The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Saturday, August 15, 2015


The geothermal field under construction outside the monastery and church.

It has been a fairly busy summer here at Saint Meinrad. As you likely know, it began with the monks moving into Anselm Hall (the "old monastery" until the early 1980s) while the current monastery undergoes extensive renovations. We will be displaced for a little over a year.

While most of the work being done in the monastery is interior (principally involving the heating, air conditioning, and plumbing systems), there is some exterior evidence of construction. For example, the monastery infirmary is being expanded and redesigned, and the refectory/pantry area is undergoing an extensive upgrade and extension.

Also visible is the drilling worksite for the geothermal field (shown above) which will feed the new heating and cooling systems. Nearly 100 wells, each hundreds of feet below the surface of the earth, are being drilled just outside the monastery as one approaches the Archabbey Church from the guesthouse. In recent weeks, this work begins very early in the morning and goes until early evening.

Right now, frankly, it looks like a great big mess. But when the geothermal field is finally established, the topsoil, grass, and trees will return and it will be difficult to tell that it's even there.

Sometimes, before things can get better, they have to get ugly--a solid principle of many types of renovation/remodeling, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.

As for me, I've been busy this summer not only with my duties as secretary to the archabbot, but also serving as a spiritual director and undergoing the rigors of the school's spiritual direction practicum program in which I am enrolled. I've also been filling in as secretary to the archabbot's council and the monastic chapter while the current monk who holds that post is on sabbatical. Recently, I gave the first profession retreat for Br. Stephen and Br. Lorenzo in the days before they made their first vows. Soon, I will be preparing conferences to deliver this fall to oblate chapters around the country. In November, I will visit the chapter in New York City--which will mark the first time I've been in that city. So, I am looking forward to that.

Still, it has not been all work and no play around here. My mother, brother, sister, brother-in-law, and two nephews recently visited Saint Meinrad for several days, and I was able to spend a good deal of time with them. The highlight was probably our daylong trip to nearby Holiday World & Splashin' Safari. Yes, in addition to a Benedictine monastery and seminary here in the rural hills, forests, and fields of southern Indiana, there also is a world-class, combination theme park and water park! It's just a few miles down the road in Santa Claus, Indiana. And just beyond that is the childhood home of Abraham Lincoln (who lived here from age 7 to 21). Quite the trifecta for such a remote area, huh?

So, below I've posted a few photos from our time together, as well as some other happenings that have helped make the summer lively and refreshing.

My 3-year-old nephew plugs his pirate earphones
into his Grandma. Not sure what the goal was.

Demonstrating the technique on himself.

Uncle Francis with Evan on the antique cars at Holiday
World. His Mom watches from the back seat for a change.

"I'm an excellent driver."

My brother Kevin and I at Holiday World. Pretty scary, huh?

Brother-in-law Ty, the Big Elf himself (he summers here),
Evan, and his Mom Shannon (my sister).

Smilin' Ian Snodgrass and his trusty steed at Santa's Stables.

Back at Saint Meinrad, our newly acquired free-range chickens.
Novice Timothy, who also is an aspiring apiarist, looks after them.
So, he is learning about the birds and the bees in the monastery.

Chickens on their coop's porch, gossiping
it seems--probably about the cameraman. 

Clawdia, the campus' resident feline (white with gray tail),
recently gave birth to a litter of three kittens, tucked safely
into the well of a vent alongside the Archabbey Church.

What's summer without ice cream? Above is a shot from the
website of Dietsch Bros. in my hometown of Findlay, OH,
recently named the third best ice cream shop in the country.
Used to work there, 1982-84. Click photo for full scoop.

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