Beautifying the Monastery Grounds

The Monastery on Pentecost Morning

After an epic thunderstorm early in the morning, the clouds cleared as the sun rose over the Monastery. Walking the grounds before Morning Prayer signs of life and spring made their presence known: birds, squirrels, rabbits, even a quick red fox!

Each year, the Monastery hosts a spring grounds clean-up day. The Sisters do this in conjunction with the Hill-Murray School Pioneer Day of Service (a day when students, families, alumni, and staff volunteer all over the Twin Cities in service to others). Eight volunteers from the Monastery joined 12 volunteers from Hill-Murray working on beautifying the Monastery grounds for all who come to experience life here.

Days like this last Saturday highlight the Benedictine value of community and honoring labor that puts the other before oneself. Some highlights from the day:

Joan weeds the garden that surrounds Our Lady (statue by Sister Irene Uptegrove, OSB)

The Courtyard: Joan arrived ready to work with her gloves, trowel, and knee pad. We had just the task for her: weeding around the statue of the Virgin Mary (created by Sister Irene Uptegrove OSB). The weeds loved the recent weather and it showed, plus the root balls from last year's flowering plants were still in the soil. Joan made quick work of this and noted how rich the soil was here, full of worms and other material making it an ideal garden bed. The Sisters are eager to have flowers planted now to honor Our Lady.

Aaron, Mike, Rita, and Mary moved several yards of mulch augment the Monastery gardens.

Mulch: A giant pile of mulch was delivered earlier in the week. Two new wheelbarrows were obtained. And several dedicated Monastery volunteers moved that mulch and spread it in front of the Chapel, in the grass garden between the walking paths, out front in the garden around the Monastery sign, and especially in the Fatima Grotto. It's true, a little mulch makes a big difference!

Jim with student volunteers carefully working on the labyrinth stones.

Labyrinth: Thanks to a very generous donor the deteriorating sandstone that lines the Monastery's labyrinth is carefully being replaced with granite stone. The donor with the skill and assistance of Hill-Murray students began this slow process working all morning on the stones that line the initial steps one takes when they walk the labyrinth.

Hill-Murray students did an exceptional job cleaning up the path from the Monastery to Tubman.

Walking Paths: A major section of walking paths was repaved recently (no more dangerous ruts!). Low-hanging branches also posed a danger to guests walking the grounds. Volunteers took cutters and chainsaws to make sure all walking paths were free of obstacles and made safe for all. On nice days you'll see many of our Sisters making laps on the grounds.

Path to Tubman: Four students from Hill-Murray's tennis team took on the walking path that leads from the Monastery up to the Tubman campus (a vital path for those from Tubman joining the Sisters for prayer). The path became overgrown last year ... this was no small project for the students. They trimmed back trees and grass, cleaned up trash and other debris, not only making the path walkable but a pleasant space to sit in the sun and enjoy all the wildlife that calls that pond home.

Want to help or get on the list for next year?

There are always tasks to be done to keep the Monastery grounds beautiful and welcoming to our guests. If you would like to join in our grounds ministry begin your volunteer experience with Jason Wittak (events and volunteer coordinator) at jwittak@stpaulsmonastery.org, 651-777-8181, ext. 409.