Brunch With the Nuns Outside Terre Haute
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is a peaceful Catholic woman’s college located in the wilds of southern Indiana, about five miles from Terre Haute. It’s home to a sisterhood of nuns, who, among other things, raise alpacas and sell alpaca wool creations to benefit their Center for Eco-Justice. It’s also home to the remains of one of only ten US saints (though only two of the ten were actually born here), Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.
It’s also home to a sinful brunch buffet.
If I went to school here, the freshman 15 would have been a dim memory attained in the first week. More like the freshman 150. The dining hall at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, also open to the public, makes up for the lack of dining options in the area by providing an unholy smorgasbord of buffet extravagance. It’s a bargain at $13/person. And it’s all delicious.
Let me just list some of the things I remember seeing and/or eating:
- French toast, Belgian waffles, and associated toppings
- Eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, biscuits and gravy
- Salad bar and prepared cold salad bar (fruit salad, taco salad, pasta salad, bean salad)
- Carved roast, roasted chicken, turkey, corn, mashed potatoes and a different kind of gravy, green beans, stuffed shells
- Multiple flavors of hard and soft ice creams and associated toppings
- Cherry crumble, pies (maybe ten kinds?), Rice Krispies treats, cookies, eclairs, brownies
- Water, iced tea, coffee, lemonade, juice, soda, milk, chocolate milk
At some point, my senses became overloaded and I couldn’t take any more in –visually or orally. Maybe there was an omelet station, maybe there were more desserts. I can’t remember.
After brunch we strolled the grounds, checking out various grottos, chapels, and the alpacas. Then we went into the church, where we were chatted up by the docent. For a very long time. She, and all the nuns, were sweet, calm, and serene. And they really wanted to chat. Inconveniently, I had just eaten twenty pounds of food and had an unholy case of gas. I wandered away to check out the stained glass windows and perfume the air by myself.
As a general non-believer, I really enjoy visiting a variety of religious places and learning about their history in a pressure-free setting. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods strikes the perfect balance between education and tolerance. There’s a comfort derived from interacting with a group of people who are so comfortable in and happy with their life choices. I left with a sense of peace, and a food baby (it was not an immaculate conception, though — I put it there).