THE CONNOLLY CONNECTION
Hermit Sister Mary Beverly
is Connolly? and what is the connection? We hope that this
answers both questions for you.
deep affection and real respect, we would like to present
to you the man who has been our spiritual father, co-founding
bishop of Marymount with Bishop
Treinen, and loyal friend: Bishop Thomas J. Connolly. Marymount Hermitage
is located in the Diocese of Boise and thus was not under
the jurisdiction of
Bishop Connolly, who was the Bishop of Baker in Oregon from 1971 to 2000.
However, over the years, Bishop has retained his place in
our hearts as a generous supporter,
both spiritually and materially. He values the contemplative life for the
good of the Church and has visited and encouraged us in the
(as he is known by all his friends) was born on July 18,
1922 in Tonopah, Nevada. If Nevada is the
most remote of all the 50 states,
Tonopah is perhaps the most remote small town of that vast state. The
devout faith of
his Irish father and German mother, the piety of his family and the parish
of St. Patrick fostered esteem for the vocation of a priest. Thomas was
son in a family of four brothers and one sister. His oldest brother, John,
went to the seminary and, because of an illness, died before he was ordained
His second brother, Joe, also went to the seminary. While there, Joe's
eyesight became so impaired that he could not continue his studies and had to
return home. When Tom felt within him the Lord's calling to the
priesthood, he really wondered if he too would die or become blind in the
took a lot of courage to leave home and enter the seminary at age 14, but
and determination were to be a hallmark of his character as later events
was in the year 1936 and since the war was raging, their
class had an accelerated program and were ordained to the
priesthood a year early on
April 8, 1947. Even though their classes at St. Joseph's College in Mt.
View, California were intense and the war made obtaining items difficult,
his classmates built a sailboat in the basement of one of the seminary
buildings. Every item for the boat, which was later sailed and raced
on the ocean, was
made by hand. Perhaps this anecdote shows that creativity cannot be stifled
by poor means, surely a virtue which Bishop would later need as the pastor
of a very large and poor diocese.
his ordination to the priesthood at his home parish in Tonopah, Father
Connolly was first assigned to the Cathedral of St. Thomas Aquinas
Nevada. He served as a priest of the Diocese of Reno from 1947 to 1971.
He was known as a good administrator, and when new buildings were erected
the labor of the parishioners, Father Connolly worked as hard as all
the rest of
the men at construction projects. Like the rugged pioneers that his
parents were, Fr. Connolly enjoyed owning, riding and using horses
for work and
leisure. Love for animals and for the great outdoors were to be a constant
his home diocese in Nevada and later the diocese in Eastern Oregon
were populated by those who made their living mainly off the land,
felt close to this pastor who can herd cattle, wield a hammer, fix
fence, and for whom geographic distances means nothing when there is
a job to
the Pope's representative in the United States called Father
Connolly to ask him if he would be Bishop of Baker, this intrepid,
western son simply
asked, "Can I bring my horses?"
Diocese of Baker comprises about two-thirds of the state of Oregon
including the central and eastern portions. It is a land which is still
close to the
spirit of the pioneers from the Oregon Trail who settled there. Bishop
Connolly fondly remembers that Bishop Thomas K. Gorman, who confirmed
him and ordained
him a priest, was also one of the three consecrating bishops at his
episcopal ordination on June 30, 1971. Bishop Connolly was ordained
a bishop shortly
after the end of the Vatican Council II and thus was called upon
shepherd his diocese through those tumultuous years of change in
the Church and
in the American culture.
warmth, humor and genuineness made people feel close to him in the
parishes throughout the Diocese of Baker. He went regularly
to all the
parishes, visiting the priests and people to encourage them in
the faith. He spent more time in his car than in his office tending
His homilies are peppered with stories from the lives of real people
and their jobs and circumstances as well as his own. Ranchers smile
when they hear their
bishop telling of bucking hay for his horses.
who have met Bishop know what a great storyteller he is.
Connolly and the Bishops of Region XII, which includes the dioceses
of the Pacific
Northwest, made a thirty-day retreat
in Spokane, Washington
in the early 1970's. This was such a profound experience for
them that they decided to hold an eight-day retreat together every
a model for bishops of the rest of the United States in this
Connolly once organized a horse-pack-trip into a wilderness area of
Washington for the Bishops of Region XII. As usual,
this event was
but was also the source of many interesting, western-style
stories for future recounting!
Connolly instituted the very successful Family Camp, which annually
brings together families--adults
4th of July
weekend filled with faith and fun activities. Bishop has
been attending World
Youth Days since their inception almost 20 years ago. While
at these major cities,
the hundreds of attending bishops are housed in hotels.
However, Bishop camps out with the youth, bringing his own bed roll
and "roughing it."
is so well-known for this closeness to young people, that
youth from the Portland Archdiocese will request that he travel
though he is now retired as Bishop of Baker. In October
2003, the Diocese of Baker celebrated its Centennial. Bishop
part of the richly textured history of the diocese.
Bishop reached the age of mandatory retirement, he submitted his
resignation to the Pope. It took almost two
his successor to be named, but
on January 26, 2000, Bishop Robert F. Vasa, a priest
of the Diocese of Omaha, Nebraska, was ordained Bishop of
made himself available to help priests on weekends in
the parish and
has been in great demand as a retreat master throughout
the Pacific Northwest. His sacrificial
generosity is evident in that he has been willing to
come to our remote Mesa to offer days of prayer and eight-day
you meet Bishop Connolly, it is evident that he is a man of God and
a man of prayer. His genuine love
us of what every bishop should be: an icon of Jesus
Christ, the Good Shepherd, to the Church and to the world.
Bishop Thomas J. Connolly, Bishop-emeritus of Baker, Oregon
is shown here after he kindly conducted a Day of Prayer for us on Sept.
21, 2000. His new car was a gift from the priests of the Diocese of Baker
in gratitude for his many years and miles of shepherding.
Bishop Connolly celebrates Mass for us in our chapel
After Mass, Bishop Connolly blesses the site for the
In May of 2003 and 2004, Bishop Connolly gave us an eight-day
Scriptural retreat. He exemplifies being teacher, preacher and hearer
of the Word of God. Scenes here are from our conferences.
Memories of Bishop Connolly
By Hermit Sister Rebecca Mary
I was a member of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, it was our
community's custom every year to draw a name of one of
priests of the Archdiocese of Portland and to pray for
him in a special
during that next
year. We also
included the names of the two Portland
bishops and the Bishop of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. One year
it was my
privilege to draw
the name of Bishop Thomas J. Connolly,
then the Bishop of Baker. I knew who he was, but I was not personally
him at that time. That was
my earliest association with Bishop Connolly.
So before I
really knew him, I was praying for him.
Connolly was the one who brought us here to Idaho in May, 1981 and
Treinen, who was
at that time.
On the way from Bishop's home in Baker
to Idaho we stopped off at one point to take a break and
very interested in rocks,
I picked up a rock which I thought was
unusual and showed it
to Bishop Connolly. He is quite a rock
hound himself and collects rocks from all over the
When I asked him what kind of rock it
was, he said, "It's a Leaverite." I said, "I have never
of a Leaverite."
laughed and said,
you leave 'er right here!" I guess it
wasn't such a great find after all!
the way back from Boise, Idaho where we had been introduced to Bishop
scheduled to stop
in Nyssa, Oregon
a Spanish-speaking Mass that Sunday
afternoon. Nyssa is close to the Idaho
state line. Bishop
had a missal in Spanish on the dashboard
which he was studying as he was driving.
That made me a little nervous, but
I was more
so when I saw that the fuel tank of
the car was registering
casually said to the
"Are we going to run out of gas?" He
replied even more
casually, "Yes, but not before we get
to Nyssa." We still had a number
of miles to
go before we got to Nyssa, so I just
prayed. We did make it just
said, and we were even on time!
our twenty years here at Marymount Hermitage, Bishop Connolly has
kept in touch, visited us,
and has continued
to be a good friend.
of our way of life. He is always
very much a dedicated bishop, but even more
a generous priest
to all whom he
marvelous sense of
humor, deep love for the Scriptures,
zeal for the Church and tender love
for Jesus consistently mark his busy
and sacrificial life. He is a friend
I cherish and love for his great
warmth and genuine kindness.
Bishop Connolly at prayer in our chapel. We have seen him
so often in this posture.
Bishop is vested and waiting in the Reconciliation Room
for penitents. He is an example of the Holy Father's exhortation in Pastores
Gregis that bishops be exemplary ministers of the Sacrament of Penance.
CONNOLLY: The key to Our History As Hermits
Hermit Sister Mary Beverly
was living as a hermit in LaPine, Oregon from Sept. 1979 to Sept. 1980.
I was discerning
my eremitical vocation and trying
or not to
leave the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and
as a teacher. It was a difficult year, to
say the least, and
I discovered what
a wonderful spiritual father Bishop Connolly
was. Bishop would occasionally stop by the hermitage
and I was
able to go to
confession to him and
ask his advice. When circumstances forced
me to leave LaPine
and return to
house, St. Mary of the Valley in Beaverton,
Oregon, Bishop drove over to
see how I was doing and to reassure me that
he believed in my hermit vocation.
Rebecca Mary and I and another Sister were interested in returning
to the Baker
be hermits and
so, Bishop Connolly
community's discernment process which led
to official permission to leave. We spent a weekend
the diocese and talking
about our proposed way of life and what
type of land we might be able to use. This was
in May of
and the occasion
for the two
anecdotes which Sister
Rebecca Mary has related on page 6 of this
issue. During our discussions, Bishop related
of the Diocese of
Boise, had extended
us an invitation to locate in Idaho.
had no thought of locating anywhere but in Oregon but the hand of
be with us as
we slowly warmed to
gracious invitation. We lived for three
years from 1981 to 1984 at Nazareth Retreat
and hospitality there and
continuing our discernment and plans
for a hermitage. Throughout this process, we
under the direction
of Bishop Treinen. However, Bishop
Connolly continued to visit us and showed
interest in the development of our hermit
we were drafting our Rule of Life, Bishop Treinen and Bishop Connolly
law, which is
the legal structures of the Catholic
Church, and was able to provide juridical
to us. Because of these early experiences
with both of our bishops, we thought
co-founding bishops of Marymount
of Mary, which is the canonical name
we adopted as
new entity in the Church.
were a series of events recently which gave us the inspiration to
dedicate one issue
He has recently celebrated
both 50 years as a priest and 25
as a bishop. Last year, the Diocese
of Baker celebrated
Centennial. Bishop Connolly
an active bishop for four years
now. We decided we wanted
to honor him as we
celebrate 20 years at Marymount
with his friend, Father John Donoghue of the Diocese of Boise,
next to chapel
and the hallway connecting the
two buildings. Both have been generous
in seeing that
we have the financial
of Bishop Michael P. Driscoll
of Boise, we are naming this new hallway
Connolly Connection." We intend
to place in it, near the door to chapel,
a picture of
With this is the unspoken agreement
we will always pray for him and
for all our generous
friends, both living
Connolly Connection" actually has a theological significance.
is the Bishop of Rome,
and, as such, is the first
among brother bishops. He is
called in Latin the "pontifex"
he is in fact
a "bridge-builder." The meaning
is clear: a bishop is a bridge
hallway connecting chapel to
our house, providing us with an easy
for prayer both
day and night
is a good symbol
of that bridge.
would like to close my reflections about Bishop Connolly
with this beautiful quote from the Holy Father's
letter Pastores Gregis. After you read it, I invite you to
look again at the photo on page one. You will notice that
Bishop, like all bishops, wears a prominent ring. May it be a reminder
to all of us that bishops, as successors of the Apostles,
themselves sacrificially for the good of the Church, which
is the Bride of Christ.
this ring, the seal of fidelity: adorned with undefiled faith, preserve
unblemished the Bride of God, the holy Church.' These words [from
the ritual], urge the Bishop to realize that he is committed to mirroring
the virginal love of Christ for all his faithful ones....When he does
so, he walks
as a pastor at the head of his flock, as did Christ the Bridegroom, who gave
his life for us and who left to all the example of a love which is transparent
and virginal, and therefore fruitful and universal. (Pastores
Sister M. Beverly has been privileged for many years to
be on the retreat director's team with Bishop Connolly. The Scriptural,
eight-day retreat is held annually in July at Nazareth Retreat House
in Boise, Idaho. Scenes here are from the Nazareth chapel after Mass,
during a conference, and Bishop reading as he awaits a retreatant for
private direction. The first year Sister Beverly worked on this retreat,
Bishop Treinen was also on the team.
Bishop Thomas J. Connolly, Bishop-emeritus of Baker,
is seen here with the two Hermit Sisters after Mass on Pentecost, May
30, 2004. This was the last day of our retreat. You'll notice in the
background mounted on the front of the chapel the new sign, which now
greets our visitors. This sign was a generous gift from Dan Bolzendahl
of Payette, Idaho.
the good shepherd
lays down his life
for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd."
"THE CONNOLLY CONNECTION" UNDER CONSTRUCTION
This new fence which designates parking space in front
of chapel is a gift from Ceara and Michael Nourse, our generous neighbors.
This photo was taken on August 12, 2003 and the hallway is still only
Above, the concrete foundations and stem walls of the
hallway have been poured and we are waiting for the concrete floor
slab to be poured. This photo of chapel was taken in October, 2003.
hallway is being framed. Bob George took seriously his commission
to integrate the hallway with the chapel and house. He repeated
architectural features of both buildings and created a pleasing,
there was more distance between the chapel and the house, we were
providentially able to have space for an
attached garage with entrance to the house by the side door,
at the end of the hallway. We feel blessed also with the addition
of a concrete driveway to the garage and a sidewalk to the front
door of the house.
months this winter, we had about 4 ft. of snow on the ground as you
can see in this photo which was taken in January,
2004. Even in an unfinished state, the hallway and garage were used
work on "The Connolly Connection" and
Holy Family House includes siding and painting to match the chapel.
Final work will include finishing the interior of the hallway which
will, in effect, become a storage area for our flower-picking equipment.
I know my sheep and
my sheep know me...
for these sheep
I will give my life."