Two weekends ago we began our 2015 Siena Memorial Tour at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This past weekend, we travelled a bit further to visit the New Melleray Abbey in Peosta, IA.
New Melleray Abbey is the home of the Trappist Casket company that built Siena's casket.
As an abbey our visiting options here were a bit more limited than a place like the Shrine. Daily Mass is at 7:00 AM and on Sunday they push it back to 9:00. Which is probably great for people who live locally, but not so much for those who have a bit of a drive!
The kids totally approved, however, because the time meant we would stay at a hotel the night before and make an entire weekend of it. We thought to do some sort of *extra special* fun activity Saturday, but it turned out swimming in the hotel pool and a picnic in front of the Food Network is a pretty good deal! What I think is a pretty good deal is that my kids have evidently reached the age where we are not struggling with little ones in a hotel that can't go to sleep without rocking resulting in crying that makes me nervous about getting kicked out. Phew!!
Sunday morning we woke up early and drove over to the Abbey. It was a beautiful sunny Sunday! Mass at an abbey was a completely new experience for everyone and I'm so glad we did it. I was surprised by how full the tiny seating area for visitors was. Aidan, especially, was enthralled by the layout and what it was the residents do to keep busy all day. He was the first to devour the history book I bought at the gift shop.
Speaking of, the gift shop was an another experience completely! They didn't have a cashier- payment was entirely on the honor system. A box for cash/checks and a credit card machine with instructions for use. I must have added up my (sizable) purchases several times because I was so nervous I would get it wrong and not pay enough! How they keep track of inventory I have no idea, but oh well.
We had a chance to chat just briefly with one of the priest brothers. He told Lucie (who was playing the ham and introducing all of her siblings) that he likes to be as much like God as possible and since God loves little children he loves little children and she should come back and visit him lots. It was very sweet.
We took some pictures of the kids on the grounds. They had what we presume is an outdoor stable for a nativity scene of some variety and the kids all cooperated by giving me multiple group shots to choose from.
|Kylee is holding the cross from Siena's casket.|
Caleb objected to a second picture taking location.
Outdoor stations of the cross are around this little courtyard, you can see some of them.
Being a bit south of us, the dandelions and violets were vibrantly blooming. Someone asked if I knew if the were safe to eat (smart kids to ask about possibly spraying!) and subsequently several were snacked upon. Aidan was dutifully impressed by these priests and brothers. who work with their hands and have such a commitment to the environment.
I think a seed has been planted.
I hope so anyways.
We weren't able to tour the casket company portion of the facility. Apparently the brother who normally handles weekend requests for tours fell and was injured and wasn't available. Hopefully he will feel better soon! We still took some outside pictures, just to prove we were really there.
We have a bit of a break from *official* tour stops for a few weeks, but this weekend we will be holding a private burial with our family, Siena's godparents, and the priest who did her baptism and confirmation.