The Patroness of Santa Rosa

St. Rose of Lima, St. Joseph Cathedral, Macon, Georgia
St. Rose of Lima, St. Joseph Cathedral, Macon, Georgia

The President of the IRL is Most Rev. Robert Vasa, Bishop of Santa Rosa. A relatively new community of sisters founded in the diocese is called the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa. Who or what is Santa Rosa? It is none other than St. Rose of Lima, patroness of the Americas and of the Diocese of Santa Rosa!

We recently celebrated the Feast Day of St. Rose of Lima on August 23rd but her traditional Feast Day was August 30th, so we can honor her life in between both dates with this little interesting history.

St. Rose of Lima was born in Lima, Peru, April 20th, 1586, the first canonized saint of the New World. Though very beautiful, she did what she could to appear unattractive to men for she had taken a vow of virginity at a young age. In 1597, she was confirmed by the Archbishop of Lima, Turibius de Mongrovejo (d. 1606, canonized 1726). Like St. Catherine of Siena, she became a Third Order Dominican. Her life of prayer and penance and dedication to the poor was carried out from the family home for her parents did not want her to enter a convent. She died in 1617 and was canonized in 1671.

On St. Rose’s feast day in 1828, a priest was celebrating Mass on a creek bank near the site now occupied by St. Eugene Cathedral in Santa Rosa, California. A group of Native Americans watched from a distance so Father Juan went over and explained the Faith to them and the necessity of baptism. A young girl stepped forward and asked to be baptized. She received the name of Rosa, hence the rivlet and the area got their names. There is a plaque commemorating the event on a path along the creek.

St. Rose of Lima, pray for the diocese and the Marian Sisters, that they may be people of dedication to prayer and to selfless service to those in need.

“Apart from the Cross,

there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.”

— St. Rose of Lima

The Dominican Rosary Honoring the Queen of Heaven

queenshipToday is the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. In 1954, Pope Pius XII decreed that this feast should be celebrated and, at the same time, the world should renew its consecration to our Heavenly Mother.

One of the best ways to honor the Blessed Mother on this day is to say the Rosary. Maybe the Dominican Way of saying the rosary. They do it a little differently and it is based on the idea that the Rosary is the layperson’s Divine Office. If you have ever attended evening or morning prayer in a monastery, you will notice that they alternate chanting the praises of God much like is done in the Dominican rosary.

The introductory prayers are the ones with which the Divine Office begins:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
R. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

V. Lord, open my lips.
R. And my tongue shall announce your praise.

V. Incline to my aid, O God.
R. Lord, make haste to help me.

V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Alleluia! (Or during Lent: Praise be to You, O Lord, King of eternal glory!)

After this the decades are begun immediately:

One Our Father,
Ten Hail Marys and
One Glory be to the Father, for each decade.

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, our hope. To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us. And after this, our exile, show us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Leader: Pray for us, Queen of the most holy Rosary.
People: That we might be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
All: Let us pray. O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech You, that meditating on the sacred mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise. Through the same Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

When the Rosary is recited publicly, a Leader should be designated who will name the mystery before each decade and say the verses marked “V” above, as well as the ending prayers. The Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glory be’s should be divided alternately between the Leader and congregation, or between one side of the congregation and the other. The leading of these prayers should likewise alternate, that is, the first decade should be led by the Leader and responded to by the congregation (or Side A and Side B), the second decade led by the congregation and responded to by the Leader (Side B and Side A), and so on.

For more information, visit the Third Order of St. Dominic, New England Region website for a history of the Rosary, how the Dominicans became the special promoters of the devotion and how Mary became Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.


St. Clare Festivities – Rockford, Illinois

pcc malloyLast winter, we had the pleasure of visiting the Poor Clare Colettine Monastery in Rockford, Illinois, where we enjoyed a nice long visit with Mother Dominica. This recent article in the Rockford Catholic newspaper brought back happy memories of the grill and the incredibly nice, yet inexpensive candles available in their modest gift shop.

On August 11, the Feast Day of St. Clare, Bishop David Malloy celebrated Mass with the nuns and gathered guests. He said that the relationship between St. Francis and St. Clare was a “unique sharing of the gift of grace.”

The bishop said that we can’t talk about Clare without talking about poverty. It warns us against believing that wealth “is of our own doing, of our own making” instead of being a gift from God to be used to live justly, in service to the poor.

He said it was rather intimidating “to talk about Clare in front of the experts.” But after Mass, they gave him a thumbs-up from behind the grill when they said his choice of a particular St. Clare biographer was the best one to draw from for his homily.

pcc groupThe Poor Clares of Corpus Christi Monastery are a vibrant IRL Affiliate Community. They begin their day at 12:30 a.m. (!) when the a sister knocks on each cell door to summon the sisters to prayer. The nuns, clothed in the religious habit adapted for the night, rise in silence like the wise Virgins ready and waiting for the call: “The Bridegroom is here, come out to meet Him!”

If you want to really know what one day in their monastery is like, in detail, visit our website:!!

St. Teresa of Avila Virtual Choir

8066354_origNext year, on March 28, 2015, Carmelites around the world will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila, foundress of the Discalced Carmelite Order and first woman Doctor of the Church. In preparation for this momentous event, two virtual choirs composed of real Carmelite voices from around the world will debut this month. It’s hard to imagine but when I listened to a prior virtual choir recording, I was impressed. The singing sounded angelic!

Thanks to the wonders of computer technology, individual Carmelites from around the globe did a recording in the comfort of their own monastery and submitted it on the virtual choir website where it was synchronized with many other voices from around the Carmelite worldwide community and compiled into a single choir. If you did not know differently, one would think that the singers were all in one room. Really quite amazing.

Scott Haines produced Eric Whitacre’s first virtual choir, “Sleep,” in 2009 and the next production “Lux Aurumque” — featuring 185 voices from 12 countries — in 2010. You can listen to the production on YouTube where it has almost 4.5 million views. Scott is the producer behind the St. Teresa celebration.

The world premiere of the two virtual choirs is right around the corner. From August 21 through August 23, it will be part of a public celebration of St. Teresa of Avila in San Jose, California. It will be available on YouTube beginning August 24th. The PBS station KNPB is also producing a documentary on the whole endeavor.

The three day celebration in San Jose, called “The Creative Spiritual Genius of St. Teresa of Avila Today,”  will feature presentations by each branch of the Discalced Carmelite Order (Nuns, Friars, Seculars, Affiliates), a banquet, a special Eucharistic celebration, a concert and the two virtual choirs comprised of members of the Discalced Carmelite Order from around the world.

The songs that will be sung by the two virtual choirs are: Nada Te Turbe, a Spanish piece sung by Discalced Carmelite nuns, and Salve Regina, sung by nuns, friars and seculars. Both pieces were composed by Sister Claire Sokol, OCD.

Sr. Teresita Flynn of the Carmel, California, monastery was one of the singers. “I became so excited by the idea that nuns from all different countries were going to participate in this project to honor St. Teresa,” she said. “We actually didn’t have the equipment to make the recording, and I was very lucky that they prolonged the deadline, and also that someone donated a laptop so we could do it. I did it at about 5 minutes to midnight on the day of the deadline.”

Several members of IRL Affiliate communities will be speaking at the St.Teresa event including Sr. Regina Marie Gorman, OCD, (Alhambra, CA); Sr. Mary Clare Trolley, OCD, (Terre Haute, IN); Sr. Teresita Flynn, OCD, (Carmel, CA); and Sr. Michael Crimmins, OCD, (Danvers, MA).

Registration information can be found here. For those of us who cannot attend, we will look forward to the YouTube premiere!




A Poor Clare Father; A Poor Clare Daughter

PCC corkPCC cork pcc corkWhen a Poor Clare nun enters the monastery, she leaves her family behind forever…or does she?

This wonderful story in the Irish Examiner peaked my interest so I looked deeper into the story behind the foundation of the Poor Clare Colettine Monastery in Cork, Ireland. The Poor Clares of Cork are celebrating the 100th anniversary of their founding this year, something that will make their Christmas Eve Midnight Mass extra-special for this is the date and time when the first Mass was celebrated in the monastery.

The Poor Clares came to Cork because of one man, Walter Dwyer, whose daughter was a Poor Clare nun in Tournai, Belgium. Wishing to have his daughter closer to home as he was dying, he asked the famous Jesuit, Fr. Wille Doyle (He was a military chaplain killed during the Battle of Passchendaele in World War I. His body was never recovered), to find sisters for a new monastery in Cork. Mr. Dwyer said that he would finance it. The long and the short of it is that Fr. Doyle and Mr. Dwyer were successful. The first Mass on Christmas Eve night was attended by the Dwyer family and two of the founding Sisters, one of whom was Sr. Maria Dwyer, Walter’s daughter.

Walter died a peaceful and holy death next door to the Monastery in Bon Secours Hospital. His body rested in the Monastery Chapel the night before his burial. His daughter died 40 years later on her father’s fortieth anniversary. The Cork monastery founded two daughter houses as well in Ennis, Ireland, and in Bothwell, Scotland.

There are currently 8 sisters living in Cork. Please pray that they receive a wonderful Christmas present this year−holy, persevering vocations to fill their monastery.


Pray for Peace in Iraq – August 17th

cross iraqTomorrow, August 17th, the US bishops are asking that all Catholics pray for peace in Iraq.

Don’t make the mistake I did and accidentally look at the pictures on the internet if you want to sleep tonight. What is happening in Iraq is diabolical and evil. Please pray for the men, women, children, mother, fathers, nuns, brothers, priests, aunts, uncles, grandparents, orphans, elderly in Iraq who are spared no mercy.

The following is a prayer by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako:

The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.

iraqGlory be to you forever.



Four-In-One Discernment Retreat

retrewat logoFor those of you who feel that you may have a vocation to the consecrated life as a religious sister, here is an opportunity to be with 4 communities during one retreat weekend!

The St. Therese Discernment Retreat will be held from Friday, September 5th to Saturday, September 6th at Nazareth House Retreat Center, Henry, Illinois. Communities represented include:

The theme for this year’s retreat is Mary, Mother of Evangelization, taken from Evangelii Gaudium. Who better to be a model for total self-giving!

For more information call (309) 655-2645 or check out the website for a registration form.

Inspired by St. Francis of Assisi

osf wiThe IRL was blessed to have as one of its friends, Sr. Evelyn Ann Schumacher (1919-2013), OSF, a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity. Sr. Evelyn Ann wrote many books on a variety of topics that were published by the IRL, usually related but not limited to deepening one’s religious vocation.

One of her books was called An Undivided Heart: Pope John Paul II on the Deeper Realities of the Consecrated Life. She presents the Holy Father’s thoughts on the Call and the Vows that is helpful for novices and aspirants as well as those religious seeking personal renewal. Another book she wrote on the subject of Pope John Paul II’s regard for religious is Holiness Heart of the Renewal: The  Lasting Legacy of Pope John Paul II’s Message to Religious.

Sr. Evelyn Ann’s community’s Motherhouse is located in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. They were founded in 1869 in rural Wisconsin by five young Catholic women, in response to God’s call and inspired by St. Francis of Assisi’s Gospel way of life. They serve in a variety of ministries across the U.S.

They are holding Vocation Discernment Retreats on August 17-19th, 2014, and again on August 21-23, 2014, at their beautiful Motherhouse. Click here to register or for more information.



Help a Young Woman Enter Religious Life!

Christina (2nd row, 2nd from left) with Sr. Joseph Andrew, OP, and other candidates.
Christina (2nd row, 2nd from left) with Sr. Joseph Andrew, OP, and other candidates.

For the past few months, we have been blessed to have a summer intern, Christina Pezzella, working with us in the office. She is eagerly counting down the days until her entrance into the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. The date of entrance is August 28th but she has one huge stumbling block to overcome—her student loan debt.

Christina graduated from Hillsdale College early in December 2010. At the time, she said, “I did not have any idea that the Lord would one day call me to the religious life. For this reason, I am faced with loans that I will not be able to pay off in time without assistance.”

Her debt, which was initially over $60,000, has been reduced to approximately $20,000 thanks to the generosity of many people and a lot of hard work on Christina’s part. She has given her vocation talk to numerous groups, held bowl-a-thons, and given her testimony on the radio. What is the price of a vocation? For her and for the Church, it is priceless!

Acceptance letter from Mother Assumpta, OP
Acceptance letter from Mother Assumpta, OP

On the Feast of St. Dominic, Christina received the most joyous news. A benefactor has agreed to match all donations up to $10,000. This generous gift will enable her to enter on August 28th IF she is able to raise the remaining $10,000.

She humbly asks you, and anyone you may know, to prayerfully consider making a contribution to her vocation fund, which will be matched 100%! This will double any gifts. To make a contribution, or to find out more information about her vocation story, please visit her blog:

Christina says: May God bless you abundantly… you are in my prayers!!!

St. Clare – A Family Affair

St. Agnes of Assisi
St. Agnes of Assisi

I can’t remember where I read this but a bishop once asked a priest (I think Father Hardon, SJ) about vocation programs and asked, “What is the best way to attract priestly vocations?” The answer, “Become a saint, Your Excellency.”

Holiness is attractive and it reminds me of our saint for today, St. Clare of Assisi. The foundress of the Poor Clares, the 2nd Franciscans Order, Clare placed her life into the hands of St. Francis of Assisi in 1212 at the age of about seventeen. Sixteen days later, her younger sister Agnes secretly left the family home to join her sister. Emissaries, sent by their angry Father, dragged Agnes by her hair out of the monastery.They abandoned her in a field because she was so unexpectedly heavy, something viewed as Divine intervention. Their mother, Blessed Hortulana, and younger sister Beatrice, later joined them and their cousin Ruffino was an early companion of St. Francis.  Holiness attracts.

So on this feast day of St. Clare, as we pray for our relatives who may seem far from the faith, let us invoke St. Clare and St. Agnes and ask for their assistance in helping us to become saints, so we can inspire our nearest and dearest to draw closer to the Lord themselves.

O dearest, look on heaven that invites us, and bear the Cross and follow Christ who preceded us; indeed, after various and many tribulations we shall enter through Him into His glory.  Love with your whole heart God and Jesus, His son, crucified for our sins, and never let His memory escape your mind;  make yourself mediate continually on the mysteries of the Cross and the anguish of the mother standing beneath the Cross.

—St. Agnes of Assisi