November 15, 2014
Faithful volunteers, including Sisters and friends of the community, gathered for a day and a half to assist the Development Office with its annual pre-Thanksgiving mailing. Each year the Development Office offers to send Christmas cards to loved ones and friends letting them know that a donation has been made to Benedictine Sisters in their honor. This year's Christmas card is a photo of one of Sister Mary Adrian's handmade clay nativity scenes taken by Sister Michelle Renee.
Refreshments and lunch for the volunteers are provided by the monastery kitchen. Many volunteers also take a break and join the community for daily Mass in the monastery chapel. It is a wonderful demonstration of the spirit of "ora et labora" (pray and work) that is found in Benedictine communities.
Would you like to read the letter and additional information about the Christmas card? Just click on the letter at left!
November 12, 2014
The monastic community lost a beloved member yesterday with the death of Sister Mary Stella Williams, OSB. She will be remembered as a faith-filled Sister devoted to prayer, a gifted educator, and a vibrant personality who brought joy to many.
Reception of the Body and Vespers of the Dead will be held at 5:00 PM on Thursday, November 13, in the chapel of Sacred Heart Monastery. The funeral Mass will be held at 3:00 PM on Friday, November 14, also in the monastery chapel.
A link to Sister Mary Stella's obituary can be found here. May she rest in peace.
November 7, 2014
The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer by the day as finishing touches are in the works. The following photos provide an update of the renovation activities since August.
Oct 24--The painted brick portions of the chapel are sporting a new coat of paint in keeping with the look of all the new construction; the east entrance of Ottilia has a beautiful new stairway and adjoining wheelchair ramp along the cement porch; a new bronze colored awning is mounted above the east entrance door; cement forms have been poured to complete the cement porch railing where the stairs on the south end were located; the sidewalks have been poured
Oct. 24--The process of forming the new curbs around the back parking and roadways continues
Oct 25th--Brick masons replace remaining porch brick on the north side of the new stairs to create visual continuity with the rest of the porch features
Oct 28th--Landscape crew covers the topsoil between Ottilia Hall and Benet with sod
Oct 28--More sidewalks framed and ready for the next load of cement; machinery spreads the remaining base gravel along the road and remaining parking areas; electrical crew sets frames for remaining bases for outdoor lighting fixtures
Oct 30--Benedictine cross is etched into the concrete slab at the east entrance of Ottilia Hall to match the cross etched at the entrance to the new guest houses
Nov 3--Acid wash outlines the crosses etched into the concrete, a garnet color at Ottilia Hall and an amber color at the guest houses
Nov 3--New handrails on the east side of Ottilia Hall being installed and painted
Nov 3--New outdoor lighting fixtures are a welcome sight and add a touch of class to the new parking areas and roads
Nov 7--New asphalt and striping for kitchen deliveries and employee parking; silt fencing is removed to reveal a picturesque view of the lake from the upper floors of Ottilia Hall
Nov 7--New retreat center parking area is striped as the asphalt crew finishes the road after four long days of work
Nov 7--The placement of handrails along the Ottilia Hall ramp continues
Nov 7-- Soon and very soon...
August 6, 2014
Today's Feast of the Transfiguration is perhaps a good day on which to post photographs of the recent transfiguration of the monastery grounds due to the demolition of Mary Hall, Joseph Hall, and the former Sisters' kitchen and dining room.
Work began in early July and is nearing completion. Photographs of the early stages of Mary Hall demolition are posted in the July 10 entry below. Following are photographs from subsequent weeks.
Mortar turns to dust and bricks tumble as the excavator takes the first "bite" out of Jospeh Hall. In the lower right corner is the open door of the former walk-refrigerator from the Sisters' pantry area, with refrigerator shelves still visible along the wall.
Continued progress on Joseph Hall. The white wall on the middle level is the exterior wall of the Rafter Room, the wall that guests passed when making their way from the Rafter Room into Mary Hall. The old bulletin board is still visible.
In recent decades the upstairs corner room was a community room for the Sisters who resided on this floor.
Anxiously awaited by the Sisters was the toppling of the towering Joseph Hall chimney (see photo above). It came down in a shattering crash one morning during the closing prayers of Lauds, bringing the Sister leading the prayers to a startled halt. It was a few stunned moments later before she could resume her prayer. Silent smiles slowly spread through the chapel as the Sisters realized the probable source of the thundering crash.
The giant machines make their way further through Joseph Hall. Note the missing chimney. On the lower of the two depicted levels, toward the right, the dark green strip of wallpaper marks the former Retreat Center meal service and entrance area.
Down to the final walls. In center of the photograph, note the line of bricks falling in tandem from the top of the opening created by the excavator.
The post in the lower left corner was the post at the center of the former Large Dining Room.
Viewed from a 3rd floor window in Ottilia Hall, and looking like a scene from a horror film, the excavator grasps the roof of the Joseph Hall stairwell addition.
And the walls come tumbling down.
The flat surface at lower left is the roof of the former Retreat Center office, now laden with a pile of remnant bricks from the chimney demolition.
The excavator graps a set of beams from the roof of the Large Dining Room. As demolition has proceeded, the workman have carefully sorted materials for recycling.
One evening, a crew of Sisters gathered stones from around the periphery of the site...
...and unloaded them onto the pile of rocks remaining from the old Rock House.
The Sisters have been avid spectators of the demolition. There are many great spots from which to view the action, whether a quick passing glance or a more prolonged look. The infirmary rooms on the east side of Ottilia offer particularly close-up, ground-level views, and the Sisters in these rooms have made some especially acute (and sometimes humorous) observations.
You can find Sisters viewing the demolition from their bedroom...
...or the dining room...
...or the dish room...
...or from the edge of the demo site after the workers have gone home.
Retreatants have their own front row seat at the end of the dining room serving line. Many a gasp has been heard from guests as they approach the end of the serving line and see this sight for the first time.
The monastery back yard is a giant pile of rubble.
When the Sisters' former dining room and kitchen came down, the original cedar shake roof emerged. It had been sheltered and hidden for decades underneath a higher, shingled roof.
The Song of Songs sculpture (in foreground at bottom left) rests peacefully in front of the remains of the former Retreat Center office.
And meanwhile, life goes on as normal within the monastery with tasks as ordinary as changing a lightbulb...
or peeling apples...
...and as extraordinary as a 60th Jubilee with renewal of vows. (See July 28 entry.)
Clouds of dust on the ground matched clouds in the sky as truck after truck was loaded with rubble.
As viewed through a screened window, the excavator reaches for the final corner of the old cellar below the Sisters' former dining room.
In the background lies the pillar that supported the east side of the old Blue Room and divided the carport below. It took a tremendous effort to slowly break apart this massive post.
With the cellar walls removed, the demo pauses as workmen take measurements.
Still standing is the walkway from Ottilia to the former dining room.
The basement walls at far left are the walls of the old St. Joseph Room.
Note the heavy layer of dust on the porch railing.
The excavator takes aim at the concrete floor of the old cellar, reaching for dirt long covered with concrete.
Long-buried earth emerges from beneath Joseph Hall.
The entire area covered by these buildings will become green space.
The south porch of Mary Hall is one of the final structural elements still standing. Note the steel Mary Hall window frame anchored in the rubble.
A stone angel gazes heavenward as the porch is finally demolished...
...and the rubble is lifted skyward.
The corner of Mary Hall's back porch is loosened...
...and lifted by the powerful jaws of the machine.
Tackling the back wall of the old maintenance shop, a room which once held a boiler so large that it heated several buildings, including Ottilia Hall.
The rubble is gently pulled away, leaving the pillars and sidewalk intact to await their turn at the hands of the excavator.
The old dining room walkway has now been removed, leaving the stub of an awning and a sudden drop-off from the back porch of Ottilia Hall. A new awning will be coming as this phase of the project continues.
A new sidewalk and ramp will lead from the south parking lot to the back door of Ottilia. The familiar brick posts will remain.
While tired of the dust, the Sisters are thoroughly enjoying the more open views and look forward to an open back yard and the additional green space.
Nearly all the above-ground structural debris has been removed. This week the excavators have been digging deep, reaching for footers and breaking up concrete foundations. At far right (below the machinery) one section of the old retaining wall between Jospeh Hall and Mary Hall remains to be crushed and removed.
As do a few other below ground secrets.
An entirely new vista takes shape.
Thanks be to God!