Thus we should all do for one another whatever things we have at our disposal. If you have more than enough, lavish it on the destitute. Some people have money, let them feed the poor, clothe the naked, build a church, use their money for whatever good purposes they can.
(St. Augustine of Hippo)
We have begun to raise money for building our monastery. In fact, the first donations came to us before we launched our formal campaign, and we are very grateful for the generosity of those donors. When we moved to Florida, we knew that we would have to add to the existing house where we now have our monastic cells and a makeshift chapel but no room for new members, retreatants, library, or a separate office. The first phase will be to acquire the land adjoining our property; next we will build a chapel and monastery; third we will turn our current warehouse into a library and work rooms; and the fourth phase will be to turn our present home into a guesthouse and to build a hall.
Although we are hesitant to ask for contributions to these efforts, we know that we must put aside our pride and listen to the words of St. Augustine quoted above. As one of our friends e-mailed us, “I'll keep praying for the success of your efforts. I know you hate having to ask for money, but in a way you do us a favor by doing that, because it's so important and comforting to know you brothers are there, praying in the constant, intense way that so many of us wish we could!”
Below you will find the letter that we wrote on the 9th of November and mailed to all those on our mailing list. Since we are a 501(c)(3) organization, all contributions are tax deductible. If you wish to assist us in this momentous project, please feel free to make your tax-deductible contributions to the Augustinian Monks. You may mail your gift to us at 2075 Mercers Fernery Rd., DeLand, FL, 32720 or telephone us at 386-736-4321.
Dear Friends and Family,
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Today we celebrate the feast of the dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica that was built for the glory of God in the year 324. I felt today, a day commemorating the building of a church, would be a good day for me to write to you outlining our pressing needs and our future building plans.
First of all, I wish to express our profound gratitude to each one of you for being such a wonderful support of us through many years. The history of our foundation has had many an up and down road throughout the seventeen plus years of our establishment. You have prayed with and for us, worried with us and encouraged us, and extended your assistance with love and financial support. To do the work and ministry the Lord has asked us to do in today’s world is very costly, and you have continued to aid us with our ongoing burden of day-to-day needs. Many of you came to our assistance when eleven years ago we appealed for contributions to help us purchase our property on Peaks Island. By divine providence the Lord has brought us to central Florida, and we are thankful to the Lord that every penny you entrusted to us for the monastery on Peaks was re-invested in the purchase of our new home.
When we made our appeal in 1995, I truly asked the Lord never to put me into the position of fundraising to that extent again in my life. The Lord is so good, and He knows just what we need to help us become humble in His eyes. Once again He has asked me to do what I truly immensely dislike and to once again be a “beggar for the Lord.” I shared with those I contacted the last time I wrote such a letter an episode that took place many years ago with a dear friend of mine.When telling this friend, who lives in Switzerland, how I truly dislike asking for money, she said quite emphatically, “Father! You must be a beggar for the Lord, a beggar for the Lord!” So for the love of God and as a beggar for the Lord, I come to you today.
Our needs are tremendous and very pressing. Our property here inDeLand is almost 11 acres and is totally fenced. There are three buildings: the house, the warehouse and the stable. In the house we converted several rooms for use as our chapel and monastic choir, cells (monk bedrooms), community room, refectory, work room and office. Naturally our chapel is extremely tiny; not only is the extern side (the part the people sit in) jammed, but people often have to sit in the lobby and gift shop in order to attend a Mass they can not see.We have many times seen people drive up to the chapel doors only to drive away realizing there is no room at all. Our own living section is terribly crowded; one of our monks sleeps in a closet and another in a windowless storeroom in the basement.
Our plans to build a suitable chapel and monastery are as follows: The chapel will accommodate between 125 and 150 people, and the monastery will have rooms for the monks and rooms to meet with our visitors. The present building, where we are living now, will become the guest house for priests, religious and God’s faithful people who wish to come and spend some time of quiet and spiritual renewal; as you know, this is a vital part of our monastic life in the Church, and it has been severely limited since our move to DeLand. The warehouse will be converted into our library and work rooms for the monks. We will need a meeting hall for those occasions when we need to be with more than one or two people at the same time, and since there are really no meeting halls available in DeLand we hope that this may become a future means of support for us. Abutting our property is a fernery that has given us protection and privacy from the outside world. Our land is long but narrow; it looks like a stick of gum! The land that abuts us is for sale, and our prayer is that we may obtain the eleven acres to assure our solitude since construction of new homes and condos is a constant factor in our town.
Mr. David Triba, a wonderful architect, has most graciously donated his time and talent to our building designs. Mr. Richard Eppolito, another good friend, a man who has spent the last number of years serving the Knights of Columbus in various capacities including Grand Knight, District Deputy and Past Faithful Navigator will be our fund raiser.
The goal we need to meet for these projects is $4 million. When we first heard the amount we would need to raise we were totally over-whelmed, but then we stopped looking at our frail humanity and put our total trust in our most loving God.
We can not reach our goal without you. I do beg first of all for your prayers for the success of our capital campaign. I continue, with my brothers, to beg you to reach out in any way you are able to assist us.Eleven years ago, many gave gifts of $25,000, $20,000, $10,000 and more. Others were only able to sacrifice a little of what the Lord had given them to aid us.Whether you are able to sacrifice a substantial gift, a pledge for an amount to be donated in installments or a dollar a brick, we pledge our prayers and profound gratitude.
We plan to erect in the vestibule of the Chapel a memorial and donor plaque to indicate those who have given a gift to honor someone or in someone’s memory. All donations are tax deductible since we are a 501(c)(3) tax deductible corporation as defined by the federal government.
We place this campaign before the divine Child Jesus and under the mantel of the Mother of God through the intercession of St. Joseph and St. Philomena.
May our Lord bless you abundantly for your sacrificial gift, and may the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the angels and saints always be near you.
In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,
Father A. M. Seamus of Jesus, O.S.A.Prim., and Brothers