I Lift My Eyes to the Mountains!
Recently, our Sr. Mary Catharine spent a week at the new Queen of Peace Monastery in Squamish Valley, BC, Canada to attend a planning meeting of the formation committee for novice mistresses meetings, ongoing formation and the Monastic Theological Studies program for the newly professed.
From Newark to Vancouver is a long flight--six hours--but Sister was happy to tell us that she had 3 seats all to herself! Once in Vancouver she waited for Sr. Clara Marie of the Farmington Hills Monastery to arrive and together they drove up into the mountains of British Columbia along the beautiful Sea to Sky Highway. A little less than 2 hours later they pulled into the monastery road just as the Sisters were finishing Vespers!
After being welcomed by the community and settling in, the next day along with Sr. Marie Tersidis, they began tackling their agenda. It's probably good that it rained for the next two days because by Friday their work was nearly done and the early morning promised a clear and sunny day! Sister said that it was amazing to look out her window on Friday morning and see the beautiful tops of the mountains (which she didn't even know were there as they were covered with clouds) and the newly fallen snow that capped them! The sisters spent a part of the day visiting "nearby" Whistler and learning about two tribes of the First Nations people, the Squamish and the Lil'wat who live in this area. In fact, the monastery property is in this territory. After a delicious lunch of salmon chowder and banncock it was back to the monastery to continue thinking and planning!
Queen of Peace Monastery is situated on 82 acres of beautiful land in a valley with a mountain right behind them. In fact, the sisters own part of this mountain! There is the roaring Pilchuck Creek right near the monastery and other than that just the wind. It's a beautiful place of silence and the natural beauty of the mountains surrounding the monastery. The sisters built the monastery in great simplicity and in poverty using materials from their land or from the area. It is a built in a rather unusual style but one that fits in with the area. The chapel benches, refectory tables, cell desks and other tables are all from their own pine trees. When they can afford it they will build choir stalls for the nuns. Meanwhile, they use the benches.
The liturgy is simple but truly beautiful! In fact, Sr. Mary Catharine said that they sang a Te Deum from the Summit Choirbook better than we do! Every day they have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 4:30 until 6PM with Vespers. Every night they process to the large statue of Our Lady in the extern part of the chapel singing the Salve Regina as is the Dominican Custom.
There is a large fireplace that divides the refectory from the community room and nightly recreation finds the community gathered there. Sr. Mary Catharine said that this was such a treat as she misses the fact that we don't have a fireplace!
The community of Queen of Peace is rejoicing with the first profession ever of their community for on February 2nd, Sr. Miryam Ana made her First Profession. They are looking forward to the entrance of at least one postulant this year.
The monastery is still not finished, various room such as the library are not yet done and the sisters both need to pay off the debt and purchase the property next door in order to ensure that developers don't come in and build right up to the monastery. St. Helen's Guest House has already proved to be too small for the guests who wish to come on retreat and many groups will come and use sleeping bags. The sisters would like to build a real guest house on the neighboring property. At the bottom of the hill the sisters are developing the Bl. John Paul II hiking trail. It will be a destination for guests who wish to pray the Rosary as walking meditation while contemplating the beauty of the forest, the creek and views of the Tantalus Range.
Sister brought home copies of two books the community has published to help toward the monastery debt: The Sacred Place of Prayer, by Sr. Jean Marie, OP and Mercy Poured, a book of poetry by Sr. Mary Regina, OP, both members of the community.
Although you can purchase these books from Amazon if you purchase them from our gift shop the entire proceeds will be given to the monastery. If you live in Canada purchase the books directly from Queen of Peace Monastery.
You can see more photos here.
Top Photo: Christopher Rollett