Sunday, May 12, 2019

Post Easter Construction

We took a Holy Week/Easter break from both blogging and construction, but we are here at it again!  It was wonderful to be workmen-free to celebrate the great Paschal Mysteries.

A few of us took the opportunity to plant some flowers out of range of the construction site.  Now, however, workmen with their noise and dust have returned to our lives.  Yet we are happy they are making our proposed novitiate dorm a reality.  

After the ever useful crane lifted the steel into our enclosed courtyard, the men could start putting it together. 
At last!  We can see the novitiate dorm rise up from the mud!  This week promises to bring more concrete and also work in our kitchen areas.  Stay tuned, as they used to say!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Palm Sunday update

Poor Clares always remember Palm Sunday with special affection as the day our Foundress, St. Clare "eloped" with Jesus in the year 1212.  St. Francis was our Lord's "best man" who received her vows at the little chapel of St. Mary of the Angels, much to the consternation of her family! See our video that tells the story.

Now in the year 2019, we continue our building project to make room for new Poor Clares.  Last week saw the pouring of the footings for our new dormitory.  Pictures follow:
Another crane with concrete nozzle attached
Looks like an elephant's trunk

First pouring
Tomorrow comes the second pouring.  After that, we should be quiet for the rest of Holy Week so that we can concentrate on our contemplation of the Lord's Passion, Death and Resurrection.  Construction resumes Thursday of Easter Week.  God's blessings upon all.  May everyone have a glorious celebration of the Paschal Mystery!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Sister Chiara Marie to make Profession

Not a lot has been happening on our construction site,

so we have taken the opportunity to share our enjoyment of the just beginning Spring in our neck of the woods. 

Pictured above and around are our flowering cherry trees.

But even more beautiful is our radiant Sister Chiara Marie who has just been received to make her First Holy Profession of Vows!  The ceremony will take place on June 22nd, which we call "Covenant Day" because it was on this day that St. Clare heard the voice of the Lord saying to her, "I will always take care of you".  So, Sister Chiara Marie who bears the name of Clare in its original Italian form, will cut her own bridal covenant on this anniversary day.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

"You don't see this every day, do you?"

So did Kenny, our project manager question me as we watched this huge chunk of concrete being lifted out of our courtyard by an even bigger crane than we had last week.  “No,” I replied, “But I suppose you do.”  “Oh, no!  We usually have trucks that can come in…This is an UNIQUE project!”  It certainly is, for everyone concerned!
At Marianna’s first dinner with us, our thanksgiving prayers were accompanied by the music of saws ripping out door frames in the nearby kitchen area.  As they got louder, we increased our volume also.  O LORD, HEAR MY PRAYER!  AND LET MY CRY COME UNTO YOU!  MAY THEY REST IN PEACE!  AMEN!  (Laughter at the end.)  Actually, it was a pretty good introduction to the spirit of our community.  As the Angel Gabriel said to Mary, “With God, all things are possible”.  So far, Marianna has survived, so it looks like she just may have our same spirit.
Here are a few more destruction pictures:
Mini-Bulldozer did its work!

Smaller pieces were lifted in this basket

I did not believe they would get done "flying" the concrete in one day, but they did!  So now, at last we can start building.  Footings dug and reinforcement ready for the pouring of new concrete, God willing, this week!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Flying Bulldozer

 One of the biggest logistic challenges facing our work crew is the location of our to-be-constructed novitiate dormitory inside our cloister courtyard.  The doors allowing access to the construction site were only designed for pedestrian traffic, and the men did not relish the idea of demolishing concrete by jackhammer then carting out the 1,000 pound pieces by wheelbarrow!  Even should they be intrepid enough to attempt this task, the ordinary access was ill suited to future deliveries of bricks, steel beams and other building necessities, not to mention digging foundations, etc. 

The solution?  A crane!

This steel monster arrived the week before last with the job of lifting 2 concrete cutting machines into the courtyard.  It had some trouble when its big balancing feet sank in our rain soaked yard, but the attendant operators were able to solve that problem.  

We missed seeing the actual lift, being engaged elsewhere, but we made sure we were there to see the mini-bulldozer “fly”!  So far, this has been the most dramatic moment in our destruction/construction project.  The concrete demo men were all there recording the event on their smart phones while we stationed ourselves at strategic window look-outs.  With the care and precision of a space launch, the red bulldozer was duly hooked up then redone with stronger chains.  We heartily approved!  Such an object crashing through our roof would not be fun for anyone.  None of us were looking out of that side of the building (just in case!) 
 Finally we had take off! 

Here the photos tell the rest of the story.

A perfect landing amid applause!

Mini-bulldozer set to work immediately digging up the concrete blocks cut by the previous machines which were themselves lifted back out of the courtyard.
Here they are at their work the last week.

Meanwhile progress was made indoors with our kitchen renovations.  Here is our new BIG veggie preparation room!

And yes, in case you were wondering, Sister Chiara Marie was able to move back into her restored cell and we are all ready for Marianna who enters tomorrow on the Solemnity of the Annunciation.  Pray for her as she also enters into the chaos of destruction/construction.  Things are confusing enough for an Aspirant without all that going on!  But God has His plan for her as for each of us.  We are grateful to Him for the gift of a new member and for the example of our good work men who are faithful to their duty.  May we be as faithful to ours.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return”.

We have seen more dust this week than what was applied to our foreheads on Ash Wednesday!  A few surprises were in store for us as the construction men continued destroying our overhang roof at the building site.  We braced ourselves for earthquake conditions, for the next thing on the schedule was concrete removal.  But then there was a delay…and could we move out of the kitchen instead?  When?  Tomorrow?  TOMORROW???? Well…maybe the day after?..

 You want to see Poor Clares move? 
Then there was the day we were told that a mistake had been made on the plans:  there was not enough room in the cell that is to be converted into a bathroom because Sister Chiara Marie’s cupboard in the next cell is in the wrong place.  Could she move out so that they can adjust her cupboard?  It just means tearing out the wall and cupboard, and putting it back together again.  When? You guessed it.  That evening her novitiate companions helped her move temporarily into the cell reserved for our applicant Marianna, due to enter in a couple of weeks (it’s the only cell left!).  What are Sisters for anyway?  Don’t worry, Sister Chiara Marie will be back in her own place by that time, we are assured!  Here is Sister’s cell in its present torn up state:

A few more:  

Demolition of the novitiate common room’s wall in preparation for expansion:

Present state of the kitchen.

Overhang roof gone! 

Concrete coming up this week, we hope!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Construction Update: The Fun has Begun!

Overhang roof must be removed before the Novitiate Dorm can be built
At long last we can record that we have begun construction!  Or more!  There is an analogy here, as there are so many everywhere you turn in life.  The old must first be destroyed before the new can rise up.  Those things which were good in their time have eventually to be set aside when they are no longer conducive to our going forward in life. 
St. Paul said that when he was a child, he spoke like a child and acted like a child.  Then when he became a man, he put childish things aside.  Lent is about to begin as well as our construction.  Looks like our penance is cut out for us this year!  
After the roof, then the concrete!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

St. Colette new statue

The Poor Clares of Barhamsville are of the Colettine tradition, which means that we are descended from the monasteries founded in the 15th Century by St. Colette of Corbie.  She was a courageous reformer of her time.  Recently we acquired a beautiful hand carved statue of our loved Saint, pictured here.  Mother Abbess had kept her hidden until her feastday last week on February 7th.  Our own Sister Jean-Colette prayed a petition at the Prayers of the Faithful on her day, inspired by what she saw in this statue:

That St. Colette, who is depicted in art gazing on the crucifix and offering her heart aflame with love, teach us how to leave nothing undone in order to love our Lord, so that we may make that return of love to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus which He so ardently desires.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Impudent Daffodils

Although I have lived in Virginia for over 40 years, the weather here always throws my native New Englander sensibilities for a loop.  Back in Connecticut, my home state, Spring always came around April, with all of its attendant warm breezes, budding trees and blooming crocuses.  But you just never know what will happen in the Great Dominion.  First of all, Spring starts springing in January.  Around Epiphany, you begin to notice the lengthening days.  Warm spells tease early blooming forsythia only to have a sudden frost nip the just opened buds.  Impudent daffodil sprouts poke their way through the frozen earth.  Pictured above are this year’s daffodils.  I was planning on taking the photo yesterday when their dark green leaves contrasted with the newly fallen snow, but I did not get to it.  Too bad!  Today the temperatures have risen into the 60’s, melting away all vestiges of the last winter’s storm.  At least, I hope it is the last!  But again, you just never know.  February can be just as vacillating as January!
The only thing that is certain is that Spring will come, no matter the fits and starts, unless of course, the Lord comes again in His glory before.  On second thought, that blessed event will herald the ultimate Spring of God’s everlasting vindication of life over death.  Winter will be definitively overcome!  The sooner the better I say!  Meanwhile, we take heart from the daffodils, from the dandelions whose bright faces shine at the least opportunity in the withered grass, from the little birds exploring our windowsills for possible nesting sites.  If our spiritual landscape is still winter barren, we find hope in the warmth of a smile, in a sudden light that shines in a splendid truth never before seen, in a story told of some brave soul’s heroic deed.
I wish I could give some update on our building progress, but alas! We still await our county’s permit to begin construction.  Our building campaign has been very successful, and for that we are most grateful.  Join us in prayer that soon the work may begin!  Like Spring, building projects have their time.  We are ready