"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
The work at the retreat center continues, but now with an emphasis on the arrival of winter as we have had snow flurries the past few days!
With the help of a retreatant from Connecticut, a skilled carpenter, we were able to use scrap lumber and cement boards salvaged from other deconstruction jobs here to hook up and fire wall the room heater on the third floor.
His expertise came in very handy as we worked to fit the cement board together in a house that has many varying angles!
This is the second retreat here for this pilgrim who has proven to be a great help in the farm work and in construction. Just what we need, retreatants who understand,.."laborare est orare" work is prayer. In fact the son of this individual came last summer for two weeks and trained us all in organic farming and vegetarian cuisine. A real legacy of service.
Now the third floor will be toasty all winter long! A lot better than when we would see our breath up there last year.
Once this project and a few others were done it was time for another major event. Our attendance at the Vermont Catholic Conference in at St. Monica's parish in Barre, VT.
We attended last year but only as visitors, This year armed with our banner, brochures, a PowerPoint slide presentation, business cards, guest book testimonials and much more; we attended the conference as vendors.
An exciting venue, but required our departure at 4:00 AM to get there in time to set up.
The entire conference was inspiring and faith filled. This year we handed out lots of materials and fielded many questions! Many groups talked to us about our location and facilities for future retreats. After a while I had almost memorized the pitch. As one person said, "It's no surprise you folks are a big hit this year at the conference,.there is no other Catholic retreat center in the state!" And to think I was not going to go to all this effort to create a booth or do a vendor set up, but after that decision God made a lot of circumstances fall into place, so I had to. As always, I find my work in life or at the center is just to keep out of God's way.
As many other in attendance we thoroughly enjoyed the speakers.
Msgr. Stuart Swetland spoke at length about Christian ethics and faith in politics. Both talks were exciting and energized. The faith in politics talk had such a sense of urgency and an appeal to truth it was often interrupted by applause.
Another presenter this day was Father Jon-Daniel Schnobrich who continued his series on Theology of the Body from his part one presentation at last years conference. His talk was heart felt and incredibly insightful. It was done with such intimacy, knowledge and truth that one felt he was speaking directly to them instead of a packed auditorium. Truly a gifted speaker and a gifted Priest.
There were a few more gifted speakers as well but it was difficult to get shots of them all. However they too, were able to reach the audience present with authority and insight, inspiring all of us who attended.
Including Father Luke Austin, Msgr. John J. McDermott and Julia Roberts. (not to be confused with some actor with a similar name. Ms. Roberts spoke powerfully about Faith in Action and won many more fans than the actor by the same name.)
All in all a faith filled event that sent us home tired but enlivened to continue our work at the retreat center.
As winter approaches we get ready for another set of retreats and outdoor work. I am thinking maybe a some younger folks will be ready to help us up here in our work soon,..or maybe, help us walk around!
Maybe we will see you soon up here in Vermont,
Pax et Bonum
From the Mary Theotokos Retreat Center in Newark, Vermont.