In late April over a dozen students and adults headed out to the Oratory's Rednal Retreat House in Ligonier, PA for a week of clearing, cleaning, planting and repairs. The group, whose number at times grew to over 20!, was led by Fr. Drew Morgan and did an great job of helping to prepare the way for the new road to the top of the mountain, as well as many other long and laborious tasks. The days were not all work, however. Each day included Mass at 7:30am, communal vespers in the evening and an hour of Adoration each night. The hour of Eucharistic Adoration, attended by every member of the group without fail, became the glue of the community. By the end of the week a true family formed in work, prayer, delicious family meals and the communal viewing of movies such as Tangled and Frozen, had emerged.
A common sight and source of amusement throughout the week was the small and speedy flying over of a drone video recorder controlled from the ground by Fr. Michael Darcy. Flying high over the property this little "Big Brother" recorded hours of footage of the work being done on the side of the mountain and on top of the ridge; footage that is sure to be seen at the 2016 Rednal Benefit!
Meals were taken in common three times a day. Feeding such a large group proved quite the challenge for Front-Desk-Manager-turned-cook Ren Witter. Daily trips to the grocery store in town provided the three dozen eggs, four loaves of bread, ten pounds of potatoes, 15+ pounds of meat and much much more that was needed to feed the group. Only two nights saw the exhausted students around a bonfire come nightfall. Though the expectation had been that there would be a great deal more evenings of relaxation, it was all the worn out and heavy-eyed students could do to make it up the stairs to bed at the end of the day.
Thomas Skamai, a resident student at the Oratory writes:
Rednal Work Week was a wonderful blend of work, fellowship, and prayer. After receiving spiritual and physical nourishment from Mass and a huge breakfast, we ventured into the wilderness to clean up our property. We spent hours battling multi-floral rose, making huge brush piles, and watching the tree chipper devour anything and everything we dared to feed it. We helped one another carry huge logs and pull down incredibly stubborn vines. The evenings were spent rejuvenating our tired bodies with a huge dinner and a holy hour. We also played games, watched movies, and had pleasant conversations admiring the great work we accomplished and impersonating our beloved Oratorians.
An extraordinary amount of work was accomplished over the days spent at Rednal. The Oratorians are so grateful to Reed Frey, Conner Van Pevenage, Ryan Le Grand, Thomas Skamai, Patrick Wood, Jess McDade, Jacque Faylo, Dan Patti, Mike Griffin, Johanna Helba, Brandy Traphagan, Eric Draper, Callaghan Bradley, Ross Acheson, Peter Kolokowski, Patrick Creamer ,Mark Stanard and the Zygmunt Family for their dedication and service, and to all in Pittsburgh and Ligonier who worked to make this time possible. Thank you to our Rednal caretakers, Ron and Joann Keyser, for putting up with us and joining in on the work and fun.
Click here to see photos from this wonderful week!