I don’t think our lives really began until we moved to Richmond, to the Center. At least, all I can remember before we came here is that we were seeking a place to call home and hadn’t found it yet. Now we are decidedly home.
I grew up in Maine, met my husband Nicolas, and married. We moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a job and attended a traditional Mass that was offered by a nice priest from the Fraternity of Saint Peter. We were lonely though, far away from home, and not all that impressed with the Oklahoma heat. From there we migrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to live close to Nick’s family. Being with family was wonderful and there was even an indult Mass offered every Sunday in a gorgeous cathedral. Alas, we still felt isolated in a teeming city: home schooling, and trying to live the traditional Catholic life alone in the world. Time to move again.
We knew we wanted a Catholic community in which to raise our expanding family. We needed a support system, with people who understood what we were trying to do, and why. My family lived in Richmond, New Hampshire, right next to Saint Benedict Center, so why not look there? Nick and I scoured online for housing in the small town and saw that there was no way we could afford to live in the middle of the woods. Were these Catholics all rich or something?! With heavy hearts we decided to continue going it alone, move where we could buy some land to farm and home school, and, as well as we could, raise our family that way.
We sold our house in Pittsburgh, and went to visit Richmond, staying with family while we sought land in New York State. Nick vigorously applied for jobs and looked for housing. Nothing. We persevered. Nothing. After a very discouraging passage of time, Nick peeked again into Boston and the local NH areas. It was as if the floodgates opened. Interviews and opportunity abounded! It didn’t take us very long to realize God’s plan for us was here after all. A position in Keene, NH, and a home in Richmond presented themselves to us within two days of each other. We joyfully accepted.
Sometimes, it seems like a dream come true to spend my days here. I will never be able to adequately thank the religious for sharing their lives with us. The kind sisters go out bookselling to raise funds to support our little school so they can instruct my children and help me to love and raise them well. This selflessness of theirs is beautiful and a daily example of the love of God. In the community, I have found my prayers answered, for now we have friends. There is a town full of neighbors to call in a pinch or if you just want to talk. Here I discovered my calling in fundraising and volunteerism. In Richmond we are busy and happy. Who knew that living in the woods could be so fulfilling?
The charming fairytale-like quality of my story ends here, I’m afraid. After our arrival, as we began planning our own home, we found ourselves immersed in a vicious local war with some of the town bureaucrats. Nevertheless, we are grateful. God has given us a home and a purpose. We are supposed to take up arms and fight the devil, the world, and the flesh, with our beloved religious. The sweet Slaves of Our Lady keep trying to warn us that we are in a battle. I believe them! In Richmond we struggle, but I’d rather struggle here than anywhere else in the whole world.