Greetings from the desert of Gobernador, New Mexico. Here at the Monastery, we have had a busy year, well lived, pursuing our life of quiet prayer, for the needs of the world.
GOD BLESS YOU! We want to thank all the families who contributed their gifts to us this past year. Besides prayer, many of you gave us groceries, tools, home cooked meals, and volunteer work. Having the opportunity of going into town for Mass, we did have Communion Service, and the Monastery of Christ in the Desert was able to provide us with weekend Chaplains. Our faithful workers, Ernest, Tommy, and Arturo and others have made it possible for us to continue building.
Besides the United Nations declaring the year of 2021 as the International Year of Peace and Trust, we look to the YEAR OF ST. JOSEPH which will be through December 2021. We dedicate this Newsletter to him in the hopes that through his intercession we might gain spiritual blessings and good health.
As we come to the end of the year of St. Joseph, we are reminded of all the beautiful gifts and answered prayers St. Joseph has given to our community. This image of St. Joseph painted by Father William Hart McNichols was an inspiration for us as we began our Journey of Trust Campaign, looking for a new home. The prayer, ”St. Joseph the Shadow of the Father,” was written by Fr. McNichols for our move. After a Novena of Masses was celebrated in honor St. Joseph’s help, we were contacted by the Florez Family, and their generosity and abundant help brought us to our new home in Gobernador, New Mexico.
The Bible is silent about St. Joseph except to tell of his engagement to Mary and his dreams. Turning to two 17th, and 18th century mystics Venerable Sisters Anne of Agreda and Anne Catherine Emmerich, we learn that St. Joseph may have been the youngest member of a large priestly family in Bethlehem. He was a quiet and prayerful young boy who was the very opposite of his many brothers and suffered ridicule and injury from them. As soon as he was old enough, he left his family home and was apprenticed to an older carpenter. He may have still lived in the Judean area when he was chosen to be the spouse of Mary. However, when we look at the responsibility God gave him, we can recognize that St. Joseph must have come through many trials and teachings in his young life to prepare him for parenting Jesus on earth, from infancy to manhood, as well as caring for Him and Mary. Patience with adversity and charity and love for those who came into their lives, brought him into incredible holiness and love.
His was certainly a journey of trust! His humility in believing the angel in his dream, his humility in finding no room in the inn at Bethlehem, his courage and innovative love for Mary and Jesus to shelter in a cave stable and having to flee for days into a foreign land to save Jesus’ life. His bringing Mary and Jesus through and beyond very prejudiced peoples safely and with dignity. While we hear no “words” from Joseph we can’t miss his incredible courage and wisdom, as well as his overwhelming love.
As we begin this Advent Season let us join with St. Joseph in our journey of trust to help us grow in His wisdom, mercy, love and justice for all we meet. May our celebration of Jesus’ Birth bring us to a greater participation in unity and solidarity of love and justice in our neighborhoods and families in 2022.
OUR LADY OF LAVANG – No one knows how long the statue was located in the middle of a dense forest. The statue of a mother carrying her child was lost under the dense trees and tangled vines. Legend has it that the statue was erected during the French colonial period and abandoned because the villagers left it during the war and never returned. She is not only the mother of her child, she is the mother of all human kind, but has been left behind because of the terrible war. She was there waiting for her children one day to come back. How long had she been waiting? History tells us that it was more than many decades, the years when faithful Vietnamese Catholics were persecuted by their kings, fearing that their faith would destroy their culture. Many were killed and fled away for their lives. No one knows who had shown them the way to that jungle. They took refuge under the statue of the mother holding her child. Fear had led them to pray to her for help. The voice of the “desparates” had been heard. The mother appeared one day and showed them to take the leaf of the tree called “Vang”, the leaf in their language is “La.” They were cured from many physical diseases, and spiritual healing brought them wholeness. From those miracles, her children started to gather around her every year to praise God for sending our Mother of LaVang to come to the earth to the poor people of the humble country and bring them love from God. A shrine was erected in honor of Our Lady of LaVang in 1802 but another wave of persecution had destroyed it. On December 8, 1954, her home was rebuilt and welcome waves of her children come to honor and to ask for her intercession. (This story of mine is a combination of fiction and fact. You can check for fact at wikepedia.com: “History of Our Lady of Lavang in VN”).
CANONICAL VISITATION– Our Canonical Visitation July 13-15, 2021, was coordinated by Mother Mary Elizabeth from St. Scholastica Priory and Sister Ancilla from the Abbey of St. Walburga. Every three years there is a Canonical Visitation for the community to share any matters which concern them. Each sister expresses to the Visitors what she regards as strengths, weaknesses, and concerns. We are most grateful for the time they spent with us, guiding us, supporting us! “Our overall impression is that the community values the way of life lived here at Our Lady of the Desert and is grateful for Sister Hilda’s work, example of faithfulness and ennoblement of the Divine Office and prayer for the community. We commend her for carrying on through these years that have help many challenges with illness, the death of Mother Julianne and the pandemic helping to hold a steady way forward.“
ALL ABOARD – Sister Kateri and those in formation, Sisters Stephen, Mercy, Lizbeth and Scholastica were able to take a train ride from Chama to Osier, Colorado and back. They were given free tickets by the generosity of the Mayor of Chama and Commissioner of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in September. Mayor Billy Elbrock’s generosity made for a fun filled day, which included a delicious lunch! Many of the trees were turning yellow and there was a bit of a chill as we steamed up to the summit of 10,015 feet above sea level. The scenery of course was beautiful with many touches of fall with streams overlooking valleys of mountains. We did see deer, lots of horses and cows; in fact, a couple of cows were brave enough to be on the tracks just as the train was traveling but got out of the way thanks to the whistle blowing of the train.
NEW AMBULATORY NEEDED – Currently, the sisters walk from the small Chapel to the St. Joseph Center for the Divine Office and Mass. The distance is about an 80-foot walk. The construction of a porch will be an added protection from weather conditions. As some of our sisters are older, it becomes hazardous for them to walk in different types of weather and we can take the sisters to the St. Joseph Center in wheelchairs, or they can use walkers. The total estimate for this ambulatory is $85,000.00, and we hope that you can help us!
The Stewardship Office is responsible for the Faith in Action, Gallup Diocese, which supports crucial projects and ministries throughout the Diocese. We are very thankful for their contribution of $6,500.00, for the ambulatory project. We also have accumulated funds of $60,000.00 and need to fund $18,500.00, more. Mr. Perez, from the Bobcat Construction has been very supportive of this project and has done all the legwork for the various permits, complying with the State officials and ordering the expensive materials. With your help, we hope to have the ambulatory constructed by the winter season. Thank you for your prayers!