LOVELAND, Ohio (AP) -- It has been a long time since Janet Kalven slept in a stall in a cow barn or pumped water for bathing.
Grailville, the women's spiritual and educational center that she helped establish and where she has lived for much of the last 55 years, has grown a lot less primitive, but its basic vision is unchanged, she said.
''When we first settled on this farm, we shared a vision of changing the world through spiritual renewal,'' said Ms. Kalven, 86. ''Grailville was to be a countercultural oasis where we integrated manual and intellectual work with spiritual deepening, and that is still true today even though we've adapted to changing times.''
Ms. Kalven was 31 years old when she and 13 other women settled on the 183-acre farm in the rural community of Loveland in 1944. The women belonged to the Grail, an organization of Roman Catholic lay women founded in the Netherlands in 1921 and dedicated to promoting religious and social change. It spread to the United States with a temporary center set up in Chicago in 1940.
Four years later, a member's inheritance and a loan from the Cincinnati archdiocese provided the $49,250 to purchase the farm at Loveland, about 20 miles northeast of Cincinnati. The rolling acres of fields, woods, ponds and creeks surrounding a three-story Victorian mansion and numerous outbuildings became the Grail's national home.
''We moved the animals out of the barns and ourselves in. I lived the first summer in a box stall 45 by 110 feet,'' said Ms. Kalven. ''We all shared one shower in the main house, which was the only building with plumbing and central heating.''
The group also used outdoor privies and fashioned orange crates into shelves and washstands. Over time, the buildings were transformed into meeting rooms and living quarters.
For years, the private, nonprofit center remained mostly self-sufficient with as many as 100 women in residence at times. They raised dairy and beef cattle, chickens, corn and wheat and maintained vegetable gardens and an orchard.
Catholic rituals, prayer, meditation, study and manual labor made up the daily routine. But with the societal shifts brought by the 1960s, some Grailville women saw communal living as less attractive than other, newly available opportunities for bringing social change.
''The growing interest in civil rights, women's rights and the antiwar movement combined with major changes in the Catholic church affected us greatly,'' said Ms. Kalven.
''It was difficult to see friends leave -- that was very hard,'' she added, her voice catching with emotion. ''But we survived.''
Over the next three decades, Grail membership was opened up to women of other faiths, and more married women and divorced women became involved. The Grail, which now numbers about 1,000 members in 21 countries also became more vocal on global issues such as peace, social justice, women's rights and ecology.
Grailville now consists of 300 acres and 18 buildings.
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