The Colgate Scene
May 2004

In a silent way

Christine Susienka '07 and Brother Christian Walsh hustle up a corridor into an afternoon mass in the abbey's chapel. During a brief conversation, Walsh told Susienka he used to live near Syracuse and had visited Hamilton on a few occasions. "He didn't realize Colgate had gone co-ed," said Susienka.
"Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future," wrote the Trappist monk Thomas Merton. "Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it." On a cold, blustery February afternoon, a group that included 14 Colgate students and a handful of faculty members arrived on the banks of the Genesee River in the western New York town of Piffard to look for solitude at a retreat at the Abbey of the Genesee. Waiting for them were 31 Trappist monks and a weekend of very little conversation. During the next two days, the group (led by Mark Shiner, interim Catholic chaplain) attended a dozen liturgies (which started daily at 2:30 a.m.) in between a combined 43 hours of silent reflection.

"I don't know what I hope to achieve . . . I feel what will have to happen, will happen," responded Matthew Skrzynski '07 when asked what he hoped to accomplish that weekend. "I may not know what that is for a long time."

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