Sunday, March 13, 2016

Spring Break Travelogue Part V

This is the fifth and final post of our whirlwind tour of the northeastern motherhouses. I am writing from the comfort of my own room; we made it home about 30 minutes ago. But I wanted to get this post up right away before I forgot about it, especially because it was in Akron that I found out people (other than our loyal few who are kind enough to comment) are actually reading this! Who knew?

Friday we really started to head west and got as far as Akron, OH. Our directions told us which entrance to go in and then pull up in front of the mansion. Of course our GPS put us in a different entrance and as we are passing some large houses we tried to determine which one was the mansion...until we saw the actual mansion. It is a beautiful place built in the early part of the 20th century by a rubber baron. The sisters acquired it some years later and in the 50's added on to it but the original house still maintains the look it had from the beginning. As with all our other visits we were given a tour, learned some history, and shared a meal with the sisters. From there we went to a smaller (though still large enough for servants quarters) house where we stayed the night. We ended the evening having a little fun playing a game. The next morning we had a wonderful breakfast (everyone in the house likes to cook!) and said goodbye to our last Dominican stop.

Our Lady of the Elms

The main hall
The chapel

Front door (wanted to make sure to get the Peace sign in there)

Because...front door

So from Our Lady of the Elms we went to St. Mary of the Woods. This is the motherhouse for the Providence sisters. We are currently in the ICN (Inter-Congregational Novitiate) program with their two novices. As with all of the other stops we were taken on a tour (as much the grounds as the buildings which was nice after so much driving), given a little history, and met sisters. I have to say, their heritage space was pretty impressive; I guess it helps to have a saint on the property. We then had a nice relaxing evening of supper with the novices and a movie. This morning (Sun) Quincy and I went in different directions to help us re-energize before we jump back into our weekly routine. She went on a hike and had a bigger tour of the farm and I slept in. After Mass we headed home.

The first stop in their new home. The priest's house/chapel.

The French part of the journey

The chapel

Not sure which door is the front door but this is the one that is used the most.

Watch out! She spits.

This was an amazing trip! We couldn't have packed more in if we tried. Now I understand why the very first year of the CDN, this trip took over a month. We got a lot of good pictures, learned a ton about the histories of the various congregations, and most importantly we met so many sisters. This has been a great experience of meeting the greater family. We loved every minute of it!

I, and I know I can speak for Quincy here too, am grateful for the wonderful hospitality, the warm welcomes, and the eagerness to tell stories and answer questions. We are thankful for the sisters (and others) who took time out of their day to show us around and those who came to meet us, and also for the flexibility when some of the plans were up in the air until the last minute. Everything went smoothly, including the driving and the weather; it was as if we had people praying for us along the way...thank you all for that. As much as this was a once in a lifetime opportunity we do hope that we can make it back and visit (for maybe longer stays) sometime.

Please continue to pray for us as we pray for you,
Your Novices

It might be cloudy but it was still a welcome sight.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spring Break Travelogue Part IV

Yesterday (Thur) we packed up our suitcases and headed south, I think south, maybe west, it's hard to tell around here. Anyway, we're in New Jersey.

Like many of the other motherhouses in the area we saw the college first before finding the convent. And like all of the other motherhouses we were warmly greeted upon arrival. We learned some history, had a tour of the motherhouse, and met a number of sisters. The difference on this tour than the others is that we were followed around by what I'm going to refer to as the Caldwell paparazzi. We then had Mass and lunch with the sisters. From there we saw their newest building for sister housing and after a rare moment of down time we quickly saw some sisters in the infirmary.

It's been interesting to hear and see the unique viewpoints of the Regensburg tree

We got to meet the sister who made these beautiful windows (the picture does not do them justice)

The same sister designed the tabernacle
It was windy this morning

From Caldwell we drove to Summit to see the nuns there. We met with almost all of the nuns (even the dog) and chatted for quite some time. Somehow it seems appropriate that at the monastery we were the least rushed. Admittedly it was because there are fewer sisters and no tour but it was nice to slow down. We were then invited to join the nuns for rosary and vespers. As with all of the visits, it was quick but a great experience (and since I'm currently writing this post and not Quincy you can all be rest assured I did not stay in Summit).

After Vespers with Sr. Mary Martin

The choir board
Larger view of the stalls

The altar

Of course the front door
From Summit we headed back to Caldwell where we joined sisters, faculty, and students in watching Band of Sisters. We also heard a presentation about an oral history project the students are doing with the sisters. And as long as they had some novices present we fielded some questions about why we decided to take the path we are on currently.

A good night's sleep and now for more driving. Headed back west and we are down to only two more motherhouses; next stop Akron.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spring Break Travelogue Part III

 Happy National Catholic Sisters Week!

Yesterday (Tue) we were fortunate enough to spend part of the day at the United Nations. We met Sr. Margaret Mayce at her office in New York City and then the three of us, plus the Dominican Volunteer working with her, all headed over for the talks that were being held for International Women's Day. It was exciting to be at the UN for such an event.

Don't we look official

It was pretty cool to go down and sit on the main floor

Planet 50/50
The Perfect Pint for lunch

After a late lunch with the two of them we went to the 9/11 memorial and museum. A powerful experience to say the least.

Today (Wed) was another very full day with another two mother houses. We spent an absolutely beautiful day in Ossining, NY. We had been to Ossining before. We spent a week at Maryknoll's Mission Institute this past summer and while there visited Mariandale so this was familiar territory; it was nice to be back.

First stop was Mariandale to visit the Hope sisters. We learned about some of their history, especially about the experience of founding Hope. We then took part of a tour of the grounds before lunch. Only a couple of the Hope sisters live at Mariandale but a good number of them were kind enough to drive in to have lunch with us. After lunch we finished our outdoor tour (including their bee condos).

Fulfilled my front door picture and Quincy's statue picture in one shot

Inside the chapel

The founding communities

The labyrinth
In the mid 70's today it felt, and was looking like, spring

From Mariandale it was a hop, skip, and a jump over to Maryknoll. This wasn't so much an educational stop as it was a social one since we had spent so much time there over the summer. We were happy to have a short visit with a couple of the sisters we know. It was really nice to be back.

The front door

The chapel

One of the garden's just starting to show some life

We finished the day by driving to Connecticut to have supper with a friend of Quincy's (and her two little kids). We couldn't get over how it was such a nice day and such a pretty part of the country. Perfect for a drive.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to the wonderful hospitality of the Blauvelt sisters and head to New Jersey for the next round of visits!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Spring Break Travelogue Part II

Well I thought maybe I would get away with writing only every couple of days but the last 24 hours have been pretty packed so I knew I should write again tonight.

Last night we had prayer, supper, and good conversation with a little smaller group. It was a nice example of greater Dominican family with inter-congregational living.

We attempted a selfie

This morning (Monday) we headed over to Sparkill, a four and a half minute drive from Blauvelt. Again we noticed the college (must be a Dominican thing) before the convent which sits back from the road. After meeting a few sisters we went to the Heritage room and learned about the Sparkill history, saw artifacts and pictures, and got a feel for the lay of the land. We then took a tour outside which included the old chapel and came back inside for a tour of the convent. The tour ended in the new chapel where we joined the sisters for Mass. Then we met more of the sisters in the dining room for lunch. Sr. Margaret stayed true to her word and got us out the door by 1:00 so we could be on the road again.
The full property

The new chapel

Mosaic in the old chapel that was repeated in the new chapel

The choir stalls for the sisters and the pews for the hundreds of children once cared for by the sisters

Outside the front of the convent

Our next Motherhouse today was out on Long Island in Amityville. Another whirlwind tour. First stop was the new chapel and a little history of the buildings and renovations then we met some sisters and employees. We spent time in their heritage room (it was neat to see it as is but we were also able to envision what it will be like when it finishes transitioning). We toured the original cloister and the old chapel. Both were beautiful, I really liked the cloister, Quincy better keep an eye on me when we go to Summit on Thursday. Then we took a tour of the grounds and learned all about the farm. We joined the sisters for supper as did a couple of Dominican Volunteers. We ended the evening by seeing their care floors before saying goodbye.

The "new" chapel

One of the many artifacts in the transitioning heritage room

The inner courtyard

The old chapel

One side of the farm

The front door
In case you haven't noticed, I've decided to capture our trip with, among others, pictures of the front doors. Quincy has decided to take pictures of herself with statues. I'm not sure if there is anything significant there or not; if someone wants to analyze that feel free.

This was a long but wonderful day. Now to bed for a little sleep before a very early rise to get us to the UN in the morning.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Spring Break Travelogue Part I

The novices are traveling again.

For spring break we are taking a whirlwind tour of Dominican Motherhouses between St. Louis and the Atlantic. We will visit Columbus, Blauvelt, Sparkill, Amityville, Mariandale, Maryknoll, Caldwell, Summit, and Akron. Then, just because we didn't want any down time (and when else would we get the opportunity), we will be visiting Sr. Margaret Mace at the United Nations and we will be visiting a couple fellow ICN members who are Sisters of Providence at St. Mary of the Woods.

My hope is to update the blog every couple of days so our loyal readers can follow along with our travels and because too many pictures on one post doesn't seem to work too well. So I am taking what I think is a rare, quiet moment in the trip to begin the travelogue.

We started Friday morning and drove as far as Columbus where we were warmly greeted and given a quick tour before supper. After eating and meeting all the sisters in the dining room we continued the tour including the history of the art and architecture of the beautiful chapel by the sister who was on the art committee when it was being built. We then joined the sisters for "Game Night" where they graciously let us win at Uno. A good night's sleep and breakfast in the morning rounded out a very quick but enjoyable time in Columbus. We were sent on our way with greetings to pass on to sisters in the east and sisters back home.

The chapel was filled with hints of water throughout.

Quincy won this game, note the look of determination.
This game didn't seem nearly as competitive,

Outside the front on our way out.

Goodbye Peace Sisters.

The next stop, after nine hours on the road, was Blauvelt. We are making home base here for a few days as we travel to some of the other communities. We pulled up in the dark to a big, old building across from a college. We were again (no coincidence, I know) warmly greeted and shown to our suite where snacks were waiting for the weary travelers. With the question of would you like a tour now or do you want to rest, we were both pretty eager to see every nook and cranny. We had the beginning of a tour that took us well into today. We have seen the buildings, inside and out, heard the history of foundation of the convent and the ministries that have been housed here, visited the infirmary, met many if not all of the sisters along the way and during breakfast and lunch, went across the street to the college, and I was even lucky enough to happen into the chapel just when the sister who is giving a virtual tour tomorrow of the artwork was there and she gave me a dress rehearsal.

The convent and in front the gate to the original building.

Outside the front door.

The chapel, the preferred design for Dominicans because there are no pillars to block the sound of the preaching.

Choir stalls to the sides of the altar and Dominican saints behind.

My mom has said before that when my sister travels you never know where she was but you definitely know who she was with and that with me you get the full history of a place but it seems as though I went alone. I am aware that once I got into a big, old building my pictures were a lot more of the space and less of the people. We'll see if I can stay aware of that or not as we go along.

To be continued...