January 2020 at Santa Rita Abbey
You know that old saying, “Count your blessings”? That is exactly what we are doing in this first journal entry of 2020!
First of all we wish to thank all those who so generously responded to the fundraising appeal in our Christmas newsletter. Our grounds workers, Felipe and Zach, love the rugged new Grasshopper mower which enables them to cut our large fields and yards with ease. As you can see in the photo below, Mother Vicki loves it, too! Thank you, one and all!
Kitchen renovation project
Speaking of our recent Christmas newsletter, you may recall that we were hoping to begin a kitchen renovation project in the monastery in early January this year. The project ran into a few delays, but important progress has been made. At last we have the necessary building permit and have signed the construction contract with our excellent builder, Mellgren Homes. We are hoping that work will begin very soon.
In the meantime, we’ve spent the last few weeks getting ready to move out of the present kitchen and refectory and to set up a temporary kitchen in the infirmary kitchenette. A group of students from Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson were a great help in this endeavor. On January 30, Fr. Manu Franco-Gomez, O. Carm., Mrs. Corrales, and 13 students came here as part of the school’s annual IMPACT Day. On IMPACT Day groups of students head out into the wider community to learn and to serve. So we talked to them in the morning about our monastic way of life and showed them our altar bread bakery; and in the afternoon, they moved benches, chairs, tables, and boxed up dishes, pots and pans, and moved those too. They did more work in an hour and a half than we could have done ourselves in a week. Thank you Salpointe students! God bless you!
Ever since we made the decision to renovate our kitchen, we’ve been trying to find someone, anyone, who would take away our ancient industrial bread dough mixer. Donated to us by our Holy Trinity monks in Utah, who themselves got it from Army surplus after WWII, we haven’t used it in years. We would have been happy to donate it to someone, but the mixer was well over five feet tall and weighed over a thousand pounds! Not something a couple of guys can lift up and toss into the back of a pick up truck. At last we called upon our friend Dennis Cozzetti for help. We knew he could do it! And he did, with some strong guys and the right equipment. Thank you, Dennis and crew! God bless you!
Blessing of the kitchen project
Fr. Cassian, a monk of our Order at Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, GA, was here for a visit recently. We asked him to preside over a blessing ceremony to ask God’s providential care and protection over our kitchen project, all the work to be done, and all the workers who will be involved. After Fr. Cassian walked through the kitchen sprinkling holy water, he handed the aspersory to Mother Vicki, and then each Sister took a turn sprinkling holy water and adding her own prayers. Thank you, Fr. Cassian!
Meanwhile, our Retreat House gets a new look
Our retreat house is a wonderful place for silent retreats. People of all walks of life have found it the perfect environment for peaceful solitude and prayer. The retreat house was built in the 1990’s and is now twenty-five years old. Time for some major maintenance! We hired Chamberlain Lath and Stucco last October to repair the exterior stucco. The house was closed most of October and part of November while they did their work. The good Lord kindly sent some rain and snow in November and December which helped the new stucco cure to perfection. Next came the task of choosing the color for the new paint. Have you done any house painting lately? You’ll know, as we discovered, that there are THOUSANDS of color choices out there!!! Happily, Tim of Superb Painting was very patience with us. We ended up with eight samples painting on the walls before we settled on a color: “Cream Washed.” Tim and his partner painted the house in January and February, in between contemplative prayer group retreats. We love the result!
Missed our Christmas newsletter? This link will take you right to it 2019 Santa Rita Christmas Newsletter