Couple tends to a community that flourishes in solitude

Karen and Paul Fredette (Photo courtesy of Paul and Karen Fredette)

Hermit meets parish priest, becomes his secretary, and together the pair nurtures a long-standing platonic friendship that eventually (after both leave their respective communities) develops into romantic love.

What Hollywood writer could dream up a script like this real-life story?

But given the far from run-of-the-mill nature of their lives thus far, perhaps it makes sense that Paul and Karen Fredette serve a community that flourishes mostly in solitude and silence, averse both to institutional hierarchy and wary of any attempt to organize them.

Karen, a former Poor Claire nun, spent six years as a hermit while supporting herself as a part-time secretary and maker of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.

Her husband, Paul, after 20 years as a Glenmary Missioner working with the poor in Appalachia and elsewhere, is now a developmental disabilities and mental health professional.

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This story appeared in the Feb 13-26, 2015 print issue.

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