New Horizons
“‘She shall bear a child and His name shall be called Peace’. In gratitude for this Feast of the Birth of Our Lady coming just at the peak of our efforts to move and prepare for building, providing a moment to pause and recenter, to experience this foundational moment in our community’s history—as not just a project, but a pregnancy—if we will allow ourselves in our concrete wounded humanity to be used by the Holy Spirit to prepare a dwelling place for God.”

Mother Abbess' Prayer of the Faithful, Nativity of Our Lady,
September 8, 2017

“‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon us as we face the challenges of the preparations for building. Let us embrace the glad tidings sent to us in the form of help to pack and move, the gifts of meals, the donations, and the service of all who have labored on our behalf. In thanksgiving, may we take in these gifts as opportunities to be lifted to meet the Lord in the actions and conversation of the day.”

Mother Prioress Olivia Frances, Prayer of the Faithful,
September 4, 2017
New Horizons DemolitionOn September 25, 2017 demolition of our original chapel and St. Anthony's complex, which housed the Print Shop, bakery, sewing room, offices and parlors, began. Throughout the summer Oblates and friends poured themselves out helping with the Barn Sale, emptying and transporting contents of buildings, cutting down tress, and dismantling the Chapel and St. Anthony's. On the day demolition began, Mother Abbess Lucia reflected on what demolition, breaking down walls, means to Regina Laudis at this point in our history:

A number of people asked me if there would be a ground breaking to begin Phase II. Ground breaking sounds so hopeful, like planting seeds, starting new life. For this project before we can break ground we have to break down some walls. But this too can be life giving. For us it is a Liberation moment. The walls of the oldest of these buildings have stood for roughly 70 years and are exhausted. They have given their all and they are crying to come down. Like Joshua outside Jericho we are praying that they come tumbling down swiftly and safely. As we give them one final blessing, we offer prayers of gratitude to all who went before us in this community to create this sacred place that has fostered the lives of so many inside and outside of the community. We know the battle to reach the promised land of a new monastery is far from over. To bring this plan to completion we pray for a small share of the courage it took Lady Abbess to leave France with nothing in her pocket and to make a monastery out of a factory building. We pray for patience, offering our experience of being displaced persons in union with the thousands of people in this country and across the world who have no home or hope of home to look forward to. Our history tells us that to be true to our call to Regina Laudis we must build for the future if we are to keep this land as a center of unbroken prayer for a world so desperately in need.
Mother Abbess, Demolition Day, September 25, 2017

Your generosity has made this long-awaited step possible. Enjoy photo galleries of the progression of our New Horizons Renovation Project beginning with its inception in 2011. Galleries from the summer and fall of 2017 feature the cast of thousands helping us launch the final phase. In her photographs Mother Telchilde has captured the energy, good spirit and love that have infused the work days. Many more galleries to follow!

Read about the background and details of our New Horizons Renovation Project.

Dismantling of the Print Shop, August 30, 2017
DemolitionLetterpress printing has been a craft at the Abbey since the early days of the foundation. In the late 1940’s Mr. Raymond Healy, a professional printer, offered his assistance to the small nascent community of Regina Laudis. He helped the community acquire the presses and type cases from a printer who was going out of business. He taught our Foundress, Lady Abbess Benedict, and two nuns how to operate the presses during the late 60’s and early 70’s. All the Abbey cards from the 1960’s through to the mid 90’s were done on these presses.
Lady Abbess printing
In the gallery below Mother Jadwiga, who used the presses last, demonstrates the steps of printing on one of presses one last time.

Mother Rachel, who is in charge of the Print Shop, worked tirelessly to arrange for the removal of three extremely heavy presses and type cases. Colleagues Tim Butler of Quality Letter Press, San Diego and John Barrett of Letterpress Things, Chicopee MA, contacted Paul Brubaker of Bindery Tools LLC, Myerstown PA on our behalf. Paul and his team came to pick up the presses on August 30th and transported them to Pennsylvania to be put up for auction. John Barrett came to the Abbey to spearhead the workday, making sure the removal of the presses was done smoothly and safely. The proceeds from this sale will help to fund the our New Horizons Project. Through this move we have been blessed to be introduced to the network of printers across the country, craftsmen dedicated to the fine art of letterpress printing.

Tree Cutting and Chipping, August 26, 2017
To make room for the future renovated building, many beloved trees, planted long ago and lovingly cared for, had to be cut down. Mother Ozanne, a licensed arborist, synergized this aspect of the project: coordinating with our contractors and the New Horizons Group, and calling upon her colleagues, professional tree removal specialists. As the demolition date approached with unforeseen obstacles, Mother Ozanne's colleagues generously provided trucks, a chipper and gave hours of their time and energy. Working with Mother Ozanne, the team cut down many large trees, dragged stumps and tree trunks with the help of Mother Ozanne on the tractor, and chipped branches. The photographs capture the precision with which the team worked as they masterfully downed trees without injury to those involved or damage to buildings and vehicles.

Dismantling of St. Anthony's, Greenhouse and Bakery Begins, August 2017

Barn, Plant and Art Shop Sale, August 19, 2017
To prepare for the major renovations of our New Horizons project, attics, garages and barns were emptied. Oblates and friends spent long hours organizing and pricing the items. On August 19th a crowd was waiting at the Beautiful Gate and streamed in when the gates were opened at 10:00 AM. Many came to peruse and take home unique treasures. The occasion offered guests a last chance to visit our Greenhouse Entrance Chapel and Monastic Art Shop before their closure and demolition. Customers took home a potted plant or plantings of the Mother of Thousands, that had been carefully nurtured by Mother Subprioress throughout the years. It was a bittersweet day for those who stopped in at our Original Chapel and prayed the Stations of the Cross one last time. The stations, hand carved by Mother Placid Dempsey in cherry wood over a 20 year period, will be given a prominent place in our new chapel.

Barn Sale Preparation, August, 2017

Blessing of Phase One—Feast of St. Benedict, July 11, 2013
When Christ took flesh through the Blessed Virgin Mary, he made his home with us. Let us now pray that he will enter this home and bless it with his presence. May he always be here among us; may he nurture our love for each other, share in our joys, comfort us in our sorrows. Inspired by his teachings and example may we seek to make our new home before all else a dwelling place of love, diffusing far and wide the goodness of Christ.
Blessing for a Home

Bless O Lord, we pray, that this elevator, with all the mechanical and electrical elements that allow it to glide from the basement to the third floor, be preserved from all danger and catastrophe, and safely reach its needed destination, bringing its passengers in full equilibrium to the Work of God to which they have been assigned. And may this blessing extend to all the new spaces made accessible by this elevator and all the new systems installed for our protection and assistance. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Original Blessing for the New Elevator

2013—Completion of Phase One—Finishing Touches

May 2013—Renovations Bring New Color and Light to Interior and Exterior of Main Abbey Building

Transformation of 3rd Floor Attic into New Dormitory
Safety and Accessibility
2012—A Winning Team
2011—New Horizons—A Master Plan
History of the Building