On July 20, 2013, the Norbertine Canonesses’ new priory, the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph, in Tehachapi, California, was blessed in a ceremony presided over by Abbot Eugene Hayes, O.Praem., Abbot of St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California. The Catholic World Report has a fine article on Norbertines in general and the sisters new priory in particular.
The monastery is needed for three reasons: to handle the influx of vocations, to give the sisters a permanent place to live and to allow them to be self-sufficient. The acreage, kitchen and work areas will allow them to work the land, raise animals, produce their artisan cheeses, sew priestly vestments, create their Christmas wreaths, etc. There were five founding sisters originally with the number of Norbertine nuns now up to 26. The monastery will be able to house 48 sisters.
A local TV station did a wonderful feature story on the sisters and their new home, giving us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of their life. Interviews with the sisters, a tour, a picture of their cloistered life and thoughts from Mother Mary Augustine are all included. Well worth a look.
One of the precious items in the new chapter room is a crucifix that was spotted in 1967 in a dumpster behind a church by a man who rescued and restored it himself. Not an easy task as two arms were missing and a new cross was needed. After the man’s death in 1987, the crucifix found its way to an antique shop where a friend of the monastery purchased it for the sisters. I hope this man is able to look down from heaven and see how treasured is his gift of love.