By JACOB BURKE
With visitors that include Mother Teresa and Muhammad Ali, The Peace Abbey in Sherborn has a history of bringing people together to accomplish peaceful change. Thousands of people around Massachusetts and across the globe have visited The Peace Abbey, using the grounds for reflection, prayer, and education.
The community gathering space has been a staple in the area for over twenty years, allowing people from all walks of life an open space for private reflection and group retreat.
But in the wake of our nation’s economic recession, The Peace Abbey is struggling to pay the bills. With the looming possibility of a foreclosure, the retreat center is in the middle of a massive fundraising effort hoping that gracious benefactors will give back to an organization that gives so much.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, The Peace Abbey relies on charity and the rental of its meeting space among other projects. The peaceful getaway is almost constantly used as a retreat center for area universities, corporate events, weddings, and baby blessings. When its not hosting these scheduled events, The Peace Abbey is open to visitors who want to stop in, visit the grounds, or spend some time in peace and quiet.
The center is also the base of operations for the Life Experience Program and School in Millis, a school for students with special life challenges and developmental disabilities. With 12 students, it’s an important place in helping educate some of the area’s more vulnerable citizens. The Life Experience School is a project that The Peace Abbey is perhaps most proud of.
With this valuable community treasure in jeopardy, the fundraising drive becomes all the more important.
“It’s crucial if we’re going to keep on doing what we’re doing,” said Dot Walsh, The Peace Abbey’s program coordinator. Walsh seemed cautious but hopeful that upcoming efforts could save the abbey.
On June 26, from 4 to 7p.m., renowned Boston comedian Jimmy Tingle will perform a benefit concert for The Peace Abbey. With tickets fast selling out, this event is a key effort in The Peace Abbey’s recovery plan.
Tingle isn’t the only celebrity getting behind the cause. From Yoko Ono to Matt Damon, various newsmakers and artists have put their support behind the abbey in the past.
The Peace Abbey is dedicated to “creating innovative models for society that empower individuals on the path to non-violence, peacemaking and cruelty-free living,” according to some of their literature. With various statues of inspirational figures–Gandhi, John F, Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. among them–something in the Abbey will catch each person’s eye and pull at their heartstrings.
Featuring artwork and research materials from the 12 major world faiths, The Peace Abbey honors spirituality with a broad-reaching ecumenical approach. In the Multi-faith Chapel and Candle Room religious information and prayer space is provided in a peaceful setting. Dozens of pieces of art adorn the walls ranging from a crucifix to Buddhist sculptures. At the Peace Abbey, the focus is on the common ground that the faiths share.
“There’s an embodiment of the spiritual,” as Walsh put it, a feeling that connects to each visitor regardless of their background
For more information on how you can help save The Peace Abbey, and to donate and purchase tickets to the Jimmy Tingle show, go to their website at www.peaceabbey.org.