Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Give thanks to the Lord!

Sr. Fidelis amid the bounty of winter squash produced by the Abbey vegetable garden earlier this year. It is no longer shirtsleeve weather!

Despite the recent very dry weather in Colorado, we had a bountiful harvest from the garden this year. We even raised a unique vegetable, which seems to be the result of cross-pollination between last year's zucchini and pumpkin plants. What we thought were zucchini grew larger and larger in circumference, and eventually turned a lovely orange color. The sisters working in the garden dubbed them "pumpini", and we have been enjoying them in various recipes for several months now.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth shows off a pumpini on the vine late this summer.

Here a pumpini is enthroned as the focus of our Thanksgiving Day harvest display, surrounded by other fruits of our labors: besides garden potatoes and pumpkins, honey, cheese, and eggs from happy hens (and ducks). There are also some decorative item that we didn't raise here at the Abbey, such as the dried beans and the Indian corn.

Sacristan Sr. Maria Gabriel and Sr. Hillary with the artistic arrangement of the fruits of our labors with which they decorated our Abbey Church for Thanksgiving Day. The place of honor at the center is held by a "pumpini", the hybrid pumpkin/zucchini which grew in our garden this year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sr. Elizabeth makes solemn profession of vows

On Sunday, November 6, our Sister Elizabeth Baumgartner professed her solemn vows as a Benedictine nun of the Abbey of St. Walburga. The Most. Rev. Samuel Aquila, Archbishop of Denver, presided at the festive Mass for the occasion, and some 80 friends, oblates, and relatives joined us for the celebration. All of Sr. Elizabeth’s immediate family was able to attend; she is the eldest of seven, and this was the first time they had all been together since her brother’s wedding nine years ago. 

A providential sunbeam illuminates Sr. Elizabeth as she approaches the altar in our Abbey Church as the Rite of Solemn Profession begins at Mass after the proclamation of the Gospel.

A native of Denver, Sr. Elizabeth, 46,  was born Judith Baumgartner, the eldest of the seven children of Dennis and Joan Baumgartner. She graduated from St. Mary’s Academy High School in Englewood in 1988, and then entered the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. After completing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, she was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy, and served for 15 years on ships stationed in Italy, Japan, Spain, and Maryland, first as a communication officer, than as a cryptologic officer.
 “At each overseas duty station,” she recalls, “I was able to travel throughout the various regions and experience the customs and cultures of the respective countries that I lived in, as well as during numerous port calls that the ships made.”
In 2007, Judith left active duty in order to more fully discern a vocation to religious life. “When I graduated from the Naval Academy, I never dreamed of entering a monastery,” she reflected. “However, as I became more involved in the life of the Catholic communities at the various duty stations, I felt a call to religious life.”
 After corresponding with our Abbey and visiting several times, she entered in 2008, and was received into the novitiate in May, 2009. She made her first profession of vows on the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, June 24, 2011, taking the religious name Elizabeth, for the wife of Zechariah and cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Luke 1:5).
“I was drawn to the daily rhythm of prayer and work of Benedictine life,” Sr. Elizabeth recalled. “The joyful spirit of all of the Sisters, as well as their love of and fidelity to the monastic life, made a deep impression on me.”
Like most of our Sisters, Sr. Elizabeth helps out in many different work areas. She is a talented cook, and her worldwide experience of different cuisines has enriched our already varied kitchen.  She is an energetic and conscientious groundskeeper, keeping lawn machines and other equipment up and running. And while a Benedictine monastery is a different kind of community than either a big family or an aircraft carrier, sharing space with other people is nothing new to Sr. Elizabeth. Her willingness to adapt to different characters and situations makes her a treasured member of our community. 

.Abbess Mother Maria Michael and the newly professed Sr. Elizabeth after the Mass, with St. Benedict in the background. Besides the white double veil and pleated choir robe of the fully professed nun, Sr. Elizabeth wears a wreath for the celebration, symbolizing "the crown that is imperishable."

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Advent Day Retreat for December 10, 2016

Day Retreat
for Advent

Saturday, December 10, 2016
Abbey of St. Walburga
Led by Sr. Maria-Walburga Schortemeyer, OSB

9:30 a.m. —3 p.m (lunch included)
Suggested offering: $25 per person

   Take a break from the “Christmas rush” and make time for Advent. Join us for a day of prayer and reflection on the themes of this beautiful season.

To register, please call 970-472-0612 or
email aswretreats@gmail.com

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Abbey Calendar for 2017 is Now Available

Since we moved our Abbey from Boulder to Virginia Dale in 1997, 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of our monastic life in the far northern reaches of Colorado. Our Abbey Calendar for 2017 celebrates this anniversary with a review of our history, and photos celebrating the adventures of the past two decades, as well as some much older photographs from our pioneering days in Boulder.

The calendar is available from the Abbey Gift Shop for $12.50.Shipping for first calendar $2.75; $1.25 for each additional calendar ordered -- please call 970-472-0612 for more information or to place an order.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

First Profession of Monastic Vows

On October 7, 2016, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, we celebrated the self-giving of our two senior novices, Sr. Ann and Sr. Catherine, as they made their first profession of monastic vows. Promising obedience, stability, and fidelity to the monastic way of life for three years, they were given new names to underscore their new identities as professed Benedictine nuns.

We are now practicing calling them Sr. Maria-Raphaelle and Sr. Fidelis, and rejoice with them in this major step in faith on their journey to God.

Sr. Maria-Raphaelle and Sr. Fidelis in the guest dining room on October 7, after the Mass in which they professed their first vows as Benedictine nuns.

Sr. Maria-Raphaelle, 25, is one of the six children of Davin and Janet Lee of Huntsvillte, Alabama. She was homeschooled in a lively and inventive family, and spent three years working with  Monrovia Volunteer Fire/Rescue, learning emergency response skills that have already come in handy around the Abbey. One of her four brothers is also a Benedictine, Br. Dominic of St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama. Besides helping in our infirmary, she paints Pascal candles and is learning to accompany our night office of Compline on the psaltery.

Sr. Fidelis, 29, is also one of six, and was also homeschooled; her parents are John and Marie- Emmanuelle Bartle of Victoria, British Columbia. She has a degree in history in art from the University of Victoria, and is another member of the Pascal candle staff. As an accomplished pianist and organist, she often accompanies our singing of the Liturgy of the Hours and Mass.

Besides being artistic and musical, both of the newly professed are always willing to find additional outlets for creativity in garden, kitchen, and elsewhere around the Abbey.

Monday, October 10, 2016

New Novices join our Abbey Community

Three new novices have joined our community  this year. On February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Sr. Catherine Marie Carlin of Lufkin, Texas, received her habit, followed on April 17, the 4th Sunday of Easter, by  Sr. Brandi Lynn McWhorter of St. Louis, Missouri. On September 8, the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary,  Sr. Hillary Kunz of Austin, Texas, joined the novitiate as well.
Sr. Catherine Marie got to know our Abbey several years ago when she was attending Wyoming Catholic College north of us in Lander, Wyoming. As the youngest of a family of ten, she is already well acquainted with community life, and we are all benefiting from her musical and culinary gifts, among many others.
Sr. Brandi Lynn became acquainted with Benedictine life through our brother monks of St. Louis Abbey in her hometown. A convert to the faith, she  worked for several years as an accountant, and is our house expert in Microsoft Excel.
Sr. Hillary Kunz  studied education at Baylor University and has worked as a camp counselor, and in outdoor recreation programs for disadvantaged youth in Austin, Texas. Her extensive travels include walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain and visiting her cousin, Fr. Martin, a Benedictine monk at Norcia, Italy.
Life in the monastery makes use of any and all experience, and we pray for our three new Sisters as they run the course of this more intensive period of their Benedictine formation.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Altar Bread Department passes a milestone

Our altar bread department last month shipped an order with invoice # 10,000 -- meaning, yes, that 10,000 orders, some consisting of many thousands of individual breads, have passed through our packing and shipping operation since it began in 1997.

Sr. Pauline in our altar bread packing room, surrounded by bags of hosts to be shipped, boxes of more hosts to be bagged, and the trademark foam "peanuts" that ensure the breads' safe arrival at parishes and religious communities across the country.

We do not bake the hosts ourselves, but are happy to be able to support our fellow Benedictines, the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri, who have been baking breads for more than 100 years, and have all the requisite equipment for large-scale baking. From them we buy hosts in bulk, then pack them into smaller bags and packages for shipment to our own customers, removing broken or flawed breads in the process. Sr. Augustine, our eldest nun at 91, still puts in a good day's work packing breads, something she has been doing since we started in late 1997.

Although one of our own Sisters had baked hosts back in the 1950s, we had shifted our energies to other work and ministries by 1963. The impetus to bring back altar bread work was our impending move from Boulder to Virginia Dale in 1997. Sr. Regina Krushen started our altar bread department during our early days in the "modulstery" of prefabricated buildings which was our home for the first two years in our new location. As she wrote for our newsletter at that time,

"This ministry serves two purposes for our Abbey. First of all, it is a means of support while our new retreat house and other facilities are under construction over the next couple of years. But more important is the spiritual dimension of this service. As contemplative Benedictine nuns committed to Christ and his Church through our lives of prayer, we endeavor by our altar bread work to share the spirit of our worship in a concrete way with all the faithful."

Sr. Regina died in 2003, but the altar bread department has continued under the guidance of Sr. Pauline, and with the help of other Sisters and many generous oblates and volunteers, who come regularly to spend a few prayerful hours at the contemplative task of sorting the breads.

For more information on our altar bread, please visit  http://www.walburga.org/index.php/altar-bread/contact  or email us at aswbreads@gmail.com.