Friday, November 1, 2013

2003 - St Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts

The entrance to the Abbey at Spencer, MA
Even though this was not a parish I served in, but after 25 years serving in various parishes I did do a six-month sabbatical at the Trappist Monastery of St Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, which was a brief break from parish work before I embarked on my next stage of my priesthood, ministering in Oregon. My time at Spencer was a truly spiritual experience like none other, living with the monks, praying with them and working with them. Their motto of 'Ora et Labora' fitted me well as prayer was frequent and intense at times, 7 times during the day, as early as 3:30 AM. 

The Monastery church at St. Joseph's Abbey
On the other hand work was varied, interesting and at times even entertaining, as a change of pace for me. The Trappist Preserves factory they have allowed me to help in the production of jellies, preserves and jams, even though my role was just to put 12 jars in a box within 3 seconds, and then seal the box with tape and stack them up. It also included cleaning the cloisters, cleaning the 'jakes' (a slang for toilets), pruning trees, raking a zillion leaves and even producing the famed Cantica and Jubilate incense. They were glorious months and truly inspirational to be in a monastery built by the monks themselves at time I was being born in 1952.

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