As some guests checked out the chapel, others were taken on a guided tour of the compound and given a brief history of Emery House.
Guests were shown the compound’s beehives where the house’s honey, available for purchase, is cultivated. A chicken coop and its fenced-off area was also part of the tour. Eggs laid by the chickens inside the coop were used to bake many of the cakes, brownies and other snacks offered to guests during the open house.
“It’s quite a revelation for some people,” Tristam said.
During the tour, several people, many wearing crosses, were heard remarking about how beautiful and peaceful the Emery House was and thinking that the hermitages were perfect for a weekend away.
Brian Cassin and Joan Meister, both of Newburyport, were among those thoroughly impressed.
“It’s awesome, blows my mind,” Cassin said.
“I’m ready to book my weekend in a hermitage,” added Meister.
The purpose of the open house, which attracted people mostly from the Greater Newburyport area, was to be good neighbors to the West Newbury community at large, Tristam said.
“We feel we wanted to give the opportunity for local people to get to know the Emery House, meet the brothers,” Tristam said.
Overall, SSJE has 17 brothers who strive to be “men of the moment,” responding with the Gospel of Jesus Christ to contemporary issues and needs. SSJE is the core of a larger international community of nearly 1,000 associates in the Fellowship of St. John, and SSJE’s guesthouses welcome over 2,000 guests annually, according to its website.