Someone once said that our cows are the happiest cows in the state because they have the greatest life,” says Sister Maria-Placida Hamilton.
They may be onto something. Calves stay on the Abbey of St. Walburga farm for two years, while spending a lot of that time overhearing prayer four and five times a day. It’s during those prayer times, of course, when the cattle choose to misbehave.
“Oh, don’t ask for that story,” says Sister Maria-Gertrude Read, laughing.
“Okay, this was last year. During the most solemn, serious time of the year. We’re preparing for Good Friday and Easter. And, we are in prayer in vespers, our evening prayer. That’s when we heard this terrible bellow. It was right outside the (sanctuary) window. A couple of heifers had broken out.”
Then one of the abbey’s dogs got in on the action.
“We had this kind of psycho dog that failed cow-herding school,” says Sister Gertrude. “And it’s a cow-chasing dog.”
“But we believe in mercy,” adds Sister Assunta Kuntz, laughing, “so we kept trying and trying and trying.”
Dressed in their black habits, four sisters took off out of the sanctuary to handle the situation and found the heifer, with the dog latched onto her nose, being tossed back and forth like a rag doll.
“The dog broke a tooth. His penance,” says Sister Assunta.
The service didn’t stop initially. The prayers kept going as the sisters fought to calm the heifer and detach the dog just outside the window. Soon, other sisters joined, along with Mother Superior Maria-Michael Newe. Vespers ended.
“That never happens. You can almost have a bomb go off in the church and we’ll keep singing,” says Sister Gertrude. “We always just keep going. It’s like show business.”
The prayers must go on.