Story from The BC Catholic [edited for length]. Full story CLICK HERE.
Creative community of nuns at Queen of Peace Monastery produces pots, carvings, icons, booksBy Agnieszka KrawczynskiSQUAMISH
A Dominican sister says she sees little miracles when she's clad in a work habit and sitting at a potter's wheel.
"You start with a round ball of clay and you get it spinning, and by the pressure you put on it, all of a sudden, a pot starts coming up," said Sister Mary Magdalen Coughlin, OP. "It's like watching a little miracle take place."
Sister Coughlin studied pottery at Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y. She has also been a "tool nut," a carver, and a sculptor since her teens.
The Queen of Peace Monastery, also a home to iconographers and musicians, fits Sister Coughlin's creative aspirations.
Sister Coughlin's carvings and sculptures are usually commissioned, while her pots go for sale at the monastery's modest gift shop, among candles, dried spices, religious art, books by the sisters, and crucifixes.
"This is a very creative community," said Sister Jean Marie Dwyer, OP, who also lives at Queen of Peace. Two books she's written are on the gift shop's shelves.
The monastery itself is a work of art. Its pews are built out of trees that were cleared away for construction. A native neighbour made the chapel's altar out of a local piece of basalt. At the back of the chapel is a carving of the Queen of Peace done with a chainsaw.
The entire wall of the chapel behind the tabernacle is glass, facing kilometres of forest and mountains.
This close to nature, the sisters are conscious of being good stewards of the environment.
When stone was being blasted to construct the monastery, the sisters collected some of the fine sand. Sister Coughlin later discovered that sand to be an ingredient "for the base for a natural glaze." She uses it, and other local ingredients, on her pots.
"The Lord says, 'Can I not do with you, O Israel, what the potter does? As clay is in the hands of the potter, so are you are in My hands, O house of Israel,'" she recited.
She hopes to pass on that wisdom, and her pottery skills, to sisters who are entering the monastery.
Her community is still slowly rebuilding after a sudden flood hit their property in September.
"Today we're beginning to pull out the old bridge," Prioress Marie Tersidis Tarimo, OP, said Nov. 10.
Queen of Peace Monastery's only vehicle access uses a bridge, which floated a few feet downstream. With no way to drive in, sisters have to cart groceries in wheelbarrows and struggle to transport ill sisters to Squamish for medical attention.
Former prioress Sister Claire Marie Rolf, OP, estimated last month that it would cost $150,000 to repair the damage to the bridge and water purification system. The monastery itself was unharmed.
Sister Tarimo said those who would like to donate may do so by mailing a cheque to the Dominican Sisters, Queen of Peace Monastery, Box 1745, Garibaldi Highlands, B.C., V0N 1T0; or using their website: www.dominicannunsbc.ca.