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Newsletter - Summer, Vol 21, No. 1

By Hermit Sister Mary Beverly

Who is Connolly? and what is the connection? We hope that this photo-essay answers both questions for you.

With deep affection and real respect, we would like to present to you the man who has been our spiritual father, co-founding bishop of Marymount with Bishop Treinen, and loyal friend: Bishop Thomas J. Connolly. Marymount Hermitage is located in the Diocese of Boise and thus was not under the jurisdiction of Bishop Connolly, who was the Bishop of Baker in Oregon from 1971 to 2000. However, over the years, Bishop has retained his place in our hearts as a generous supporter, both spiritually and materially. He values the contemplative life for the good of the Church and has visited and encouraged us in the Lord.

"Bishop" (as he is known by all his friends) was born on July 18, 1922 in Tonopah, Nevada. If Nevada is the most remote of all the 50 states, Tonopah is perhaps the most remote small town of that vast state. The devout faith of his Irish father and German mother, the piety of his family and the parish of St. Patrick fostered esteem for the vocation of a priest. Thomas was the third son in a family of four brothers and one sister. His oldest brother, John, went to the seminary and, because of an illness, died before he was ordained a priest. His second brother, Joe, also went to the seminary. While there, Joe's eyesight became so impaired that he could not continue his studies and had to return home. When Tom felt within him the Lord's calling to the priesthood, he really wondered if he too would die or become blind in the process. It took a lot of courage to leave home and enter the seminary at age 14, but courage and determination were to be a hallmark of his character as later events would show.

This was in the year 1936 and since the war was raging, their class had an accelerated program and were ordained to the priesthood a year early on April 8, 1947. Even though their classes at St. Joseph's College in Mt. View, California were intense and the war made obtaining items difficult, Tom and his classmates built a sailboat in the basement of one of the seminary buildings. Every item for the boat, which was later sailed and raced on the ocean, was made by hand. Perhaps this anecdote shows that creativity cannot be stifled by poor means, surely a virtue which Bishop would later need as the pastor of a very large and poor diocese.

After his ordination to the priesthood at his home parish in Tonopah, Father Connolly was first assigned to the Cathedral of St. Thomas Aquinas in Reno, Nevada. He served as a priest of the Diocese of Reno from 1947 to 1971. He was known as a good administrator, and when new buildings were erected by the labor of the parishioners, Father Connolly worked as hard as all the rest of the men at construction projects. Like the rugged pioneers that his parents were, Fr. Connolly enjoyed owning, riding and using horses for work and leisure. Love for animals and for the great outdoors were to be a constant throughout his life.

Since his home diocese in Nevada and later the diocese in Eastern Oregon were populated by those who made their living mainly off the land, people have always felt close to this pastor who can herd cattle, wield a hammer, fix fence, and for whom geographic distances means nothing when there is a job to do. When the Pope's representative in the United States called Father Connolly to ask him if he would be Bishop of Baker, this intrepid, western son simply asked, "Can I bring my horses?"

The Diocese of Baker comprises about two-thirds of the state of Oregon including the central and eastern portions. It is a land which is still close to the spirit of the pioneers from the Oregon Trail who settled there. Bishop Connolly fondly remembers that Bishop Thomas K. Gorman, who confirmed him and ordained him a priest, was also one of the three consecrating bishops at his episcopal ordination on June 30, 1971. Bishop Connolly was ordained a bishop shortly after the end of the Vatican Council II and thus was called upon to shepherd his diocese through those tumultuous years of change in the Church and in the American culture.

Bishop's warmth, humor and genuineness made people feel close to him in the parishes throughout the Diocese of Baker. He went regularly to all the parishes, visiting the priests and people to encourage them in the faith. He spent more time in his car than in his office tending his far-flung diocese. His homilies are peppered with stories from the lives of real people and their jobs and circumstances as well as his own. Ranchers smile when they hear their bishop telling of bucking hay for his horses.

Those who have met Bishop know what a great storyteller he is.

Bishop Connolly and the Bishops of Region XII, which includes the dioceses of the Pacific Northwest, made a thirty-day retreat in Spokane, Washington in the early 1970's. This was such a profound experience for them that they decided to hold an eight-day retreat together every year. They became a model for bishops of the rest of the United States in this regard.

Bishop Connolly once organized a horse-pack-trip into a wilderness area of Washington for the Bishops of Region XII. As usual, this event was a success, but was also the source of many interesting, western-style stories for future recounting!

Bishop Connolly instituted the very successful Family Camp, which annually brings together families--adults and children--for the 4th of July weekend filled with faith and fun activities. Bishop has been attending World Youth Days since their inception almost 20 years ago. While at these major cities, the hundreds of attending bishops are housed in hotels. However, Bishop camps out with the youth, bringing his own bed roll and "roughing it." He is so well-known for this closeness to young people, that youth from the Portland Archdiocese will request that he travel with them to World Youth Day, even though he is now retired as Bishop of Baker. In October of 2003, the Diocese of Baker celebrated its Centennial. Bishop Connolly has been a significant part of the richly textured history of the diocese.

When Bishop reached the age of mandatory retirement, he submitted his resignation to the Pope. It took almost two years for his successor to be named, but on January 26, 2000, Bishop Robert F. Vasa, a priest of the Diocese of Omaha, Nebraska, was ordained Bishop of Baker. Since that time, Bishop Connolly has made himself available to help priests on weekends in the parish and has been in great demand as a retreat master throughout the Pacific Northwest. His sacrificial generosity is evident in that he has been willing to come to our remote Mesa to offer days of prayer and eight-day retreats for two Hermit Sisters.

When you meet Bishop Connolly, it is evident that he is a man of God and a man of prayer. His genuine love of God and of every person are an example to us of what every bishop should be: an icon of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, to the Church and to the world.

Bishop Thomas J. Connolly, Bishop-emeritus of Baker, Oregon is shown here after he kindly conducted a Day of Prayer for us on Sept. 21, 2000. His new car was a gift from the priests of the Diocese of Baker in gratitude for his many years and miles of shepherding.

Bishop Connolly celebrates Mass for us in our chapel

After Mass, Bishop Connolly blesses the site for the hallway

In May of 2003 and 2004, Bishop Connolly gave us an eight-day Scriptural retreat. He exemplifies being teacher, preacher and hearer of the Word of God. Scenes here are from our conferences.

Pastores Gregis

The Tenth Synod of Bishops was held in Rome from Sept. 30-Oct. 27, 2001. The bishops of the world, in previous assemblies, had been reflections upon the Church and her members: priests, religious, and laity. This last synod on the role of bishops completed the series of deliberations. Pope John Paul II wrote a synthesis of the proceedings, which was published on Oct. 16, 2003. The Synod took place following the troubling events of September 11 in the U.S. The document was entitled On the Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World. In Latin, this letter is called Pastores Gregis from the words of the opening sentence: "The shepherds of the Lord's flock..." We have selected portions below from Pastores Gregis honoring our friend, Bishop Thomas .T. Connolly. These are the words of the Pope.

1. The shepherds of the Lord’s flock know that they can count on a special divine grace as they carry out their ministry as Bishops. In the Roman Pontifical, during the solemn prayer of episcopal ordination, the principal ordaining Bishop, after invoking the outpouring of the Holy Spirit who leads and guides, repeats a phrase already found in the ancient text...”Grant, O Father, knower of all hearts, that this your servant, whom you have chosen for the office of Bishop, may shepherd your holy flock. May he fulfill before you without reproach the ministry of the High Priesthood.” In this way, there continues to be carried out the will of the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Shepherd, who sent the Apostles even as he himself was sent by the Father (Jn. 20:21), and who wishes that their successors, the Bishops, should remain shepherds in his Church until the end of time...

“the ideal figure of the Bishop, on which the Church continues to count, is that of the pastor, who configured to Christ by his holiness of life, expends himself generously for the Church entrusted to him, while at the same time bearing in his heart a concern for all the Churches throughout the world (2 Cor. 11:28).”

The Tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held from Sept. 30 to Oct. 27, 3001.

The Pope wrote this document to summarize the proceedings of the Synod and it was published on Oct. 16, 2003, the 25th anniversary of the Pope’s election to the Pontificate.

2. Bishops receive from God the “pastoral powers of teaching, sanctifying and governing” the Church in Jesus’ name.

“...the Synod Fathers reviewed their ministry in the light of the theological virtue of hope...this is especially pertinent to the mission of the pastor who, in the Church, is first and foremost to bear witness to the Paschal and eschatological mystery.”

3. It is in fact the task of every Bishop to proclaim hope to the world, hope based on the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ...which surpasses anything that the human heart has ever conceived (1 Cor. 2:9), and to which the sufferings of the present cannot be compared (Rom. 8:18). A stance of theological hope, together with faith and love, must completely shape the Bishop’s pastoral ministry.”

“Only by the light and consolation born of the Gospel can a Bishop succeed in keeping his own hope alive (Rom 15:4) and in nourishing hope of those entrusted to his pastoral care.”

“...the Bishop stands in the midst of the Church as a vigilant sentinel, a courageous prophet, a credible witness and a faithful servant of Christ, “our hope of glory” (Co. 1:27)...”

4. The Synod of Bishops took place after the terrible events of Sept. 11, 2001...

“We should not allow ourselves to be intimidated by those doctrine which deny the existence of the living God and which strive, more or less openly, to undermine, parody or deride Christian hope. In the joy of the Spirit, we profess: Christ is truly risen! In his glorified humanity he has opened up the prospect of eternal life for all those who accept the grace of conversion.”

“Hope in Jesus the Good Shepherd will fill [the Bishop’s] heart with compassion, prompting him to draw near to the pain of every suffering man and woman and to soothe their wounds, ever confident that every lost sheep will be found. The Bishop will thus be an ever more luminous sign of Christ, the Shepherd and Spouse of the Church. Acting as father, brother and friend to all, he will stand beside everyone as the living image of Christ, our hope, in whom all God’s promises are fulfilled and all the expectations of creation are brought to completion.”

5. “At your word, O Christ, we wish to serve your Gospel for the hope of the world!”

“...Bishops will truly be a source of hope for their flock. We know that the world needs the ‘hope that does not disappoint’ (Rom. 5:5). We know that this hope is Christ. We know it and therefore we proclaim the hope that springs from the Cross.”

“...the Cross is a mystery of life and death. The Cross has become for the Church a ‘tree of life.’ For this reason, we proclaim that life has triumphed over death.”

6. The Lord Jesus, during his earthly pilgrimage, proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom and inaugurated it in his own person, revealing its mystery to all people. He called men and women to be his followers, and from his disciples he chose Twelve ‘to be with him’ (Mk. 3:14)...The mission entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles is to last until the end of time (Mt. 28:20), since the Gospel which they have been charged to hand down in the life of the Church in every age. It was precisely for this reason that the Apostles were concerned to appoint for themselves that the apostolic tradition might be manifested and preserved down the centuries.”

“The special outpouring of the Holy Spirit with which the Risen Lord filled the Apostles (Acts 1:5; Jn. 20:22-23) was shared by them through the gesture of laying hands upon their co-workers (1 Tim. 4:14). These in turn transmitted it by the same gesture to others, and these to others still. In this way, the spiritual gift given in the beginning has come down to our own day through the imposition of hands, in other words, by episcopal consecration, which confers the fullness of the sacrament of Orders, the high priesthood and the totality of the sacred ministry.”

By the power of the Holy Spirit, Bishops are consecrated to share the life and mission of Jesus. They “carry out in an eminent and visible way the role of teacher, shepherd and priest...”

9. “When a Bishop teaches, sanctifies and governs the People of God...[he exercises] this episcopal ministry as an office of love. This gives us the certainty that the pastoral charity of Jesus Christ will never be lacking in the Church.”

11. “Charity is in a sense the heart of the ministry of the Bishop...he is impelled to live, like Christ the Good Shepherd, for the Father and for others, in the daily gift of self.”

“...everything in [a Bishop’s] life is directed towards the building up of the Church in love. This requires of the Bishop an attitude of service marked by personal strength, apostolic courage and trusting abandonment to the inner working of the Spirit. He will therefore strive to adopt a lifestyle which imitates the kenosis (self-emptying) of Christ, the poor and humble servant, so that the exercise of his pastoral ministry will be a consistent reflection of Jesus, the Servant of God, and will help him to become, like Jesus, close to everyone, from the greatest to the least.”

12. “...stressing holiness remains more than ever an urgent pastoral task.”

St. Gregory Nazianzen: “First be purified and then purify others, first allow yourself to be instructed by wisdom and then instruct others, first become light and then enlighten others, first draw close to God and then guide others to him, first be holy yourself and then make others holy.”

13. It is not possible to be a servant of others unless one is first a ‘servant of God’. And one can only be a servant of God if one is a ‘man of God’.”

“For Bishops, the call to holiness is inherent in and stands at the origin of their ministry, that is their episcopal ordination. The ancient ritual invocation of the consecrations is: ‘God of truth, make thy servant a living Bishop, a holy Bishop in the succession of the holy Apostles’.”

“Because of his human frailty the Bishop is also called to have frequent and regular recourse to the sacrament of Penance, in order to obtain the gift of that mercy of which he himself has been made a minister. Mindful, therefore, of his human weaknesses and sins, each Bishop, along with his priests, personally experiences the sacrament of Reconciliation as a profound need and as a grace to be received ever anew, and thus renews his own commitment to holiness in the exercise of his ministry. In this way he also give visible expression to the mystery of a Church which is constitutively holy, yet also made up of sinners in need of forgiveness.”

“Each Bishop is configured to Christ in order to love the Church with the love of Christ the Bridegroom, and in order to be in the Church a minister of her unity, enabling her to become ‘a people gathered by the unity of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’.”

15. “There can be no primacy of holiness without attentive listening to the Word of God, which is the guide and nourishment of all holiness...Before becoming one who hands on the word, the Bishop...must be a hearer of the word.”

Origen: “These are the two activities of the Bishop: learning from God by reading the divine Scriptures and meditating on them frequently, and teaching the people. But let him teach the things that he himself has learned from God.”

16. “At the daily celebration of Holy Mass, the Bishop offers himself together with Christ...The Bishop’s love of the Holy Eucharist is also expressed when in the course of the day he devotes a fair part of his time to adoration before the tabernacle.”

17. “The Bishop himself cannot forget that he is a successor of those Apostles who were appointed by Christ above all ‘to be with him’ (Mk. 3:14)...The Bishop will be a true teacher of prayer for the faithful only if he can draw upon his own personal experience of dialogue with God...From prayer he will gain that hope which he must in turn pass on to the faithful. Prayer is the privileged forum where hope finds expression and nourishment...The Bishop’s personal prayer will be particularly and typically ‘apostolic’ in the sense that it is presented to the Father as intercession for all the needs of the people entrusted to his care.”

“ In the midst [of his people] the Bishop is a teacher and promoter of prayer. He not only hands down what he himself has contemplated, but he opens to Christians the way of contemplation itself.”

18. “The life of the Bishop must radiate the life of Christ and consequently Christ’s own obedience to the Father, even unto death, death on a Cross (Phil 2:8), his chaste and virginal love, and his poverty, which is absolute detachment from all earthly goods.”

“The faithful ought to be able to contemplate on the face of their Bishop the grace-given qualities which in the various Beatitudes make up the self-portrait of Christ...The faithful should also be able to see in their Bishop the face of one who relives Jesus’ own compassion for the afflicted and, today as much as in the past, the face filled with strength and interior joy of one persecuted for the truth of the Gospel.”

21. “ ‘Receive this ring, the seal of fidelity: adorned with undefiled faith, preserve unblemished the Bride of God, the holy Church.’ These words [from the ritual], urge the Bishop to realize that he is committed to mirroring the virginal love of Christ for all his faithful ones....When he does so, he walks as a pastor at the head of his flock, as did Christ the Bridegroom, who gave his life for us and who left to all the example of a love which is transparent and virginal, and therefore fruitful and universal.”

22. A Bishop must encourage a spirituality of communion and facilitate listening to the Spirit “who speaks to the Churches” (Acts 2:7) through retreats, spiritual exercises and days of spirituality.

“The Bishop, in addition to prayer, should readily avail himself of the friendship and fraternal communion of his brother Bishops.”

26. “The Bishop’s work of evangelization, aimed at leading men and women to faith or to strengthening the faith within them, is an outstanding manifestation of his spiritual fatherhood.”

27. Christ is in fact the heart of evangelization...Its center [is] in Christ himself, who is to be know, loved and imitated, so that in him we may life the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfillment in the heavenly Jerusalem.”

“From Christ, the heart of the Gospel, all the other truths of faith are derived, and hope shines forth for all humanity. Christ is the light which enlightens everyone, and all those reborn in him receive the first fruits of the Spirit, which enable them to fulfill the new law of love.”

“By virtue of his apostolic mission, the Bishop is enabled to lead his people to the heart of the mystery of faith, where they will be able to encounter the living person of Jesus Christ.”

“Evangelization thus includes the preaching of hope in the promises made by God in the new Covenant in Jesus Christ.”

28. “Christ our Lord in the sacred Scripture of the Old and New Testaments and in Tradition has entrusted to his Church the one deposit of divine revelation, which is like a mirror in which the Church during her pilgrim journey here on earth ‘contemplates God, from whom she received everything, until such time as she is brought home to see him face to face as he really is’.”

39. “The Bishop should be an exemplary minister of the sacrament of Penance, and he himself will have regular and faithful recourse to that sacrament.”

43. “The Bishop is sent in Christ’s name as a pastor for the care of a particular portion of the People of God. Through the Gospel and the Eucharist, he is to help his people to grow as a reality of communion in the Holy Spirit. This is the source of the Bishop’s role of representing the Church entrusted to him and of governing it by the power needed for the exercise of the pastoral ministry sacramentally received as a sharing in the consecration and mission of Christ himself. As a consequence, Bishops ‘govern the particular Churches entrusted to them as the vicars and ambassadors of Christ’.”

43. “Bishops are successors of the Apostles...the very nature of authority [in the Church] is a participation in the mission of Christ to be lived and exercised in humility, dedication and service.”

50. “In his careful concern for all forms of consecrated life, a concern which finds expression in both encouragement and vigilance, the Bishop should reserve a special place for the contemplative life. Consecrated persons, for their part, will heartily welcome the pastoral directions of the Bishop...”

52. “The family is the ‘domestic Church’. Founded on the sacrament of Matrimony, the family is seen to be a community of primary importance, since in the family both the spouses and their children live out their proper vocation and are perfect in charity. The Christian the Bishop’s particular task...”

53. “The Bishop, as pastor and father of the Christian community, will be particularly concerned for the evangelization and spiritual accompaniment of young people...Like ‘sentinels of the morning’, young people are awaiting the dawn of a new world. The experience of the World Youth Days, which the Bishops heartily encourage, shows how many young people are ready to commit themselves in the Church and in the world, if only they are offered real responsibility and an integral Christian formation.”

74. “Jesus Christ is the icon to which we look as we carry out our ministry as heralds of hope. Like him, we must be ready to offer our own lives for the salvation of those entrusted to our care, as we proclaim and celebrate the triumph of God’s merciful love over sin and death.”

“Let us implore for this great undertaking the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles. May she, who in the Upper Room supported the prayers of the Apostolic College, obtain for us the grace never to fail in the task of love which Christ has entrusted to us. As a witness to true life, Mary ‘shines forth for the pilgrim people of God’ -- and in a particular way for us, their pastors, -- ‘as a sign of sure hope and comfort, until the day of the Lord arrives’.”

Pastores Gregis, the Holy Father's letter on the Role of a Bishop, is an 83-page document and can be down-loaded from the Vatican's web site.

My Memories of Bishop Connolly
By Hermit Sister Rebecca Mary

When I was a member of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, it was our community's custom every year to draw a name of one of the priests of the Archdiocese of Portland and to pray for him in a special way during that next year. We also included the names of the two Portland bishops and the Bishop of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. One year in the 1970's, it was my privilege to draw the name of Bishop Thomas J. Connolly, then the Bishop of Baker. I knew who he was, but I was not personally acquainted with him at that time. That was my earliest association with Bishop Connolly. So before I really knew him, I was praying for him.

Bishop Connolly was the one who brought us here to Idaho in May, 1981 and introduced us to Bishop Sylvester W. Treinen, who was the Bishop of Boise at that time. On the way from Bishop's home in Baker to Idaho we stopped off at one point to take a break and to enjoy the scenery. Being very interested in rocks, I picked up a rock which I thought was unusual and showed it to Bishop Connolly. He is quite a rock hound himself and collects rocks from all over the world. When I asked him what kind of rock it was, he said, "It's a Leaverite." I said, "I have never heard of a Leaverite." He laughed and said, "Sister, you leave 'er right here!" I guess it wasn't such a great find after all!

On the way back from Boise, Idaho where we had been introduced to Bishop Treinen, Bishop Connolly was scheduled to stop in Nyssa, Oregon for a Spanish-speaking Mass that Sunday afternoon. Nyssa is close to the Idaho state line. Bishop had a missal in Spanish on the dashboard which he was studying as he was driving. That made me a little nervous, but I was more so when I saw that the fuel tank of the car was registering "empty." I casually said to the Bishop, "Are we going to run out of gas?" He replied even more casually, "Yes, but not before we get to Nyssa." We still had a number of miles to go before we got to Nyssa, so I just prayed. We did make it just fine, like he said, and we were even on time!

Through our twenty years here at Marymount Hermitage, Bishop Connolly has kept in touch, visited us, and has continued to be a good friend. He is very supportive of our way of life. He is always very much a dedicated bishop, but even more a generous priest and father to all whom he serves. His marvelous sense of humor, deep love for the Scriptures, zeal for the Church and tender love for Jesus consistently mark his busy and sacrificial life. He is a friend whom I cherish and love for his great warmth and genuine kindness.

Bishop Connolly at prayer in our chapel. We have seen him so often in this posture.

Bishop is vested and waiting in the Reconciliation Room for penitents. He is an example of the Holy Father's exhortation in Pastores Gregis that bishops be exemplary ministers of the Sacrament of Penance.

BISHOP CONNOLLY: The key to Our History As Hermits
By Hermit Sister Mary Beverly

I was living as a hermit in LaPine, Oregon from Sept. 1979 to Sept. 1980. I was discerning my eremitical vocation and trying to decide whether or not to leave the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and my vocation as a teacher. It was a difficult year, to say the least, and it was then that I discovered what a wonderful spiritual father Bishop Connolly was. Bishop would occasionally stop by the hermitage and I was able to go to confession to him and ask his advice. When circumstances forced me to leave LaPine and return to our mother house, St. Mary of the Valley in Beaverton, Oregon, Bishop drove over to see how I was doing and to reassure me that he believed in my hermit vocation.

Sister Rebecca Mary and I and another Sister were interested in returning to the Baker Diocese to be hermits and so, Bishop Connolly participated in our community's discernment process which led to official permission to leave. We spent a weekend with Bishop driving around the diocese and talking about our proposed way of life and what type of land we might be able to use. This was in May of 1981 and the occasion for the two anecdotes which Sister Rebecca Mary has related on page 6 of this issue. During our discussions, Bishop related that his friend, Bishop Treinen of the Diocese of Boise, had extended us an invitation to locate in Idaho.

We had no thought of locating anywhere but in Oregon but the hand of the Lord seemed to be with us as we slowly warmed to the idea of accepting Bishop Treinen's gracious invitation. We lived for three years from 1981 to 1984 at Nazareth Retreat House in Boise, doing the housekeeping work and hospitality there and continuing our discernment and plans for a hermitage. Throughout this process, we came under the direction and assistance of Bishop Treinen. However, Bishop Connolly continued to visit us and showed interest in the development of our hermit community and vocation.

When we were drafting our Rule of Life, Bishop Treinen and Bishop Connolly both helped us. Bishop Connolly was trained in canon law, which is the legal structures of the Catholic Church, and was able to provide juridical advice to us. Because of these early experiences with both of our bishops, we thought of them as co-founding bishops of Marymount Hermitage and the Hermit Sisters of Mary, which is the canonical name we adopted as a new entity in the Church.

There were a series of events recently which gave us the inspiration to dedicate one issue of our newsletter to Bishop Connolly. He has recently celebrated both 50 years as a priest and 25 years as a bishop. Last year, the Diocese of Baker celebrated its Centennial. Bishop Connolly has been retired as an active bishop for four years now. We decided we wanted to honor him as we celebrate 20 years at Marymount Hermitage.

Along with his friend, Father John Donoghue of the Diocese of Boise, Bishop Connolly has been convinced that we needed this new residence next to chapel and the hallway connecting the two buildings. Both have been generous in seeing that we have the financial support to accomplish this goal. With the blessing of Bishop Michael P. Driscoll of Boise, we are naming this new hallway after our co-founder. We are calling it "The Connolly Connection." We intend to place in it, near the door to chapel, a picture of Bishop Connolly. With this is the unspoken agreement that we will always pray for him and for all our generous benefactors and friends, both living and deceased.

"The Connolly Connection" actually has a theological significance. The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, and, as such, is the first among brother bishops. He is called in Latin the "pontifex" because he is in fact a "bridge-builder." The meaning is clear: a bishop is a bridge between God and man. And so for us, the hallway connecting chapel to our house, providing us with an easy passageway for prayer both day and night in all kinds of weather, is a good symbol of that bridge.

I would like to close my reflections about Bishop Connolly with this beautiful quote from the Holy Father's letter Pastores Gregis. After you read it, I invite you to look again at the photo on page one. You will notice that Bishop, like all bishops, wears a prominent ring. May it be a reminder to all of us that bishops, as successors of the Apostles, give themselves sacrificially for the good of the Church, which is the Bride of Christ.

'Receive this ring, the seal of fidelity: adorned with undefiled faith, preserve unblemished the Bride of God, the holy Church.' These words [from the ritual], urge the Bishop to realize that he is committed to mirroring the virginal love of Christ for all his faithful ones....When he does so, he walks as a pastor at the head of his flock, as did Christ the Bridegroom, who gave his life for us and who left to all the example of a love which is transparent and virginal, and therefore fruitful and universal. (Pastores Gregis #21)

Sister M. Beverly has been privileged for many years to be on the retreat director's team with Bishop Connolly. The Scriptural, eight-day retreat is held annually in July at Nazareth Retreat House in Boise, Idaho. Scenes here are from the Nazareth chapel after Mass, during a conference, and Bishop reading as he awaits a retreatant for private direction. The first year Sister Beverly worked on this retreat, Bishop Treinen was also on the team.

Bishop Thomas J. Connolly, Bishop-emeritus of Baker, is seen here with the two Hermit Sisters after Mass on Pentecost, May 30, 2004. This was the last day of our retreat. You'll notice in the background mounted on the front of the chapel the new sign, which now greets our visitors. This sign was a generous gift from Dan Bolzendahl of Payette, Idaho.

"I am the good shepherd;
the good shepherd
lays down his life
for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd."
(Jn. 10:11)


This new fence which designates parking space in front of chapel is a gift from Ceara and Michael Nourse, our generous neighbors. This photo was taken on August 12, 2003 and the hallway is still only a dream.

Above, the concrete foundations and stem walls of the hallway have been poured and we are waiting for the concrete floor slab to be poured. This photo of chapel was taken in October, 2003.

The hallway is being framed. Bob George took seriously his commission to integrate the hallway with the chapel and house. He repeated architectural features of both buildings and created a pleasing, unified effect.

Because there was more distance between the chapel and the house, we were providentially able to have space for an attached garage with entrance to the house by the side door, at the end of the hallway. We feel blessed also with the addition of a concrete driveway to the garage and a sidewalk to the front door of the house.

For months this winter, we had about 4 ft. of snow on the ground as you can see in this photo which was taken in January, 2004. Even in an unfinished state, the hallway and garage were used and appreciated.

Current work on "The Connolly Connection" and Holy Family House includes siding and painting to match the chapel. Final work will include finishing the interior of the hallway which will, in effect, become a storage area for our flower-picking equipment.

"I am the
good shepherd.
I know my sheep and
my sheep know me...
for these sheep
I will give my life."
(Jn. 10:14-15)

By Hermit Sister Mary Beverly

Hopefully, you can see from the newsletter thus far that much of our news, past and present, is happy. However, by the time this letter reaches you, Father Robert Griffin, S.J. will no longer be our resident chaplain. Father Bob has served us faithfully for three years and we are very sorry to lose him. His health has been deteriorating and he is seeking permanent retirement at his community's Provincial House in Los Gatos, California. Father Bob anticipates returning occasionally to Marymount Hermitage each year for retreat and vacation.


Sister Rebecca Mary, HSM, Father Robert Griffin, S.J., and Sister Mary Beverly, HSM pause in the foyer of chapel.

Without a chaplain, we will no longer have daily Mass here at Marymount Hermitage. Sister Rebecca Mary and I will be traveling to a nearby parish for Sunday Mass after July 1. Please pray with us for a chaplain to succeed Father Bob.

Sister Rebecca Mary is manning her tables filled with the rosaries she has made. Most people cannot believe what a huge assortment of rosaries we have. These two pictures were taken at St. Clare's Parish in Portland, Oregon when we sold our wares at Sister Beverly's Dad's parish community last September. Robert Greger helped us with this successful sale and is seen exiting the back door of the room.

This photo shows in the foreground the tables with flower cards and in the back, the table which displays the baby gifts. God bless all who have supported us at these sales!

At Easter time this year, we received a donation of a chalice and paten from the family of Sara M. Gardner of Portland, Oregon. We are pleased to receive this memorial gift. The vessels have been used at daily Mass since Father Bob blessed them on Holy Saturday.

Father Bob blesses the beautiful gold paten and chalice, a gift from Dr. Charles Gardner and his children at the death of his wife, Sara. The chalice was thoughtfully designed. The stem has four sides and displays the figures of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and an angel. The intention was to honor the Gardner family and the name of the Sisters' new residence: Holy Family House.

Work continues on the hallway, which, with the approval of Bishop Driscoll of Boise, we have named in honor of our co-founder Bishop Connolly. When the construction is complete, we will share final photos with you. We deeply appreciate all who contributed financially to the accomplishment of this goal. The building has been entirely paid for since June, 2004.

This year, Sister Rebecca Mary celebrates the 40th anniversary of her consecration to the Lord. She was a Sister of St. Mary beginning in 1964 and then made vows as a Hermit Sister of Marv at Marvmount in July, 1987. In honor of her jubilee, we have received an anonymous donation in the amount of $5,000. Sister has designated this money for the completion of the construction of The Connolly Connection.

Another wonderful gift which came to us in February of this year was that of a baby grand piano. This piano was given to us by the parish of Risen Christ in Boise, Idaho. The piano is about 100 years old and is "cosmetically challenged" but it sounds like a Steinway and that is the most important thing! By taking out about half of the furniture on one side of chapel, we were able to create enough space for it. Who plays? Me! I have not had a piano for over 25 years but I am slowly teaching myself to play again and immensely enjoying daily practice sessions. We bought a dulcimer for Sister Rebecca Mary as a jubilee gift and she is playing and composing music on it with great enjoyment. Hopefully, in future editions we can tell you more about music at Marymount Hermitage.

If you were wondering if we had deleted your name from the mailing list or you were worried about our health, you will note from the masthead that this is issue #1 for this year. We were not able to publish a spring/Easter issue of the newsletter. Thus this one is a little longer than usual. Thanks to all who wrote and inquired about our well-being.

About once a month, we have been in parishes selling our rosaries, flower cards and baby gifts after the weekend Masses. This has been a welcome and necessary addition to our monthly budget. It is part of our effort to pay what we owe for our car. We are grateful to the pastors who permitted us to set up tables outside of the church. We have been able to become re-acquainted with old friends and to make new ones.

God bless you and your loved ones and let us pray for each other daily.

A Retreatant Writes...


I awoke from sleep late on this Sunday night.
With a warm blanket wrapped around me,
I made my way outside and sat on the deck
of the hermitage.

The silence was broken by a jet
passing through the night sky.
As I observed the speed at which it was traveling,
I was once again reminded of the great
and awesome power of God.
That jet could be carrying an important package
from Seattle to Sarasota.
The package may arrive sometime tomorrow--
Then again it may get lost in transit
from the airport to its final destination.

Not so with God.
Here on this high desert, windswept mountain,
the prayers that are offered
are answered immediately.
In fact, they are answered faster than that,
but there is no word to describe that speed.
Through the mystery of prayer
a need is met and someone a thousand miles away
is encouraged --
and at just the right time.

Another person is released from pain in Boise.
Someone else receives encouragement
while sitting in the same room.
Prayer knows no limitation. Our God is not
restricted by time, distance or weather.
Our prayers are never lost in transit.
We will never know the full effect
our prayers have had until we stand
in eternity and God reveals to us
the things that He accomplished
through our prayers.

Then we will say, "Why didn't I pray more?"
So with the time that we have left,
my desire is to become more and more aware
of God's presence
And His desire for us to bring our petitions
before Him.
And with excitement in my spirit,
know that as soon as that prayer
is on my lips,
that He is answering it.

Won't it be wonderful, in our eternal home,
when our brothers and sisters walk up to us
and say, "Thank you for praying for me.
It made all the difference."

Ken Eden
May 9, 2004

Late Breaking Developments - August 4, 2004

Other than a few minor touchups, "The Connolly Connection" is now finished! Below are a few pictures of the Garage and the Hallway. Thank you, Dear Lord, for your generosity!

The new Garage on Holy Family House complete with new Painting

"The Connolly Connection" bridging "Our Father's House" and "Holy Family House"

Back View of "The Connolly Connection"

Sr. Mary Beverly's Easter Cactus caught blooming.

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 times 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.

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