They came in quietly, unannounced, a couple of years ago on the 10:05 Trailways bus from Boston. Eighteen monks in all. They were transferred out of a lovely monastery in Brookline, Massachusetts, these priests who traditionally never move at all.
They left quietly these last few weeks, unannounced. They’re moving to a brand new monastery north of Albany. Funny how these things happen. I get the feeling that God is grinning from ear to ear.
We met them because, when they showed up in Woodstock they were temporarily hungry. The story was slow to surface and I wrote about it earlier in this blog and on the Good Morning Woodstock Blog . They shopped at the Good Neighbor Food Pantry until they got their budget straightened out. Once we found them, Peggy made sure they didn’t lack for anything if the pantry had anything to do with it.
In a very short time, weeks, they were delivering food to the home bound on Tuesday mornings with the other pantry volunteers. They filled out an application to be a food pantry with the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley. And, finally, they were attending our mass distributions.
Within a few short months they had their own food pantry going and were serving food to the hungry seven days a week.
Without saying a word, these men of the cloth showed us all how to feed the hungry. They didn’t skimp. They made as many food runs to Albany as they needed. They offered whatever food they had to anyone who needed it.
Then, when I went out and helped open the Reservoir Food Pantry, they made sure we never lacked for yogurt. Every time the pantry opened we had a freezer filled for our hungry.
I mean, these priests showed us all how to feed the hungry. They didn’t offer a three-day-supply of food to someone with the understanding that it needed to last seven days. They didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on questions about where people lived. It didn’t matter whether a person was homeless or not.
When the hungry pulled away from the Holy Assumption Monastery Food Pantry, they had enough food to not only feed the body but the soul.
So now, the priests, who traditionally never leave a monastery and move to another monastery, are packing up their gorgeous beeswax candle factory, their Food Bank ID number, and moving off to a community which really needs their skills, their dedication, their belief system.
Frankly, I was devastated when I heard the news. I went out to visit and write the story. I couldn’t do it.
I sat, visited, and kept asking myself “How can this happen?” The answer is easy, folks. They are being asked to take their skills and expertise to Schoharie County where no one is going to question the ethics of feeding the hungry.
And, I take comfort in the fact that we have not been abandoned in Woodstock. We have been taught our lesson. So…now the monastery is being converted into a convent.
These gorgeous men of God are taking their smiles, their radiant halos, their worship, and their food pantry skills to Cobbleskill, New York and they will press on with their daily lives.
The good nuns will have a pantry in Bearsville for our hungry. I understand they’ve already got their own Food Bank ID number. God is making sure we don’t forget what we learned.
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