After over fourteen years as chaplain to our nuns in California, Fr. Maurice Flood has returned to Holy Cross Abbey. Maurice was at our Lady of Redwoods Abbey, in Whitethorn California, during a crucial transition from its Belgian foundresses to becoming a thoroughly American community. Two sisters from Belgian, now U.S. citizens, are still with the community as senior members. Both old age and infirmity have caught up with Fr. Maurice who, even with the passing of fourteen years, is fondly remembered by retreatants who first encountered him in our Retreat House.
To celebrate his return, the midday meal for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, was arranged for conversation–not our usual form of celebration. Customarily, our meals are in silence; on holy days, recorded music may replace refectory reading. But for a really big celebration, a few tables are moved from their hieratic order to a more intimate grouping; table-cloths, place mats, napkins and wine glasses are unpacked and a vase of flowers–sent to Fr. Maurice from friends in California–appeared on the table. Perhaps some day we’ll even invest in real dishes to replace the plastic plates and bowls we always use.
Aside from entertaining our questions about sisters we know at Redwoods or other matters, Fr. Maurice pointed out that we and Redwoods are now equal in the number of members and Sr. Gottlieb, nearly the same age as our Br. Edward, now uses a walker to get around. He also reminded us that forty-nine years ago to the day he had professed his monastic vows at Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky before the church was renovated to its present form. Of course that means at this time next year we’ll have another of those really big celebrations to commemorate Fr. Maurice’s monastic Jubilee.