Sunday, January 22, 2023

A goodbye to Br. Will and a deeper inclusion for Br. Ephrem

Br. Randy got back from his mission trip to the diocese of Hawaii on Monday. This Sunday, our Superior, Br. Robert James is taking off to South Africa to visit our brothers for a month at St Benedict's Priory in Hermanus, Western Cape Province.

This past Tuesday was a life-heavy day. 

Br. Will Brown quietly passed away at the hospital in Poughkeepsie before daybreak. He was 97 years old (and a half). He had been a life professed monk for over 40 years. He had been dwindling over the last four months. He was a joy to live with. Kind, positively minded and fun. He promptly made friends wherever he was. We sang the Office of the Departed on Thursday for him. His funeral will be announced later (it will probably be in February). We are gratefulf for his life and ministries and happy for his closer embrace in God's Love.

Our beloved Br. Will Brown. Pictures of the last few years and a couple of archival pictures.

On that same day, before sundown, as had long been scheduled, we received Br. Ephrem's Benedictine Vow in the Order of the Holy Cross (OHC). It was as if we were reminded that life is like a river that doesn't stop flowing. It was a joyous occasion. We are grateful for Ephrem's gifts to our community and wish him grace anf fulfillment in his life and ministries within OHC.

Reception of the Life Vow of Br. Ephrem Arcement, OHC. From top left, clockwise: recollecting quietly in choir before the ceremony next to Br. Daniel; Br. Robert James, the Superior, asks Ephrem about his desire to join OHC; Ephrem puts his just received profession cross around his neck; Br. Robert James assures Ephrem of our support in his vocation; Br. Ephrem goes round the monastic choir receiving the felicitations of his Holy Cross Brothers.

May we ask for your prayers for our Brothers Will and Ephrem?

Our newest Holy Cross Brother. From top left, clockwise: Br. Ephrem Arcement, OHC, in the refectory between our Postulant Marc Santana (in black cassock) and Br. Aidan; two brothers relishing the occasion (Josép and Bernard); Ephrem with Associate and guesthouse volunteer Suellen Nelson, from Beacon, NY; with Suellen and the Rev. Suzanne Guthrie, Associate, from Poughkeepsie, NY; Bros. John and Josép chatting.

Br. Ephrem is our new Guesthouse Director. He'll be happy to welcome you on your next visit to the monastery.

From top left, clockwise: Br. Robert Leo was our bellringer this week (lighting the ambo candles before Vespers - 2 pictures); Br. Randy's group of diocesan clergy attending his retreat in Hawaii; St Andrew's Cathedral in Honolulu, HI.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Into the season of Epiphany

Br. Luc is starting the second month of his three-month visit to St Benedict's Priory in Hermanus, South Africa. Br. Randy gave a retreat to clergy of the diocese of Hawaii (no end of teasing him about that hardship is in sight). Our alongsider, Samuel Kennedy, is visiting family in Georgia.

From the first to the second Tuesday of the month (and the year), the monastic community was on Long Retreat. The guesthouse was closed. We lived in complete silence for the week. We all had lots of time for personal prayer, study and holy leisure. 

While we were on retreat, the magi mysteriously made their way to the crèche in the church. And sure enough, on January 6, feast of the Epiphany they and their camels were paying a visit to the Holy Family.

The Magi's progress. From top left, clockwise: one magus attempting to ring the church bell under the watchful eye of his colleague; the three magi at the crèche; angels above the nativity scene; baby Jesus as good as gold; Mary attended by a goat.

A lot of job assignments have changed recently. Here is an overview

  • Br. Ephrem is now our new Guesthouse Director.
  • Br. Aidan is our new Bursar.
  • Br. Aidan has also been appointed priest-in-charge of Ascension Holy Trinity parish (the church at the top of our hill)
  • Br. Randy is our new Communications Minister.
  • Br. Daniel is our new Monk’s Cell Bookstore Manager.
Please pray for them in their various jobs and ministries.

Monastery people. From top, clockwise: some monks gathering for drinks and pizza in Pilgrim Hall on New Year's Day after the closing of the guesthouse: the new Guestmaster in his office; and just because someone just sent us this picture from about 10 years ago of our Br. Andrew giving a celtic harp concert in Pilgrim Hall.

Please also pray for our our eldest Brother, Br. Will, who was taken to the hospital after a fall this weekend.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Giving and receiving

Happy New Year! May your year be healthy, peaceful, serene with joy sprinkled all over it.

The Magi are on their journey to Bethlehem. They move from our Chapter Room to the Church to pay their visit to Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus. They are carrying presents for the newborn Prince of Peace. The tradition is that unknown brothers move the magi figurines along when no one is looking. Somehow, they always make to the creche in time by the Epiphany.

From left, clockwise: Br. Josép going past the Magi on his way to the guesthouse; the Magi on their pilgrimage (two more pictures); light shining trough Christmas tree ornaments in Pilgrim Hall.

We celebrate a holy and beautiful Christmas with our guests last weekend. Another tradition that always warms my heart is the monastic community's exchange of presents late on Christmas day. After we have closed the guesthouse, we get together in our common room with some refreshments and we "open our presents." What to give to the monk who's got all the necessities of life provided for? One of the things we don't get to do is to have management of private money to give away. At Christmas, we each receive $100 from our community to give away to a charity of our choice. When we "open our presents" we tell each other the charity we have given to and why it is dear to our heart. Between the 15 of us, we give to a great variety of charities. Below are the charities that received the brothers' present this year.

Ulster Immigrant Defense Network, Kingston, NY - provides a network of safety and support to immigrants, regardless of status; provides household support, education and school support, transportation and accompaniment. Started by local episcopalian clergy concerned with the poor.

Foundation Cristosal, Burlington, VT - works to promote justice, human rights, and democratic societies in Central America, through strategic litigation, research, learning, human rights monitoring, and assistance to victims of human rights violations. 

Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, Poughkeepsie, NY - provides high quality counsel in civil matters for low-income individuals and families and other vulnerable persons who do not have access to legal representation to maintain their basic needs, and to pursue equity through dismantling systemic oppression.

World Central Kitchen, Washington, DC - devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters. Its method of operations is to be a first responder and then to collaborate and galvanize solutions with local chefs to solve the problem of hunger, immediately following a disaster.

Scenic Hudson, Poughkeepsie, NY - preserves land and farms and creates parks that connect people with the inspirational power of the Hudson River, while fighting threats to the river and natural resources that are the foundation of the valley’s prosperity.

Holy Cross School, Makhanda, South Africa - started by the Order of the Holy Cross; provides high quality education and holistic care to rural children and their families.

Holy Savior Catholic Church, Lockport, LA - small church in dire need of damages related to hurricane Ida. Br. Ephrem was baptized there and said one of his first masses in that church.

Allies for Health & Wellbeing, Pittsburgh, PA - provides integrated medical care, supportive human services, and community-based education for individuals living with, or at risk of HIV, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections.

The Humane Society of the United States, Washington, DC - addresses animal-related cruelties of national scope, and resolves animal welfare problems by applying strategies beyond the resources or abilities of local organizations.

Associacao Menino De Belem, Belem, Brazil - residential assistance to homeless people in Brazil

International Rescue Committee - helps people affected by humanitarian crises — including the climate crisis — to survive, recover and rebuild their lives.The IRC is now at work in over 40 crisis-affected countries as well as communities throughout Europe and the Americas.

All this is small change compared to the generorsity of hundreds and hundreds of donors to our own monastery. But it is meaningful to the brothers. All giving is grace. Thanks be to God for all of it.

Our Community will be on Long Retreat from Tuesday, January 3 to Tuesday, January 10. Our guesthouse will reopen to the public on Thursday, January 12.