A quiet labor of love
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COFFEE, CANDY, coffins, cards. Those are just a few of the many products that can be purchased online and in person at monasteries
in the United States and around the world. Monasteries that produce
consumer goods have a long tradition that dates back to the Middle
Ages when European monasteries produced beer and wine—both
products that continue to flow from religious communities.
Many religious communities, especially monastic ones, are
immersed in manufacturing and handcrafting products to support their
way of life. Members of monastic (enclosed contemplative) orders
focus on prayer, and part of their day is set aside to earn money in a way
compatible with a communal, prayer-focused lifestyle.
Products sisters, brothers, and priests create are both practical
(income producing) and spiritual (made with a conscious effort to lift
the labor up to God at every step). Products also keep communities connected to other people.
“For us, trade is not only about making a living, it is also about meeting the outside world, and allowing people
who do not know us to come to us,” a brother who sells these products told Marie-Catherine Paquier for the
Journal of Management, Spirituality, and Religion. The public can readily find items made by sisters, brothers, and
priests by searching on a browser with the word “monastery” along with the category of product.
RESIDENTS of Detroit—many of whom have battled poverty and decline for
years—now have three more people on their
side: members of the Franciscan Friars of St.
John the Baptist Province. In late 2017 the re-
ligious community established another friary,
or residence for friars, in the city, this one at a
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FRIARS HELP DRIVE DETROIT RENEWAL
A TRAPPIST NUN makes candy at Our Lady of the
merged parish called St. Moses the Black. The
friary is located in an economically depressed
area in a rectory that had been vacant for 20
Father Maynard Tetreault, O.F.M. is a De-
troit native who reported in a community blog
that an increased Franciscan presence in De-
troit could be positive: “I think our presence
among marginated people is important. I think
it is a tiny gesture of hope.”
Tetreault lives at the friary with Father
Alex Kratz, O.F.M. and Brother Louie Zant,
O.F.M. The three spent their initial year getting
to know their neighbors and learning their
needs. Today they each contribute by being
immersed in parish life, helping with building
maintenance, and taking care of many behind-
the-scenes needs. Kratz holds responsibilities
in other Detroit-area ministries but lives at the
friary and assists as he’s able.
While the St. Moses the Black Friary is a
newer outreach, other priests, brothers, and
sisters within the Franciscan family have ministered in the Detroit archdiocese for many years
and are involved in a wide range of ministries.
Tetreault, O. F. M.
(below, left) and
Father Alex Kratz,
near one of the
ST. JOHN THEBAPTI