As they pray and sing, the nuns of New Skete in upstate New York bake, freeze and ship 13 flavors of cheesecake. Instead of a kitchen with stolid-faced women, the ladies are a merry bunch. Their cheesecake making derives from joy and spirituality. Says Sister Cecelia Harvey, "Can you not be aware of God while you’re putting cheese in a bowl and mixing things up?"
At first, the prep work for 200 four-pound cheesecakes in the sunny, commercial kitchen seemed familiar, unremarkable. An elderly woman in a bandanna wielded a cheese cutter, slicing through fat bricks of cream cheese. Another woman with silvery bangs poured heavy cream into the mixer, dipped a tasting pinkie into the batter and grinned. Rich vanilla perfumed the air. As containers from Florida were opened, bright bursts of Key lime scent escaped.