Students in the Shop
Early Abbots of Saint John’s may have been concerned about safety had they heard that students were laboring in the Abbey Woodworking Shop. Not to mention the potential influence that rowdy students might have on impressionable monks! Yet today we have a constant flow of students in and out of the shop between classes. These students are interested in trading in the rigors of the intellectual life for the opportunity to work with their hands…if only for a few hours at a time.
While they may not have the most glamorous assignments in the shop, since their time is often spent assisting the professional staff or cleaning up the never-ending wood shavings, they do get the chance to see projects through to the end. And with a completed project comes the satisfaction of seeing a raw resource become a well-crafted piece of furniture…one that will be used by generations of students to come.
While many undergraduates have been employed by the shop over the years, their origins seem only to go back to the late 60’s to early 70’s Our earliest records show that K.C. Marrin may have been the original student employee of the shop. Starved for an excuse to avoid homework, KC convinced Shop Manager, Br. Hubert Schneider O.S.B., to help him with a project. Together they planted the early seed of what was to become the renowned K.C. Marrin Organ Company. His loyalty and dedication to the shop has made him a great friend and frequent collaborator of Abbey Woodworking.
Current SJU senior, Will Johnson, has spent three summers in at Abbey Woodworking and will be closing out this school year in the shop before he begins his career as an elementary school teacher. Bridget Erickson, a CSB Senior, has been a quick learner over her two years with Abbey Woodworking and with her entrepreneurial background she looks to open a possible furniture restoration business in the future.
Numerous women and men have made their way through Abbey Woodworking over the years (you’ll see their pictures throughout the article). Whether they labored in the shop for a semester or for four years, it is our hope that their experience provided them with an appreciation for manual labor and a broader understanding of the liberal arts. Abbey Woodworking has been fortunate to have had so many gifted and hardworking students over the years.
We give thanks for the life that they bring to the shop and always look forward to hearing about their adventures after life in Collegeville. Recently, a former student employee came back to the shop for a visit after more than10 years away. Upon entering the shop, he took in a deep breath and proclaimed, “This was the best job that I will ever have!” Maybe hyperbole, maybe not?