Mount Saviour Chronicle

Christmas 2006  No. 93

Mount Saviour Monastery

 No love that in a family dwells
 Nor carolling in the frosty air,
 Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
            Can with this single Truth compare-          
That God was Man in Palestine
 And lives today in Bread and Wine.
 Christmas by John Betjeman  1906

The harvest is in. And while (as I write) we have had no snow as yet, the colder days and the Advent liturgy remind us of the season to come.  Msgr. Timothy Verdon, now of the Florence Archdiocese where he is working on a project of Catechesis Through Liturgy, gave us an inspiring lecture on the symbolism of medieval and early Renaissance religious art.  And, as always, oblates and friends of the monastery provided a tasteful reception for the nearly 70 people who attended.
   Which brings me to an editorial by Fr. Martin Neyt, OSB, of St. Andre de Cherlande in Belgium in the issue of Alliance for International Monasticism entitled “A Shared Life & A Shared Vision: The Role of the Laity in Monastic Communities.”  Fr. Neyt points out what our readers have heard often, that the first monks were lay people.  From the time of Subiaco, before his first monasteries were founded and the Rule written, Benedict would evangelize “the shepherds in the vicinity.”  St. Benedict himself was paradoxical: on the basis of an ideal of solitude, he erected a philosophy of community; he began by seeking the desert and ended up civilizing it.  Western monasticism became an agent of the transformation of society.  The editorial goes on to say that a paradox lies at the heart of our life of silence and prayer.  The more our vocations turn towards the heart of the Benedictine Rule – a deep faith in the merciful presence of Christ in each sister and brother – the more the conviction grows that monastic life can make that compassion which comes from on high live in all.
   The accounts of the increase of cooperation between monastics and laity give me a burst of joy and hope.  Monastics were credited with an important role in fostering civilization following the collapse of the Roman Empire – and it happened in conjunction with the laity.  Today our joint efforts may prove even more wonderfully effective.  The dream of Pope Benedict XVI is of small groups of more deeply committed Christians living their faith.  It will only be in the course of time that they will coalesce into larger and stronger communities.
   The first International Congress of Benedictine Oblates was held in Rome in September 2005.  Abbot Primate Notker Wolf was the prime mover and he insisted that oblates need to be aware that they are not only members of a particular monastery but are also part of a whole movement which, in the spirit of Benedict and in union with monastic communities, shapes daily life.  Our oblates, and I would say friends of the monastery, belong to this great movement.
   At Mount Saviour, we have many examples of oblates and friends doing “good works” together.  I would like to mention a few that are quite different yet closely related since they involve some of the same people and certainly the same spirit.

Junior Monks

The Junior Monks Program for two weeks in June was a joy and a challenge for us.  A joy because of the visiting monks and a challenge because there were 22 of them besides two Instructors.  The monks of Mount Saviour made up 1/3 of the ‘community’ for those two weeks.  Thanks to Teresa La Douce who cooked and a number of helpers in the kitchen, Rob Cassetti of Corning Glass, Diane Trevelier who arranged the trips, Franz Emery and the folks at Tanglewood, the owner of the rafts and the monks who kept things afloat at home.  Also the Junior monks themselves rose to the occasion.  So it was a joy for us and we hope also for them and we are grateful to all who took part.

The Radical Encounter Program: Finding and Forming Community in which 7 college students picked up 2-3 credits and a surprising experience of monastic life received the help of Maureen Cadley at St Gertrude’s Guest House besides the direction of the women who led the program and the monks with whom they prayed the Divine Office.

The Interfaith Hospitality Center at the Elmira Correctional Facility: “I was in
prison and you enabled my loved ones to visit Me.” (Mt. 25, 39 adapted)
In the mid-1990’s one of our oblates, Mary Skinner was driving past the prison in the early morning when she noticed a line of people – women with children, elderly and many people weighed down with packages – waiting in the rain to get inside.  They had come from a distance by buses, which let them off an hour or so before the prison would let them in.  When she saw the families of inmates standing forlorn and forgotten, and gathering with a group of friends who regularly met at the monastery, she knew what their project should be: “We wanted to form a house of hospitality,” she said, referring to the work of Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker.  After endless meetings and negotiations, they convinced the authorities to let them establish and staff a room inside the prison that has now become a building in front of the prison where family members could wait to be processed for visits.
    The hospitality center needs volunteers and funds to match the NY State Family Beneficiary Fund.  You can contact The Interfaith Hospitality Center, PO Box 3062, Elmira, NY 14905 or (607) 732-6453.

The Emmaus Experience at Mount Saviour:
“Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18: 20)
       This October, for the fifth year, a diverse group of men and women, about half of whom are local, met for four days at Mount Saviour to reflect on, experience and celebrate the Emmaus experience (Luke 24: 13-35).  Participants listen to one another as they reflect on the meaning of Scripture in their lives, and learn from their shared experience of prayer, table fellowship and informal conversation, what it means to be a community.  It is amazing to see how the Spirit moves in each gathering and calls forth the gifts of each person for the good of the whole.  The 2006 theme was: “Then Our Eyes Were Opened – Studies in Transformation,” considering the transformation of the frightened disciples described by Luke.  Through music, art, story and photo collage, participants came to appreciate transformation as the movement of the Spirit to love God, one’s neighbor, and one’s self. For more information on the 2007 Emmaus experience please contact Ed & May Ann Cleary  (607) 732-3828.  E-mail:
Emmaus Group
Emmaus Experience gathering in crypt – photo by Margaret Ann Frost

Scripture Study With the Friends of Mount Saviour
      Again this year, the Friends of Mount Saviour conducted scripture studies (this year on Luke) on four consecutive Sundays in November after Mass.  They are experimenting with different formats that allow the greatest variety of people to gain an insight into and profit from closer study of the scripture.  The monks are invited and sometimes give presentations to focus the discussion.

Quick Brief Community News:
* The Preordinations Retreat of the Deacons of the Archdioceses of New York under the direction of our longtime friend Deacon Guillermo Romagosa was the week of May 15th.
* Russell Baldwin started his observership on the 7th of June and began his postulancy on the 25th of September.
* Brother Thomas Colucci on the 9th of June started his simple profession. Please keep these two brothers in your prayers.
* On the 10th of June Father Martin and Brother Pierre went to the installation of Abbot Giles Hayes at Saint Mary’s Abbey in Morristown.
* On July 3rd Brother James Cronen had knee replacement. It was on the same side that he had hip replacement 3 times. His vascular system on that side was over taxed and he is now recovering from ulceration on the lower leg.
* D-Day occurred on the 13th of August with beautiful music supplied by Ellen Krajewski (cello), Evangeline Krajewski (flute) and Yvonne Mitchell (piano).
* On the 25th of August Brother Gabriel traveled to South Carolina to be with his family after the death of his sister-in-law, Gwen Shelor Duffee, who died on August 6th, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ. R.I.P.
* On the 15th of September a few New York Oblates planted two trees on the east side of St. Joseph’s Guest House in honor of the Oblates and friends buried in our cemetery.
* Brother William was able to visit with his family in Michigan the week of the 29th of September.
* On 26th of October Father Martin was in South Bend Indiana to give a talk at Saint Mary’s College on The Rule of Benedict and happily to meet again some friends and students who took part in the Radical Encounter Program.
* All the new trees planted in front of the parking lot have been done under the supervision of Brother Joseph.

Br, Thomas, Br. Stephen and France Verley
Three generations of Oblates and Monks
Junior Br. Thomas, Senior Br. Stephen and Long-standing Oblate France Verley

Orchard and Garden 2006
You visit the earth and water it…Water its furrows abundantly…softening it with showers and blessing its growth (Ps. 65).
        This year our orchard and garden was flooded with multiple “visits’ and overflowing blessings.  Blessings of abundant moisture proved overwhelming for the garden resulting in a record low yield.  From June-Sept. our furrows were drenched with over 24” of rainfall.  Inundating rains precipitated overrunning weeds, which seemed quite happy with the situation.  The saturated earth, softened with showers, contributed to one of our apple trees, loaded with 800 lbs of fruit, to topple over.  On a sunnier note, the orchard, on the whole, weathered much better.  The apple harvest, at 13,572 lbs. was our second largest, providing 546 gal. of cider, nearly a ton of apples sold, and a lot of fun for our many volunteer pickers for which we give thanks.  Our fruit cooler is now fully stocked with enough apples to tide us over till next fall.  Thanks be to God for his many blessings through Christ our Lord.        

                                                                              Br John Thompson OSB

And Finally . . .
We want to thank all of you for your continuing prayers and financial support.
We can use Mass offerings.  The Diocese suggests $10, but we can accept less.
We have some needed projects:  Because of their age, the monastery boilers will have to be replaced with up-to-date more efficient units.  Almost 50 years of service have left them with multiple problems and we are waiting for estimates of the cost of replacements.  Asbestos will have to be removed and the old boilers, which were put in by crane before the roof was added, will have to be broken apart and taken out piece by piece.
We intend to enlarge our Guest Facilities by 4 units with a plan for future expansion as it becomes necessary.  We intend to air condition St. Joseph’s Guest House. Air ducts were part of the original construction, which will greatly reduce the cost.
We will re-institute our Summer Program using the first 4 weeks of July.  We will welcome men 25-45 who wish to deepen their Catholic Faith or those discerning a monastic vocation.  There will be no charge. If interested please contact Brother James Cronen at (607) 734-1688 or Please include your home address and phone number.

                                                                                                       In Christ,  Fr. Martin

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Mount Saviour Monastery
231 Monastery Rd.            
Pine City NY 14871-9787
Phone: (607) 734-1688
Fax: (607) 734-1689