Archive for the 'Cloistered life' Category

Rocky Mountain Carmelites

Thursday, December 11th, 2014
Monastery with Mt. Olympus in the background

Monastery with Mt. Olympus in the background

There is a nice write-up in a local Catholic newspaper on the Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the article, they talk to Mother Margaret Marie Miller who in October was named the new Mother Superior. Mother was one of the five founders who came from Alhambra, California, in 1952 to found a Carmelite monastery in the then-sparsely populated Catholic diocese.

“To be a Carmelite is a real vocation,” said Mother Margaret Marie. “The Lord gives it [the vocation] to you, but you have to be open and you have to be open to whatever he wants from you.”

Mother was inspired by St. Therese of Lisieux and like her wanted to save souls. She considered becoming a missionary but concluded, like St. Therese, that in the cloister she could reach everybody. “That was the thing that struck me. I didn’t even know what the life was going to be like, I just knew that I was going to pray for the whole world. You pray for the whole mystical body and that is what sounded really great.”

ocd utahI am reminded of a priest whose father wanted him to become a doctor. He said, “Dad, as a doctor, my patients are going to die. As a priest, I can lead them to eternal life.” Carmelites are praying people unto eternal life.

She has some practical advice on prayer. “Prayer is very simple; it’s not complicated. Prayer is a loving exchange with someone that loves you. God is all-powerful; His will is Him, so it’s pretty simple: Open your mind and He is with you all the time. It doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s simple.”

You can support the eleven Carmelites in Utah by purchasing their candy and holy cards and the like. You can also get a first-hand glimpse into their lives by watching their very appealing YouTube video.

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First Profession in Marbury: A “Twin” Celebration

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Sister-Mary-Thomas-OP-and-twin-brother-Dominic-RankinWhat makes this picture unique? Well, it so happens that the two happy people pictured in it are Sr. Mary Thomas of the Holy Name of Jesus, OP, and her twin brother, a seminarian at the Pontifical North American College. I have featured twin vocation stories before but never a twin brother and sister!

Sr. Mary Thomas made her First Profession on November 22nd at the Dominican Monastery of St. Jude in Marbury, Alabama. Her brother was given permission to fly-in from Rome, Italy, for the occasion. Also in attendance were her Mother and Father and younger brother. What generosity on behalf of their parents to present two children to the Lord as a religious and priest.

The Feast Day on the 22nd celebrated the life of St. Cecilia. As Mother Mary Joseph said, the readings and chants for St. Cecilia could have been chosen just for a Profession ceremony.  “Audi filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam: quia concupivit rex speciem tuam: Hearken, O daughter, and see; turn thine ear: for the King desires thy beauty.”

It was also an extra-special occasion because the Mass was a Dominican Rite Missa Cantata (Sung High Mass) celebrated by Fr. Dominic Marie Langevin, O.P. Before Vatican II, the Dominicans celebrated almost exclusively their own ritual of Mass and the Divine Office. Sister’s brothers grew up serving in an FSSP parish, so they quickly picked up the slightly different rubrics for serving the Dominican Rite.

In this Year for Consecrated Life, may many blessings descend upon the Dominican nuns in Marbury. May all families be open to and welcome with joy their children’s call to religious life.

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Wahpeton Carmelites Celebrate 60th Anniversary

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

Community 60thOn November 1, 2014, the Carmelite Nuns of the Ancient Observance of the Carmel of Mary in Wahpeton, North Dakota, celebrated the 60th anniversary of their foundation. It was an eventful day, a triple event―the celebration, a bishop and an election― making it all the more memorable.

Back in 1954, seven sisters left the Carmelite Monastery in Allentown, PA, to settle in the northern plains. Being that it was a Marian Year, it seemed appropriate that the new Carmel should be named in honor of Our Blessed Mother. Bishop Leo Dworschak, who had issued the invitation to come to the diocese, wanted a Marian monument to commemorate the year, and in his opening Mass on November 1, he stated: “This is a great day for the Fargo diocese!”

To celebrate this year’s occasion, Bishop John Folda of Fargo offered Holy Mass at the monastery with the chancellor, Father Luke Meyer; the chaplain, Father Jim Tiu; and a former chaplain, Father William Ovsak concelebrating. The local Lay Carmelites were also in attendance.

Following the Mass, triennial elections were conducted in which Sister Madonna was elected prioress, followed by Sister Mary Ruth, First Councilor, and Sister Joseph-Marie, Second Councilor. A luncheon was served for the attendees after which Bishop Folda visited with the Community and expressed his great joy in having a cloistered Carmelite monastery in the diocese. They are the bishop’s prayer warriors!

At the Carmel of Mary, the nuns observe strict papal enclosure and center their lives on the solemn celebration of the liturgy. The monastic day begins at midnight when they rise from their warm beds, in the dark of night, to praise of God and offer intercessory prayers the world. The nuns chant The Liturgy of the Hours in common seven times throughout the day. They pray especially for the needs of priests, of the Church, and of the whole world.

The sisters welcome prayer intentions (and vocation inquiries!)

www.carmelofmary.org

Carmel of Mary

17765 78th Street SE

Wahpeton, ND 58075

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God’s Little One: The Life of Margaret Sinclair, Poor Clare

Monday, November 24th, 2014

ven margaret sinclairA Poor Clare Colettine nun whose cause is open for canonization is the subject of a new feature film in production by White Lyon Films under the direction of screenwriter Dianne Thomas. Margaret Sinclair, known in religion as Sr. Mary Francis of the Five Wounds, was a Scottish-born working girl who joined the Poor Clare Colettines of Notting Hill in London. She died at the young age of 25 and her memory and impact have grown with the passing decades. Described as “a striking contemporary example of evangelical heroism,” many miracles have been attributed to her intercession.

Margaret was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1900 to a poor, working class family. She left school in 1914 and worked in factories to support her family. After helping a young man recover his lost Faith, he proposed marriage but she said, “I have done what God inspired me to do, to help you the little I could, to regain the light. From that point God and his Blessed Mother must have showered down blessings on you, because you have remained steadfast, and I trust God that you will continue doing so, because you know He is the only real happiness.”

Her sister joined the Little Sisters of the Poor while Margaret left home and country to become a Poor Clare Colettine in Notting Hill, London, as an extern sister. She desired enclosure but the sisters thought that her lack of education would make the chanting of the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin too difficult for her. She was clothed in her habit in 1924 in the presence of her family and her sister, now a novice.

sinclair pccIn 1925, she contracted tuberculosis of the throat and was moved to a nursing facility where she was lonely for the monastery and her mother abbess. However, her bed was a magnet for visitors, for her joy was radiantly evident. In her suffering, she said, “If I can gain one soul for Jesus it will be worth it all.” She died on this day in 1925, in her habit, with a copy of her vows at her side.

 Sister Mary Francis was declared Venerable by Pope Paul IV in 1978. During Pope John Paul II’s visit to Britain in 1982, he said, “Margaret could well be described as one of God’s little ones who, through her very simplicity, was touched by God with the strength of real holiness of’ life… I fully appreciate the aspirations of the Catholics of Scotland, and elsewhere, for that singular event to be realized, and I know you are praying that it may come about.”

You can read a short biography of her life by a Poor Clare nun and watch a documentary. Travelers to Scotland can visit The National Shrine of the Venerable Margaret Sinclair in the Redemptorist church of St Patrick’s Cowgate, Edinburgh.

 

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A Passionist “Dad” Reflects on His Daughter’s Vocation

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

noraThe following is an excerpt of a reflection written by Matt Wenke on the occasion of his daughter Nora entering the Passionist Monastery in Whitesville, Kentucky. To read the full version, click here!

When other men’s daughters might have expressed an interest in the convent or the cloister, I wouldn’t have questioned it at all. “What a noble and beautiful vocation!” or “What a meaningful life with a holy purpose!”

When I heard of my own daughter’s interest in the cloister, my immediate thought was, “How often can you come home to visit?!!!” Isn’t this sad… that my first thought wasn’t just about Nora’s vocational fulfillment and spiritual well being? My initial thought was about the fact that I might be missing my daughter’s presence in my home and her gentle, delightful company.

I looked at my daughter. A pure soul. A deeply spiritual young woman, wanting to discern God’s call for her, freely. She has the desire to conform herself to God’s Will that I have prayed for, for all of my children, whether God’s call be to the single life, marriage, lay ministry or consecrated religious life. To be authentic followers, we have to be open to all choices, not just for ourselves, but for all of those we love and for all of God’s children.

When Nora came home from her three month aspirancy visit, she never fully returned. Her body was home, but her spirit belonged to a cloistered convent in Kentucky. She reminded me, “I need to be going about God’s work for me, and it isn’t here, anymore.” She didn’t say this, meanly. It was just a statement of fact. Nora’s words to me reminded me of Jesus’ words to His Mom and Dad (Mary and Joseph) at the Finding in the Temple… “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

I prayed to have the courage and love to give back to God, she whom He’d only loaned to us for nearly nineteen years, my only daughter. God gave His Son for me. Could I place back in His loving arms the beautiful daughter He had created?!

I won’t lie to you or pretend to be a strong, courageous man. I cried and cried countless times as I looked at my beloved daughter, praying the rosary beside me each night, and tears came to me as I looked at her, across the room at Morning prayer or during our recitation of the Angelus, many days at Noon. Not one day of her two month visit did I take her presence for granted.

Well, the time came. The Gospel reading was perfect … about finding a precious pearl and buying the field, in order to hide and later possess that valuable pearl or “treasure.” This “pearl” will be joined to the string of precious pearls, which is the Sisters. She will be balanced and placed in just the right place to further enhance the beauty of Jesus’ chain of pearls who are already there, in the cloister.

I observed with joy and wonder and awe Nora’s radiant joy upon returning to the cloister. Nothing bad for her could bring her this visible joy and peace and ecstasy she seemed to be experiencing! I was shocked on the morning of Nora’s entrance, that her joy and love were infectious. I could only think about my daughter’s joyful, unselfish, pure and FREE decision to enter cloistered religious life… and to give ALL to God! What is sad about that? Nothing! My daughter entered the cloister with my smiles and my blessing and my glorifying God…. For calling my dear daughter. She belongs to Him! So do you and me!

Is your daughter/granddaughter or other loved one thinking of joining the sisters or embracing a religious vocation?

Pray for courage and love and generosity. Don’t deprive yourself of a chance to sacrifice. Don’t deprive God of His Beloved Bride… your loved one!

MattWenke2Be assured of my prayers for you, whether you are the aspiring nun or her family and/or loved ones.

 Prayerfully,

 Matthew R. Wenke

August 3, 2014, (One week after our daughter’s entrance).

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Mother Angelica Update

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

m angelicaThe Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Alabama recently gave an update on Mother Angelica’s health. As they relate in their newsletter, Mother is living a “life of silence in union with Jesus in His Sacred Childhood, with all His helplessness and dependence on others.”

 “Although she is bedridden, Mother Angelica is strong and doing well. Our good Friars celebrate Mass in her room on Sundays, and each morning she receives our Lord in Holy Communion, the Divine Life that sustains her and gives her strength.
“Thirteen years ago on Christmas Eve, Mother said, ‘Jesus is coming today and I am going to the Chapel to wait for Him.’ It was there before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament that Jesus visited her with a stroke. Since then she has lived a life of silence in union with Jesus in His Sacred Childhood, waiting till He comes again.
“In her later years, before the stroke, Mother Angelica developed a great devotion and love for the Divine Child and it seems that Jesus wants her to experience His own Childhood with all His helplessness, totally dependent on others.
“So as she waits, Jesus continues to come to her in His hidden Presence in the Eucharist. It is Jesus who lives His life in her. With St. Paul she can say, ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.'” (Gal. 2:20)

The PCPA nuns were invited to the Diocese of Mobile in 1962. The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) was founded on August 15, 1981. In 1999, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, north of Birmingham, was consecrated. Mother suffered a severe stroke on Christmas Eve in 2001.

Bringing new life to their beginnings, sisters were sent to their original monastery in Ohio in 2002. They also sent sisters to help restart their “cradle” monastery in France. Two new foundations were begun in Tonopah, Arizona and San Antonio, Texas. And to think that Mother Angelica started EWTN with $200 in a garage. That’s all it takes for the Lord to begin His work.

We pray for blessings on Mother and her sisters, EWTN listeners and viewers, in grateful thanks for all Mother has done for the IRL, religious life and the Church.

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Coca Cola & Visitation Nuns & Elizabethan England?

Thursday, October 30th, 2014
Snellville Choir

Snellville Choir

One of our Affiliates is the Monastery of the Visitation in Snellville, Georgia. In some recent correspondence to us, they indicated that their choir stalls came from Mary Ward’s chapel in Elizabethan England. That makes them 400 years old!! How they got to Snellville is a mystery I shall have to solve down the road!

It is funny/strange that Mary Ward’s choir stalls should end up in a cloistered monastery because she was infamous in her day for founding religious communities that worked outside of the convent in nursing the sick, visiting prisoners and teaching, etc. All the kinds of work that active sisters do today and that we take for granted. Like St. Angela Merici, she suffered for her revolutionary initiatives. However, the Church always recognizes God’s workings in the end, and Mary Ward was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.

The Snellville monastery is the only cloistered contemplative monastery in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. They were founded in 1954 when Mother Francis de Sales came with her nine sisters from the Visitation monastery in Toledo to begin this new foundation. Their original monastery was purchased from the owners of the Coca Cola Company and in 1971, they purchased the land outside of Snellville. The current monastery is surrounded by 27 acres.

The nuns have no foundation and live month to month. Their maxim, taken from their Father St. Francis de Sales, is : “Ask for nothing, refuse nothing!” When their benefactors ask what they need, they say, “Whatever you give us, we need!”

The sisters were kind enough to thank the IRL for our work in directing potential vocations to them via our website. They have helped several women discern an active vocation, and they have had novices and final professed sisters who “discovered” the Visitation monastery through our website. A bishop and several priests have also corresponded with them requesting prayers through the IRL website. We are so happy to have others “discover” these beautiful sisters.

The Snellville visitation monastery does not have a website. The community is of note because they do consider belated vocations. They can be reached at:

Monastery of the Visitation

2055 Ridgedale Drive

Snellville, GA  30078

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Poor Clare Nuns in Canada

Monday, October 27th, 2014

oscx bcThere are six Poor Clare monasteries in Canada; two English-speaking ones in British Columbia and four French-speaking ones in Quebec. That’s a lot of distance between monasteries!

What is the attraction of Saint Clare and Saint Francis for our time? In this age of lukewarmness and lethargy, where evil abounds,  the startling reliance on God’s Providence for everything is something alien to many, especially in the West where we rely on government programs, advanced college degrees and health clubs for our security. Francis and Clare embraced Holy Poverty, a radical dependence on God. Nothing else mattered. God alone is “the true wealth of the human heart” (Vita Consecrata). And that is still attractive today.

Saint Clare wrote that Poor Clares are to “live the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Poor Clares give themselves entirely to Jesus, vowing to live the Gospel without possessions, in chastity and in obedience, within the silence and solitude of their monastery enclosure.

The Poor Clares in Mission, British Columbia are a new IRL Affiliate. They are eight strong including 1 in formation and 1 aspirant. The Poor Clare Order was established in British Columbia in 1911 and the Poor Clares settled in their Mission home in 1962.The high point of their day is the Holy Eucharist, and they give the Lord praise seven times a day through the Liturgy of the Hours, including the midnight Office of Readings. Their “mission in Mission” is to pray for the Franciscan family and all the world.

For more information, contact

Sister Clare Marie, OSC
Vocation Directress
St. Clare’s Monastery
P.O. Box 3370
Mission, BC V2V 4J5
Phone: 604-826-2818

The Poor Clare Order was established in British Columbia in 1911. These Poor Clares settled in Mission in 1962.The high point of their day is the Holy Eucharist, and they give the Lord praise seven times a day through the Liturgy of the Hours, including the midnight Office of Readings. – See more at: http://vocationblog.com/2014/03/weaving-a-crown-for-the-lord-the-poor-clares-of-mission-bc/#sthash.3MEhZkAi.dpuf
The Poor Clare Order was established in British Columbia in 1911. These Poor Clares settled in Mission in 1962.The high point of their day is the Holy Eucharist, and they give the Lord praise seven times a day through the Liturgy of the Hours, including the midnight Office of Readings. – See more at: http://vocationblog.com/2014/03/weaving-a-crown-for-the-lord-the-poor-clares-of-mission-bc/#sthash.3MEhZkAi.dpuf

 

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Visitation Musings

Thursday, October 16th, 2014
Tyringham Visitation

Tyringham Visitation

Today, the Feast Day of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, is a good to day to highlight the Visitation Nuns in the US. Three are Affiliates of the IRL: Tyringham, MA; Toledo, OH; and Snellville, GA.

Visitation communities are usually of interest to women of an older age, widows, etc. who feel a call to religious life, perhaps newly realized or a call always there that is now being pursued. The communities in Snellville and Toledo do consider belated vocations. As the Snellville nuns told us, “The founder set no age limit for admission.”

St. Margaret Mary was educated in a Poor Clare school but when she visited the Visitation convent in Paray-le-Monial, France, she heard these words in her heart: “This is where I want you.” The Order was founded by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal in 1610. The emblem of the Visitation nuns is a heart pierced by two arrows, surrounded by the Crown of Thorns. It was a foreshadowing of revelations to come, 60+ years later, to St. Margaret Mary who received the revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In these revelations, Jesus made known that He was not despot to be feared but a God of love who invites us to come to Him as a child to a Father.

miToday is also the anniversary of the Militia Immaculatae, founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe on this day in 1917. The MI’s mission is “To Lead Every Individual With Mary to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.” The day after his ordination in 1918, Maximilian celebrated his first Mass in Rome at an altar at the Basilica of S. Andrea delle Fratte where the Blessed Virgin Mary had appeared to the Jewish Alphonse Ratisbonne who was instantly converted. May the Immaculate Heart of Mary lead us too to a love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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Norbertine Canonesses Continue to Grow!

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Norbertine SrsCongratulations to Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. and Sr. Mary Andre, O.Praem., both Thomas Aquinas College graduates, on their first profession of vows as cloistered Norbertine Canonesses in Tehachapi, California. How happy they look!

The sisters read the following handwritten profession as their families and fellow sisters looked on:

“I renounce the world and I promise a conversion of my ways and life in community, especially in poverty, consecrated chastity, and obedience, according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of the Canonesses Regular of the Order of Premontre, to you Mother Prioress and to the sisters for three years.”

These sisters were just founded in 1996 by a group of lay women who wanted to become Norbertine canonesses. They have grown like crazy and now number 29!

The five fundamental elements of the Norbertine Order are:

  • Solemn and Reverential Celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in Choir: Besides participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the sisters pray the seven canonical hours of the Divine Office together in their chapel.
  • Devotion to the  Holy Eucharist: St. Norbert was known as the Apostle of the Eucharist.
  • Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary: They recite the rosary daily and promote consecration to the Blessed Mother.
  • Spirit of Penance: Knowing the need for continual conversion and reparation, the sisters abstain from meat and keep midnight Vigils amidst the silence of the cloister.
  • Zeal for Souls: With maternal love, the Canonesses embrace the whole world, desiring to bring Christ to spiritual birth in every heart.

We pray for them and beg the Lord for holy and persevering vocations to religious life!

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