10 September 2006

Our Very Own

From time to time our Monastery bestows the cross of affiliation on individuals who have distinguished themselves by their loyalty and devotion to our community. On Friday, 8 September, during Mass for the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother Philomena (pictured above) conferred the cross -- a smaller version of our Order's pectoral cross -- on David M. Gardiner. Locals will recognize David as our faithful master of ceremonies for special Masses and Feasts in our chapel. David's affiliation with us, however, dates back several decades.

David is one of the few men who can claim to be an alumnus of the Visitation. David attended the Baltimore Academy of the Visitation from 1967-1975 and continued his education at Loyola High School in Baltimore. When the Academy closed, David visited his beloved former-principal, the late Sister Christine (erstwhile Sister Marie de Chantal) who came to our community along with Sister Isabel de Sales and Sister Marie Louise (who was on a temporary "loan" to Baltimore from our monastery).

In 1993 our school burned and our chapel was badly damaged by the water used to extinguish the fire. At the first Triduum in the renovated chapel in 1996, Mother Philomena invited David to serve as master of ceremonies. Thus began David's more recent and very faithful (and faith-filled) service to our community.

Saint Francis de Sales reminds us that "We pray best before beauty." David understands this deeply. Over the years we have been the beneficiaries of David's humble generosity. Easter lilies and other floral deliveries simply arrive in time for seasonal decorating. Homemade desserts materalize on Saint Patrick's Day. New (and exquisite) vestments for our chaplains appear in the sacristy -- with a fresh supply of incense. David has adorned our chapel and choir with his generosity countless times. He senses a need for something and it appears (sometimes even before we know we need it!) David's friendship and loyalty, his good humor and kindness make him a gentleman after Saint Francis de Sales' own heart.

It is worthy of note that David is not the first member of his family to have received the cross of affiliation from our monastery. His maternal grandmother (nee Dwaayar) was a cousin of James Cardinal Gibbons who received the cross in 1914. The cross of affiliation entitles David, upon his death, to all the spiritual benefits of a member of our Order. We are sure that Sister Christine is saving him a seat in the choir of the heavenly Visitation -- for it was she who told him, as a fourth grader, that he had the Visitation in his blood.

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