"They are truly monks when they live by the labor of their hands."
- Rule of St Benedict, 48
Labor, especially manual labor, is a very important part of our lives as Cistercians. We see it as a participation in God's great work of creation and restoration, and a way of following in the footsteps of Jesus, the laborer and son of a laborer. We work hard to make our living and to share with the poor, and we find in our work a form of solidarity with all laborers, particularly the poor, who are often not at liberty to choose their work, but do whatever is available to support their loved ones. Our work also serves to balance our life of communal and personal prayer with down-to-earth and concrete demands. We work to serve the community, and in the process of taking on its burdens, which sometimes involves fatigue, tension or frustration, we grow in maturity, responsibility, mutual care and respect. Thus, our work promotes unity between the sisters as well as health of mind and body. Ultimately, our work is not separate from our life of prayer, and the two come together in a single, continual prayer, encompassing both being and doing, which allows liturgy and lectio to expand and fill the whole day.
In addition to the basic tasks necessary to our communal life, such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, maintaining the house and grounds, care of the elderly and sick, formation of new members, as well as various administrative tasks, we engage in self-supporting work.
From our founding in 1949 until 1995, we had a small herd of cows that we milked twice daily, selling the milk to a local distributor. As many small farmers had to do in 1995, we sold the herd since it was not profitable. In 2000, we received a small flock of sheep from our brothers at St Joseph Abbey in Spencer, MA. We sell blankets and yarn made from the sheep's wool in our Abbey Gift Shop. We are grateful for this small but meaningful connection with the agricultural heritage of our community and our Order, and the valuable experience it provides for the younger and more physically able members of the community.
Trappistine Quality Candy
During the early years, the sisters also baked bread, which was sold at the front door. In 1955, the community began to consider replacing this with something more conformable to the monastic schedule. Candy making began in 1956 in our monastery basement, and we soon began to sell through mail order. In 1960, candy production was moved to our first Candy House and over time a number of expansions were made to the original building. By 2010, we had outgrown the old building and, thanks to the support of many donors, were able to construct a new Candy House, which has enabled us to continue to make our candy in a safe and well-regulated environment, as well as offering the possibility of expansion. Today, Trappistine Quality Candy is our principal means of support.
Abbey Gift Shop
A small number of sisters work at the Abbey Gift Shop, and are aided by a large crew of volunteers. Besides being an outlet for our candy, the shop has other monastic goods, religious articles and gift items. Arts and crafts made by some of the sisters are also offered here. These include greeting cards for all occasions, hand-painted icons and reproductions, wood carvings and prayer benches, Chinese brush paintings, and Ukrainian Easter eggs (Pysanka).