NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines from aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) volunteered at a monastery while in port in Naples, Italy, Oct. 18.
Eleven Sailors from various departments aboard the "Big E" and Nitze aided in light gardening and the pruning of olive trees in preparation for the upcoming harvest at the Abbey of San Vincenzo.
The Abbey of San Vincenzo is a monastery of Benedictine nuns dedicated to contemplative life in the 1,500 year old tradition of St. Benedict. St. Benedict, the father of modern monasticism, believed a key component to forming a community was the balance between prayer and work; known as "ora et labora."
The grounds of the Central Italian monastery, nestled near the source of the Volturno River, at the foot of the Mainarde mountains, served as the backdrop for the five-hour project.
"It was beautiful," said Cryptologic Technician 1st Class Shanika L. King. "It was basically just going out to the monastery and helping them. It was an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life."
The nuns of San Vincenzo cultivate a special appreciation for the land which provides the stable base of the monastery. They believe it is through the land and the animals that the community experiences the seasonal cycles of nature in complement of the seasonal cycle of the liturgy of the church.
"They [the nuns of San Vincenzo] took the grounds literally from nothing to something to be very proud of," said Lt. Cmdr. Claude E. Taylor, Enterprise's Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department assistance maintenance officer and and one of the volunteers. "It is nice to see we have our own countrymen working in this country and they are doing good work."
"It makes me feel very special," said King. "It really made me thankful that I was able to do this. I enjoyed listening to the history the nuns spoke of and the things they did to get to this point. Just the outcome of all the handiwork and the different people they helped over the years...it was amazing."
According to the nuns of San Vincenzo, working the land "takes a special kind of teamwork and brings a shared joy in the fruits of labor," a sentiment Enterprise Sailors learned firsthand.
"They [Enterprise Sailors] got to see a part of Italy they have never seen before and an area that has such historical significance both in Italian culture and in world culture," said Taylor. "This visit reaffirmed the fact that we do need to take time out and give of ourselves, and that is what these ladies at the monastery have been doing. It is good to give other people a minute of your service."
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