Founded in 1951,
The Abbey of the Genesee is located in Piffard NY in the picturesque, historic
Genesee River Valley amongst 1,200 acres of forests, rural farmland, ravines, rolling hills and a meandering creek where a group of 30
Trappist monks live a simple life devoted to prayer, study, reading and work.
Brother Anthony Weber, Vocation Director for the monastery, told me, "I first entered the community when I was 18, and I wouldn't have it any other way." The cheerful, energetic 73-year-old monk explained that the bakery is the main source of revenue for the monks and profits go towards their charitable work.
The modern bakery employees 21 secular employees, but all phases of the baking that begin at 4 am, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays are overseen by monks. To find the abbey, simply follow the smell of freshly-baked bread. Eleven different breads ($2.00 to $2.50 each) are baked here. It's the type of bread you can simply eat right from the package without butter. I polished off a half loaf before I got home.
36,000 to 40,000 loaves a week are shipped to supermarkets throughout New York State and nearby Pennsylvania. In addition to the breads, there are four different holiday fruit cakes ($6.50 for a pound, $11.00 for two pounds) wrapped in packages that read, "Mixed with love and wrapped with a prayer for God's blessing of peace in the world with hopes that it will awaken your memories of holidays past and fill your heart with the joy of life."
There's also an assortment of coffees and cookies and 29 jams made by the
Trappist Monks of St. Joseph Abbey in Spencer, Maryland. The bakery store is open daily from 9:30 am until 6pm and one hour before and after the 9:45 mass. Check with the store at 585-243-0660#27 for holiday hours.
The abbey welcomes those who wish to make a retreat from the daily routine of life. Retreats are offered Monday afternoons until Friday mornings and you are expected to spend your time in silence and prayer. An offering of $50.00 per day is suggested.
About a 10-minute drive from the abbey is the nearby idyllic village of
Geneseo (pop.7, 500). It's the quintessential small town recognized as a National Landmark village by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Living up to its designation, street parking is a mere quarter for an hour, and wide Main Street is a delight to stroll. There, I met
The Livingston County Newspaper's managing Editor, Mark Gillespie who told me, "There's more to Geneseo than meets the eye. We have lots of music, art and theatre along with champion sports teams. The
State University of New York, located here, keeps
our community forever young."
Don't forget the side streets where you'll find great examples of historic century-old homes and churches, each with a story to tell.
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.