ONE GOOD PLACE

Trappist monk Thomas Merton said of his hermitage, “It is essential to experience all the times and moods of one good place." This may not be true for all people at all times, but I have found it one of the best parts of Benedictine community life here at St. Placid Priory. Walking in our woods and around the monastery, watching the seasons change—with all that means for plant and animal life. And because I am not a hermit, being with the people in our community as they too grow and change is deeply satisfying. I remember, not long after I entered monastic life here at age 52, a Sister asked me, “What do you want here?” And without thinking I said, “To know and to be known.” This is a place where that can happen.

 

Priory at dusk

 

In 2021 I celebrated my 25th Jubilee, the anniversary of my first monastic profession in 1996. Like our other celebrations during the pandemic, it was small but full of joy. Entering in 1994, I have now been here almost 29 years, spending the first 5 years in what is known as initial formation—that is, being educated and formed in the ways of Benedictine monastic life in this community. Of course, that education and formation never really ends—we continue to learn more about ourselves and others, and this way of living together, right up to the end of our lives. We call that “ongoing formation.” 

Benedictine work and ministry varies. I worked outside the monastery for a short period as a nurse, then later here in our Spirituality Center. In the middle of Sister Laura’s first term as prioress, in 2000, she asked me to be subprioress. Since then, I have continued to serve in that position under several prioresses over 23 years. That’s a long time to be suprioress; in a larger community I might have been asked to do something else long before now. Maybe it’s still not be too late!  

Sister Dorothy

 I also help with development work and manage our website. Currently I am mentoring a younger member in editing our newsletter. Over the years, all of us do many different kinds of work, serving in various capacities, depending on our own gifts and the needs of the community and its ministries. One outstanding benefit of life in a Benedictine community is that others often recognize gifts or talents in us which we have not previously realized ourselves, and even better—we are given opportunities to nurture and develop those gifts. 

 The Liturgy of the Hours—in our house, Morning, Noon and Evening Praise—holds our community together, as we pray the Psalms daily for the needs of the world, including our friends and families. We hold in prayer the difficult situations of individual lives, of our country, and of countries around the world, especially those torn by war. We are blessed to have Mass Monday through Thursday, and also on Sunday. The monks of nearby Saint Martin’s Abbey have been serving as our chaplains for many years.  

 For recreation, I like to knit and crochet, and have an enduring love of reading. Long ago, before I had learned to read, I remember asking my brother Johnny to read comic books to me. He was only a little older, and when he stumbled on a word, I would supply what I thought it should be from context—and the pictures, no doubt! Visiting with friends and family is important to me, too. That became problematic during the pandemic, but now we keep up via telephone and Zoom, and now and then meet in person. So grateful for all of them: community, family and friends!

Comments

  • Comment posted by Rie on May 15, 2023 at 6:59PM (12 months ago)

    Thanks for all the work you do, Sister Dorothy! Its so interesting to hear your take on monastic life

    • Comment posted by Dorothy on June 7, 2023 at 9:01AM (12 months ago)

      Pretty exciting to get the blog started, Rie! *smiles*

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