Carmelite Monastery of the Mother of God Turns 50

vocations_7On a rainy day in November, 1965, Mother Dolores and nine other nuns from the Carmelite Monastery of Carmel-by-the-Sea founded a new monastery in San Rafael, California. Mother Dolores, now 93, and the other nuns of the now Carmelite Monastery of the Mother of God are joyously celebrating the 50th anniversary of this event throughout the month of November.

The now Carmelite Monastery of the Mother of God has been striving to respond to Our Lady of Fatima’s message regarding praying for the conversion of sinners and Russian people since its foundation. Early on the sisters learned to sing the Byzantine Liturgy with hopes of one day founding a Carmel in Russia. Fr. Loius Bouier suggested that they first make a foundation in Finland.  Following the fall of communism, the sisters  opened a small foundation in Moscow. The venture proved to be impractical and the sisters sold the small monastery to the Divine Word Missionaries who used it to establish a St. Olga’s Catholic Parish which the Carmelites still prayerfully support.

The Carmelite Monastery of the Mother of God is a truly universal one with sisters from all over the world including sisters from four different continents. The sisters enjoy a peaceful setting with over 400 redwood trees on the monastery grounds creating a place conducive to prayer.  The Monastery has matured immensely since its initial foundation in 1965.

78 people attended the first of three Masses commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Monastery’s founding. The Mass was celebrated by Most Rev. John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe on Nov 1st, All Saints Day. In his homily, Archbishop Wester emphasized the sisters’ Reliance on Divine Providence saying, “my dear sisters, you are living examples of this because you believe in a God who actively works in you in very beautiful ways. It’s not always been easy, but you take on our sufferings and make them your own.”

Apostleship of Prayer November Intentions

ApostleshipofPrayerSince the nineteenth century, popes have asked the Apostleship of Prayer to pray for specific intentions. The Apostleship of Prayer receives two prayer intentions each month from the Holy Father, pledging to pray for them every day. Pope Francis has given dialogue and pastors as the two intentions for the month of November.

The Universal intention for the month of November is dialogue. “That we may be open to personal encounter and dialogue with all, even those whose convictions differ from our own.” In their reflection on this intention the Apostleship of Prayer spoke of a meeting where the Holy Father emphasized the importance of dialogue among individuals saying, “It is the only way for individuals, families, and societies to grow along with the culture of encounter, a culture in which all have something good to give and all can receive something good in return.”

 The evangelization intention  for this month is for pastors. “That pastors of the Church, with profound love for their flocks, may accompany them and enliven their hope.” In their reflection the Apostleship of Prayer speaks about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. They said, “Pope Francis asks us to pray that the Church’s shepherds may follow the example of the Good Shepherd. They should not place themselves above people but should be close to them.”

The Apostleship of Prayer also sets forth a prayer for each month. The prayer for this month is an excerpt from Pope Francis’ Prayer for Peace:

Lord, God of Abraham, God of the Prophets, God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters. Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister. Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words “division”, “hatred” and “war” be banished from the heart of every man and woman.

Dominican Eighth Centenary Jubilee Year Begins!

opOn November 7, 2015, the Dominican family began the celebration of the Eighth Centenary of their founding with a celebratory Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome. The ancient Basilica was built in the 5thC and was given to St. Dominic and the Dominicans in 1222. The cell where the saint lived is now a chapel though the dining room, used by St. Thomas Aquinas when visiting Rome, is still intact. As the Mother Church of the Dominican Order, it is the fitting place to inaugurate the jubilee year!

The presider for the Mass was the Master of the Order, Fr. Bruno Cadoré. The congregation consisted of representatives of the Dominican family, the Superior General of the Franciscans Friars Minor, and many friends of the Order of Preachers. The liturgy began with the opening of the ancient door of the Basilica. Father Bruno lit a candle in the doorway symbolic of Saint Dominic as the “Light of the Church.”

Their charism of preaching and their commitment to the mission to proclaim the Gospel in season and out of season is the light they bring to the nations. During the Offertory, Dominican nuns brought forth baskets of rosaries which were blessed by Father Bruno. These are the rosaries that will be used for the rosary pilgrimage in the 202 monasteries of the Order around the world during the year. Each monastery made 2 rosaries and sent them to be blessed. The rosaries sent back will be from another monastery!

The Mass did not end in the usual fashion: “The Mass is ended…” because the celebrations have just begun.

Check out local Dominican monasteries near you for special events!

“Chopped” Champion – Sr. Alicia Torres

choppedI only watch three shows on cable TV – Hogan’s Heroes, the Weather Channel and the Food Network’s “Chopped.” So it was a thrill to watch the special “Chopped” Thanksgiving special to see a member of one of our Affiliate Communities compete to win the $10,000 prize.

Sr. Alicia Torres of the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago was one of four contestants selected from the many who serve the underprivileged in soup kitchens around the country. Some months ago, “Chopped” called our office asking for the names of potential “sister” cooks. Fr. Bob Lombardo, CFR, the superior of the community and IRL Board Member, also heard the word and was able to propose Sister Alicia.

chopped 2Sr. Alicia wowed the judges during every round.  Each show, the contestants are asked to open up a mystery basket of ingredients and transform them into an appetizer, then a main dish, and finally a dessert. During each round, one cook is eliminated. During this episode, each basket contained in various manifestations turkey, potatoes, cranberries and green beans. How she made the final dessert from that concoction of ingredients was truly imaginative!

The judges were amazed that someone with no formal cooking education could be so gifted. She has chosen to use those gifts for the greater glory of God. Her love for her Spouse, Jesus, and that love outpouring to others is what animates her and her cooking. “When I cook, I want to share that love, and I try to put care into everything that I make for every person that I serve,” she said in a WGN interview.

The $10,000 prize money won as the last “Chopped” cook standing will be used to restock their food pantry. For Christmas, she will be cooking for 1400 people in their west side neighborhood from their Mission of Our Lady of the Angels.

Congratulations Sister Alicia!


Pro Orantibus: The Order of the Most Holy Savior

CaptureThe IRL has begun a new series on featuring cloistered and monastic communities to raise awareness of the special gift to the Church which these religious men and women are and also to promote World Day of Cloistered Life. To find out more about the World Day of Cloistered Life which is now only a few weeks away click here.

The second community featured in this series is the Order of the Most Holy Savior, commonly known as the Brigittines. The monks of the Brigittine Priory of Our Lady of Consolation are affiliate members of the IRL and have a deep love of Christ, devotion to the fullness of liturgical worship, respect for learning and authentic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

St. Bridget of Sweden founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior in 1370 upon direct revelation from God. After wars ravaged Europe, the Brigittine monks dispersed in the middle of the nineteenth century.  Then in 1976, Brother Benedict Kirby founded a new male branch with their monastery now holding the canonical status of priory.

g3The Brigittine monks lead monastic lives following the Rule of St. Augustine. They sing the Liturgy of the Hours in choir and have specified times of prayer with the Eucharist being the apex of their day. They follow the ancient Brigittine tradition of continual prayer for the souls in purgatory and the conversion of sinners. As part of their work and in order to support themselves, the monks make gourmet confections.

The Brigittine Monks in Amity, Oregon are the continuation of a long tradition of contemplative men and women that dates back to the time of St. Bridget of Sweden. Through their extraordinary lives, they wish to create an atmosphere in which one can know and understand the joy of living this life in Christ.

Celebrating the 800th Jubilee in Cloister

St. Dominic RosaryThe Order of Preachers, commonly known as Dominicans, will soon be celebrating the 800th Jubilee of their approval by Pope Honorius III in 1216. In anticipation for this milestone, the Order has dedicated a website to the event and developed ways to celebrate that will incorporate all members of the Dominican family, including those in cloisters.

One way in which all members of the Dominican family will be able to celebrate is the year-long Rosary Pilgrimage which each monastery within the Order will participate. During the Rosary Pilgrimage, each monastery worldwide will be assigned two days to observe in a special way the holy rosary in whatever way each monastery chooses.

Mother Mary Joseph of the Dominican Monastery of St. Jude said that the Order has been praying a nine year novena in preparation for this 800th Jubilee. She also sees the timing as very fitting because, “When Pope Francis announced the special Jubilee of Mercy for 2016, we saw this as a Providential correspondence, since the proclamation of God’s Mercy is at the heart of the ‘complete evangelization of the word of God’ which is at the heart of our Order.  Our Friars, Sisters, and Laity are to preach this to the world, while we cloistered nuns are supposed to live it out in our own lives as an example of the fullness to which God calls all people.”

The Rosary Pilgrimage is an appropriate celebration of the 800th Jubilee as tradition holds that Our Lady gave the rosary to St. Dominic, “in times particularly dangerous for the Catholic cause.” (Pope Leo XIII) It is also fitting for cloistered Dominican nuns to celebrate by praying the rosary because St. Dominic first founded a community of cloistered women to pray for the Order before establishing the male branch. The prayers from the cloistered nuns today will continue to empower all of the Order as it celebrates its 800th jubilee.


Sisters of Life Head West

slThe Sisters of Life are one of the fastest growing religious communities in the United States with 26 young women entering in just the past two years. Thanks to this rapid growth, the Sisters of Life have expanded by opening their tenth convent in Denver from which they hope to evangelize and promote a culture of life on college campuses.

On September 16th, the Denver Mission Team of Sr. Mary Louise Concepta, Sr. Maris Stella, Sr. Maria Anne Michela, and Sr. Fiat Marie joyfully celebrated the opening of St. Mary Magdalene Convent in Denver. They were joined by His Excellency Archbishop Samuel Aquila who celebrated Mass and blessed the convent.

denver3The Sisters of Life plan to evangelize on several college campuses near their new home in Denver. They will be teaming up with chaplains and FOCUS missionaries to provide a ministry of presence and prayer. Their new college outreach program is crucial to their mission as college-aged women are the most likely to pursue an abortion in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. The Sisters have had great success in promoting life, however, having served over 6,000 women since 2002 with over 90% choosing life for their child.

Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, superior general of the order and recipient of the 2015 Pro Fidelitate et Virtute Award, said, “It was from this city in 1993 that St. John Paul II exhorted those gathered for World Youth Day to defend the sacredness of human life. Our sisters look forward to strengthening the Denver lay faithful committed to building a culture of life.” The Sisters of Life hope to continue to faithfully respond to the Holy Father’s charge and promote the sacredness of life in their new home.

A Blossoming Community in Boston

20151003Investiture_0106“O Lord, my God, have done many wondrous deeds! and in Your plans for us there is none to equal You. Should I wish to declare or tell them, too many are they to recount.” These words from the psalmist come to mind for Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart when reflecting on all that the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth have experienced recently.

One of the major events which the community is celebrating is their recent move to a new convent in the Archdiocese of Boston. The Daughters of Mary of Nazareth moved to Quincy, Massachusetts where they are now blessed to be part of Saint John the Baptist Parish on Saturday, September 19. They signed a five-year lease with the option to renew allowing for growth and development of the young community.

20151003Investiture_0167The Daughters of Mary of Nazareth also joyously welcomed two new aspirants and celebrated the Novitiate Investiture Ceremony of four new Novices. The community along with the families of the new Sisters, friends of the Community, as well as, priests and seminarians from the Archdiocese of Boston were joined by Cardinal Seán O’Malley who was the main celebrant during the ceremonies.

Mother Olga founded the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth in 2011. Their ministry is focused on loving God and our neighbors through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The spirituality of the community is guided by Blessed Charles de Foucauld’s spirituality as he lived his life imitating the example of Mary and Joseph in Nazareth. Their charism is inspired by Pope St. John Paul II call for a new evangelization and is to be Ambassadors of Christ through word and deed.

Dominican Nuns of Marbury Vocation Letters

marburyThe Dominican Nuns in Marbury, Alabama, have issued a series of letters between a woman (fictional) discerning a vocation and a Dominican nun. The names may have been changed to protect the innocent (as they said in the old Dragnet series) but the letters do accurately depict Dominican monastic life as it is typically lived at Marbury. The sisters wish to keep their day-to-day life veiled behind the enclosure but you get a good glimpse of Dominican life behind the walls as you read on!

“Melanie” writes to the Novice Mistress “Magistra” which is Latin for “lady teacher.” Melanie also writes to her sister “Clare” who is curious about her “Come & See” visit to the monastery. After she enters the monastery, she writes to her family. Here are some excerpts:

It seems to be a common misconception that “extroverts should be active, introverts should be contemplative.  However our community history does not bear that out…. God calls people of all temperaments to live for Him in the contemplative life…. From Sr. Mary Magistra

It is a great motive for fidelity and joy in living our cloistered, contemplative life, to know that we are living it on behalf of and in union marbury1with our brethren the Dominican friars (and the other members of the Dominican family) in their consecration to God and in their preaching for the salvation of souls. From Sr. Mary Magistra

When Mom and Dad experience first-hand the peace to be found here, and see for themselves the joy of the nuns, they understand much better why such a life could be attractive and fulfilling for their own child. From Sr. Mary Magistra

When is the best time to enter religious life? Without delay. From Sr. Mary Magistra

(Melanie, writing to her family after entering) Since this was my first time being here in the monastery for the Paschal Triduum, I had to use of lot of energy just following everything and trying to turn the page at the right time, but I am so looking forward to having these ceremonies grow into a part of me over the years….  It is truly the liturgy that gives direction and movement to our lives, drawing us ever deeper each year into union with the Mysteries of Christ, “whom we desire to love solely.”

The letters are accompanied by charming pictures. As a visitor to Marbury last spring, I can vouch for the accuracy of the images!

For more information, visit the Marbury website.



Pro Orantibus: Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary


The IRL is beginning a new series on featuring cloistered and monastic communities to raise awareness of the special gift to the Church which these religious men and women are and also to promote World Day of Cloistered Life. To find out more about the World Day of Cloistered Life which is now less than one month away click here. The first community featured in this series is the Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary. This young community strives to spread devotion to God and mercy for all through prayer, adoration and works of mercy.

The Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary are a contemplative community of religious priests, sisters, brothers and lay members, that serve the Hearts of Jesus and Mary through contemplation, Eucharistic adoration, as well as, works of mercy and compassion. Founded in 1997 their charism is composed of three pillars: contemplation, Eucharistic Adoration and works of mercy.

With contemplation as a pillar of the community, the order is particularly dedicated to prayer. The majority of their day is dedicated to prayer, specifically contemplative prayer. Their life or prayer centers around the Eucharist by celebrating daily Mass and spending hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament which is the second pillar of their charism.

As they spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, the brothers and sisters are transformed by His Presence becoming carriers of His love and in turn pouring out this love on others. They accomplish this through the third pillar of the charism, works of mercy. Members of the Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary offer themselves joyfully and without reserve in order to envelop the whole world in God’s merciful love.

%d bloggers like this: