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by Theresa McGinn | December 30, 2016 | Residential Volunteer Program

The Christmas Season with a New Year following is the natural time to reflect on your past year.  Many years I have looked back on my year, thanked God tremendously for helping me survive it, and prayed that the New Year will look brighter.  This year, I have the most amazing year to look back upon, having been a volunteer here at Sacred Heart Monastery since March, and not only am I thanking God tremendously for the privilege, but I am praying that 2017 comes close to being as wonderful and fulfilling as this year has been.

My volunteering began with an Easter snowfall that filled me with delight, although  I seemed somewhat alone in the excitement. Coming from Florida, it was a real treat for me; everyone else was looking forward to spring.  I couldn’t get enough of the rural scenery with wild turkeys, deer, eagles, rivers and orchards.  The first three months, as the daffodils and crocus began to bloom, and new born bunnies ran around, I spent every free moment roaming the grounds taking pictures of everything spring.  I must have two hundred photos of peonies and apple blossoms alone.  Summer came with its array of fresh fruits, vegetables, and roses of every shape and color.  Of course, all these beautiful things came with a great deal of work to be done: gardens to be hoed, produce to be gathered, washed, cut and stored, jams to be cooked, pies to be baked, and liturgies of thanksgiving to be prepared. Summer came with a great deal of fun in town, too: city parades, fireworks over the river, and Riverboat Days. Summer also gave us three more wonderful volunteers, Bridgette, Elisabeth and Katie.  I have three new friends for a lifetime, and wonderful memories of a summer spent working together.  Fall brought a whole new life to the campus as students returned to Mount Marty College. Watching leaves change from green to shades of fire may not be special to everyone, but I can tell you that for someone who grew up in Florida, it is something to be treasured as a miracle.  Life came full circle in witnessing another snowfall just before Christmas. Oh, Christmas at the monastery was everything I could have hoped for and more! I have witnessed birth and growth and life all year, having it culminate in the birth of Baby Jesus at the Monastery.

God has truly blessed me with the opportunity to serve God and these sisters.  He has blessed me with the largest family I could ever imagine having as a single woman. I am truly blessed, and pray that everyone reading this is equally as blessed this New Year and beyond.

-Theresa McGinn

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