The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Monday, August 8, 2016

God bless this mess

Work on the geothermal field continues.

This has certainly been a summer of transition here at Saint Meinrad--and a rather hectic, sometimes messy one at that. As with many things in life, however, even good things are often hectic and a little messy before they come to fruition.

As you know, we elected a new abbot in June. In itself, that requires a number of adjustments in several respects -- though I must say, the transition seems to have been fairly smooth thus far. Things began to get a bit more hectic and messy toward the end of July, and have stayed that way for a while. First, there was the abbatial blessing on July 26, and all the preparation and logistical work that goes into such a grand event (for more on the blessing ceremony, click here). Then, quickly on the heels of that were monastic profession anniversary (60 years) celebrations on July 31 for five monks (more on that here), the annual Alumni Reunion July 31-August 2 (drawing about 270 Alumni and guests), and the first profession of one our novices on August 6 (congratulations to former Novice Tony, now Br. Kolbe! Read more about him here).

Oh, and while all that was going on, in addition to normal day-to-day tasks and ongoing projects, monks and co-workers were busy getting us moved back into the newly renovated monastery!

Furnishings stacked in the monastery vesting area wait to be
restored to their rightful place (most of it was removed today).
As you may recall, we monks had been displaced since May of 2015, moving into spaces normally reserved for students and guests in Anselm and Benet halls. Naturally, the "domino effect" of all this placed a premium on space here on the Hill during the last 14-15 months. However, it was all necessary so that the monastery (where we monks live) could undergo extensive renovations. The current building, completed in the early 1980s, needed a complete overhaul of heating/cooling and plumbing systems throughout, as well as extensive work to address chronic moisture issues. In addition, two areas underwent even more improvement--our dining hall (refectory) and the infirmary, where our elderly and ill monks reside. The refectory was expanded and updated, gained a new roof and flooring and improved drainage system (much of it related to the moisture issues). Meanwhile, the infirmary space is being expanded and updated significantly. Other improvements in the monastery have included new windows, carpeting, and bathroom fixtures throughout, and a new elevator on one side of the building.

To accomplish all that, all of us--and every stick of furniture, all personal possessions, and all common property had to be completely removed from the monastery in May 2015. Well, from August 1-5, all of that had to be moved back to the monastery. The timing was critical, because the space we had been occupying in Anselm and Benet halls for the last year is needed for guests and especially for students, who will be arriving for the fall semester in a matter of days!

So last week, especially, was hectic and messy. And not simply for us monks--but for many of our co-workers--particularly those in physical facilities and housekeeping. They not only did much of the heavy lifting, but also had to do one heck of a lot of cleaning! We were also assisted by members of the Durhholz family and friends in Evansville, some of our oblates, and a member of the Tell City Knights of Columbus. May God bless them all for their hard work and generosity.

The monastery courtyard is still a construction zone.
And the work continues. While most of the monks and their belongings--as well as the monastery's common furnishings--have been moved back, it will take a while before everything is back in its rightful place and operating normally. A few renovation details and adjustments still need to be taken care of. There's also an awful lot of cleaning to do--heavy construction, as you know, tends to leave a bit of a mess. Contractors and co-workers and monks have been attending to that bit by bit each day. Some areas of the monastery are still under construction -- the refectory, the infirmary, and the courtyard. So, we cannot access those areas yet. Meanwhile, we continue to take our meals in Anselm Hall, and the infirm monks continue to live in their temporary quarters. Hopefully, both the newly renovated refectory and infirmary will be up and running in a couple weeks.

The refectory is not quite ready--but it's getting there.
Most of the residential areas--rooms and hallways--in the monastery are finished and occupied, however.

Meanwhile, work on the new geothermal system--which will heat and cool the monastery--will continue until probably October (for now, the old system is being accessed for heating/cooling). The geothermal field is right outside the front of the monastery alongside the north fact of the Archabbey Church. Anyone who has been on the Hill the last 14-15 months knows where I'm talking about. And yes, it too, is a mess.

But, when everything is finished and cleaned up and put away, our living conditions will have improved in significant fashion. The work was desperately needed. What has been replaced/updated had undergone substantial deterioration and failure.

In any event, it is GOOD to be home, and may God bless the mess that remains while we settle back into our improved quarters. Next up during this summer of transition--the solemn profession of three junior monks (Br. Peduru, Br. James, and Br. William) on Monday, August 15. In the end, we are pilgrims on this earth, and all works in progress as we strive toward our heavenly home.


  1. Ah but that blessing of being busy....good things all going on....tough to see except in hindsight a few months from now!

    Think of the extra time you will have in your hands ! (That never happens!)