A Vision & a Dominican Community in the Heart of the South

A beautiful description of the life of a cloistered community of nuns, actually one of the newest IRL Affiliate Communities, can be found in the The Clanton Advertiser (2/27/12).

The Dominican Monastery of St. Jude in Marbury, Alabama, was founded in 1944 after Mother Mary of Jesus, a Dominican sister in Maryland, saw a vision of “a crowd of angry black people with clubs in hand engaged in a violent struggle.” She also saw St. Martin de Porres who “passed among them. The crowd quieted. The clubs were replaced with rosaries. Martin pointed to a monastery on a hill. There she saw Dominican sisters of all races praying with arms outstretched…She felt God was indicating his desire that there should be an interracial community where any young woman who wished to live the cloistered, contemplative life would be welcome.”

The 5 sisters and 1 novice have given their whole lives to God and his people.  May God bless all of the cloistered nuns who pray for us and our world.

Religious Vocations and Educational Debt

The National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) in collaboration with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University recently published the results of a study on religious vocations and educational debt.

Highlights from the 477 respondents include:

  • There are currently about the same number of men as women in initial formation. Institutes of men are more likely than institutes of women to have more than ten in initial formation.
  • Institutes with at least one serious inquirer in the last ten years report that for about a third of these inquiries (32 percent) the person had educational debt.  The average amount of debt was $28,000.
  • Religious institutes with at least three serious inquirers in the last ten years who had educational debt at the time of their inquiry, seven in ten (69 percent) turned away at least some inquirers because of their educational debt.
  • Although there are a small number of organizations that provide funds to assist candidates with educational debt, most responding religious institutes (or their candidates) have not received funds from any of these sources.

The IRL collaborates closely with two organizations that do assist with educational debt. They are The Labouré Society and the Mater Eccelsiae Fund for Vocations.  The Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations has helped 67 men and women follow their vocations (and have helped another 39 to try their vocations). The Labouré Society has assisted over 220 individuals into priestly and religious formation since 2003 while currently helping over 30 men and women pursue their vocation.

Please support these organizations who do so much to support the priesthood and religious life.

World Youth Day Logo – Brazil

The new logo for World Youth Day, which will be held in Rio de Janiero, July 23-28, 2013, was unveiled earlier this month.

It is so beautiful that it it worth reflecting on the image. Featuring Christ the Redeemer, the statue that overlooks the city’s harbor, it also incorporates the four colors of the Brazilian flag: green, white, blue and yellow.

Before beginning his creation, the winning artist, Gustavo Huguenin, 25, read the chapter of the Gospel of Matthew from where the motto of the WYDRio2013 was taken: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”(Mt 28:19). From those words he received the inspiration for the image.

“It brings me great happiness to know that my work will be used in the greatest Catholic event in the world, with our Holy Father, and that this image will be associated with the personal encounter the youth of the whole world will have with Jesus Christ during the WYDRio2013”, said Gustavo.

I pray for all the people who will journey to Brazil. May the young people especially, recognize the call that God has placed in their hearts.


“Fiddling” For the Roof!

Sr. Marie Antoinette, PCPA, was a professional violinist before she entered the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in 1984, one of the early sisters who joined Mother Angelica’s new community in Birmingham, Alabama.

Now she is using her talents to raise money for the restoration of the Monastere Notre Dame des Anges, their cradle monastery, in Troyes, France.   Their foundress, Mother Marie of St. Claire Bouillevaux, is buried in the monastery garden.

The chapel was renovated and reopened in 2007. In order to raise funds to repair the roof, Sister Marie Antoinette has recorded a CD of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and a Sonata by Veracini. The sisters hope to sell hundreds of the CDs to pay for part of the expenses. As Sister said, “You could say I was ‘fiddling’ for the roof!”

Read the complete article in the National Catholic Register (2/26/12). To order the CD, visit the EWTN website or call (800)854-6316.

Lord of the Harvest

The latest publication of the Institute on Religious Life is the Lord of the Harvest, the messages of Pope John Paul II for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.This 48-page booklet compiles his messages issued 1979 through 2005.

Cardinal-elect Timothy Dolan, who wrote the Forward, says that many vocations were the result of the witness and words of Pope John Paul II. It is his hope that this booklet “might provide the grace needed so that young people prayerfully discern their calling to total service of the Kingdom.”

When one feels helpless in the fight against the assaults on religious liberty in our country, it is good to remind ourselves that the Lord has: 1) already won the battle, and 2) given us the most powerful weapons in heaven and on earth: the Mass and our prayers. Let us pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life to build up the army of the faithful.

Lord, send laborers into Your harvest and do not allow humanity to lose its way for a lack of pastors, missionaries and people vowed to the cause of the Gospel.  Pope John Paul II, 1987

See our website to order. The cost is $3.95 but bulk discounts are available.


The Benedictine Nun and Elvis

If you tune into the February, 26, 2012 Oscars’ telecast, you may see a most unusual, well-clothed sight – a Benedictine nun whose story is part of a short documentary, God is the Bigger Elvis, that is up for an Academy Award.

Mother Dolores Hart of Regina Laudis Abbey was a well-known movie star of the 1950’s/60’s whose co-stars included Elvis Presley, Montgomery Clift and George Hamilton. I recently saw one of her movies and was impressed by the depth and integrity she brought to the role.

A film crew was invited into the cloister to give the outside world a glimpse of her religious life in the abbey. Thirty-eight other nuns call her Mother Prioress. “I know what I have here is the best thing I will ever have,” Mother says.

Mother said that she adored Hollywood but there was another call pulling at her heart, one even stronger than the love she had for her fiance. “I left Hollywood at the urging of a mysterious thing called vocation. It’s a call that comes from another place that we call God because we don’t have any other way to say it. It’s a call of love.”

For the complete story, visit USA Today.


O Beauty Ever Ancient, Ever New!

“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.” (X, 27.38).

St. Augustine of Hippo

Pope Benedict XVI: Three Keys to Vocations

On February 13, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI, in a message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, asked all the faithful to be attentive to the men and women who “sense a call to the priesthood or to a special consecration.” It is important, he said, to “provide helpful guidance and direction along the way.”

According to our Holy Father, the three things that nourish vocations are:

1)     Scripture – love of and familiarity with God’s Word

2)     Prayer – attentive and unceasing, personal and in community

3)   Eucharist – “the heart of every vocational journey: it is here that the love of God touches us in Christ’s sacrifice, the perfect expression of love, and it is here that we learn ever anew how to live according to the ‘high standard’ of God’s love.”

For the complete text of this article visit Zenit.

Courageous Cardinal Down Under

We don’t often think about our fellow Catholics in Australia but an Archbishop there deserves our prayers and thanks for building up the kingdom of God, particularly in his native land.

A wonderful article by George Wiegel, who is a personal friend of Cardinal George Pell, describes what the Cardinal had to face as a prelate and what he has accomplished. To put it bluntly, he says that Cardinal Pell is the man who saved Catholicism in Australia.

To wit: “When his seminary faculty threatened to resign en masse because he insisted that the seminarians attend daily Mass, Pell called their bluff, accepted their resignations, filled the seminary with new faculty — and never looked back.”

He reformed religious education, brought in new orders of religious women, began the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family, helped create Vox Clara as a check on English-language liturgical translations and, incredibly, brought World Youth day to Australia.

As Mr. Weigel says: “Australia and the entire world Church owe George Pell a large debt of gratitude.”

Free Priest Retreats – Hanceville, Alabama

The Knights of the Holy Eucharist, founded in 1998 to serve the needs of the guests and nuns of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery and the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, AL, offer free private retreats to priests, seminarians, brothers and deacons.

The website, for those who wish to make a private retreat on the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration’s beautiful grounds, provides information about  accommodations, travel arrangements, daily schedules, and reservations. They also have a Facebook page.

Nestled just a short walk from the Shrine, “The Barn,” a modern building with a rustic look, has twelve fully furnished guest rooms with private baths and a beautiful private chapel for prayer and Mass. All meals are complimentary. Guests are free to roam the 400 acres of wooded countryside, attend or celebrate Mass and participate in community activities with plenty of time for personal prayer.

Each year, over two hundred priests and seminarians enjoy the beautiful accommodations provided by the Knights of the Holy Eucharist. Come and enjoy a restful personal retreat in the peaceful countryside of Northern Alabama!