Wonderful, exhilarating, productive, hot & humid, fun, prayerful, comforting, familiar, grateful, exhausting – those are just some of the words we can use to describe Volunteer Week.

From Friday, July 24th through Tuesday, July 28th, we welcomed more people to our house than we have seen in the past four months combined!  Although Volunteer Week is not seven days long, the smaller-than-usual crew of volunteers sure packed a lot of work into those few days.   Over the course of five days, we had 21 people offer more than 250 hours of volunteer labor.  Five of our volunteers had never volunteered here before, and two had never even been to St. Anthony’s before!  Whether our volunteers could help for only a few hours or stayed for all five days, they all rolled up their sleeves and dug in – literally and figuratively – to the work that needed doing .

Some of the tasks were familiar – weeding, pruning, dusting, vacuuming – but some tasks were unique to this unique year.   A big part of the help Housekeeping always needed was getting all the bedrooms ready for guests.  This year, we did not deep clean the bedrooms.  Instead, volunteers went from room to room removing the bedspreads, the towel baskets and the bed-making cards found on the beds – all because they were potential sources of passing COVID from one guest to another.

Even some familiar tasks looked a lot different than past years.  Usually, garden volunteers were here almost daily to help keep the weeds under control.  This year, few were able to be here at all over the past two months, and those who did come were certainly not here enough to keep up with the battle against the weed invasion.  The task of weeding this week was more like a scavenger hunt to find the vegetable plants hiding among the weeds which were taller than the vegetable plants and much more populous.

Morning and Evening prayer were part of every day as they have been in the past, but without Fr. Bob we had to resort to televised Mass in the Conference Room on Saturday evening.  We did have a special prayer service on Sunday evening asking for a blessing on the house to keep all who work, live or visit here safe in these challenging times.  Eleven candles were lit and then carried in procession through the cloister hall placing them in the vigil light stand in our chapel.

Also part of the annual tradition is food and fellowship, and this year was no different in that regard.  Whether conversing while at work, at mealtimes or around the campfire in the evening, old friends were able to reconnect and all were able to make new friends.  Even our socially-distanced dining room could not impede the conversations while all enjoyed delicious meals.

We have been blessed by these generous volunteers and thanks to them, the house and the grounds look great!  For their generosity, service, hard work, fellowship and prayer, we say Deo Gratias!