November 2005

Tautra Mariakloster is growing up We will become an independent monastery next March History was made on Thursday, October 27, 2005. All the abbesses of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance were meeting at the General Chapter in Assisi. Mother Rosemary had had to present Tautra Mariakloster’s current situation: that we have six nuns willing to transfer their stability permanently to Tautra, and that we have been able to cover 75% of our living expenses by herbal soap sales and donations. We have been living a regular Cistercian life since the beginning in 1999, have opened our novitiate, and look forward to a more normal monastic life when we move into the new monastery scheduled to be finished in June, 2006. The 70 abbesses voted unanimously to grant Tautra Mariakloster autonomy, and to raise the monastery from a foundation to a simple priory. M Rosemary called us at 4:45 p.m. with the news and we celebrated immediately with ice cream and caramel sauce. We are planning the ceremony for our autonomy next March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, which is the foundation anniversary of both monasteries on Tautra—the one founded in 1999 and the one founded in 1207. During this ceremony, Sisters Rosemary, Lisbeth, Marjoe, Sheryl, Gilchrist and Hanne-Maria will change their stability from the monasteries where they made solemn profession, and promise to live with the Tautra community for the rest of their lives. M Rosemary was appointed superior of the foundation by M Gail of Mississippi Abbey. Soon after the ceremony raising Tautra Mariakloster to a simple priory, we will hold our first election, and elect our own superior. We ask your prayers as we discern who God is calling to lead us into the next stage of our life as a Cistercian monastery. The umbilical cord is never completely severed, however, and we can still ask our motherhouse, Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, for help with finances and personnel, and we remain closely united to our sisters in Iowa in gratitude for their sacrifice in bringing us to birth. Work on the new building continues at a rapid pace. The walls of the church are scheduled to be up by December 1, and NCC plans to have the glass roof on the church by the turn of the year. The first shipment of ottaskifer (slate with iron oxide in it), to be hung like panels on the outside of the building, has arrived. This is a very exciting time. Our website has been updated with photos, and the webcamera is functioning. Take a peek at Our garden committee plans to have a theme for each garden: Zen garden, herb garden, rose garden, Atlas peace garden, the main garth with a fountain, Tautra garden with plants from the middle ages which are characteristic of Tautra. We have a "church volunteer" living and working with us for a year. Thien Oanh Nguyen Thi is 22 and from Stavanger. She is Vietnamese, but has lived in Norway since she was 6. She is a whiz at cooking soap, and even more of a whiz when she treats us to Vietnamese noodles and spring rolls. She has adapted to monastic life very quickly.

Our chaplain Fr Anthony Patrick Joseph O’Brien of Mount St Joseph Abbey, Roscrea, Ireland celebrated his 25th anniversary of priesthood on October 15. We gave him a surprise party with Fr Marcellinus, the parish priest in Levanger, two of the Brigittine sisters, and some of our neighbors in attendance. Fr Anthony presided at his 9125th celebration of the Eucharist, which the nuns rounded out with Irish tunes and harp music. Ad multos annos! Fr Stephen Verbest of New Melleray Abbey gave us an excellent retreat on Cistercian themes. We were also visited by Fr Phil Gibbs and Fr Tom McDermott, who pitched in enthusiastically on the work front. It’s not every visitor who so willingly paints a barn or pulls weeds on the building site in the pouring rain. Now our longtime friend Sr Bertha Fox, BVM, is here for two months, helping us by taking over the laundry, working in the soap department, putting stamps on envelopes for our Christmas card, and most of all by sharing her specialty, music. It is a joy to sing to her accompaniment at the Eucharist, and we are all benefiting from her expertise in Gregorian chant. Before the General Chapter we had started to discuss enclosure, and how monks and nuns in different countries have lived it differently. Historically, the nuns have lived according to a stricter interpretation of the rules of enclosure. There are many reasons for this, but now we need to pool our experiences and learn from one another. Especially since we’re one Order, we want to have common legislation. Which word expresses this process? "Synthesize" isn’t quite right. "Unify" is better, but how about "harmonize"? The word seems to mean to make the legislation more similar, in harmony with itself, with no stray notes in the melody. But to harmonize actually means to take a melody and deliberately add the other voices to it. So to harmonize doesn’t mean to make something more alike, it means to make it more different! If we are truly living in harmony, we are developing our differences, not making us all the same. The melody becomes more beautiful because the other voices are different, and compliment it. It sounds harmonious because each voice is heard and contributes to the whole, yet the whole sounds good because no one voice dominates. If we can harmonize our experiences—in the Order and in our own communities--we will create a new melody which is beautiful precisely because each voice is respected. With love from your "growing up" sisters on Tautra

Fr Anthony O’Brien, OCSO: A life dedicated to God Born: 6 December 1944 in Ballylongford, Co. Kerry, Ireland Baptized: 7 December 1944 Confirmed: 25 May 1959 Entered Mount Saint Joseph: 3 October 1968

Received the Habit: 6 January 1969 Simple Profession: 10 January 1971 Solemn Profession: 10 January 1974 Ordained Priest: 15 October 1980 by Most Rev Dr Rodgers, Bishop of Killaloe Came to Tautra: 23 May 2003 Chip off the old rebar: Sr Sheryl takes after her artistic and photographic parents by taking photos when she walks around Tautra. Now she has permanent exhibition space at the new art gallery on Tautra. Bente Haug, who opened the gallery on the pier last April, refuses to take a commission on Sheryl’s photos that are sold, and gives the entire sum to the new monastery. These are some images of "found art" that were taken on the building site. To see Sheryl’s photos that are on display, click into the Nettbutikk at M Rosemary’s address to the General Chapter The many houses approved at this Chapter seem to us a living proof of the vitality of the Charter of Charity because so many of the houses of the Order have actually contributed personnel and resources to our upbuilding. Thank you, Dom Bernardo and each one of you and your communities, for your prayer for Tautra, your love and your encouragement. Especially, of course, we want to thank Mother Gail and our Sisters at Our Lady of the Mississippi, who by their trust and sacrifice have given us birth and constant care. Dom Bernardo has said that autonomy is a right, not a reward—but we receive it as pure gift of God’s goodness mediated through all of you. We want to express our particular thanks to our present Father Immediate, Dom Brendan of New Melleray, and our future Father Immediate, Dom Kevin of Roscrea, and to Mellifont and Roscrea for providing ideal chaplains, to all of you who have sent Sisters to help us for shorter or longer periods: Wrentham, Santa Rita, Redwoods, Laval, Soleilmont, Campénéac and Nazareth. We extend an invitation to each of you to come for a visit as Tautra is truly a very beautiful and healing island. Our immense gratitude embraces all who have sustained and supported us in so many ways.