the way back it changed in reverse. Full spring in Pennsylvania seems to still be a week or so away. And yet, being away for only three days brought big differences in our own yard as everything is just a little bit more along. I can actually see beautiful little dime-sized pink blossoms on the tree outside my window.

Here are a few pictures, the first from a Denny's (in diner style) that we stopped at along the road. The rest are from The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (its official name) that is right down the street from our meeting place. It has a niche or altar for every devotional name and place for the Blessed Mother that you can imagine--in addition to numerous other saints, Popes, etc. Despite all that I find it quite beautiful. A little bit of the European cathedral style right here.

I haven't plugged the creativity of Google Doodles lately, so if you haven't looked for awhile--enjoy! Here's one of my 2013 favorites.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Lots of fun this weekend--in a monastic kind of way. The second of three groups of Methodist ministers arrived Friday night and seemed to have a very good weekend using our guest rooms and ground floor meeting area for their planning time. We interacted with them at meals and whenever we just met around the Mount. Very nice group of men and women.

One of our oblates who works with youth in both her parish and at a local college's Newman Center, also came with a half dozen of her young people for a weekend retreat, planning session. They joined us for meals and also for all three daily prayer times. Very good to have them, too.

Finally, Saturday was a type of community service day for Gannon University and their swim team, both gals and guys, spent 3 hours working to lay new wood chips along the Creek Trail that runs from East Lake Rd. down to the lakeshore across the street on our Glinodo property.

We certainly welcome any "faith group" to use our facilities for their gatherings. It is Benedictine hospitality at its best!

The Barcelona Lighthouse--about 25 miles east.

Our newly wood-chipped trail.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


We had a lovely event Wednesday night--outside of some Holy Week liturgical moments it was our first big hospitality event in the new dining room / community room area. It couldn't have been better---the weather was sunny and spring-like, our guests oohed and aahed and seemed to very much enjoy their whole time there--ditto for the sisters.

If you haven't seen our our new web feature, What Sisters Are Reading, you might want to take a look at that, too. Everyone we know loves to read, so if you do, too, you'll enjoy checking it out. We'll try to put up a new entry every 10-12 days or so.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Special moments

All of our guests are asked to fill out a card when they leave. Besides the standard information there's one request for a comment: "Please use the back of this card to tell us how you heard about us..." Often the sister in charge of hospitality posts these comments on our main bulletin board so that we keep an awareness of our hospitality ministry. Here's one that went up this week:

How did we hear about you?
"Everyone" knows about you--
your prayerfulness,
your hospitality,
your commitment to
peace efforts...
It was a pleasure
to be part of it
for a few days.

"Everyone knows about you"--really? WOW! That's quite a statement to hear and then to be known for your prayer, hospitality and peace efforts---seems like a pretty good reputation to me.

On a similar note, this week is the one year anniversary of the death of one of our sisters who was just 63. This weekend her mother and sister drove 7 hours to come and visit her grave and the community. It was a touching experience, to witness again a mother's love and loss and yet her happiness in reliving her daughter's life, touching the memories and connecting to our community again. No one here either will soon forget the experience of her death, funeral, burial and presence of the family for all of it. Another meaningful (and that word doesn't seem to be even close) moment and memory.

And here's my new best friend again--same place, same time, different day!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Weekend to weekend

Sometimes it feels like we live weekend to weekend. Not a very nice commentary on the every day, I guess but... This weekend we have a small retreat of a dozen women from Buffalo, some mother-daughter combos are included. They really "do" the retreat themselves, but join us for prayer, meals and just being here. Very nice indeed.

In that vein, the second of three similar retreats is coming up for 12-15 Methodist ministers. We really enjoyed having the first group here, I think it was January. When "like-minded" faith journeyers come it's so easy and natural to share the space.

Sister Linda and I were coming back to the monastery at noon this week and as we turned into our main entrance this is what we found in a tree right alongside the driveway. I think he may be the "bird food bandit" from my side of the house. Though I must admit he was very cute--and doesn't the foggy day we were having add to the photo? Great shot from Linda's phone!

Monday, April 8, 2013

April days are truly here

Two pieces on our community website for you to check out: first, the Smilebox of our time with the seven Canisius College visitors last week for their spring service week. Although all groups that come to us are great, this group had a special way about them. It was a delightful week.

And secondly, have you seen our new feature What Sisters are Reading on our website? Give it a try--it has two entries already.

Finally, these speak for themselves. I hope those of you who share our four-season weather are turning the corner to a new season as we are. Hello 60s, welcome flowers, is that the sun? Oh my goodness, it's wonderful!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

New life abounds

Oh, my goodness--not only is it Easter week, it's the first week of April, the sun has decided for some inexplicable reason to shine for the past 5 days, the temps are going up into the 50s beginning today, crocus are popping up everywhere, the daffodils will burst open this weekend for sure AND look who's making a daily appearance outside my window. In fact, since my room is elevated a bit above ground level she came right below it.

Welcome spring--and all that comes with it.

Right alongside the house, in what will soon be a flowerbed.

The photo doesn't do her justice, she was a beautiful little doe.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Peepster

After four days of wonderful liturgical experiences, enough guests to last a month, music and creativity in every arena and our first big hospitality events in our new dining room/community room it didn't surprise me that our conversation Sunday night turned to that earth-shattering dilemma of every Easter: peeps.

So, do you like peeps? The yellow ones? pink? blue? green? purple? Do you like them soft and fresh out of the package or would you rather they harden for 2-3 days in the air...stale, as the sisters say here? We almost talked one of our sisters into writing the Peeps company and suggesting they sell some as soft/original and some as "crunchy"/stale!

The Washington Post actually held a Peeps contest recently to see what Peeps lovers could come up with to display their love of this marshmallow Easter specialty, but here's the one that caught my eye: Peeps conclave?