May 2, 2012 10:07 pm : Events, In the News, Latest News

Wicked Local Dover-Sherborn: Magical Strings perform at Peace Abbey in Sherborn

By Theresa Knapp
Wicked Local Dover-Sherborn

Sherborn —Folks filled the Peace Abbey Coffeehouse on Saturday night to enjoy what could have been the last concert in that venue.

“It may be the last time we assemble here to experience music in this space,” said Peace Abbey founder Lewis Randa at the start of the program that featured Philip and Pam Boulding of the Celtic ensemble, “Magical Strings.”

Randa called the concert “fitting” since Philip’s mother, Elise Boulding (a world-renowned sociologist and peace activist who died in 2010 at age 89), was a long-time friend of the Abbey.

Many of the Peace Abbey collections, including a “peacemaker’s table” dedicated to Elise Boulding, will soon be transferred to the University of Massachusetts at Boston where all items – including the National Registry for Conscientious Objection where people can register their objection to personal, national and international violence – will be catalogued and available for students and the public to peruse.

“Even though it looks like it might be a sad time, it’s really a wonderful time because we’re going to be able to have a lot of things archived and there will be a lot of new people” exposed to the works of the Peace Abbey, said Dot Walsh, the Abbey’s program coordinator.

Peace Abbey officials are in the process of finding someone to occupy the building.

“The Peace Abbey is really our favorite place to play music,” said Pam Boulding, who has traveled with her husband around the world offering concerts, workshops and composing original music. “Our first time coming to the Peace Abbey, we were really changed and a little bit of the Peace Abbey always comes out in our music.”

“Magical Strings” enchanted Saturday’s audience with their Celtic music, songs and storytelling.

The Bouldings played many instruments, including the dulcimer (one hand-made by Philip), pennywhistle, harp, accordion, and others, to create many Irish jigs, slip jigs, reels, as well as several original works including a song Philip finished at his mother’s bedside during the last week of her life.

“Many of you knew her well,” said Philip of his mother who lived in Needham. “I would like to play, in memory of her and her deep love for the Peace Abbey, ‘A Lullaby for Elisa.’”

To mark the Abbey’s upcoming transition into UMass Boston, Philip also created a musical piece and poem that Walsh described as “hopeful.”

Walsh said the Peace Abbey remains open and invited people to stop in and learn more about the work of the Abbey where “good things are happening.”

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November 14, 2011 10:49 pm : Events, In the News, Latest News Have you visited the Peace Abbey?

The Peace Abbey is a spiritual oasis that’s tucked away in the wooded hamlet of Sherborn. The multi-faith retreat center is home to the Pacifist Living History Museum and Emily the Sacred Cow, and over the years has hosted well-known visitors like Mother Teresa, Howard Zinn, Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, and, most recently, Joan Baez.

But the future of the Peace Abbey is up in the air. Faced with mounting bills, the cash-strapped nonprofit is appealing to the public and hoping that an angel investor can save the place.

Peace Abbey supporters are doing whatever they can to help. On Nov. 6, they held a fundraiser at Roots and Wings in Natick. About 250 people attended the benefit, which raised $3,000:


The folks at the Peace Abbey want to continue to offer peace and social justice programming in Sherborn, and they’re on the lookout for a like-minded organization to purchase the property. If you know anyone who might be interested, check out their latest newsletter (PDF) or contact the Peace Abbey office at 508-655-2143.

Meanwhile, the Peace Abbey continues to operate as usual. The campus is located at 2 North Main St. in Sherborn. Yoga classes are offered Tuesday mornings at 10:30 a.m. and meditation sessions are held on Sunday mornings.

Visitors are welcome to check out the museum, animal rights memorial, and the rest of the grounds 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

If you haven’t been before, it might be worth checking out…before it’s too late.

— Emily Sweeney

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November 9, 2011 3:34 pm : Events, In the News, Latest News

Prayer for U.S. Military Killed in Iraq

Peace Abbey volunteer Madeline Champagne had been recording the total number of U.S. war deaths in Iraq on a sign outside the Peace Abbey, but during the winter of 2007 she decided these men and women deserved more recognition than just a number. In the Peace Abbey Coffeehouse room in the lower level of the Conference Center Madeline began building a memorial consisting of a wrist band with the name of each of the U.S. service member killed in action in Iraq. The wristbands are linked in a series of hanging chains that extend for many feet along the walls. The effect is moving and memorable.

Now, as the troops will be coming home from Iraq by the end of this year, it seems a fitting time for The Peace Abbey to dismantle the memorial and have a final tribute for these men and women.

We encourage everyone who is able to participate in this process. Please come by The Peace Abbey to spend a few moments to be a part of this extended prayer. Even taking down a few wristbands will make you part of the prayer–spend whatever time you can.

Each participant will cut one or more wristbands from the chains, remove the plastic covering, and honor each individual by reading aloud the name, age, and other information. (Scissors and staple removers will be on a table downstairs, along with a container to hold the wristbands.)

Once all the wristbands are all taken down, we will have a ceremony to burn the wristbands and scatter the ashes on C.O. Hill.

A listing will be printed and kept in a book in the Peace Abbey Multi-Faith Chapel.

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November 2, 2011 11:30 pm : Events, In the News, Latest News

Dover-Sherborn Press: Roots and Wings holding benefit for Sherborn’s Peace Abbey

By Staff reports

Sherborn —Faced with foreclosure again, the Peace Abbey in Sherborn is hosting a yoga and bodywork event at Roots and Wings in Natick on Sunday, Nov. 6. The event lasts from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and will feature various sessions, including yoga, an information session about the Abbey and an art sale.

Long-time Abbey volunteer Dan Dick, and others like him, would hate to see it go away.

“This is a place that brings all aspects of nonviolence together,” he said.

The Abbey serves as a haven for vegetarians, pacifists, conscientious objectors and any one who seeks peace, both in the world and within themselves.

For Dick, the Abbey served as a home when it opened its doors to him and his family after a house fire left them homeless in 2008. To this day, the Peace Abbey is “my spiritual home,” he said.

Ellen Fine, who called herself an occasional decoration at the Abbey, said that it’s a place that has meant a lot to a lot of people.

The Abbey, which has encountered financial trouble in the past, is facing roughly $300,000 in debt.

Fine said, “Peace is a costly thing to achieve.”

And, while the event on Sunday will not bring them close to that goal, “every little bit helps,” Dick said. “It would be a great loss for the area and for the spiritual.”

The property consists of old buildings, animals and a memorial park that all require attention, which only increases the need for financial support.

Its most famous resident was Emily, a cow who escaped from a slaughterhouse and was bought by the Peace Abbey after she was captured. Some people considered Emily to be a wise incarnated soul. People came from across the world to see the cow known for being very friendly to everyone.

In the past, celebrities such as Yoko Ono have come forward with support the Peace Abbey.

Dick said, “We keep hoping there’s someone that can make a substantial contribution.”

He added that the Peace Abbey has vacillated between being able to be self-sustaining and looking for outside investment or even selling the Abbey.

Despite its struggles, the Abbey continues to welcome guests daily, and continues to hosts its traditional Sunday morning meditation and multidenominational peace prayer sessions.

“The energy that comes from this place is just amazing,” Dick said. “It’s almost unthinkable that this place wouldn’t exist.”

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October 25, 2011 6:28 pm : Events, Latest News

Yoga and Bodywork Benefit on November 6th!

Roots & Wings Yoga and Healing Arts in Natick, is generously offering a Yoga and Bodywork benefit for the Peace Abbey on November 6th, Sunday, from 9 am-3 pm.

All proceeds of the classes that day will go to the Peace Abbey!

Yoga, art, massage, information sharing and some good old down home mingling! The fun starts at 9 am.

9:00 – 10:30 am Breathwork with Mare Tomaski, suggested donation $25-35

10:45 -11:45 am Feel Your Bliss with Svaroopa Yoga with Melissa Fountain and Annette Bongiorno, suggested donation $15-20

11:00 – 3:00 pm  Artisan Sale, all artisans will donate an item in which the full proceeds go to the Peace Abbey.

12:00 – 12:20 pm Spirit Groove with Lisa Lewton

12:30 – 1:00 pm Get to know the Peace Abbey with Director Lewis Randa

1:15 – 1:40 pm Family Yoga (all ages) with Elizabeth Goranson, suggested donation per family $15-30

1:50 – 2:20 pm Nia with Donna McGurk, suggested donation $5-10

2:30-3:00 pm Yoga for the Peace Abbey followed by Closing Ceremony

All proceeds from yoga classes (and one item from each vendor) will be donated to
The Peace Abbey our efforts to avoid closing.

For more info call Mare at (508) 788-0906.

Plan to join us for some bodywork!
Roots and Wings
317 North Main Street
Natick, MA 01760-1115
(508) 315-8088

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September 30, 2011 2:59 pm : Events, Latest News, newsletter

October 2011 Peace Abbey Newsletter

View the October 2011 Peace Abbey Newsletter.

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September 27, 2011 10:58 am : Events, Latest News

Peace activist Brian Willson speaks at The Peace Abbey Tuesday, Oct . 18, 7:00pm

His message: “We are not worth more, they are not worth less.”

S. Brian Willson, a prominent Viet Nam veteran turned peace activist and former resident of Massachusetts, appears at the Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts to talk about and read from his psychohistorical memoir, Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson (PM Press, 2011). The event begins at 7:00pm.

Willson, who lost both legs below the knee in 1987 when he was intentionally run over by a US Navy munitions train at the Concord, California Naval Weapons Station, kicked off his book tour by cycling from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco on his three-wheeled, hand-powered recumbent cycle. The author said he wanted to demonstrate a mode of personal transportation that reduces dependence upon fossil fuels.
Brian Willson’s long, rich history includes experiences in the Boston area and Western Massachusetts in the 1980s. He served as legislative aide to State Senator Jack Backman (Brookline), working on prison, mental health, and veterans’ issues; he was a worker-owner of New England Country Dairy in Greenfield; he directed the Western Massachusetts Agent Orange Information Project and, later, the Vietnam Veterans Outreach Center in Greenfield. He also co-founded the Veterans Education Project in Amherst. Willson was presented with a special award for his work with veterans by Governor Michael Dukakis. In 1984, he was one of twelve Vietnam-veteran “doghunters” credited with helping John Kerry gain a hard-fought US Senate seat in his first campaign. In his book, Willson details his experience in that campaign, as well as his later disappointment with Kerry.

In 1986, Willson was one of four veterans who staged a 47-day, water-only fast on the steps of the US Capitol in Washington, DC in response to continued funding of Reagan’s Contra terrorist wars in Central America. He was officially recognized by the Massachusetts State Senate for his “courageous participation” in the fast. One year later, on September 1, 1987, he was again thrust into the public eye when he was run over and nearly killed by an accelerating US Navy train while engaging in a well publicized, nonviolent blockade in protest of weapons shipments to El Salvador. “My own government labeled me a terrorist and attempted to murder me,” says Willson. “My story is strongly relevant for activists today in this climate of an unending ‘war on terror.'”

After losing his legs, Willson continued his efforts to educate the public about the true nature of US imperialism while striving to “walk his talk” (on two prosthetic legs) toward “right livelihood.” Among many extraordinary experiences, Blood on the Tracks describes Willson’s meetings with FMLN guerrillas in El Salvador, with US citizen Ben Linder in Nicaragua three weeks before his murder by Reagan’s Contra terrorists, doctors at bombed hospitals in Iraq, and with Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide in Port-au-Prince three months before he was deposed with the complicity of the CIA.

Unique among memoirs penned by Viet Nam veterans, Willson’s book goes well beyond relating the story of his wartime experiences, focusing in large part on his search for a radically different paradigm as a result of the consciousness provoked by that war and numerous other life experiences. In his introduction to the book, Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, writes: “No reader, I believe, will finish this book without a sense of awe at the human spirit that is revealed in it.”

Blood on the Tracks contains a large number of photographs chronicling Willson’s transformation from small-town boy to radical pacifist, as well as hundreds of endnotes, a complete index and recommended reading list. It has captured the attention of many internationally renowned figures, including Noam Chomsky, Cynthia McKinney, Ed Asner and Kris Kristofferson. Media critic Norman Solomon says, “Brian Willson’s memoir boils with alchemy that has turned pain and caring into moral insistence and political resistance.”

For more information about Brian Willson’s book and upcoming cycling tour, visit his book tour blog, or look for his Blood on the Tracks book page on Facebook and book and author pages.

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September 25, 2011 6:34 pm : Events, In the News, Latest News

WickedLocal Sherborn: Salem State University Peace Institute to honor Peace Abbey’s Lewis Randa

By Hope Benne and Van Pham

Dover-Sherborn — Another UN International Day of Peace is upon us — Wednesday, Sept. 21 — affording an opportunity to celebrate a vision dating far back in history. Many anthropologists now believe that the earliest humans who roved from place to place as hunters and gatherers were peaceful.

Aside from an occasional act of aggression or murder, they found enough food and had no reason to compete or go to war. Cooperation and sharing were necessary for survival. Moreover, primatologists’ research now indicates that kindness and compassion even exist among our primate relatives, and these traits were passed down to humans in our evolutionary path.

Therefore, peace has always been one of humanity’s main endeavors because it encompasses security, order and cooperation, and was and always will be fundamental to survival. Moreover, in our present circumstances, peace has become a necessity because we are facing global problems.

Contemplating various approaches to peace reveals just how complex and commonplace peace is. There are those who think peace can best be achieved through a government’s all-encompassing imposition of order using military power as well as the arts, science and spiritual beliefs. Historically, Augustan Rome, Tokagawa Japan, Tito’s Yugoslavia and Lee Kwan Yew’s Singapore are examples of top-down imposition of order.

From the grassroots, courageous leaders such as Lech Walesa, Corazon Aquino, students and workers at Tien An Men square, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi mobilized people in massive nonviolence movements and, in doing so, became giants of the 20th century.

Another approach to peace would be following the sacred texts of the world’s spiritual traditions all of which show a longing for peace. Through the wisdom in these texts and prayer and meditation, people develop inner peace.

Well, unlikely and amazing as it seems, nearly all of these approaches are represented at a place just outside of Boston called the Peace Abbey. Words can hardly adequately convey how impressive and magnificent this haven is. It combines and brings to life information about scores of artists, musicians, scientists, and spiritual leaders who have espoused peaceful beliefs and ideas which could order our lives.

This is not a controlling government’s imposition of order, but rather it is the ideas themselves which are powerful and which express the hopes and dreams of humankind.

Founded by Lewis Randa in Sherborn 25 years ago, the Peace Abbey includes a peace museum, an animal sanctuary, a memorial to civilians killed in war and a school for children with disabilities. The pastoral grounds have a 9-foot bronze statue of Gandhi which rises up surrounded by walls with plaques commemorating scores of famous peacemakers from Martin Luther King Jr., to Rumi, to John Lennon. A Courage of Conscience award is given every year to such acclaimed peacemakers as Mother Teresa, Thich Nhat Hanh, Daniel Berrigan, Maya Angelou and Muhammad Ali, all of whom have spoken at the abbey.

Salem State University Peace Institute is proud to be giving our Champion of Peace award this year to Lewis Randa at a ceremony on International Day of Peace. With determination and creativity, he is doing more than his share to further moral progress in our times.

Professor Hope Benne teaches world history, and Professor Van Pham teaches economics at Salem State University. Both are members of the Salem State University Peace Institute.

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September 15, 2011 8:34 pm : Courage of Conscience Award, Events, In the News, Latest News, Uncategorized

MetroWest Daily News: Natick camp founder has rare ‘Courage’

By Julia Spitz/Daily News staff

photo of Frank Robinson with his Courage of Conscience Award by Julia Spitz

When a young man followed his college crush from Kentucky to Maine in the summer of 1948, the romance fizzled, but a new love blossomed into something that would change thousands of lives.

He fell in love with the kids at the Pine Tree Camp for Crippled Children, said Frank “Rob” Robinson, who founded Camp Arrowhead in Natick in 1958, and, in 1970, Ashland’s Camp Warren, which became Camp Echo in Goshen and was later incorporated into the 4H Camp Howe.

The Framingham resident’s visionary approach to pairing student volunteers with disabled campers recently put him in the company of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a recipient of the Sherborn Peace Abbey’s Courage of Conscience Award.

Lewis Randa, the Peace Abbey’s executive director, “called me about a week before” the award was bestowed last month. “I thought he was kidding. It was overwhelming when he said, ‘We’re going to give it to you.’ ”

The honor is well deserved, say those who know the 83-year-old Robinson.

“His hands are bigger than anything I’ve ever seen” in his ability to reach out to others, said Mike Rourke, who, like Robinson, served as the Natick Recreation Department’s director. “And his heart is bigger than his hands.”

“He’s so worthy, even in the elite company of that award,” said Jim Argir, the Natick native Robinson asked to supervise the Neetega Club for teens more than 50 years ago.

His experience at the Easter Seals camp in Maine was a life-changing experience, said Robinson. The campers “taught me so much,” and the lessons led him to Springfield College for a graduate degree in recreation, and from there, to Natick, with his wife, Pat, whom he met at the Maine camp.

In Natick, “I thought everybody should be exposed to (lessons) the handicapped kids teach you,” and he asked Joe Sheridan, commander of the Amputee Veterans post, if he could use the Lake Cochituate camp when the vets weren’t there.

With Neetega members as volunteers, it became an immediate success, said Robinson. “The people who followed me helped it grow and expand.”

While Natick quickly became Robinson’s adopted hometown, Pat’s sudden death led to changes in 1964. He moved to Winthrop, where his mother-in-law helped care for his young daughters, Nancy and Lynne, and he took over the leadership of the Easter Seals Society in Boston.

When he left Natick, about 1,500 people turned out for the going-away party at the Monticello in Framingham, Argir said.

Singer Connie Francis performed at the party. “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” Robinson recalled.

In 1966, he joined the faculty at Northeastern University, where he taught recreation therapy, wrote three books, acquired the nickname “Coach,” and nurtured a new group of volunteers for campers at the Ashland facility owned by Northeastern.

Kids on stretchers would come, but no matter how disabled the camper, the college students found a way to foster a fun experience.

“I still hear from some of them today,” he said of volunteers and campers.

When Northeastern shifted its vision for the Ashland site in 1980, Robinson, campers’ parents and volunteers came up with a plan for a place in Goshen formerly used by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. “We had kids in wheelchairs living in tents,” but somehow it all worked.

So did the introduction the Camp Echo nurse made in 1981, when she suggested he should meet a friend of hers who was a former nun working in hospice care.

“Everybody thought we would be a great couple because we were both crazy,” said Elinor Robinson. “I was working with the dying and he was working with the disabled.”

They married in 1982 and moved to Framingham, although “Rob” can often be found in the stands rooting for Natick during football season.

“He’s a magnet – a kid magnet, a people magnet,” Linda Frank said of her neighbor who, after retiring, became a Big Brother to two young men and sang bass with the New Sound Assembly Chorus.

“The single most important thing is his contribution to humanity,” said Rourke.

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September 14, 2011 8:11 pm : Events, In the News, Latest News

WickedLocal Dover-Sherborn: Memorial Stone rededicated at Sept. 11th Peace Abbey ceremony in Sherborn

Wicked Local Photos By Sara Feijo

By Sara Feijo

Sherborn — Barbara Packard, 77, put a photo of Deora Bodley, who was killed in the terrorist attacks of 2001, next to a replica of the Memorial Stone for Unknown Civilians killed in war at the Peace Abbey’s Sept. 11th Day of Remembrance on Sunday.

Packard never met Bodley. She met her father, Dairell Bodley, who was wearing a picture of Deora around his neck, during a visit to the Peace Abbey.

“I saw how sorrowful he was,” Packard said. “I gave him a kiss on the cheek and said ‘I hope your life will become better.’”

Dairell Bodley died in a motorcycle accident in 2003, two years after his daughter’s death.

Attendees walked to the Sherborn Fire Station a few minutes before noon to honor the firemen killed in action during the World Trade Center attack 10 years ago.

Three firemen and one police officer walked with attendees back to the Peace Abbey, where they gathered around the statue of Mary and listened in silence to the names of those killed during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

At about 12:10 p.m., the 60 attendees walked across the Peace Abbey towards the right corner of the entrance, where the memorial stone stood.

State Rep. David Linsky addressed the audience after Connie and Bruce Taylor sang “Make Me a Seed of Peace.”

“Peace to all,” Linsky said. “That’s the most important message you can give.”

Sherborn firefighters laid a helmet down next to the memorial stone as a symbol of the courage and sacrifice of the 343 firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2011.

Chaplain and program coordinator Dot Walsh led the closing prayer.

“Unknown civilians killed in war. People like us. Children, mothers, fathers, all of those people all over the world who lose their lives just because they’re in their homes or cars or just doing what they do in daily life,” Walsh said. “The stone has much, much feeling.”

After the final prayer, attendees were invited to touch the stone, leave daises next to it and write their thoughts and prayers in a prayer book located to the left of the stone.

“The message, I think, [is] we all belong to the human race,” said Betsy Lussier, an attendee. “Remember we’re all human beings together, and try to see the good in everybody.”

The original Memorial Stone for Unknown Civilians was unveiled and dedicated by Muhammad Ali on May 4, 1994. Replicated stones have traveled the United States, Ireland, England, Japan and South Korea.

“The message on the stone is unknown civilians because even though [there were] almost 3,000 people [that] were killed that day, at the Towers, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, … what about everyone who has lost their lives?” Walsh said. “The hope of the Peace Abbey is that this is the year for change.”

See more photos here.

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