Driving down "Rosary Way"– the 3,224 feet of dirt road, it suddenly opens to a clearing that reveals several new foundations and with a beautiful view of Lake Ashuelot filtering through the trees. The road, professionally planned and constructed, with four culverts, starts at the top of the 58 acres of Montfort Retreat. Its construction took four taxing months and is a beautiful testimony to the hard and relentless labor of the Brothers and volunteers who gave precious vacation time to help during the hot summer months.
Once the road was completed, clearing the woods for the building sites began. In one day Brother Anthony Marie, Brother Peter Mary and 30 men from the Center chain sawed the marked trees, hauled logs and made the sites ready. Meanwhile Sister Christopher Margaret worked on obtaining four major permits needed before we applied for the actual building permit. On August 31 the building permit was finally approved.
Construction began immediately, and as you can see by the accompanying photos no time was wasted. First a foundation was poured for the lodge and the footings for the dining hall. These are two of the four main buildings of Montfort Retreat which will also include the chapel and bathhouse.
By Saturday, September 23, the Brothers, again with the help of volunteers, had everything prepared for the larger group of men and boys that came to lift floor joists and plywood for the sub-floor of the lodge. It was an exciting event and with so much help, a lot of work was accomplished in one day.
On September 25, the first flatbed of logs for the lodge arrived. It took three hours for Brother Anthony Marie to unload all the pallets with the excavator, and even at that, the delivery was only one third of the total logs required.
Our general contractor for the lodge is Mike Lodge, who hand-hewed the oak beams for our convent chapel. He is a master at post and beam constructions. Mike began immediately erecting the main post and notching the timber trusses, which were lifted into place by crane on October 13. Next the logs will be measured, notched and placed up all the way to the second floor timbers. Mike plans to have the plywood on the roof before the bad weather arrives. He will then wrap it up tight for the winter and return to finish in the Spring.
Meanwhile another contractor, who hopes to finish before Winter, is constructing the septic system. A local carpenter and his crew will be working at the same time on the dining hall. This structure, which will house the kitchen and eating area, has a cement floor. There will be a roofed in extension off the side for additional activity space.
Without the help of volunteers, the Brothers who operate the machinery, supervise and do all the extras, including surveying, would not have been able to accomplish a fraction of the plans. One of the contractors, skeptical at first, remarked; “my hat goes off to the Brothers, they said they would finish the road by first of September and they finished before that! I didn’t think it would happen.”
And most of all we thank our benefactors for helping with donations to enable us to purchase the material we need to do all the construction. We appreciate every donation, no matter how small, knowing it is a sacrifice for the greater glory of God. We ask His blessings on all those who have helped us in anyway. Please know that you are all in our prayers.
Future progress this year will depend on how long the snow will hold off up in the beautiful woods of New Hampshire! Once the snows have thawed and the mud hardened, the buzzing of saws will resume again at Montfort Retreat. Our prediction for the future is; Some of the buildings will be usable in the Summer 2007, but Montfort Retreat will be up and running, God willing, in the Summer of 2008. So hang on to your hat and keep us in your prayers.
Updates can be seen as they occur…and many more pictures! …check out the slideshows!