Retreats: Recent and Upcoming

Last Saturday, November 14, 20 people filled our guest house living room for a day of recollection on our mortality. Nancy Billias, who is a Benedictine oblate, experienced psychotherapist and professor of philosophy at St. Joseph’s University in West Hartford, CT, led us in discussions of our feelings about end-of-life care, how we would like our transition to take place, recommended conversations with our loved ones and doctor, and funeral plans. The materials she photocopied for us are available at The afternoon session included a Skype conversation with a hospice nurse, who talked to us about physiological and psychological changes that occur as the moment of death approaches.

The workshop was very well-received, and many expressed interest in coming back on Saturday, December 5, when Nancy will lead us in an Advent day of mindfulness. Nancy teaches mindfulness to undergraduates at St. Joseph’s and has given her students the (to them outrageously impossible) task of spending four consecutive hours away from their phones, tablets and computers. With us, the emphasis will be on living Advent mindfully, in a spirit of prayerful anticipation of the Incarnation, in spite of the frenzied commercialization of this holy season. If you’d like to join us on December 5, please call the monastery at 607-655-2366, or email us at

The photos below were taken last Saturday by one of the participants.
Workshop on end of life planningworkshop on end of life planning 2workshop on end of life planning 4

Poem for All Soul’s Day

When We Close Our Eyes

When we close our eyes,
we knock gently on the door of dream
and forget what we have struggled to secure.
Eyes closed, our soul rises,
as if called forth by our searching words.
Our dream takes us to that single star
which has come so far
and now waits for us.

For we much choose
the moment for our great journey,
when we want to throw off old life
and take on a new spirit,
forgetful of the glory we looked for here.
Wonders live all around our dream,
but our home is not here now.

A single spark
is all we will carry,
all we will need
for others to remember us
and follow our progress
to the radiant star
we have searched for all these years
throughout the troubled skies.

Any moment now,
the weather will change here.
All will change for us.
All will be new.
The waves will begin to roll,
the leaves to trickle from the trees
and from around our shoulders
all the weight will fall away.
© Michael Tarabilda

This poem was read on October 12 at the funeral of Martha Lou Stohlman, an old friend from Princeton, NJ, who died just three weeks before her 102nd birthday, having stated that she did not want to be 102.

Happy All Saints’ Day and Recent News


October is usually a busy month at Transfiguration Monastery, as visitors enjoy combining retreats with appreciation of the colorful fall foliage. Many guests came for individual retreats; we hosted three local parish groups for days of recollection, led by Sister Donald, and last weekend Marsha Eger gave a workshop on the joys and challenges that come with the the accumulation of a large number of birthdays. Marsha has a Master’s degree in Sacred Chant from the University of Limerick and has presented many workshops at Glenstal Abbey in Ireland, including the “Ageless Spirit” workshop that she presented here a week ago. She lives nearby and last spring treated a group to a day of sacred chant from various world traditions.

Sister Miriam finished up her personal retreat at Genesee Abbey at the beginning of the month and has been busy cooking for guests and catching up on the bookkeeping since she returned. Our auditor recently complimented Sr. Miriam on her newly acquired skills, which has given her confidence in facing this new challenge.

The Knights of Columbus held their second “wood-splitting party” on October 3 and have continued working their way through the remaining small pile of large logs. In addition, they give us a generous donation each year for fuel for the buildings not heated by the wood-burning furnace.DSCN1590On October 14th we celebrated Sister Donald’s 75th birthday with a festive lunch, to which many of her local friends were invited. Postulant Kathy, an expert seamstress, made Sr. Donald a new habit for the occasion.


On October 20, we held our annual advisory board meeting and dinner, at which we hosted two new members: a local businessman involved in construction, who recently built a new Motherhouse for the Franciscan Sisters in Syracuse; and a parishioner from the nearby town of Endicott who has brought many new visitors to the monastery and is eager to help us in any way she can. The head of our advisory board, a banker who lives in Singapore, was unable to attend this year.

Last Monday through Wednesday, October 26-28, we were blessed with a community retreat, preached by Fr. Darr Schoenhofen, on the Evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. It was a welcome time of quiet and reflection for all of us, despite the preoccupation of trying to diagnose the source of water leaking through the living room ceiling in the guest house.

On the 29th, a young lay Franciscan arrived to spend the winter months in our guest hermitage.  Glynn had been working with the homeless in Boston and was feeling a strong need for a sabbatical in a quiet, peaceful setting. She is very energetic and has been a great help in getting the vegetable garden ready for winter.


We had two vocational requests this past month, which brought home the fact that we do not currently have space for new members. Conclusion: we need to think about adding some new cells to the main monastery building. Our new advisory board member intimated that his company could help us when we get to the planning stage.

On the last day of the month, we celebrated an ancestor of Sr Donald who was killed by Cromwell’s men, Blessed Terrence Albert O’Brien, with Matins and Lauds from the Common of Martyrs. October 31 was also the 7th birthday of our faithful Monk.

Happy All Saints’ Day to all of you from all of us!

Fall Workshops

Apples. Fall 2015We will be offering three workshops this Fall, the first of which, “Ageless Spirit,” will be held on Saturday, October 24. Marsha Eger, poet and specialist in sacred chant, will guide us in an interfaith day of recollection on the joys and challenges that come with the accumulation of a large number of birthdays. Marsha, who lives near Ithaca, NY, has given many such workshops at Glenstal Abbey in Ireland as well as in the U.S.

November is a good time to reflect on our own mortality, as well as remembering our beloved dead. On Saturday, November 14, Nancy Billias, Benedictine Oblate and professor of philosophy at Saint Joseph’s University in West Hartford, Connecticut, will help us reflect on metaphysical, psychological and practical considerations concerning the end of this earthly life and entrance into the eternity of God.

Advent is a time of inwardness when we prepare for the Lord’s coming. Nancy, who also teaches mindfulness at Saint Joseph’s University, will join us on Saturday, December 5, for a workshop on living mindfully during this season of frenetic shopping and parties.

Depending on how many people sign up, the workshops will be held either at the monastery (with a maximum capacity of 20) or at the parish hall of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Windsor, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The suggested donation of $25 includes lunch and snacks. If you would like to attend, please call the monastery (607-655-2366) or email us at

In addition to the workshops, we are planning to host an Oblate Day on Saturday, November 21. Oblates are lay associates of the monastery, similar to third order Franciscans and Dominicans, who live the Rule of St. Benedict in ways adapted to their secular circumstances. If you are interested in learning more about becoming an oblate, please call or write us for more information.


Ageless Spirit Workshop: May 9

On Saturday, May 9, Marsha Eger will guide us in reflecting on the joys and challenges that come with the accumulation of a large number of birthdays. Originally, the workshop had been scheduled for May 16. We hope you’ll be able to join us on the 9th. Marsha has asked that all participants bring a notebook.

Last Saturday, Marsha led a group of 10 guests and three Sisters in a day of chanting, meditation and poetry. The chants were from the Jewish, Native American, Buddhist and Hindu traditions, while some Gregorian chant made its appearance at noon prayer. It was a restful, restorative day for all.

Marsha has given us permission to post one of her poems below. It is published in a collection of her poems entitled Voice of My Soul, Wisdom from the Stillness, available from, Barnes and and the Book

More Thoughts on Chanting

All of nature chants.

All of nature is a chant.

We are one big chant.

As each bird sings it’s beautiful, unique melody;

as each cricket plays its violin limbs;

As each river rushes; each brook babbles;

each ocean wave roars and laps as it unites

with the particles of sand on the shore;

each is chanting a unique tonal quality

that combines as a joyous universal symphony of sound.

Each leaf of every plant that twitters in the wind is

dancing and singing a silent prayer of delight.

Each rock in its invisible motion is humming OM.

Every minute atom that oscillates in timelessness

is chanting the ecstatic chant of life.

The whole world, indeed the whole universe

is pulsating with chant.

This is All about One Big Chant.

The universe was created in sound and

is sustained in sound.

Source is one infinite vibration of love, light and bliss.

We must all begin to really listen,

to listen to everything around us.

Listen to our own hearts

beating with the rhythm and harmony of life.

In our purest unadulterated states, with effortless ease,

we are One with the Universe.

May we all chant with pure intention.

May we all chant for love, harmony, and peace.

Christ is Risen!


Excerpt from a Facebook post by Marianne Williamson:


The resurrection is not an article of faith, but rather an existential fact.

The resurrection is a description of how the universe self-corrects, life always reasserting itself even when forces of death and darkness have temporarily prevailed. Like a tiny flower growing through cracks in broken cement, peace of mind emerging after periods of deep grief, or people continuing to fall in love despite the ravages of war, love always gets the final say.

Easter is the revelation of God’s eternal imprint on every moment, for every life. It is the potential for light that exists even within the deepest darkness. It is the reason to hope when all hope seems lost. It is the possibility for a new beginning that seems impossible when all has gone wrong. As a principle, resurrection does not require our recognition in order to exist. But as a practical reality, it requires our willingness in order to become fully activated in human affairs. Our openness to infinite possibility – a willingness to consider that there might be another way – is the mind of man allowing itself to be illuminated by God.

At Easter, we celebrate our ability to rise above the consciousness of darkness, ignorance and death. As we do, something begins to change within us, our very openness to the deeper meaning of the resurrection opens doors within the mind and within the heart. Jesus died and then he rose. And now it’s our turn. Where parts of us have died – to hope, to growth, to new life forces – may our own crucified selves be restored to new life. On this day, may we each rediscover at the deepest level the meaning of “Hallelujah” and the reason to praise God.

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

In the Passion According to John, Jesus says: “It is finished.” But the English translation betrays us here. When Jesus dies on the cross, it is not finished and it is far from over and done with, which is what “finished” tends to mean in English. Much better is the English word “fulfilled.” This fits John’s theological vision much better. The fulfillment is that Jesus has been “raised up” so as to draw all people to himself. This fulfillment, far from being finished, is a new beginning.

                                              Abbot Andrew Marr, Three Rivers, Michigan

Schedule for Holy Week and Easter

Palm Sunday:     First Vespers:     4:00 p.m.

                            Vigil Mass:           5:00 p.m.

Holy Thursday:  Vespers:               4:30 p.m.

                           Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Church: 7:00 p.m.

Good Friday:       Tenebrae:           7:30 a.m.

                            Liturgy of the Passion:  3:00 p.m.

                            Compline:             6:00 p.m.

Holy Saturday:   Tenebrae:             7:30 a.m.

                            Noon Prayer:      12:00

                            Vespers:               4:30 p.m.

                            Easter Vigil:          8:00 p.m.

Easter Sunday:   Lauds:                   7:30 a.m.

                            Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Church: 9:30 a.m.

                            Vespers:                4:30 p.m.

                            Compline:               6:00 p.m.


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