"It seems strange to say, but what can help modern man find the answers to his own mystery and the mystery of him in whose image he is created, is silence, solitude -- in a word, the desert. Modern man needs these things more than the hermits of old." Catherine Doherty

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

a sad day,..

Fr. von Fauer and his favorite dog Nikki, in happier times...

Today is a sad day for all of us at The Mary Theotokos Retreat Center in Newark Vermont. News has reached us from Bishop Emeritus Basil Losten that our founder, the creator who was the faith and heart of the mission here, Father Stephen von Fauer, passed away in his sleep of congestive heart failure in his care facility in New York City last Monday, September 19th in the evening hours.

As we pray for his soul in the Chapel, walk the grounds, look to the animals, welcome the occasional visitor passing through on vacation; all of us here are reminded of the impact this caring, spiritual man of God made on so many. It was his vision coupled with the experiences of Catherine Doherty and her creation of the Madonna House that lead him to join the Ukrainian Catholic Church and build this facility. It was his understanding of the mercy and hospitality of the work of Dorothy Day that inspired him to clothe the poor of this area with stock piles of clothing for adults and children he kept in his barns. It was this understanding of the “hospitality houses” Day created in New York City that lead Fr. von Fauer to welcome the lost sheep to this facility for spiritual guidance, comfort and healing fellowship.  It was his love that empowered him to open this facility to men, women and children of all ages and faiths to visit and grow closer to God in the silence of their heart, surrounded by the beauty of rural Vermont and the tranquility of his farm here. Many who came here learned to journey closer to God whether they were working the farm, praying or experiencing the “Poustinia”, a hermitage like retreat Doherty spoke so much of.

But it was not only at The Mary Theotokos Retreat Center that Father von Fauer touched lives. He was a Roman Priest in Vermont for many years before becoming a Priest in the Eastern Rite.  In that vocation he touched countless other lives ministering to an entire flock of parishioners on a daily basis.

His was truly a life of service and sacrifice for God.

Last winter before Fr. von Fauer left the care facility in Vermont and was moved to New York City, I sat and talked with him. It was one of our few meetings when we spoke to each other. I spoke to him about how beautiful the center was, how much work we were doing to restore it to its former glory and functionality as a retreat center. We talked about the farm animals he had and the dogs he loved so much. I asked him what he wanted me to do at the center, as the manager/caretaker. I asked him what was HIS wish for it. He grasped my hand and said, “Keep it going!” We prayed the Rosary together and I promised to do that. Since then many hands have been involved with keeping his wish a reality. A reality where many more pilgrims, searching for God in these chaotic and difficult times may come to the Mary Theotokos Retreat Center and continue their journey to God in this spiritual oasis he built from nothing but his faith and his heart.

God rest his soul,

Pax et Bonum
From the Mary Theotokos Retreat Center.

Funeral Services are this Friday in New York City where he will be buried.

A memorial service will be held here at the center over the Columbus Day weekend, when a plaque dedicated to the Father will be set up on the grounds 
by the Ukrainian Bishop Emeritus, Basil Losten.

Please Check back for details on this event at this blog.

Thank you for your prayers

John Walker