Catholic musician John Michael Talbot and his community of lay monastics suffered a great loss this week:
[From a Christian Newswire press release]
The home of The Brothers and Sisters of Charity founded by Dove Award-winning musician John Michael Talbot suffered a swift and vicious fire close to midnight on April 29. There was no loss of life, although members of the community, including Talbot, are suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation.
The fire began in the chapel and spread to the community’s Common Center which housed the kitchen, offices, library, classrooms and dining space. All are a total loss. It is unknown how the fire started, but has been declared “no fault” by the fire inspector, says Talbot. Various awards melted in the heat or were burned along with the community archives, inventory and tour equipment. Living areas, studio and instruments were unharmed.
Talbot said that he was up late recording and heard some odd popping noises before noticing a glow in the windows of his hermitage home facing the chapel. He and his wife, Viola, ran to the chapel and found the hoses insufficient to fight the fire, already reaching high into the sky. Talbot said he pounded and screamed at the doors of the other hermitages. Some in the community went into the fire in an attempt to save valuables. Talbot said the smoke was thick and blinding and that all he could see was “black.” When it became clear that the battle was lost, the brothers, sisters and families of the community watched the buildings burn while waiting for the fire department. Talbot says that the fire department put all of their resources into aggressively fighting the fire, but could not save the building. The wood construction contributed to the speed of the fire which burned the chapel to the ground in an hour.
At the wish of the community, Talbot’s Canadian Tour will continue as planned beginning in Great Falls, Montana with a number of stops in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Tour dates and information may be found at his website, http://www.johnmichaeltalbot.com. Founder, Spiritual Father and General Minister of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity since 1980, Talbot credits monastic life in the community as key for the Christian worship songs he writes and records.
While the damage is covered by insurance, donations are helping bridge the financial gap as the community awaits, reorganizes and prepares to rebuild, “this time in stone,” says Talbot. Little Portion Hermitage is located in Berryville, in the Ozark Mountains in Northwest Arkansas. For more information about the community, see http://www.littleportion.org .