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Newsletter - Christmas 2003, Vol 20, No. 2


Sweet hour of prayer.
Wooden beads feeling the pressure:
" Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God, have mercy..."
" Jesus, Mary, and souls."
A steady canon of mercy and salvation
fills the midnight hour.
Candles brighten in splendor
as the electricity fails.
Rhythmic fingers and hearts
hold firmly in the now
greater darkness of night.
Howling winds shriek
menacingly outside,
threatening to enter inside.
" War, violence and hatred!"
they shout and then whisper,
" ...and souls dying."
Unwavering hearts and fingers
respond in calm assurance:
" Lord Jesus Christ..."
" Jesus, Mary and Joseph..."
Mercy! Salvation!
Angels gather closely
as the hour draws to an end.
Candles dim, bending low,
in humble adoration as
the song/round begins:
" Jesus Christ, my Lord and God..."
Raging winds, in obedience to the angels,
join in the song
bringing them to a symphonic fullness,
for even the winds must give
praise to the holy name of Jesus.
by Sister Rebecca Mary, HSM

This comes with our love and prayers always, but especially as our gift in faith to you, our beloved friends and relatives, at Christmas. This photo was taken at Mass when we renewed our vows before Bishop M. Driscoll on 10/30/02. Father Robert Griffin, SJ, our chaplain, is seated to the right.

Hermits on retreat? Yes, even Hermit Sisters benefit from a change of pace, of location, of prayer schedule. In the fall, Sister Rebecca Mary and I travel to Lafayette, Oregon to Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey to make our annual retreat. Abbot Peter McCarthy and the monks there have been a great spiritual support to us for years. Our first chaplain, Father Howard Curtis, OCSO, is a monk of this monastery. This year he taught me how to make knotted cord rosaries and graciously gave me his tools and supplies to make more rosaries in the future. Besides having an opportunity to pray with this contemplative community and visit our hermit friend, Father Mark, we also spend a few days beforehand visiting my Greger family in the Beaverton area.

Inevitably, at the Trappist Abbey, we meet new people who are interested in us and our way of life. The following letter is from a young woman who visited with Sister Rebecca Mary years ago and who has remained a loyal friend to us since then. This was one of the many encouraging letters we received after we publicized our desire to build a house nearer chapel.

July 24, 2002
Kensington, CA

Dear Sisters Rebecca Mary and Mary Beverly,
My best wishes for this new phase of your monastic & ministerial lives! Your letter was terrific--informative and practical, honest and up-beat--each of these letters full of the "tone" that your friends and "fans" know & value. May your projects "fly" towards completion!...The extreme modesty of your needs fits perfectly your lifestyle and goals...These days of troubled events near & far, affecting families and countries, seem to have made people value places of prayer and spirituality more than ever--a good development... I happened to visit the Trappist Abbey in early June...and was happy to see a selection of your wildflower bouquet cards [for sale there]! This was the first time I had seen them, and I was impressed by the arrangements of the flowers, as well as the flowers themselves; and the "blurb" on the back of the card was excellent as an informative orientation to your lives on the mesa. I was glad to write & send notes to women friends, using these cards for the first time!
Blessings be with you both,
Susan D.

As Susan mentions in her letter, one of our new cottage industries is printing our flower cards. This has been a good, productive venture for us. We are grateful to the Abbey Gift Shop and the other stores which carry our line of cards.

Sister Rebecca Mary and I have come almost full circle as I write this towards the end of October, 2003. Last year we were fund-raising and building our new house. We moved into it on November 18 and had deep joy in celebrating Christmas for the first time so near to Our Eucharistic Lord. Carol Yalbuw made a retreat here a few years ago and since then, this young married woman from northern Idaho has become a dear friend. Her letter captures the events of this past year.

"Lord, every nation on earth will adore you." Ps. 72

January 8, 2003
Grangeville, Idaho

Dear Sister Beverly and Sister Rebecca Mary,

Thank you for your great letter at Christmas time, and for the letter and whole layout you sent to everyone about Holy Family House and the year! You are right that you were "amazingly able to write and produce your Christmas newsletter," as you were amazingly able to do all of those other things in good time!

Your letters are just full of fulfillment of hopes. It was neat that you gave us a peak into the losses and griefs that came up, and the way they are being resolved, and the spirit in which you established the house.

So, for marvels of salvation we have: Father Bob's chaplaincy at the hermitage; the value for your life in the hearts of the people that brought the money and all you needed materially and help-wise to get Holy Family House going; all God's work behind this; God's leading you in spirit to do it peacefully and well. Those are marvels for me to hold in my heart!...Thank you for living and praying for us...
Love in the Eucharist,
Carol Y.

One of the blessings of this past year has been to show Holy Family House to our family, friends and neighbors who come to see us occasionally. Our ties to our former community remain strong and it is always a special joy to receive a visit from one of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. The following is a note from one of the SSMO's who was with us in the novitiate almost 40 years ago.

June 6, 2003
Seattle, Washington

Dear Sister Beverly and Sister Rebecca Mary,

How beautiful Holy Family House is! Design, furnishings, arrangements are so wonderful--but clearly what is the most significant feature of your home is the love that radiates here. Your special relationship and love-bond with our God radiates peace, faith, commitment and joy!

May God bless you with improved health, good finances, and always many friends to hold in your prayers!

My love,
Sister Sara G., SSMO

Another way in which we meet new friends is when people come from out of state to visit family members in our geographical area. Many, if not most, of our neighbors here are non-Catholics, but they have extended family members who are Catholic. Michael and Carol McPheters come every year to visit his elderly and ailing step-father. Since they are daily communicants, Mike and Carol came for Mass every morning during their visit to Council. Letters which we receive, like Carol's below, are very encouraging in the Lord.

June 10, 2003
West Chicago, Illinois

Dear Sister Mary Beverly and Sister Rebecca Mary,

Michael and I remember and are still touched by the peace of the spirit-filled time we spent at Marymount Hermitage. I wanted to leave a prayer intention on the card after Mass, but it was hard for me to put my prayer intentions into writing...

We were blessed to have met you and have prayed with you at the Hermitage.

Carol M.

Carol mentions an item which has become very popular at Marymount Hermitage. Under the altar is a large card and on it we write the intentions of those who ask us to pray for them. People who stop by the chapel to pray will write their intentions on the card also. Of course, it is not God who needs the reminder! This is just a small effort to remember the people and needs which are brought to our attention.

The two hermitages which Sister Rebecca Mary and I vacated last November have been thoroughly cleaned and re-furnished. We now have a total of 4 hermitages available for retreatants. Father Robert Griffin, SJ, our chaplain, occupies the fifth hermitage. Since this issue will combine the items that are normally in the fall and Christmas issue, we want to publish the accounts written by two of our retreatants this year.

June 9, 2003
Tillamook, Oregon

Dear Hermit Sisters,

The retreat that I made at the Hermitage in May was such a blessing to me. The atmosphere of peace and prayerfulness that permeates the environment cannot help but become a part of the retreatant. The silence is an invitation from God to go deeper, to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking deeply within. All in all, it was a renewing experience. I can't wait to come back and do it again!

At first, I thought the idea to make the retreat was simply a product of my own desire, but in hindsight it is obvious that the Lord had a hand in this. Sr. M. Beverly expertly guided me through the hills, past dangerous wildlife (cows!) and one very angry bull! I told the parishioners at Mass about my experience of not separating a mother from her calf (!) and of encountering the father of the calf on the way back from the walk. As you know so well, this is a dairy town, so my flock appreciated a homily that had a little "bull" in it (you may not want to print tliat part, sisters).

Rev. Gary Z.

The following letter is from a long-time friend of Sister Rebecca Mary who was the first retreatant to stay in the hermitage that Sister occupied for almost 20 years.

September 18, 2003
Seattle, WA

Dear Sister Rebecca Mary,

To repeat my appreciation of my stay at the hermitage, I have to say the following again. It was an honor to be able to stay in SRM's former hermitage. I loved the view, as I was sitting at the desk. I certainly appreciated the silence--and even the kitty bringing me a gift of a bird. The bird was alive and flew away as soon as kitty opened her mouth!

What I liked, too, was walking down to chapel from the hermitage. Believe me, I have a greater appreciation of the long (it seemed to me) "trek" that you Sisters had to make [to chapel]. I can only imagine what it must have been like in wind, rain, and especially snow. And to think you did it all those years is mind-boggling.

It's always been a wonderful experience for me to "come away and rest awhile" at the Hermitage. There is something life-giving. No small part is the opportunity to pray in the silence of Our Father's House and before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Sister, thank you for your gracious hospitality, having the opportunity to see your new home, and the visit we were able to have.

Love and prayers,
Marilyn S.

As we mentioned in the March newsletter, we had to put our hallway construction on hold for an indefinite period of time when we needed to purchase a reliable vehicle. Both of our old cars were of '80's vintage with almost 200,000 miles on them and the Dodge Ram Charger required engine work more than the car was worth. So with the generous loan from friends, we purchased a used Toyota RAV 4, which is a small, economical four-wheel drive car. We anticipate paying $200/month for 5 years to finish repaying the loan for this purchase. Last spring, we could not foresee when we would ever be able to complete our house project. Yet we had the prayers and good wishes of so many, like the thoughts expressed in the following note.

September 16, 2003
Concord, MA

Dear Sister Rebecca Mary,

The leaves on a few trees are just beginning to turn here and so another winter draws near. I have prayed that SOMEHOW the walkway between your house and chapel will have been completed before there is snow on the mesa...Enjoy the beautiful fall days.

Peace, Light & Love,
Catherine G.

It has been in large part through the generous fund-raising assistance of Bishop Thomas J. Connolly, Bishop-emeritus of Baker, Oregon, and of Father John Donoghue, a retired priest of the Diocese of Boise, that we have begun the hallway from the house to chapel. We had a total of $8,000 donated towards this project which would have been enough to cover it. But in August, when our well pump burned out, we needed to replace it. Even with the donation of time and equipment from Troy and Nancy Schwartz, the cost of the new pump and materials was nearly $3,000. Since most of our donors have left us free to use the money for our greatest need, we reluctantly took that amount out of our hallway fund savings account. So that leaves us with a shortfall. If our need for a newer car and this hallway touchs your heart, we would appreciate your help in meeting these obligations.

We have noticed that monthly donations have dropped about 50% this year. Some elderly benefactors have told us that they have had to scale back their donations as they try to make ends meet in a poor economy. In an effort to meet our monthly bills and obligations, Sister Rebecca Mary and I have been selling our flower cards, rosaries and baby gifts in parishes after the weekend Masses. We are grateful to the pastors who have allowed us to set up tables and sell our hand made items. This has been a critical help to our budget. We have planned on only once-a-month sales, so as not to infringe too much on our vocation to silence and solitude. The Cycle Oregon, which the small town of Cambridge, Idaho hosted, was a very interesting, day-long adventure. This letter is from a new friend.

September 15, 2003
Longview, WA

Dear Hermit Sisters,

On Monday, September 8th, I visited Cambridge, Idaho as part of the Cycle Oregon event. I completed this 500 mile bicycling adventure Saturday, returning to Baker City, Oregon, the starting and ending point for the ride this year, and then driving back to Longview, Washington.

It was wonderful to experience the hospitality of the people of Cambridge and surrounding communities. The highlight of my visit to Cambridge was finding a beautiful hand made rosary for my wife, Jean. Jean prays the rosary each day, so it was a special blessing to carry the rosary with me on my bike each day for the remaining 350 miles from Cambridge to Halfway, Joseph, LaGrande, and back to Baker City. I was truly astonished by the trust extended by Sister Mary Beverly, who allowed me to take the rosary with me, with just the promise to pay later.

Please find enclosed a personal check made out to Marymount Hermitage...intended to cover the cost of the rosary, and to provide a small contribution to the Hermitage.

I have bookmarked your web page, and have been intrigued by your history, location, the opportunity for silent and prayerful retreats, and your humble dedication to Jesus, and His work.

Thank you so much for your trust, and for the beautiful rosary, which I know was made with loving and caring hands. We keep you in our prayers. May God continue to bless you.
Dennis P.

As Dennis mentions in his kind letter, we have a new web page. This replaces the original site designed by Brooke Nourse. We appreciate the technical expertise and artistic work which Mike and Ceara Nourse of High Desert Design have done for us. Please visit our website ( and browse in the expanded Gift Shop. Our hope is that with our out-reach through newsletters and a web page, and visiting in parishes one weekend a month, there will come a time when some young woman will be interested in a vocation to our way of life.

I began our community news by telling about our annual retreat at the Trappist Abbey. I would like to conclude by sharing with you our appreciation for the ministry of our dear friend, Bishop Connolly. He was our co- founding bishop, along with Bishop Treinen, now deceased. He has supported us constantly over all the years of our history as Hermit Sisters of Mary. Most recently, he came to Marymount for 8 days this May to give us a Scriptural, privately directed retreat on the theme of covenant. It was such a wonderful, grace-filled, happy time for the three of us.

Can you imagine any bishop giving a retreat for only two Sisters? especially in the middle of nowhere? In these days when bishops have received such bad press, we hold on to the knowledge that there are holy, humble, zealous bishops like Bishop Connolly. We intend to make the completed hallway and our friendship with Bishop Connolly the subject of the photo essay in the spring newsletter.

At this point, I invite you to re-read Sister Rebecca Mary's poem at the top of this page. Do you understand it? She and I were praying in chapel from midnight to 1 AM on the night of October 29. The wind was probably 50 miles an hour, coming from the west, whistling through a fissure in a window casing. The building made ominous creaks and groans. Here she was noticing all the mystical and musical dimensions of this event and I was just looking to see if the windows would blow in or if there were new cracks in the plaster. (They didn't and there were not, thank God!) SRM said that the "note" that the wind was making perfectly matched the song we sang at the end of our holy hour and this made it sound like the angels were singing with us, making the song "full."

My prayer mantra is the Jesus Prayer: "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner." This is Sister Rebecca Mary's unceasing prayer: "Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you. Save souls." We both use wooden prayer beads. Mercy! Salvation! for us, for all.

This is the heart of the message of the Incarnation, that God loved the world so much that He sent His only-begotten Son as Savior. This Christmas, as we "contemplate the face of Christ with Mary, through the mysteries of the rosary," (Pope John Paul II) and in daily prayer, let us ask for the gift of mercy and salvation for each soul, so loved by God the Father. You, and all our generous benefactors, living and deceased, will be remembered in the novena of Masses which our chaplain, Father Robert Griffin, S.J. will offer from December 16 through December 24.

God bless you and Merry Christmas!
by Sister Mary Beverly, HSM

Bishop Thomas J. Connolly, Bishop-emeritus of Baker, Oregon, blesses the construction site for the hallway from the chapel to our new residence, named Holy Family House.

The MARYMOUNT HERMITAGE NEWSLETTER is published by Marymount Hermitage, Inc., a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation in the State of Idaho. The Hermit Sisters of Mary are a canonically approved Catholic community of women hermits following the Rule of St. Benedict.The newsletter is normally published three limes a year and is free. The newsletter is sent to our relatives, friends and benefactors so that we might share the spirituality and material progress of Marymount Hermitage. Please pray that we may be faithful to our way of life in prayer and penance, solitude and silence. Any donations to Marymount Hermitage are sincerely appreciated and are tax-deductible.

Our Father's House in a typical late fall scene. Note snow in the distant mountains. We are privileged to spend long hours here in prayer daily.

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