Lending a Hand

For weeks we've been watching the masons brick the (back) exterior of our new wing. Some of the sisters asked the project manager if we could try our hand at it, and he said yes! So last Thursday, we were given an opportunity to each lay a brick! At 10 am all the sisters interested and able (they had to climb a ladder up onto the "Fraco" scaffolding!) assembled at the construction site for a quick class in the art of brick laying. Adrien, the mason foreman, showed the sisters how to lay the mortar and place the brick. One by one the sisters took turns laying their bricks. It was a wonderful opportunity to actually 'help' build the new wing.  You can find more pictures and videos of the sisters laying their bricks on our Centennial Campaign Facebook page.

Construction on the wing is a little behind because of the incredibly rainy weather we've had, but we are still excited with the progress! A good portion of the "slate" roof has been constructed and they are getting close to finishing the bricking of the back half of the building. Inside most of the rooms have been framed and duct work, wires, plumbing, and who knows what else is sprawling all over the interior. The elevator has arrived, and is currently sitting in pieces in the new exercise room until it is time to install it. 

Solemnity of Our Holy Father Dominic

The Solemnity of Our Holy Father Dominic fell on Wednesday this year. The morning started out with an unexpected treat! Fr. John Vidmar, OP, a Dominican priest who teaches at Providence College and a good friend of our community, happened to be passing through and so celebrated Mass for us and preached a wonderful homily on St Dominic.

St. Dominic's Day is always what we call a 10 & 4 day. It is a recreation or party day where the community gathers in the community room during what is usually our work hours to enjoy each others company and some delicious snacks. At 10am the kitchen sisters created a beautiful spread of cheese & crackers, mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, and a delicious "whatever's in the fridge" punch! Sabina stationed herself, as usual, underneath the snack table, the better to quickly get any morsel that might fall.

This year the morning was spent playing games. Our usual recreation period is too short to finish most games, so these festive days are a wonderful opportunity to be able not only to play but to finish a game! One group of sisters played Kings in the Corner, while a second group played Settlers of Catan and a third played a new community favorite, Dominion. A special thanks to the family of Sr. Lucia Marie who gifted both Settlers of Catan and Dominion to the community! 

At a quarter to twelve we returned to Choir to sing God's praises and thank Him for the gift of our Holy Founder without whom we wouldn't be living the Dominican life we treasure! For dinner we were dispensed from silence and gathered in the Community Room for the rare treat of conversation during our meals. Normally our meals our eaten in the refectory in silence while listening to taped lectures at noon and reading by one of the sisters at the evening meal. This year one of our benefactors, Billy, generously provided a delicious Italian dinner and Sr. Judith Miryam surprised us with a beautiful homemade Tres Leches cake for dessert!

At 3pm we gathered again in Choir for the Office of Readings and None. During the Office of Readings an excerpt from St. Dominic's Nine Ways of Prayer was read. Have you ever heard of the Nine Ways of Prayer? You can read all about it over at the website of our Central Province Dominican Friars!

After our period of meditation we again gathered in the community room for the "4" part of a 10 & 4 day: Ice cream and cookies! Thanks to another generous benefactor we enjoyed the best ice cream there is: Summit's own Magic Fountain

Where would we be without our generous benefactors? A kind lady had called recently offering to provide us with lunch...so we were gifted sandwiches for supper for St. Dominic's!  (Supper is our lighter meal...much more like lunch.)

We ended the day the best way you can...singing Compline in choir, ending as we do every night with singing the Salve Regina to Our Blessed Mother and the O Lumen to our Holy Father Dominic. 

Professed Feast Day

This year the Professed Feast Day, St. Mary Magdalene, fell on a Sunday. So we held our community celebration on the following Thursday. Traditionally on St. Mary Magdalene the novitiate takes over the kitchen and provides the meals and snacks for the day. This year the novitiate really out did themselves! The celebration officially begins at 10am, when the bell rings and the community assembles in the Community Room for the '10' part of '10 & 4.' This year the novitiate not only served delicious snacks consisting of chips and dip, they had created a bit of entertainment as well—a homemade Piñata!

For dinner we had a 'talking meal' in the community room and enjoyed delicious tacos cooked up by the novitiate with homemade cream cheese flan for dessert. Yum! At 4pm, we gathered again for the '4' part of the '10 & 4' day. This time the novitiate had made chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla smoothies to enjoy alongside some fresh fruit and ice cream. While the professed recreated in the community room the novitiate was busy in the kitchen making quesadillas for supper!

In the evening everyone pulled out their Bingo cards. We've gone through a number of cards through the years, so some sisters played two! We use a variety of objects to mark the cards including buttons and...m&ms?! (Well, it was a candy day and one sister found herself lacking the usual buttons or cardboard dots!) Sr. Maureen, Sr. Lucia Marie, and Sr. Mary Catharine each won a round.

Visiting Priests

This morning we had the joy of having Fr. Pier Giorgio Dengler, OP and Fr. Mannes Matous, OP celebrate our morning Mass. Both young men are Dominican friars of St. Joseph Province (Eastern Province) and were ordained to the priesthood just two months ago on May 19th. Fr. Pier Giorgio is stationed in at St. Joseph's Priory in Greenwich Village, and Fr. Mannes is at another NYC priory, St. Catherine's, for the Summer. 

After Mass both priests gave us their blessing, and a little while later we were able to visit in the parlor. Of course we had to give them our traditional gift for new Dominican priests who say Mass for us during their first year of ordination: our handmade confessional stoles. We had a pleasant time hearing about their ministries and sharing some of our "goings on" in the monastery. 

The Unexpected

Contrary to popular belief, life in a monastery is never boring! Although there is a regular rhythm and pattern to our days, the unexpected always pops up. Last Sunday one of the sisters unexpectedly stumbled (not literally!) across an unusual animal in our enclosed yard. After much discussion, debate, photos and videos it was determined to be an incredibly mangy red fox. Although it is missing the beautiful bushiness of a normal fox tail, it still has a white tuft at the end! We've had foxes out back before, and we've recently had many reports of a fox in the front of our property, but this creature did not look familiar at first because of its pitiful state. Every year there are reports of rabid foxes in the area, so we kept our distance and locked Sabina inside.

The next day another unexpected event occurred, though of an entirely different type. In the middle of the afternoon a flood of water suddenly deluged our walk-in fridge in the basement. Consequently the water was unexpectedly shut off. It turns out there was a bit of a construction blunder by the electricians who have been installing wiring through our basement for the new wing. The blunder caused a very old water pipe above the fridge to be knocked apart, causing the flood. After supper Sr. Mary Magdalene, our 'handy-nun', pointed out the problem pipe to our prioress, Sr. Mary Martin, as they balanced on ladders. Thankfully they were able to partially fix it within a few hours and the water was turned back on later that night. It reminded us how blessed we are to have clean safe running water, something that 2.1 billion people around the world do not have access to.

Independence Day

Our annual retreat ended on the Fourth of July, perfect timing! Fr. Richard Ounsworth OP, our Retreat Master and member of the English Province of Dominicans, was a good sport about celebrating the Independence Day Mass for us, although it was a bit odd to hear an English priest pray for "our nation" in the closing prayer! 

In the morning sisters congregated in the community room, some played Settlers of Catan, others enjoyed conversation, and all had their American history knowledge tested by Sr. Maria Agnes. Before office we invited Fr. Richard on a tour of the new wing. It is really progressing! 

We enjoyed a 'picnic' dinner in the community room, as it was much too hot outside. While the heat wasn't conducive to a picnic it was perfect for a water-balloon fight in the afternoon! These water-balloons were a much appreciated gift from one of the men working on the new wing. 

We ended evening recreation with the National Anthem, but that wasn't the end of the festivities! If you are a longtime reader of our blog you'll remember that every year the younger sisters climb up to the roof on the Fourth of July to watch the fireworks. Some years you can see as many as 13 different towns' firework shows! Years ago sisters would congregate under an apple tree and be able to see Summit's fireworks over the our enclosure wall. Over time the surrounding trees grew up and blocked the fireworks.

This year we had a new plan! While visiting the new wing as it has been going up, we realized it might give us a great view of the fireworks. So after Compline while the novitiate climbed to the roof another group of sisters walked over to what will be the guest area of the new wing. It was the perfect view for all the higher fireworks!