The history of the Celtic Christian Church gives a good deal of information about the beginning use of the home we call "St. Ciarán's." There are some personal stories behind it too, and I (Cait) would love to share them with you. As with most of us, our adult lives were shaped by our childhoods and families.
Bishop Joe's family lived closely in a small house in North Dartmouth, MA. His evenings were spent at the kitchen table studying with his three sisters. Family life and learning were tied together. Life-long learning was instilled by his parents. The Catholic Faith was passed to him by his parents and grandparents. He in turn wanted to pass all this to our daughter, and we did.
My family was a bit different in that there was a large age gap between my older brothers and me. I studied at the kitchen table alone, and would have much preferred to race inside to play the piano all evening! My parents always emphasized hospitality to family and friends, and our door was always open. They and my grandparents also passed the Faith to me through their example and teachings.
One night I remember having a vivid dream. In the dream it was Sunday morning, and the telephone rang. I was just a little girl, maybe around 6 or 7 years of age (in reality), and my mother was in the kitchen making the Sunday breakfast. We'd just come home from Mass. Mom told me to answer the phone. I reached for it and greeted the Caller. Over the phone I heard a man's voice say to me, "Hello, this is Jesus. Tell your Mommy I will be coming for dinner tonight." I hung up the phone and told my mother what he said. OH! Mom went wild, frantic! What would she cook? We'd need to clean every nook and cranny of the apartment. We'd need to get our best clothes on... On and on she went excited and overwhelmed by the news. As dreams go, the day passed in a few moments, and the doorbell rang. I knew somehow that I was the one to answer the door. I walked through our living room into the foyer, and opened the door. There, standing tall and quiet, with a broad gentle smile and such love in his eyes, was Jesus, come for dinner! I opened the door wide...and then I woke up.
I've never forgotten that dream. It brings me joy and tears whenever I think about it. I've tried never to close the door either.
There is little that Bishop Joe and I have to leave our beautiful daughter Rose when the Lord calls us home. We have experienced the hospitality and warm embrace of God's Love. It has been graciously and generously given to us both, and to whom much is given much is required. It is for us to share that Love with our guests. Yet, as parents, it is our desire to leave our treasure, our Rose, the example of hospitality. Welcome the stranger as Christ, and welcome the stranger as Christ would welcome him or her. May our legacy be Love and Hospitality.
Thanks be to God.
A bit of the history of the house...
We've tried to keep our door open in hospitality since we formed our family in 1980. The outgrowth of that has been a wealth of wonderful friends, and an extended family that spans thousands of miles. We've welcomed the most unexpected people! Authors, bishops, thieves, pilgrims of various kinds, and an assortment of surprises!
For the past 30 years we have lived at our home in the Poconos in Pennsylvania, were we raised our daughter Rose.
Starting first as a group home for special needs children, we took in over 23 children between 1986 and 1996. We also opened the family home to various other people over the years, particularly in Good Tidings Ministry. In 1996 we took care of Cait's aging mother in our home until her death in 2002.
With the death of Cait's mother, and our adult daughter moving on to university, we began to use our home more for quiet prayer, personal study, and hospitality for members of the Celtic Christian Church, and Good Tidings Ministry. It serves as the Mother House for The Order of the Merciful Christ. For several years we have been welcoming individuals for spiritual direction, marriage preparation, marriage counseling, formation for religious life in the OMC or for Holy Orders within the Celtic Christian Church and the Order of the Merciful Christ. We are able to share our extensive library to help seminarians in the Church.
In 2006 severe rain storms hit the Pocono Mountain area, and Monroe County was declared a federal disaster area. As a result of those storms our roof was badly damaged, and the ceilings in three rooms were destroyed and caved in causing tremendous interior damage. The county helped us replace the roof in the fall of 2006, just before the snows arrived. The ceilings needed to wait. Sister Peggy Chambers, OMC was our own carpenter who helped cover the gaping holes in the ceilings until all could be repaired. All damage was finally completely repaired in 2011.
Yes, it is still our family home. Yes, we still live here. It continues to be our way of welcoming Christ. Bishop Joe has balanced his own keen interest in theology and spirituality and shepherding the Church with his love of working in the outdoors and in the woods, especially with his seminarian, Rev. Will Searfoss.
His wood shop in the house is always buzzing...
Bishop Joe and I Iived here with Mother Patti McClellan, OMC, for 4 years
and then Sr. Peggy Chambers, OMC., and Ms Deb Jones, joined our community to prepare for their ordinations.