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I went on a retreat last weekend with the Spanish-speaking Secular Franciscan fraternity which meets at St. Anthony Shrine. We were at a beautiful Benedictine monastery in Still River, Mass. The weather was perfect, with blue skies, warm days and cool nights.

The Benedictines here are one of two surviving remnants of the followers of Fr. Leonard Feeney, a Jesuit priest who was expelled by the Jesuits in 1949 for disobedience and then excommunicated by the Holy See in 1953, for defiantly preaching that there is no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church. When Feeney’s followers, who had been meeting in Cambridge, Mass., broke up, one group came to Still River, Mass., and became Benedictines. The rest moved to Richmond, N.H., where they continued to speak out against Judaism and Zionism.

The monks are as hospitable, as Benedictines are everywhere. The accommodations and food was simple, but good.

As we prayed last weekend in solidarity with the Pope and all people of faith everywhere for peace in Syria, we could hear almost continuous automatic weapon fire coming from Ft. Devens, a nearby former Army base, used now by the National Guard and the State Police for weapons practice. Even in this place of prayer, the reminders of war intrude.