Right from the time my daughter thought she was about to see some monkeys, my kids have developed a neat friendship with residents at Abbey of the Genesee.
I first took my three children to the monastery in Piffard, near Geneseo, in the summer of 2014 while doing a story on the abbey’s renovations. Catherine, then 9, was told she was going to meet a group of monks — but didn’t hear quite right and thought we were heading to the zoo.
We got a great tour of the facilities from Father Isaac Slater and Brother Anthony Weber. Since the church was bare at the time, we looked forward to returning after the renovations were complete. That visit finally occurred one Sunday morning this past November, when my wife, kids and I traveled from our home near Lake Ontario to attend the 9:30 a.m. weekly Mass that is open to the public.
The church looked beautiful, and my family was impressed at how congenial a few of the Trappist priests and brothers were afterward. The kids even got put to work in the bread shop where the famed Monks Bread is sold, having fun with cashier and bagging duties.
Catherine, now almost 11, and her brothers, Andrew, 14, and Matthew, 12, all say they’re eager to go back — which is a big deal to me, since their faith journeys are quickly moving toward adulthood.
Other cloisters in this diocese welcome visitors for limited events as well: the Benedictine monks’ Mount Saviour Monastery, located near Elmira; and the Discalced Carmelite sisters’ monastery in Pittsford, near Rochester.
It could prove highly worthwhile to spend time at these places, where the residents’ lifestyles may be distinctly separate from ours but friendly connections can be made nonetheless.