Closing a Monastery—Remembering a History
by Rob Carbonneau, C.P., Ph.D.
My favorite view of the Passionist foundation in West Springfield, Massachusetts, is heading north on Rt. 91 just north of Springfield, before the Chicopee exit. In the fall, loss of green tree foliage has always allowed the red roof and monastic stone edifice to stand out as it overlooks the Connecticut River. Over time, Our Mother of Sorrows Monastery has become a sacred place for many people in the Springfield diocese. The decision to sell the property compels Passionists and all associated with the Passionists to do some reflection.
Realistically, most people react to a closing in a personal way. Our Mother of Sorrows has indeed influenced me. Initially, it helped me learn about the Passionist Congregation as I participated in youth programs in the mid 1960s before I went on to the Passionist residence program in 1969 at Worcester. Later, from 1982 1985, I experienced the changing tides of the retreat movement as I worked with adults and youth. This Passionist foundation has shaped my identity. I, like many other Passionists, are part of the history of this foundation.
The closing raises a larger issue. What has been the history of this Passionist institution? A December 1970 Summary Land Survey of the Province of Saint Paul of the Cross states the fourteen plus acres were purchased on December 26, 1922 for $27,000. Another document (which has a December 11, 1922 purchase before the December 26 date) notes the land was sold to the Passionists by Katherine Fleming. Between 1922 and 1971 there were a total of thirty-four land transactions involving the Monastery or Crossroads Radio and T.V. land sites.