Robust Catholicism, Fiddles, and Berries

One Week Ago: Twelfth Annual Saint Benedict Center Conference. There was an impressive turnout for both the Thursday Open House and the Conference in Nashua — better than expected, considering the cost of traveling today. Inspiring and very informative presentations by the thirteen speakers made the sacrifice well worth it.

Here at the monastery in Richmond, Dr. Maike Hickson, Joseph Topalian, and Third Order Prefect, Brother John Marie Vianney, M.I.C.M., Tert. gave very inspiring talks on their respective topics. Mrs. Hickson, with her husband and their new born, Isabella Maria, in the audience, whetted the listeners’ appetites for good Catholic literature. Mr. Topalian provided a fascinating tour of his own eventful life, filled with adventure and challenge, in the navy during World War II, in an eastern-rite seminary, and as a Catholic Armenian in America. The Tertiary Prefect spoke about the most holy and most intimate of all “unions,” the holy “Communion” that is achieved by the Son of God and the members of His Mystical Body through the worthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament, which, the speaker stressed, ought to be our “daily Bread.” Guests were served a delicious pork roast dinner afterwards.

The line up of speakers for the three days in Nashua provided an impressive variety of expertise. Host Gary Potter challenged the theme of the Conference that these days are “the darkest of times” by highlighting days not long gone past where horrific crimes were committed against Catholics on account of their Faith. Gary’s point was that the light of Faith shines more brilliantly and the charity of the just radiates more intensely when fueled by persecution.

All of the speakers, from a variety of angles, contributed magnificently to the theme of the Conference by demonstrating, either through examples in the lives of the martyrs or through instructive knowledge concerning the incorporation of Catholic principles in family and social life, that no matter how evil the age, nothing can stop one from being a light in the darkness. The presentations, as you can see from the titles of the Conference recordings that we are offering, cover a wide range of Catholic erudition, all of which can equip us to confront more powerfully the wiles of Satan, the grand architect of today’s pervasive confusion.

Lastly, lest we imagine that evil can ever really triumph, or that suffering accepted in hope is not a means of perfect purification, Saint Paul was inspired to write these assuring words: “[W]e know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints” (Romans 8:28). May the Holy Ghost sear this divine truth into our hearts.

Less than Two Weeks from Now: Richmond Blueberry Fiddle Festival. Can’t afford to take the family to Disney World this summer? Come to the 6th annual Richmond Blueberry Fiddle Festival, Immaculate Heart of Mary School’s unique, old-fashioned family festival.

New this year is Friday’s Fish Fry & Contra Dance, Saturday’s Fiddle Contest (endorsed by the North American Fiddling Judges Association), and The Plunge or The Unforgettable Tale of Fates and Fiddles (an original New England melodrama).

Music includes performances by New Hampshire’s Austen Woods Duo (with their “thousands of vibrating strings” — and Andrew & Noah VanNorstrand (New York State’s young, dynamic brothers —, as well as other local talent. Enjoy the music while you savor a slice of homemade blueberry pie and cool off with ice cream from a local dairy.

Games, crafts, a car show, and other activities provide fun for all ages.

The festival is held at Cheshire Fairgrounds (Route 12, Swanzey, NH) on August 8-9: Friday 2-9pm, Saturday 9am-7pm. Admission is FREE; parking is a one-time $5.

For more information, visit or call 603-239-6495.