Archive for the 'Women’s Communities' Category

Looking For Spiritual Renewal?

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

dscjpodiumRight now, the IRL is hosting the Vita Consecrata Institute, a summer program of  spiritual renewal and graduate-level studies on the theology of the consecrated life. One group of attendees who attended the first session came from the Disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Christoval, Texas.

Sr. Magdalena, Sr. Mary Thomas and Sr. Elizabeth Ann took classes on the Theology and Spirituality of the New Evangelization and the Vows according to St. Thomas Aquinas. Sr. Elizabeth Ann was able to pray in front of the tomb of her patron, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and the sisters had fun going kayaking in the Shenendoah river!

dscj kAYAKAs you can see from the pictures, it is not all classroom study! There are outings, a daily schedule of prayer and lifelong friendships developed with different communities from around the country and sometimes the world. The course of studies is designed for priests, religious and other consecrated persons who seek spiritual renewal and enrichment. You can take the courses for credit towards a Masters Degree or simply audit them.

The classes are held at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. For more information, visit our website.



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Golden Jubilee for a Daughter of Carmel

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

May crowning - Sr Tanya 2On this beautiful Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, it is wonderful to highlight the Golden Jubilee of a daughter of Carmel, Sr. Tanya of the Carmelite Monastery in Latrobe, PA.

Sr. Tanya (born Tatiana) knew from age six that she had a desire for God. Though she frequently went to daily Mass with her mother at a nearby Carmel, she first spent some time with the Maryknoll Sisters before coming to Carmel in 1962. The Carmel in Latrobe was founded from the Carmel in Loretto, PA, in 1961. Sr. Tanya was one of the first two women to enter the new Carmel.

Sr. Tanya is a talented artist who painted the images of the Way of the Cross that are hanging in the the Chapel. She is an avid gardener and has great devotion to Our Blessed Mother and skillfully makes Rosaries to sell in their store.

Her sisters say that her fidelity to God and to the Queen of Carmel is manifest in her generosity and self-giving love.

With a public celebration of the Eucharist in August followed by a reception, the sisters will thank God for His goodness to her and to their community.  Later this year, the Carmelites will begin a year-long celebration preparing for the 500th birthday of St. Teresa of Avila, who reformed the Carmelite Order.

May Sr. Tanya have many more joyous and fruitful years ahead, all to the glory of God!

Photo of community taken by Sr. Tanya. She is at the upper right.

Photo of community taken by Sr. Tanya.

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Little Flowers in Lincoln

Monday, July 14th, 2014
The sisters with Bishop Bruskewitz

The sisters with Bishop Bruskewitz

The Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Mercy, is a new IRL Affiliate Community located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Originally founded in Vietnam, the sisters are now a Diocesan Congregation established in 1999 by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.

What, you may ask, are Vietnamese sisters doing in Lincoln? Like many Vietnamese, some sisters were forced to flee as the Communists advanced. Eventually, via Australia and Missouri, they ended up in the diocese of Lincoln.

Sister Rosaria Hoang was one of the original sisters. As a 22 year-old, she was one of 34 sisters who were placed on the last Australian Air Force flight out of Vietnam. They thought their exile would be temporary. But after the fall of Saigon and the ensuing persecution of the Church, they knew this was not to be.

“We all go into the chapel, all the sisters. We cry. We pray. We encourage each other to restart our lives, outside of Vietnam,” said Sister Rosaria. Bishop Patrick Flavin, the late bishop of Lincoln, asked three of Missouri sisters, including Sister Rosaria, to come with him to Lincoln and work with the community’s Vietnamese refugees.

The Lincoln sisters are teachers, child care providers (Little Flower Child Care Center), religion instructors, nurses and assistants to the bishop. They also remain on-call as interpreters for the Social Security Administration. And supportive of their sisters in the community in Vietnam.

“However, the work we are doing is not important as to whom we are,” Sister Rosaria said. “With our witnesses to the religious consecrated life, we pray and hope that the Holy Spirit will ‘tap’ on those we have a chance to interact with and draw them all closer to him.”

See a wonderful story on them in the Journal Star.

Angelic Warfare Confraternity

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
Fr. Ambrose Little, OP, enrolling the young women into the Confraternity

Fr. Ambrose Little, OP, enrolling the young women into the Confraternity

Last month, the Dominican Nuns in Marbury, Alabama, welcomed seven young women to their monastery for a weekend Vocation Retreat. These high school and college-age women came seeking answers to these questions: What is the vocation of a cloistered Dominican nun? Is it God’s will for me? The girls chanted the Liturgy, engaged in talks and recreation, and kept prayerful silence all day on Saturday so that everyone could have a chance to listen to God without getting distracted.

One of the most moving events of the weekend was the enrollment of six of the girls into the Angelic Warfare Confraternity (one had enrolled the previous year). What is a confraternity you may ask? They were very popular before Vatican II but unfortunately seem to have fallen out of favor since then.

A Confraternity is a supernatural brotherhood or fellowship of men and women who make a sacred pact to pursue some good together in the Church. The Angelic Warfare Confraternity is a confraternity run by the Dominican Order and dedicated to the pursuit of purity and chastity under the patronage of St. Thomas and the Blessed Virgin. Who wouldn’t want such supporters!!!

St. Thomas Aquinas is the perfect patron for this Confraternity. His family was vehemently opposed to his Dominican vocation and his brothers even sent a prostitute to his room to lure him from his vow of chastity. Thomas drove the woman out, slammed the door behind her, and emblazoned the sign of the cross on the door with a red-hot brand. According to testimony at his canonization, Thomas experienced a vision of  two angels who bound a cord around his waist and said, “On God’s behalf, we gird you with the girdle of chastity, a girdle which no attack will ever destroy.”

In the enrollment ceremony, which can only be conducted by a Dominican priest (though another priest can do it with permission), the priest confers the blessing upon a cord and a medal of St. Thomas Aquinas. One or both of these items are to be worn at all times, with practical exceptions (surgery, etc.). The name of the person enrolled and place of the enrollment ceremony goes into an official Register. You too can join the ranks in company with St. Aloysius Gonzaga and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati who were also members!

This Confraternity is not just for the young. Anyone serious about living a chaste life may become a member. In honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, members say fifteen Hail Mary’s for chastity for themselves and all the members of the Confraternity.

Many people who go through ceremony and wear the blessed cord or medal testify to experiencing great relief from temptations and greater strength in resisting temptations. As St. Paul says, “The Kingdom of God does not consist in talk, but in power” (1 Cor. 4:20).

For more information, visit To see when the next vocational retreat will be held in Marbury, visit the nuns’ website!

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One Heart With Which to Love God

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

kokomoAs one living in the cold and snowy Midwest, getting up at midnight on a dark winter night is not something I relish. I have to be really motivated to leap out of a warm bed. Imagine doing that every day, every week, every year for eighty two years! That is what Sr. Mary Bernadette of the Poor Clare Colettines in Kokomo, Indiana, has been doing since 1932!!!

The oldest Poor Clare nun in the U.S., Sister Mary Bernadette celebrated her 100th birthday on June 29th. One man, who has known her his entire life, said, “Over the years, I’ve learned that Sister Bernadette is the kind of person who lends an ear to you, but then gets right to the point. You can talk to her about any subject, and she always knows what kind of medicine you need. She’s a spiritual doctor.”

Founding Sisters

Founding Sisters

Sister is an Extern Nun who greeted visitors, answered the phone and performed necessary errands. She joined the Poor Clares despite her father’s strong objections and found the Poor Clare life not that much different than life on the family farm for her family was poor anyway. She was one of the founding sisters who came to Kokomo from Chicago in 1959.

The Poor Clares in Kokomo are Colettines meaning that they embrace as their founders both St. Francis and St. Clare as well as St. Colette, their second mother. They rise at midnight for Matins (Midnight Office of Readings) and end the day with Compline (Night Prayer) at 9:00 pm. Of course, there is Lauds (Morning Prayer), Terce (Midmorning Prayer), Sext (Midday Prayer), None (Midafternoon Prayer and Scriptural Reading), and Vespers (Evening Prayer) in between. How comforting to know that they are praying when we are asleep or busy with our jobs or families.

Let us always regret that we have but one heart with which to love God, and that this heart is so poor and weak. but such as it is, God asks it of us! Let us give it to Him constantly and completely. Let Him have this poor heart for time and eternitySt. Colette




The Poor Clares sleep on straw mattresses atop of planks, do not eat meat, do not wear shoes

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Autobiography of a Hunted Priest

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

gerardI recently finished reading The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest by Fr. John Gerard, SJ, (Ignatius Press) and happily came across an article in Crisis Magazine that reinforced my opinion that this is one fine book!

John Gerard was ordained a Jesuit priest during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603). During her governance, 87 Catholic priests were executed for treason for not submitting to the Act of Supremacy which declared her head of the Church of England.

Fr. Gerard spent his early priestly years ministering to the remnant of Catholics who remained faithful to the Church in England, hiding in “priest-holes” which devout Catholics built into their stately homes to safeguard the  priests who administered the sacraments to them. John won many converts but was ultimately betrayed by a traitor in one of the households and was subjected to brutal tortures before he finally escaped and then left England for good.

When Fr. James Schall, SJ, first heard about Fr. Gerard, he thought it an interesting adventure story but surely one that could not happen in this country. Now he is not so certain. Practicing Catholics were pursued relentlessly in Elizabethan England and is it so different today?

One of the interesting sidebars in the book is a brief mention of Mary Lady Lovel, a pious woman who devoted her life to good works, gave money to the Jesuits and in Antwerp founded (as benefactress) the first English Carmelite monastery. Young English women throughout the ensuing decades fled to Belgium to take up religious life. It was only at the end of the 18th century that the Carmelites could return home and establish the first English Carmelite monastery on English soil at Lanherne in Cornwall.

lanherneEleven Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate now occupy the monastery, the Carmelites having left the site in 2001. Here, St. Cuthbert Mayne celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (using the altar which is  now in their small choir) and ministered to the faithful. A friend of St. Edmund Campion, St. Cuthbert was  martyred in 1577. For more information on this holy site, please visit Friends of Lanherne. 

Through the intercession of the English martyrs, may God bless England with many holy vocations.


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Donning the Veil Again

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Sr-Winifred-LyonsThis is a story of a Sister of Charity who donned the veil again.

She professed her first vows in 1964, donned the habit and tried throughout the years to unite herself to Jesus Christ on the Cross.

Then came the late 60′s and 70′s when so much was questioned: the daily schedules, the authority structures, common prayer and in particular the wearing of the habit. In her own words, this is how the habit was jettisoned.

I would like to say that it was after much prayer that I decided to go into secular clothes. However, I always sensed that my decision was nothing short of caving in to peer pressure and the times….Once I did I responded as any healthy woman would. I loved to dress up and I loved to dress down. I even went so far as to have my ears pierced and my hair dyed. I embraced it all.

While on retreat in the summer of 1995, she was led to a greater understanding of the gift of the Eucharist and a desire to intensify the union of her will with the will of God.  A wise sister wrote to her and said, “Just don’t get in His way.”

Then in the Fall of 1995, Pope John Paul II came to town and sister was never the same again. She was able to shake his hand and felt holiness pass through her body and into her soul. When she left the Cathedral, she told a friend that she was going to return to the wearing of the veil. “The words were not mine. I knew in an instant that this was what God was asking me to do.”

She privately donned the veil on Christmas, her birthday, and officially did so on the feast of her foundress, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, January 4th. As she looked at her veiled image in the mirror, she was shocked. She saw the image of herself as she had looked 23 years earlier.

Being greeted on the street was something I had totally forgotten. Moreover, the witness value has overwhelmed me: I know I cause others to think about God, if only for a few seconds, and I realize afresh the public dimension of the consecrated life and the hunger there is for it in this world.

When she first put on the veil she was frightened, terrified at what God was going to ask of her. Her sister told her that she would never really know God’s plan until she really trusted Him. So once again, she turned her life over to Him.

I am no longer afraid. In fact, I feel fearless….He sent His spirit into this consecrated heart and all I can continue to say is Fiat.


This story appeared in the November 1997 issue of Religious Life. It originally appeared in the summer 1996 issue of Come Follow Me: A Newsletter of Spirituality for Sister and Brother Religious. In 2011, Sister celebrated her Golden Jubilee as a Sister of Charity. God bless her for her faithfulness and her pro-life work.



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Carmel DCJ Sisters Celebrate 100th Anniversary

Friday, May 30th, 2014

DSCJ OCD CardinalOn May 14, 2014, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., came to St. Joseph’s Carmelite Home in East Chicago, Indiana, to celebrate the 100 years since its foundation. Receiving an enthusiastic welcome from the nine Carmelite sisters, he attended a fundraiser that raised over $200,000 for the sisters who annually provide an emergency shelter and home to 200 children and their families.

Blessed Mary Teresa of St. Joseph, foundress of the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus, personally founded this particular home in 1913.  The sisters’ mission is to see God in all, serve God in all, love God in all. A Lutheran convert in Germany, Mother was described as going through the world like a “hurling locomotive.” At the time of her death in 1938, Mother had begun 58 homes, formed 1000 sisters and cared for 10,000 children.

dscjOn of those children was Earl Mager, 88, who came to the East Chicago home when he was 5 years old. “My mother died in childbirth,” he said. “I was placed in all kinds of homes and then sent to the orphanage when I was 5 years old. I stayed there until 1939.”

Another girl named Michelle came to the sisters at age 13. The sisters sent her to school and paid for the transportation to get her to and from work. “They are my roots. They are my everything,” Michelle said. “I really wonder where I would be if I didn’t have them.”

The sisters also care for the aged. My grandfather and uncle, both doctors, used to care for the residents in their home in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

This facility is the oldest Carmelite Home in the United States. “Our founding mother stayed close to this mission of love throughout her life,” says Sister Marie Giuseppe, “even requesting soil from the home be used on her grave in the Netherlands. I think she’s here right now.


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Missionaries of the Word

Monday, May 19th, 2014

green bayOn May 1, 2014, Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay established a new community of women religious in his diocese called the Missionaries of the Word. Their primary mission is to bring the Gospel to youth and young adults in the spirit of the New Evangelization.

Peggy Duemling, now known as Mother Catherine, received her habit and pronounced final vows, and two other women, Sister Maria Lucia Stella Maris, 23, and Sister Marie Bernadette of the Sacred Heart, 22, became novices. They are living together at St. Joseph Formation Center at Kangaroo Lake in Door County, Wisconsin.

This Public Association of the Faithful has its roots in the Missionaries of Charity where Mother Catherine was a sister for 10 years. She left because of her asthma but felt that God was still calling her to religious life. “I always felt there was something in my heart,” she said. “I needed more.”

Her spiritual director and the archbishop in Milwaukee urged her to go to Green Bay to work with Fr. Quinn Mann and his ministry for youth. And Bishop Ricken put her through various tests along the way. “For example, he said, ‘If three women come before Sept. 8, we’ll move ahead,’” she said. “That happened and they have been with me since 2012.”

She took the name Catherine after St. Catherine of Siena and St. Catherine Laboure. “We work with the youth because we lose them between the ages of 14 and 30. We build relationships with them to bring them to the Lord.” They will serve, however, where they are most needed. “We belong to the church,” Mother Catherine said. “We truly want to support the parishes. We will serve where we are needed or where we are invited.”

Bishop Ricken says that there are a couple of generations of Catholics who haven’t been really engaged in their faith. “Part of that is all the pressure from the culture, but part of it as well is that we haven’t done a very good job of really making disciples, you know real followers of Jesus, of our Catholic people,” the bishop said. “We can see that so many people that fall away from the church eventually wind up falling away from God. Some of them go to other churches, but often times they just quit and they get farther and farther away from God. So a person’s soul can wind up in trouble with all kinds of problems if they’ve excluded God or neglected God.”

May these missionaries of the New Evangelization bring the light of Christ to those they serve. For contact information, please see the press release.


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Transformed to Christ by Love

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

Sr Mary Paul 2-1In 2010, the Institute of Carmelite Studies (ICS) published a book by Sr. Mary Paul Cutri, OCD, called Sounding Solitude. In this 176-page book, Sister Mary Paul draws on the rich heritage of the great Discalced Carmelite founders, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, as well as her own experience in contemplative prayer, to show us how to be transformed to Christ by love.

Sister is a member of the Carmel of the Assumption in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, that was founded in 1961 as a foundation from the Carmel in Loretto, PA. The land for the monastery was purchased because of its proximity to the Benedictine Archabbey of St. Vincent. The monks have served as their chaplains, confessors and spiritual directors from the very beginning.

Sister entered religious life in 1955 as a graduate of Mercyhurst College with a BA degree in Biology and a Medical Technologist’s certificate. She was one of the original sisters who came to Latrobe in 1961. Of her long life as a spouse of Christ, Sister says, “God who called me to Carmel continues to fill my days with love, peace and appreciation for this precious contemplative vocation in the Church.”

p_SSThe twelve chapters of her book describe experiences along the way of solitude’s intimacy, solitude’s savorings, solitude’s sufferings, love as its meaning and the power of transformation that takes place through Christ in us.  She says, “To spend time with the Lord in long periods of solitude and prayer is to begin to learn the ways of God and how we are to respond in the likeness of Christ to the work God is doing in us. In our desire for union with God, ‘God will capture the hearts of people, leaving them so touched by love that they have no desire other than to belong to God by consent, as they belong to God by creation and grace.  We are destined to be transformed in Christ by love.’”

To order the book, click here to reach the ICS website..

“I have received comments, especially from our Secular Carmelites who have read the book, saying that it has helped them in their life of prayer,” said Sister Mary Paul. “All praise to God who both inspires and motivates us in sharing the gifts of grace God gives us.  It is all God’s work of love.”



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