Decking the Halls...or rather the 1956 International Harvester for the Christmas Season.

Charlie and Susan Pate

A Handmaid HISTORY


The Husband and Wife Maintenance Team of
Charlie and Susan Pate

Charlie Pate

Charlie Pate – Maintenance Man Extraordinaire

Everyone has a job on their hands when it comes to keeping up their house. Imagine instead if it was an entire monastery. Over the years that our community has lived at Cor Jesu Monastery in Jemez Springs, NM, a variety of helpers and maintainers have come to our assistance but none can compare to Charlie and Susan Pate, our unique dynamic duo and on-call experts for every conceivable repair, improvement, or emergency that can crop up.


Susan Pate

Susan Pate

Maintaining “This Old House” is no small feat in a rural canyon in the mountains of New Mexico. The old converted mountain house turned monastery has presented its fair share of challenges to Charlie and Susan as buildings were added on or renovated over time, but they have risen to the occasion so aptly that it has become a mainstay among the Sisters to say that “Charlie and Susan can fix it.” This is because, besides their vast experience and skills, they met the one most exacting criteria we were looking for when they applied for the job in 1996.

“We’re looking for someone who will care for this place as if it was their own home.”

Indeed, not only has it become their ‘second home’ in their diligent care for it, but they have become our family members in the process. So much so did they take to heart this concern for our home that they would fret before vacations, not unlike parents leaving their children alone, over every conceivable maintenance need that might arise in their absence so that the Handmaids would be safe. This extended even to making sure the cemetery was ready and the sprinkler lines were identified for digging…just in case anything happened while they were gone. Where can you find that kind of love and concern today?

Inevitably, when we could afford to give them a little bonus (though they deserved so much more), we had to present it with an admonition that they NOT go out and spend it at Home Depot on maintaining the monastery which they were in a bad habit of doing. We never were able to stop Hams and Turkeys and Roasts from mysteriously showing up around Christmas and Easter that we know just happened to come from them. We could always call them at any hour for any task and need and we could relax knowing our special guardian angels of maintenance were there for us. Susan’s warm smile, welcoming energy and good spirits matched Charlie’s trademark handlebar mustache (which was only burned off once when the oven exploded during a replacement operation), his coveralls, hat, and trademark International Harvester S120 1956 maintenance truck and have added a certain zest to the mundane work of overall upkeep most families treat as burdensome tasks. We have often remarked that a man and wife must love each other immensely to not only live at home together but work together all day as well…fixing up someone else’s home and finding it enjoyable too! Without a doubt they have brought a special joy into our lives and we have been blessed to have them among us.

As we have begun the bittersweet process of moving to our new home in East Tennessee we can ask ourselves many questions about what we might miss most about New Mexico. The beautiful canyon? The clear blue skies? The stars at night? Surely. But of all those things that we might miss, we know that we will miss Charlie and Susan the most. Far beyond employees and regular rescuers of Handmaids, they have become our friends and family.

We will pray in gratitude for them everyday for the unrepay-able ways they have sacrificed so much for us. May God bless them!!

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