Last year, after many years of thought, planning, and fundraising, we finally were able to fully renovate the part of our monastery that was formerly our sisters' bakery (phase 1). Transforming a simple steel sheet structure into a real modern living space was a major project that went on for almost a year, as we ran into a few obstacles along the way. But we finally moved out of the carriage house into our new residence in September of 2016. In August of that year, we had an open house for friends and the new building was blessed by Fr. Abbot. (See our Facebook album "The New St. Mary's Monastery" for more photos and information about the renovation.)
Part of our new building
It cannot be understated what this has meant to the community. After over two decades of living in makeshift conditions, having a building which interiorly looks and feels like a monastery, a sacred space, well insulated and easily kept up has been a real blessing. Large windows open up to us the beauty of the surrounding area and the simple pleasures of enjoying the sunsets and the wonders in the night sky. A modern kitchen *almost* makes cooking a joy. Most importantly, we now have more rooms to house more monks.
Fr. Abbot blessing the monastery with Fr. Gregory
The second phase, to renovate the carriage house, was to slowly take shape, but unexpectedly we were given a very large donation, so we started the project.
The carriage house gets its name from (we assume) housing carriages for horses in the 1930's as well as providing living quarters for servants. In time it became a six car garage. It was once the guesthouse. When the monks eventually moved in in 1996, more small bedrooms were built and it became our residence.
The carriage house before renovation
The carriage house will become the public front entrance to the monastery and will have a reception area and parlor for meeting visitors. For us, it will provide rooms for classes and reading. The left side will become a function room for conferences (sometimes public) or other events. Much of the electrical, plumbing and windows were original from the 1930's. It will be brought up to current building and safety codes, and the exterior will match the newly renovated monastery.
Walls being finished
Preparing for new siding
Right now, walls are being plastered and the wooden floors sanded, and outside the old siding has been taken down. The downstairs floor needs to be leveled and new flooring laid. Painting will begin soon.
Architectural model of new carriage house with front entrance and reception area
If you wish to play a part in the reconstruction of our monastery by making a contribution, please go to our donate page and follow the instructions. Thank you!
Fr. Dunstan on Boston Catholic TV
Fr. Dunstan appeared on the "This is the Day" show in May to talk about St. Mary's and the Pluscarden Pilgrimage which was held this summer. He also talked about St. Mary's.