Over twenty years ago, the then abbot of Mepkin, Father Francis Kline was invited by Sister Bridget of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy (OLMs) to come to their convent on James Island along with the other monks for Thanksgiving dinner. Abbot Francis accepted the invitation, and every year since then, the monks of Mepkin have celebrated Thanksgiving with the Sisters. Now, Sister Mary Joseph Ritter is the General Superior, and graciously welcomed Abbot Stan and the monks upon their arrival. Sister Mary Joseph also welcomed a number of women’s religious congregations who arrived to join the festivities.
Thanksgiving began, appropriately enough, with Mass celebrated at 11 am by Bishop Robert Guglielmone, and concelebrated by Abbot Stan. In his homily, the Bishop shared that it is difficult at this time to give thanks in a world filled with chaos, where Mother Nature has declared war on us. How then, can we possibly give thanks? Nevertheless, the Bishop went on to say that what we give thanks for is the gift of faith. Faith that allows us to experience peace, happiness, and joy even in the midst of horror and chaos. He noted how, in the recent edition of TIME magazine, there were photographs of people fleeing Burma for Bangladesh. These images were very touching and poignant. However, we must not lose hope, and we give thanks to God for the gifts of faith and of simply being together on this day.
After Mass, all went into the large dining room where a delicious traditional Thanksgiving meal was served. The cook, Curtis, and his family were celebrating twenty years with the sisters. They were happy to renew their acquaintance with the Mepkin monks, and they provided a wonderful lunch for the entire group. The meal lasted over two hours, a sign of the great camaraderie among the OLMs, the visiting sisters, and the monks from Mepkin. Not even the atrociously wet weather dampened the great feeling of satisfaction and joy at having shared another Thanksgiving together.
Not all monks from Mepkin traveled to James Island that day. A number of monks stayed behind and had a full Thanksgiving meal at the monastery cooked by Brother Paul. They were joined by Paul Brennan from the Mepkin health care team and by Charles Myers, a longtime staff member in the mushroom house. By all accounts, they enjoyed a wonderful day as well.
By the end of the Thanksgiving Day, all the monks were able to swap stories of a truly memorable day. Already, the OLMs have extended the monks an invitation to dine and celebrate again next year, Thanksgiving 2018, and the brothers of Mepkin cheerfully accepted, anticipating another great time of fellowship and celebration.
Thanksgiving Prayer-“Boundless God”
As far as the eyes can see,
As bold as the mind can perceive,
As deep as the soul can reach,
Your Spirit enlivens our table,
Your Love emblazons our lives!
Bless our eyes and minds,
Our soul and spirits
To savor Your presence
In these gifts of food before us.
Bless all who tended the earth,
All who thoughtfully prepared,
And all who graciously served.
We offer this prayer in Jesus’ name.