Saint Benedict Center's main site is An online Journal edited by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Richmond, New Hampshire.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Home Is Where the Heart Is

By Sister Marie Thérèse

I write this latest edition of Convent Corner from a new location. If I look out of the window of the quaint little library I am in, I can gaze out on a lovely convent garden, complete with fruit-bearing trees, bird bath and wooden bench (I might write the next Convent Corner from the bench). Rock walls grace and fortify this cruciform building, forming lovely pathways through the gardens and around the convent. These are surmounted by statues of various heavenly patrons and crowned by an outdoor set of Stations tucked into its own special rock wall with a rugged yet graceful set of stairs leading up the hill behind them. A perfect set-up for outdoor meditation when the weather is agreeable! The silence is penetrating and peace-giving.

The name of this little heaven on earth? St. Philomena’s Convent. For nineteen years as of this fall, we have been living on the main campus of the Center, in the very midst of all the hustle and bustle of our school, office, main chapel, bookstore, visitors, etc. Yes, living in our public work area. And hoping all the while that we would be able to build a convent of our own for our little family of sisters some day.

We were also praying for vocations to St. Philomena. She heard our prayers over the last few years, filling our available convent space with sisters. Watching our space shrink, we presented our need for a convent to our dear little saint, promising to name our new convent in her honor. Two of the novices she sent just made vows on March 25. Even as they made their three-day retreat preceding that blessed day, it was being decided that this would be the new convent.

Having pine floors, hand-made pine doors with black metal hardware, lattices on the windows, two beautiful stained glass windows in the chapel (Our Lady of Knock and St. Francis Solano with his violin) and small shelves lining the long hallway with statues of saints, we feel entirely spoiled in our new convent! Thank you, St. Philomena! It could not be more perfect.

You are probably wondering about the location and history of this abandoned monastery. A group of Franciscan friars built it over a decade ago in a nestled recess at the foot of the densely wooded hill that is crowned by the Center. The land was generously donated by a Catholic lady. The friars built the monastery (called a “friary” by Franciscans) with their own labor and the help of a few lay persons. When completed, it not only was a practical monastery, but a very beautiful one.

Tragically, the Franciscan superior’s health was so poor that, soon after, the friars were forced to abandon their friary and relocate down South to a gentler climate than New England’s. A zealous retired professor purchased it from the Franciscans with his inheritance, intending to move here and use it as a study center for himself and other scholars. Sadly, he was prevented by many circumstances from doing so. From that time, this hidden treasure was left unoccupied. Finally, this winter, after many years, our scholar gave up hope of being able to use it and, instead of selling it, donated it to the Center for whatever need there was, be it a library, office space, or a convent. Brother André Marie encouraged the sisters to use it as a convent, for which we are very grateful!

After so much generosity, we have felt inspired to offer the first five decades of our fifteen-decade Rosary for all of the benefactors of our beautiful convent. Our powerful saint has left room for your generosity, in case you would be interested in helping us to establish our new house. For you, this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There are repairs needed to the roof, siding, plumbing, and driveway. Someone was generous enough to donate a green-enameled wood stove with the scene of Saint Hubert engraved on its sides. However, we still have to build a stone hearth and need materials to do so.

Don’t think your donations have to be very sizeable! Our Lord was quite pleased with the Widow’s Mite because, though a small amount, it was all she could give and she gave it from the heart. Whatever you send, we would like to put your name under our little chapel altar, right near His Sacred Heart. Just let us know your interest by writing “For Convent” on the memo line of your check. From His throne of mercy, Our Lord will surely see your generosity, and will not allow Himself to be outdone! Blessings will come to you from St. Philomena’s Convent.

Email Sister Marie Thérèse at

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