Thank you to the UW-Madison Knights of Columbus and friends who gave of their time on Sept. 18 to help our on our new property. Our neighbor Tom guided these generous volunteers in working on our fence lines, new and old.
We are daily renewed in our amazement at God’s blessing and your generosity. The momentum continues to build, and the prospect of building in a single phase is looking more and more possible each day. We’re not there yet, and we still need a lot of help, including in-kind donations, but the progress is encouraging.
We know that St. Joseph is hard at work for our project, behind the scenes. Please continue to join us in asking for his intercession in particular. During this liturgical year in his honor, we are turning to him with even greater zeal than usual.
We have included here some links to prayers to this great saint:
We are grateful to Bishop Hying and to all who joined us for our pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. The day was a day full of blessings. It rained on the way up and the way back, but while we were at the Shrine, the sun was out and breeze was blowing, so we could enjoy our time exploring the various chapels and the grounds.
Thank you all for joining us in prayer, through the intercession of Our Lady of Good Help. May Our Lord continue to bless you and hear and grant the intentions we bring to Him together.
At 11 am on Saturday, August 21, Bishop Hying will celebrate Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help (The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help | Champion, WI USA (championshrine.org)) for the intention of the successful and speedy conclusion of our campaign and building project.
All are invited to join us in person or in prayer.
The tentative schedule is as follows:
- 10-10:15 am: Arrive at Shrine
- 10:15: History talk provided by Shrine (for those interested)
- 11:00: Mass with Bishop Hying
- Picnic lunch (pilgrims are encouraged to bring their own lunch)
- 1:00 optional Rosary and Stations of the Cross, private prayer time
- 2:30 Bus departs for Madison .
Although we are not ordering lunch as a group, individuals are welcome to request a box lunch from the Shrine cafe. Please download the form to the right and return it to the Shrine by August 13.
Pilgrims driving separately are also welcome to stop at the Shrine of St. Joseph on the College of St. Norbert Campus (Shrine of St. Joseph – The Norbertines).
If you are interested in joining us and particularly if you would like to carpool or share a bus (by advance reservation only) from the Madison area, please contact us. Please refer to the column on the right for additional details about the bus.
Aiming for Single-Phase Construction
All along, we have been cautiously optimistic that we might, just might, be able to build the monastery in a single phase instead of two. This dream might now be within reach. Thanks to God and to all of you, we have passed our $12 million Phase 1 goal and are racing ahead with our design plans. If we can reach just under a total of $14 million by October of this year, we can build the entire monastery all at once.
Imagine the benefits of this single-phase approach:
- We can build everything in its final form first, without having to remodel afterwards (for instance, building the oratory without first constructing a temporary chapel in the space that will become the garage in the future);
- We can keep the same labor and materials teams, not having to disband and call them back later;
- We can live in our current monastery until construction is complete, instead of living in Phase 1 while enduring the noise and dust and dirt of building Phase 2.
Please help us keep the momentum going and reach this goal, God willing!
Design Process Moving Full Speed Ahead
Because of your generosity in helping us reach our matching gift goal, we now have a new challenge. A small gap remains between what we have raised and the $12 million we have been projecting as needed for Phase 1 … but even more importantly, given this recent amazing progress, we hope now to make the project a single-phase construction effort. By doing so, we can save a significant amount of money; we think the results will be worth the extra challenge.
To that end, we are proceeding with schematic design as quickly (and simultaneously carefully) as we can. In order to keep the design process moving, with our new and ambitious goal of raising all $18+ million at once, we must raise at least several million more yet this year of 2021, but we trust in God’s ongoing blessing and your continued help. Together we can make this new monastery a reality.
Another Answer to Prayer: Matching Gift Challenge Met
We would not be able to accomplish the monumental task of building our new home without your generous support. We thank all of you not only for your kindness and friendship but also for your fidelity and perseverance with us. As of December, 2020, we have not only met but exceeded our matching gift challenge. Thanks be to God and to all of you.
Due to the Karst anomalies, we are realigning the building before submitting the plans to the township. It looks like the monastery will now be slightly more of a rectangle than a square to ensure greater safety and less excavation and fill. There is certainly never a dull moment in the design department. May the patron saints of design, building, and rezoning all intercede for us.
An Answer to Prayer: Exciting Matching Gift Challenge
A generous benefactor has offered to donate $1 million to the project if we can raise an additional $1 million – bringing us very close to our Phase 1 goal. Please join us in entreating all the saints to intercede for us in this intention … and please give as generously as you can and ask everyone you know to do the same. This offer has a deadline of April 1, 2021. The challenge is on and the urgency is increasing. We would be thrilled to finish Phase 1 of the campaign by April, but we need your help to do so. Please visit our Matching Gift page for more information.
And Providential Project Updates
After all the Karst investigations and seeming bother, we finally see what God has been doing. Due to the anomalies we discovered, our architectural team decided to move the building site about 100 feet north. With this move, several advantages emerge:
- We can work more with than against the topography, avoiding blasting, retaining walls, and a lot of dirt-moving.
- We can avoid most basement excavation, making the building 3 floors above grade instead of basement and 2 floors (thus also allowing all the sisters the safety of having bedrooms on the 2nd or 3rd floor instead of ground floor).
- The mechanical spaces can be isolated in one part of the building, easily accessible by maintenance personnel with minimum disruption of the cloister.
- With three floors and a slightly larger cloister, adapted to the lay of the new site, we will be able to utilize more natural light.
- And, best of all, since we’re building on slab instead of excavating, we have greater flexibility in the construction timeline and might even be able to start building as early as the fall of 2022.
Let us continue to pray together and praise Our Lord for His many blessings.
Karst Investigation – Complete
The Karst anomalies have caused a few adjustments but nothing major, so we are now proceeding with our efforts to finalize the rezoning of our building site. Please pray with us that the process comes to a swift and successful completion.
Karst Investigation – Continuing
The COVID-19 crisis has slowed all of us down; perhaps it has also helped everyone to pray more and recognize God’s presence in the world – something we tend to miss when we are living according to our usual routines, so often at breakneck speed. The virus has also slowed down our fundraising as well as our Karst evaluation, but it has not stopped either. If all goes as planned (something we can never count on, admittedly), by mid-June we will have the definitive results of the investigation. In the meantime, we continue to pray and to work and to unite ourselves with all who are suffering.
Calm in the Midst of Chaos
“Be still and know that I am God.”
Our Abbot General in Rome gave us these words from Psalm 46 as a reminder of where our focus should be during these days of trial. As great as the suffering is, God is still with us and is guiding us through it all to greater union with Him and communion with each other. Amidst the reports of suffering, there are also many bright and shining lights, examples of charity, of greater concern for one another – many reasons to give thanks.
Due to the generosity of our bishop and vicar general, we are still able to participate in the daily celebration of the Mass. With this enormous privilege comes great responsibility, which we take very seriously. Our prayer, our work, all the little sacrifices we can make, and especially our participation in the Eucharist, are ways we join ourselves more fully to you and beseech God’s grace and blessing upon each of you, and upon everyone in the world.
Our hearts go out to those who cannot participate in the celebration of the Mass. In a recent message to the faithful in the diocese, our bishop included a link to an Act of Spiritual Communion, posted by EWTN. You can find it here: https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/devotions/act-of-spiritual-communion-339
The publishers of the widely read Catholic periodical, Magnificat, are also providing free access to many of their resources. You can find them at: www.magnificat.com
You can also find further resources and the opportunity to join in the liturgies of our brother monks in Dallas at: https://www.cistercian.org/abbey/news/abbey-news/
In the midst of all this uncertainty, we have not given up hope for a new monastery; indeed, times like these only confirm the need for ongoing prayer and further efforts to ensure that the monastic life will continue. We are still working on the campaign quietly in the background as we can and hope to send further updates soon … as we also wait and watch to see how our Lord works through the current crisis.
Please keep us in your prayers and be assured of ours for all of you. If you have any particular prayer requests, please send them to us.
Fundraising Event in St Paul, MN
On February 20, 2020, Sr. Bede and Sr. Joanna traveled to the Twin Cities, where they both grew up. Archbishop Bernard Hebda graciously joined the sisters and about 50 guests at WA Frost in St. Paul for an evening presentation about the community and our project. The guests were able to view renderings of the new monastery, learn about our contemplative vocation and plans to build and move, watch the video of our life, and ask questions. The Archbishop spoke warmly and movingly about the need for prayer in our world, the vital importance of the contemplative life, and the wonderful opportunity we all have to work together to build something beautiful for God. As always, we are grateful to God for His many blessings and to all who continue to help us on our way.
Karst Investigation – Almost Complete
The karst investigation has in fact revealed some underground adventures: nothing serious, no large voids under the foundations, but enough anomalies that we are still exploring and awaiting the final analysis.
Deep underground investigations are underway at the new property. Because of the topography and geology of the area, we were advised to test for karst (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karst). Beyond simple borings, these tests will reveal what lies below the planned site.
Many lengths of cable must be laid for the investigation.
The joys of corn-surfing: An ATV saves lots of time traversing the ¾-mile-long property with cables and equipment.
The cables and electrodes are connected to the ‘brainbox’, a computer that sends signals through the soil-rod electrodes and analyzes them for a 3D view of the strata below the monastery building site and a portion of the entrance road.
Bishop Donald Hying describes the beauty and value of the contemplative life as he addresses the guests who gathered at the monastery.
Bishop Hying Endorses Project
On September 5th, 2019 we welcomed Bishop Hying and a small crowd of guests for an evening of prayer and conversation about our new monastery project. We began by praying Compline (night prayer) together, followed by refreshments and a presentation by the Bishop and a sister on our community and our need. We are grateful to all who joined us, especially our new bishop.
Visitors climb Saint Peter’s Rock to get a bird’s-eye view of the sisters’ new property.
Experiencing the Property
We’ve made several adventurous trips to the new property lately. On June 24th, our fundraising committee reconvened for an update on the progress of the campaign. In between rainstorms and thunderstorms, and maneuvering through layers of mud, we made it out to the new site again, for a beautiful view of the site in its lush summer green.
Early in July, some family members and benefactors also spent an afternoon traipsing through the property, bravely scaling the heights of a craggy rock formation.