view of Our Lady of Czestochowa. with people aproaching

Combermere Diary

by Paulette Curran

As I began to write, I decided to look at last month’s “Combermere Diary,” for the same words were coming to me time as last time—full and rich, hot and dry.

Well, all of that has continued. This is the hottest Combermere summer that I remember. And, after the few days of rain I told you about last time, we hardly saw any more for weeks, or so it seemed. Fortunately, we are right on a river and a while ago, we put in a system of irrigation using river water.

Rich and full? Yes, that is continuing, even now that the summer program and Cana are over. Here are some of our recent events:

One week at Cana, the families had what is probably a first for that family camp: a Byzantine liturgy.

Fr. Michael Weitl served the Byzantine Divine Liturgy (celebrated Mass) with Fr. Michael Bombak concelebrating.

Fr. Bombak is a newly ordained Ukrainian Catholic priest who attended Cana with his wife and four small children. (For those who don’t know, the Ukrainian Catholic Church permits married men to become priests.)

Interestingly, another family that week was also Eastern Christian.

The latter part of the summer program included a day of recollection, a music night, a pilgrimage to the Holy Door designated for our diocese, and a healing Mass, which is part of a pilgrimage to our diocesan shrine of St. Anne.

The music night included Irish music, modern songs (religious and secular) some written by staff and guests, other religious songs, a Blue Grass gospel song, and “Heart and Soul” played as if it were classical, romantic, rock and roll, and jazz.

A walking pilgrimage to the Holy Door at St. Hedwig’s Parish Church in the nearest town, Barry’s Bay, was one of the highlights of the summer.

Our foundress, Catherine, used to tell us about the long walking pilgrimages of her Russian childhood, so the idea was familiar. But ours was much shorter. In recognition of the wide age-range of our community, there were three different-length walking options, or you could simply go in a car or van.

Like pilgrims of old, we stopped at another holy place along the way—a Polish shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa. There we prayed the chaplet of Divine Mercy.

At the Holy Door, besides walking through the door, we prayed the prayers for the Plenary Indulgence and sang the World Youth Day theme song in Polish and English. (World Youth Day began the next day.)

August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption, is the highlight of the summer.

It is our summer feast, and since it comes at a time when many of our garden flowers are in bloom, we decorate lavishly with baskets and vases overflowing with them.

The feast began the evening before with the Acathist, a many-versed Byzantine song of praise to the Mother of God. On the day itself, at the Divine Liturgy (Byzantine Mass), Gudrun Schultz renewed her MH promises for two years.

Over the years, the number of anniversaries we celebrate on this day has grown, as has what we celebrate. One of these additions is the celebration of our jubilarians. This year there was one golden—Kay O’Shea—and seven silver. (See Milestones.)

For Kay, we had an afternoon drop-in tea, and during that event, Susanne Stubbs, director general of women, said, “We are celebrating a double jubilee, a Golden Jubilee and the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

“Pope Francis has stressed carrying out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Kay has given her life to that, day after day, and it’s been her joy and her love.

“Pope Francis also talks about being credible witnesses to mercy. What better way is there to do that than to live a vocation like ours? Our vocation is a gift of God’s merciful love and faithfulness.

“Kay has received that in a way that is edifying to all of us. She is a special elder, but she is not elderly! She lives with so much childlike joy.”

In Madonna House, as elsewhere, sublime feasts and events are surrounded by the hiddenly sublime everyday, and the Feast of the Assumption is no exception.

It comes just when the harvesting and food processing are beginning to reach their peak. This is always true, but this year, a couple of things happened to make food processing especially pressing.

Well, one happened before August 15th. A truckload of peaches being brought to the farm was shaken going up a steep hill and the peaches spilled all over the road.

Help soon arrived to gather them up, and for a couple of days after, it was all hands on deck to sort, wash, and cut them so as to salvage as many as possible.

Then, right after August 15th, because of rain (the first real rain in weeks!) we were unable to harvest green beans when we had planned. So their harvest coincided with the arrival of tomatoes and peppers. Once again, it was all-hands on deck to get the beans and peppers frozen and the tomatoes canned before they spoiled.

Soon after that, two of our artists had exhibits. Patrick Stewart travelled across Canada with some of his paintings to put on a two-day exhibit in Edmonton.*

The departure of these paintings left big spaces on the walls of the gift shop gallery, so it was decided to display Linda Owen’s folk art there—Russian zhostovo and Norwegian rosemaling.

Both are forms of floral painting on wood (rosemaling) or metal (zhostovo) usually done on household objects such as trays, small tables, and stools. Linda’s are quite beautiful, and several pieces sold on the first day of the exhibit.

Those of you who are longtime Restoration readers might remember Irma Zaleski’s articles—about Mother Macrina, (a fictional wise and holy woman), repentance, and grandmothering, and stories of her childhood in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Well, Irma died recently at the age of 85. She was a good friend and former neighbor, and she will be missed.

The students at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy (a local school of higher learning) were given a tour of our farm and a talk on apostolic farming in connection with their course on: “Stewardship: Catholic Perspectives on the Environment.”

A group from Ottawa, Friends of Madonna House, came for their annual day with us. One of them said that her favorite activity of the day was helping with food processing.

Several staff took short courses or attended festivals connected with their work or hobbies. Raandi King and Diana Breeze took a pottery course, and Teresa Reilander took one on silk ribbon embroidery.

Helen Porthouse and Carol Ann Gieske attended the international puppet festival, and Anne Marie Murphy and Laurette Patenaude attended a Twist Festival, all about the various fabric crafts, where Anne Marie took a two-day class on spinning, and Laurette, one on using a knitting machine.

And here is one very short news item: Angela Henry, a young neighbor, gave us a piano recital.

Well, I guess that’s it for the news from a very busy time. May God keep each of you in his peace.

*For an interview of Patrick on his work, see the July-August Restoration—hard copy or website at www.madonnahouse.org/restoration under archives.