The jam, a blend of fresh blackberries and sweet honey, has made my toast a slice of heaven today.
And to think that I found the jam after seeing a tweet I saw about 10 p.m. one night from Abbot Lawrence (@AbbotLawrence) Stasyszen. The tweet from the abbot, spiritual leader at St. Gregory’s Abbey, featured a picture of a huge vat of purple stuff and that’s what caught my attention.
I sent him a tweet to say that his picture caught my attention. Soon, I was headed to the abbey one morning to spend some time with the Rev. Simeon Spitz, O.S. B., as he picked blackberries for the jam (that was the purple stuff in the abbot’s photo!) that he makes and sells. Jam lovers may purchase the jam at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art on the St. Gregory’s University campus, 1900 W MacArthur in Shawnee.
Oklahoman photographer Jim Beckel and I were given a treat — and not just the jam — as we spent that morning and part of the evening with Spitz. He was very gracious and and answered all of our endless questions with patience and lots of humor.
The industrious Benedictine monk was no stranger to me. I wrote a story in 2011 about his bee keeping enterprise (pictured) at the abbey. The fact that he pours the honey harvested from the abbey bee hives into his jam mixture made perfect sense.
In an interesting coincidence for me because of my stories on Saturday and today, Spitz said he was at one time a fellow seminarian with the five men who were ordained to the priesthood in an Archdiocese of Oklahoma City ceremony on Saturday (Read more on “The Five”:
He said he, too, had contemplated joining the priesthood after he graduated from St. Gregory’s University and was accepted as a seminarian for the archdiocese. However, after a period of discernment, he decided that his true vocation was to be part of the monastic life at St. Gregory’s Abbey and he parted ways with his seminarian friends for a time when he went to live at the abbey.
He made his first profession of vows as a monk of St. Gregory’s Abbey in January 2010.
Eventually, through a period of prayer and discernment Spitz decided that he would become a priest. He was recently ordained into the priesthood on May 31 at the abbey (picture by Vincent R. Vitale).
One last thing: the abbot’s tweet that caught my attention was one of his most popular. Spitz said the abbot heard from folks from as far away as Turkey, who saw the tweet and also were intrigued by his accompanying picture of a vat of purple liquid.
Read my story about Spitz and his berry enterprise: Jam Session