Update, Friday, March 17, 2017

Posted By on Mar 17, 2017

We pretty much forgot all about St. Patrick today. Instead we welcomed Br. Emmanuel’s body back and planted him like a seed next to the chapel he loved so much. We did not advertise and encourage anyone to come due to the conditions of the roads and capricious nature of the construction, but most of our staff and several of our neighbors came, even a handful of kids, Merritt and Alicia’s and their cousin, Katee’s granddaughter Samantha. (I got them to do dishes!) Br. Timothy and Kevin, from our housekeeping staff, both good southern boys, cooked up a picnic type feast for us: fried chicken, deviled eggs, beans, potato salad and cornbread. Fr. Daniel and Br. David came up from San Luis Obispo very early this morning and James came up from San Luis Rey, where he is in school, last night. We had moved back into choir in chapel starting this morning with Vigils of the Office of the Dead. After several weeks of liturgies in the chapter room, it was a little startling to hear our voices resonating through the rotunda again. We had to re-acclimate ourselves to the space, remember where to sit and when to bow! Our other guest of honor was Fr. Shane, Emmanuel’s nephew who is a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, so we had a full choir. That’s the good news. The more sobering news is that we are undergoing another “hard close” on the road as permanent restoration of the road at Paul’s Slide is scheduled to begin next week. Paul’s Slide is the one just to the south of us; actually it is mostly on our property and only the toe of it is on the highway, which means Caltrans will be working on the bottom of our property that abuts Highway 1. (We had to sign a right of entry.) What we know so far is that during this construction, residents (and residents only) will have very limited access—possibly a half-hour window in the morning and the evening—but unfortunately no resupply/deliveries, not even the school bus, will be allowed to pass at any time. Work will be performed 24/7 as conditions allow. Nacimiento-Ferguson Road, over the mountain, might be open to the public within days. Luckily, we got a delivery of fuel and food––and the trucks arrived right at the end of Emmanuel’s funeral! Perfect tribute, two diesel trucks roaring by the chapel. Benedict and Zacchaeus are heading into SLO tomorrow to get all last minuet supplies and the we are on lock down again for a few weeks and, of course, still unable to accept guests....

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I feel so slow in a fast paced world… But here are my updates, one I meant to post Monday but got called away. Update, Tuesday, March 7, 2017 As most of you already know, our beloved Brother Emmanuel, age 89, died serenely early morning March 6 at the Windsor care facility in Monterey. He never fully recovered from what wound up being a heart attack two weeks ago. He had a host of visitors Sunday and they all said that he continued to be joyful to the end. I was bound and determined not to check my email before breakfast, but while I was writing something else on my computer Monday morning at about 6:15 AM the emails just started coming in to my mail program. I happened to notice a notification from Jana, our hospice nurse that was entitled “Emmanuel” and lucky I checked. With no way to call, she was informing that he had died at 4:40 that morning. I quickly let one or two of the monks know and then jumped in the car because the construction site at Paul’s Slide and the other at Nacimiento Ferguson Road both close hard at 7 AM. I was able to get through, got to spend some time with, and anoint and pray next to Emmanuel’s poor old beat up body. I also got see Gabriel in his new temporary housing in Salinas, and deal with a pile of paperwork for the both of them. Since there is little access to the Big Sur right now, there will be a public viewing for our local oblates and friends at Mission Mortuary, 450 Camino El Estero in Monterey, Friday March 10th from 4 to 8 PM, with a rosary at 6:45 and a Wake Service at 7. Pending road construction, we hope to bring his remains home as soon as possible for a funeral with the monks and staff who loved Emmanuel so dearly. Here is part of the official obituary. Richard Wasinger was born October 14, 1927 to a German speaking household on the family farm near Loretto, Kansas. In his last days he often spoke dreamily of Kansas and the wheat fields. He became a Benedictine monk, taking the name Joseph, at Holy Cross Abbey, Canon City, Colorado, making first vows in 1957. He then followed his novice master, Fr. Joseph Diemer, to New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur in 1965, seeking a more contemplative life. He was always a warm and friendly presence, and was very dedicated to the Eucharist, the Divine office, and also to the Rosary and Way of the Cross. He delighted in taking care of...

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Brother Emmanuel Wasinger (1927-2017)

Posted By on Mar 6, 2017

Our beloved Brother Emmanuel died serenely last night at the Windsor care facility, from complications of a heart attack and broken hip. He was cheerful to the end, his body giving out but his spirit never. Born October 14, 1927 on the family farm near Loretto, Kansas, he became a Benedictine monk at Holy Cross Abbey, Canyon City, Colorado. He then followed his novice master, Fr. Joseph Diemer, here to New Camaldoli for a more contemplative life in 1965. He has always been warm and friendly, dedicated to Eucharist, the Divine office, and also the Rosary and Way of the Cross, and he delighted in taking care of our diesel generator (which provides all our electricity) and planting corn and keeping our roads clear. We shall very much miss him, but know he is in God’s love now, and praying for us. Funeral arrangements will be announced, and he will be buried here in our cemetery, together with the monks and workers he knew so well, and with whom he is now celebrating...

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update sunday march 5

Posted By on Mar 5, 2017

Raniero, Jim Weston (our hired caregiver) and I took Br. Gabriel up to the Teichert townhouse in Carmel on Wednesday evening when we thought the shift was changing at Paul’s Slide, prepared to have to wait for up to an hour. But we actually were whisked immediately through. And then the long ride over the mountain on Nacimiento Ferguson Road after that crew got off work. The immediate reason for taking Gabriel up there was that we are running low on propane particularly up on the east side, and the infirmary is both the most dependent on propane and the biggest consumer of it. There were some other reasons as well, including being nearer to supplies and to Jana, our hospice nurse, concern about the possibly of another emergency, and dwindling energy here. I knew this was only a short-term solution, so Jim, Raniero and I sat down and mapped out possible scenarios and plans for the weeks ahead. The best solution seemed to be, as much as I did not like it, to get Gabriel placed in a skilled nursing facility again for a time, so Jim and I spent the better part of Thursday and Friday morning trying to put that in place. To make a long story short, at the last hour, just before I was to head back down to Big Sur, I made one more call and found out that there was a room available at a place in Salinas called Windsor Skyline. It was like a miracle. Raniero and Jim moved him in with the help of Jana on Saturday, and I am happy to report that Raniero was able to begin his Lenten solitude retreat at Vajrapani Center in Boulder Creek tomorrow. We have a month for Gabriel at Windsor, due to a generous donation from some religious women in Orange County, and then we can figure out what to do from there, but I certainly hope to bring him back home well in time for Easter. Emmanuel is well settled now into Windsor Monterey in Monterey. Our friend Joe Kordsmeier had visited him several times and was the first call on their list until we got up there, since we have been without phones. Emmanuel is very joyful and peaceful, and does not seem to be in a lot of pain (or at least, in typical fashion, will not admit to it). His cognitive functions come and go, but he knew who I was and sometimes asked about current things at the Hermitage, but a lot of the time he thinks he’s in Kansas (he talks about wheat a lot, quite...

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update monday 27 february

Posted By on Feb 27, 2017

I spoke with the doctor last night, and he confirmed that Br. Emmanuel had indeed suffered a major heart attack, and each day his heart tests are getting worse. That means at this point they cannot operate on his hip (really, it was a fractured upper femur), and he will never walk again. So now, with our approval and according to Emmanuel’s written wishes, we are moving into solely comfort care and hospice. Bede went down from Berkeley today to help with a transition to a hospice house or nursing home, and we can decide what else, if anything, to do after the roads open. At this point it is not clear that Emmanuel understands anything that is going on, so I/we have made the decision for him. Yesterday the nurse told him that he was a monk, and he thought that was the funniest thing he’d ever heard. I can almost imagine him saying: “A monk?! Heh-heh-heh… Well, how about that!? It’s a great mystery.” I have heard from several of our friends who have been to visit him in the hospital and they all confirm that his spirits are high. We are all fine here. There is a really joyous spirit about the place, and it feels as if we are getting a chance to focus on the essentials of our life, our prayer and taking care of each other, with a little more silence, solitude and simplicity. The liturgies in the Chapter Room (due to low numbers and saving on propane heat) have been very sweet. Our cook left and has asked to take a month off, since we are so few, so four of us are taking turns preparing simple hearty midday meals with everyone chipping in to do the clean up. Our garden, even without our gardener Ryan, is bursting, and one of the staff has been gathering fresh produce for our salads each day. And we are squeezing orange juice from our own trees––all things we could be doing all along anyway. Since we can’t get out for the scheduled Rec Day tomorrow, we’re going to have pancakes for breakfast together, watch a movie together in the afternoon and have a little gathering in the evening with pizza and some extra libations for Mardi Gras. Some of our staff have been down to see the construction on the road below us, the main issue. They are very serious about it being a “hard close,” and are not even happy about allowing any one to walk across the site. The good news is that they are working 24/7 to get it repaired, because they know...

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One of the things I was afraid might happen did happen yesterday, but at least we were prepared for it. Old Brother Emmanuel fell in his cell and by the time we got to him he was totally disoriented and in some pain. Since we have no phones, through a series of walkie-talkie relays and with the help of our neighbor Ken Harlan we finally got Big Sur Fire here, and then a helicopter from Fort Hunter Liggett transported him and me to Salinas. He’s got a fractured hip and is having surgery today. He is very confused but beautifully joyful. He is in very good hands, and with all that is going on down here, he is probably in the best place possible, with some days of recovery in the hospital and then probably some weeks in rehab. Down here on the Big Sur: a very stern warning was issued that anyone who wants to evacuate Big Sur has to do so by 1 PM today. Then they are doing a “hard close,” with absolutely no access, so we are told, for two weeks. This is mainly to work on the slide that is just to the south of us, called “Paul’s Slide.” It’s the most fragile spot on the coast. We monks met this morning and all opted to stay put. We have food and fuel, a minimum staff, and we feel safe. We still have no phone lines, but we do have walkie-talkies and our neighbors are setting up another radio transmittal through our property for all of our safety issues. The Big Sur Fire knows that we are here and stranded and can get here from the north, and the helicopter can get here from Fort Hunter Liggett in a flash if we have any other kind of emergency. One moment of beauty: it was a stunning flight over the Santa Lucia Mountains yesterday, breath-taking to see them from that point of view, the north faces all covered in snow. Also obvious what a wild and self-mediating territory we live in. One can only bow in deep respect and reverence. We are quite fine, using this as a new and deeper monastic experience. There is a quiet joy about the place, even among the staff, who have been marvelous. Thank you so much for all your love, support and prayers, which mean more to us––and to me personally––than ever before. And more than ever, please count on our love and prayers as...

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