I like offbeat stories and this one was called to my attention. For 27 years, the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist ran a marina, general store, post office and ferry terminal which had huge hydraulic ramps on Shaw Island (part of the San Juan Islands archipelago) in the state of Washington. When the sisters who ran the services retired in 2004, the outpost was taken over by others.
“They were an important part of their community … . Everyone visiting the islands wanted to see the nuns and their dog raise and lower the transfer span at Shaw. They were a symbol of the San Juan Islands, like the orcas that call the area home.”
But what caught my eye at the end of the article was the tidbit that there are still nuns on Shaw Island. Our Lady of the Rock Monastery, founded on the island in 1977, is home to Benedictines nuns who raise rare cattle and sheep breeds, along with llamas, poultry, vegetables, herbs, and flowers on 300 acres of forest and farmland.
The sisters invite anyone over the age of 18 to “come for a day, a weekend, or a week-long retreat to experience the monastic environment. Spend this time working on the farm, cutting hay, building fences, feeding animals, or any of the other necessary daily tasks of the monastic farm. Deepen your connection with God and join us as we pray and fulfill our call to Ora et Labora.” They also offer internships of 6 months to a year for those who need a spiritual refresher, who are thinking about a vocation or are pondering a career change.
Three nuns from the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT founded the community in 1977 with. As of 2006 they numbered 8 nuns. Their mission is to pray for the needs of the Church, especially in their archdiocese, to meet the needs of their visitors, and to augment the services of the Catholic Church in the San Juan Islands.