Posted October 20, 2010 in Combermere Diary:
Combermere Diary (October 2010)

by Paulette Curran. 

As I write this in mid-August, we are heading into the end of summer. August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption, is the turning point. After that, the weather begins to get crisper and the days shorter and guests who have come for the summer begin to leave.

There are other signs, too. Just outside my window, striking amidst the greenery, some of the leaves on a dying tree have already turned orange.

In terms of weather, I have no memory of a better summer here or anywhere else. We’ve had some really hot days, but not too many. Mostly, it’s been varying degrees of comfortably warm and there has been sufficient rain and sun for the crops.

The summer program has just ended. Organized by Peter Gravelle and Teresa Reilander, it included—within the schedule of work and prayer—short talks by staff after breakfast or lunch, and a variety of activities, such as a picnic and bonfire, a square dance, gardening bees, an evening walk to the cross on the hill at the farm, and what we call a "Saturday Evening Seminar," at which our three director generals answer questions from the guests.

Subjects of questions included celibacy, boundaries, how to unite head and heart inside oneself, how to fight evil in the world, and poverty. The guests also asked the directors questions about themselves: who are their favorite saints and "tell us about when and how you encountered God in your lives."

One highlight of the summer was a music night organized and emceed for the second year in a row by Marie Thérèse McLaughlin.

The opening act was a delightful one: Steve Héroux, who plays three or four percussion instruments, began by telling us that when he was a kid, he’d drum on just about any flat surface. Then he demonstrated. Would you believe you can drum a tune on the bottom of an empty plastic pail and on the lids of a row of peanut butter jars?

Other acts included a pair of identical twins, visitors, who harmonize beautifully, Anne Marie Murphy playing the guitar and singing Maritime folk songs, and a comedy Barbershop Quartet.

Veronica Dudych and Sofia Segal sang "Bach in the Kitchen." As the name implies, this last one is both very humorous and very difficult to do. So difficult, in fact, that Veronica asked us not to laugh while they were singing it!

Talks by both priests and lay staff included, among others, such topics as living in the mercy of God, nurse Maureen Ray’s account of her two weeks as a volunteer in Haiti after the earth quake, how to use electronics in a Gospel way, icons, the New Age, and economics. Paul Mitchell talked of his love of the Mass and Bonnie Staib, of her love of Scripture. And several people gave witness talks on what God has done in their lives.

Cana (our retreat-vacation for families) has also finished. As always, those working there said that the families received many graces. And many people came for tours and to our shops and museum.

Meanwhile, the farmers and gardeners and guests took care of the growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers. (There are flowers everywhere in our yards; a Madonna House without them is unthinkable.)

One of the loveliest days of summer, as always, was August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption. It is our one big summer feast, and we decimated our flower gardens to fill vases and hanging baskets to overflowing for our chapels and dining rooms in celebration of our Mother.

On the eve of the feast, we sang the Acathist, a beautiful Byzantine Rite service of praise to Our Lady, and on the day itself, the men gave each of the women corsages, and we had a beautiful Byzantine liturgy.

The day always seems to have a special quality of childlike joy, and this year was no exception, even though the day was cloudy and rain threatened.

The feast, which for a time was our Promises Day, has also become the day we celebrate the jubilarians, those celebrating 50 years and 25 years as members of Madonna House.

In the evening, after a festive meal, those celebrating 50 years—Joanne DeGidio, Linda Lambeth, Theresa Marsey, and Fr. Pat McNulty (who celebrates 50 years, not in MH but as a priest), told us stories of their early days and some of their memories of Catherine and Fr. Eddie.

Their stories and sharings brought back the flavor of the early days of MH and gave a glimpse of the beauty of lives lived for God.

Susanne Stubbs, the director general of women, said it all: "I have three words for them. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!"

It was also a joy to have with us on the day of her 50th anniversary as a Sister, Soeur Claudette Dumont, a Sister of Ste. Chrétienne from Quebec. She has been visiting MH almost every summer for many years.

And now on to more specific news: Helen Porthouse and Carol Ann Gieske attended an international puppet festival held not far from here. Both are getting into puppetry—Helen writing and narrating stories for puppets and Carol Ann making and manipulating them. (They performed a puppet show for the summer program.)

The carpentershave been roofing the new dormer at St. Anne’s and doing some insulating, dry walling and sidings there.

Julie Coxe and Deirdre Burch attended the annual Rock Gemboree in neighboring Bancroft. Karen Maskiew took a course in fabric art.

Fr. Ron Cafeo helped out for a week at the Blaines’ family camp in New York State. (Ed and Rose Blaines were a host couple at our Cana Colony for years and have now started a camp of their own.)

Fr. George Fekete made first promises as an associate, adding one more to our contingent of associate priests in Michigan.

I guess that’s all the news for this month. Know that you are in our prayers.


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