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.On 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.