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The perfect Christmas gift for pet owners from L. D. Hermitage

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Laudate Dominum Hermitage is a refuge for animals that have lost their homes. This modest monastery in the high mountains of southwestern Virginia is a sanctuary for dogs, cats, chickens and a rabbit: these once-loved pets have lost their homes, sometimes as result of the death, infirmities or nursing home placement of their owners. Sometimes, because of the pets’ own age and infirmities they have become unwanted: some of these pets have missing limbs, some are blind, some are deaf and some have chronic, incurable ailments. The worst affliction of all, however, is not being loved; here at the Hermitage, with very few people, the hermits are able to provide ample care and love for these refugees. The resulting sanctuary within the traditional, religious community of the Hermits of the Contemplative Heart of Mary is peaceful and full of love.

Brother John Joachim is in charge of the animals and rarely turns anyone away when they petition him for the sake of an animal. Br. John and Sr. Maryellen have been taking in homeless, helpless creatures for over twenty years, making them official wards of the monastery for life. These orphans are guaranteed protection, love and care from the members of the monastery for the rest of their lives; there is no charge for this service. Sick animals are nursed (hand-fed if necessary) until their health is restored or until death arrives. Here, the residents are always treated with the dignity they deserve as beautiful, loving creatures of God.

This religious community is poor, and the monastery is incomplete and without plumbing. The hermits live very primitively, giving all they have for the animals and existing on a small income along with some donations from a few animal lovers who know of their wonderful work. Occasionally a patron will board their pet and give a monetary offering. With God’s help and blessings and a few loyal supporters they (barely) are able to manage pet food, people food, vet bills and essential expenses. These dedicated people deserve all the prayers and any kind of support that can be offered. They are genuine custodians of creation, just as God intended.

At this time of year, Brother John is trying to get all of the fuel in and trying to stock up on winter supplies for the animals in case an early snow shuts down the road into the sanctuary. Funds are needed to keep the electric going and to purchase food. There is a need for more facilities for the animals, for more donated veterinarian services, donations of food and for more volunteers to help with the animals. Sponsoring a cat, dog, rabbit or any of the other creatures with a donation would make a wonderful Christmas gift to honor a friend, or as a memorial to a beloved pet.

Your help is very much needed and appreciated, and no amount is too small. You can sponsor a cat for $10 or sponsor a dog for $15 or both for $25, but any amount is gratefully accepted. Brother John will offer his prayers in return for your kindness and the Hermitage will gladly send a receipt thanking you for your donation. Checks may be made out to L. D. Hermitage and mailed to: 3804 Big Ridge Road, Elk Creek, VA. 24326.

This Christmas, you can give a Christmas gift that makes a difference in the lives of others.

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Homeless animals - including rabbits - are cared for and given sanctuary at L.D. Hermitage. Sofie (pictured) is actually a homeless rabbit in the Dayton area, adoptable at the Humane Society of Greater Dayton.

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