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.
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