Memorable moments

This past week, Sister Sheila was able to enjoy four days of silent retreat at the Monastery of Bethlehem in Livingston Manor, NY : no WiFi, no cell phone service, no traffic noise, no conversations except with God.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.

He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul.

In winter, the guest facilities are heated by an exterior wood-burning furnace. The woodshed containing the woodpile and furnace also form a kind of outdoor worship/meditation space.

A bas-relief of John the Baptist graces one corner. He carries a scroll saying, “Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.”

To the right of John the Baptist is a line drawing of a monk praying, next to which is the following text: “God is the soul of our soul: that is the source that gives it life ++ It is there that we must seek him + it is there that we shall find him without end + That is what the saints did + They kept themselves before the face of the living God. And God thus contemplated by an interior regard communicated himself to them and lived in them ++ It can be so with us. All we need to do is make an act of faith and of love.: a simple movement in the depths of our soul that we call forth from time to time+++ A monk

On top of the woodpile is a huge plywood panel. An icon of the resurrection is in the upper left-hand corner, with the text of Mark 16: 2, 5-7 in the margins.

On the rest of the panel is written the following text, in beautiful calligraphy:
“He manifested himself alive + Whether we believe or not + we belong to God + Whether we feel it or not + he exists + he is MY self + he is my God + he is my Lord + And in the moments that seem dark to us + even in the heart of times where God does not exist for us + God does exist + As he was for the Prophets + the Apostles + the Saints + so is he for us + as small, sinful + humble as we can be. + When the sun had set + darkness had fallen, a burning furnace + a flaming torch passed between the parts.”
(Gen. 15:17)

The deer are very tame. You can get close enough to hear them munching grass.

The Blessed Mother is everywhere present.

40th Anniversary Celebration

A week ago, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the founding of Transfiguration Monastery with a Mass, followed by lunch, at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Windsor, NY. There were about 150 people at the Mass, of whom over 100 stayed for lunch, catered by our good friend, Marian Szarejko. Carol and Len Almy, with the aid of other friends from the parish, took care of the table settings, flowers and cleanup. Lael Bagg. organist at the United Methodist Church of Windsor, accompanied the hymns, and several members of her choir helped with the singing.

We are very grateful for God’s 40 years of faithfulness, and for all the friends who have supported and continue to support our community.

St. Columba’s Used Bookstore

The red barn at the entrance to our driveway now houses a used bookstore, thanks in large part to volunteers Vince Rider, who made the shelves and Barbara Hanstine, who did the shelving. 
To visit the bookstore, call the monastery (607) 655-2366 or drive up to the end of the driveway and look for a sister who will open it for you.
The gift shop with other offerings remains in the library building to the right at the end of the driveway.

The red barn at the entrance to our driveway now houses a used bookstore, thanks to the efforts of volunteers Vince Rider, who made the shelves, and Barbara Hanstine, who shelved the books.

To visit the bookstore, please phone the monastery at (607) 655-2366, or drive up to the end of the driveway to the main monastery building on the left and ring the doorbell, and a sister will open the bookstore for you.

We also have a gift shop with other offerings in the red library building on the right at the end of the driveway. Hours for both stores are 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 2:00-4:00 p.m. every day except Sunday. All are welcome!

Last Saturday’s Oblate Day: Reflection by a Friend



On Saturday, May, 26, 2018, Brother Bede Healey, O.S.B., Cam., spoke to a group of Benedictines at Transfiguration Monastery in Windsor, NY. He said that faith and belief go beyond adhering to and accepting doctrine. He spoke about “a person’s capacity to believe,” and “believing in.” The way I understood the first term is: one’s willingness and openness to receive goodness; the second phrase, to me, signifies: living in a reality. Following this talk, I am inspired to write a statement of what this capacity and living means to me:

God, Father, the Almighty One, in your presence, I am believing, I am living in the truth that: you have created and are creating; you embrace and care for me and all people who you have wonderfully made; I am witness to your awesomely and lovingly creative power that fills heaven, earth, and all that is in them; I am on the side of creation as a steward of this earth’s life, beauty, and bounty; I am, by the tending of your hand, a seed planted in good soil, a branch on the Vine, bearing much fruit.

God, Jesus, The Anointed One, Only-Begotten of the Father, our supreme ruler, in your presence, I am believing, I am living in, the truth that: in you, all things are being made new; you call all people back to the realm of the Everlasting One, to our birthright as beloveds of the Beloved, as God’s creation, pure in being and in heart; you were born of a woman, Mary, and wearing our flesh, you lived a life common to all people, a life between joy and sorrow, hunger and feasting, pain, illness and healing, weakness and strength, rejection and acceptance, rebellion and authority, loneliness and friendship, anathema and heroism, dissension and leadership; life and death; damnation and resurrection, and so, you raised up humankind, men and women, out of their dust, and set them on your path of life and truth, to Love God for God’s self alone, and to love and serve God in loving and serving one another.

God, Holy Spirit, bond between Father and Son, source, substance, and giver of life, in your presence, I am believing, I am living in the truth that: you are the helper of the people God has made for God’s self; since the beginning of time, you are the breath giving strength to those who find a voice to proclaim good news; like the wind that moves and plants the seed and carries the rain cloud to the parched field, like the friction of wood against wood that causes fire, like the striking of flint against flint that sparks a lamp into a light, you are the love-force that draws all who are in Jesus together and makes them witnesses to what it means to live together as people of good will; even I am brought into this blessed company that stretches beyond national and cultural borders, beyond tradition and time; You open my heart and my arms so that no one journeys alone and that the circle of your fellowship grows increasingly wider and creates space for all people; when we create a chasm in your circle distancing ourselves from your love and/or the love of our neighbor, you reconcile our hearts and restore our peace. In our earthy death, the glory of your splendor is not lost, breath returns to air, flame returns to fire, soul returns to Spirit, voice—fulfilled, having accomplished its divine purpose— returns to the perfect stillness and silence of the Word that gives to and sustains all, and traveler returns to home; gently like a dove, swiftly like an eagle, you give us wings and in your strength, we shed what weighs us down and holds us back, we soar to dwell in perfect harmony with God, in space that is infinite, in time that is eternal. Amen

© 2018 Daniel E Crocker Jr


Association of Contemplative Sisters

Jo Balsamo, Oblate and long-time friend of Transfiguration Monastery, wrote the following post:

Some may have noticed in our eulogy for Sr. Jeanne Marie that she was a member of the Association of Contemplative Sisters. You may have wondered what that is. Their current President, Marilyn Webb, writes:

The Association of Contemplative Sisters is a group of women, both lay women and women within a variety of religious orders; the Association exists to foster and support the contemplative journey of its members.  ACS was formed in 1969 in order to provide ongoing mutual support in the process of renewal, education and adaptation following the Second Vatican Council.  The original members were all from cloistered women’s religious orders.  During the years following its inception numerous meetings, conferences, classes, etc. were held for educational and renewal purposes.  During this time the membership broadened to persons in non-cloistered orders and then to lay women.  Currently more than two-thirds of our members are lay women; we live our contemplative lives across the United States, Canada, and the Philippines.

Since our early days ACS gatherings were held both nationally and regionally on a biennial schedule.  These gatherings provide ACS members with the opportunities to hear speakers such as Sr. Connie Fitzgerald, OCD, Beatrice Bruteau, Sr. Donald Corcoran, and more recently Ilia Delio and Cynthia Bourgeault and to share our understanding of their messages.  As we gather we also have the opportunity to share our life journeys as well as liturgy, times of prayer, and of course, laughter and friendship.  We also meet in small clusters in areas where there are enough women to meet.  We also are currently working to establish prayer circles and reading groups using Zoom and email.  We currently have a website which can be found at  We also have a newsletter that is published quarterly.

I have been a member of ACS since 1993.  I have found it to be exactly what I have needed to support my contemplative life and to encourage my spiritual growth.  The friendships of these women provide a depth of relationship that I’ve not always found in other organizations.  We’d love to have you join us if you are interested.  Please email Marilyn at with any questions.



Sister Jeanne-Marie


Sister Jeanne-Marie (Lise) Pearse
January 13, 1926 – October 8, 2017

Sister Jeanne-Marie, a native of Rochester, NY, attended Bryn Mawr and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. After college, while working as a teacher in an Episcopal boarding school for girls, she was baptized in the Episcopal Church. She began to feel called to monastic life through contact with the Society of Saint John the Evangelist in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in whose chapel she heard an inner voice saying, “You will be Sister Jeanne-Marie.”

In 1965, Sister Jeanne-Marie was received into the Roman Catholic Church at Mount Saviour Monastery in Elmira, New York, following which she went to France for formation as a novice, at the Benedictine monasteries of Poyanne, Jouarre and Vanves, with the intention of returning to the United States to continue her monastic life here. In 1979, she co-founded Transfiguration Monastery in Windsor, NY, together with Sister Mary Placid Deliard, originally of Poyanne, and Sister Mary Donald Corcoran, of St. Paul’s Monastery in Minnesota.

Sister Jeanne-Marie was very active in the Association of Contemplative Sisters and founded an organization called Contemplatives for Peace. She brought a graciousness to the monastery’s practice of hospitality and was a person of deep prayer.
In 2010, Sister Jeanne-Marie’s health declined to a point where needed 24/7 skilled nursing care, and in January 2011, she moved to the Holy Family Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Scranton, PA, where she was lovingly cared for until her death. She is survived by her sister, Polly Gates, of Claremont, California, a niece and nephew, and her three religious sisters of Transfiguration Monastery.

Visitation will be in the Monastery chapel on October 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. The Funeral Mass will be on October 13 at 10:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Windsor. Memorial contributions may be made to Transfiguration Monastery,
701 New York Route 79, Windsor, NY, 13865