Category Archives: Women’s Communities

St. Catherine of Siena: Messenger of Mercy

Siena Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Catherine of Siena which is particularly significant during this Year of Mercy and 800th Jubilee of the Foundation of the Dominican Order. St. Catherine led an extraordinary life as an advisor to the Holy See, Dominican tertiary, and witness to God’s merciful love.

Catherine Benincasa was born on the feast of the Annunciation in 1347 and quickly grew to have a deep spiritual life first having an apparition of Christ at the young age of 6. After some hesitation from her family, St. Catherine obtained permission to become a Dominican tertiary and experienced a “mystical marriage” with Christ at the age of 21. Following the momentous occasion, she performed works of mercy including visiting the imprisoned whom she hoped would turn to God and nursing the sick even volunteering to care for those afflicted with the most terrible diseases.

St. Catherine soon became renowned throughout Italy for her sanctity and wisdom. During her life, she strove to maintain peace throughout Italy by negotiating peace terms between cities and preaching a crusade in hopes of unifying the Christendom to retake the Holy Land. St. Catherine’s wisdom caused popes to take her counsel as she was influential in convincing Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome and even moved to Rome herself at the request of Pope Urban VI during the Great Schism that occurred in 1378. Her wisdom and profound spiritual insights are also apparent in her writings which led her to be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.

8900060944_b1782bb7c7_oThe feast of the renowned Dominican saint corresponds this year with the 8th Triennial General Assembly of the Dominican Sisters International who are currently meeting in Rome to pray, reflect and discuss the future of their preaching mission. The IRL has many Dominican affiliates including the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne who were founded by the youngest child of author Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rose. For more information on affiliate Dominican communities please visit the IRL website.

Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary Celebrate 100 Years

On March 29, 2016, the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary celebrated 100 years since their foundation with a Centennial Gala.  In attendance, was Timothy Cardinal Dolan as well as many other dignitaries and well-known entertainers.

osf nyThe sisters were founded in 1916 in Savannah, Georgia, by Fr. Ignatius Lissner, SMA, a Frenchman, and Miss Elizabeth Williams, who became Mother Mary Theodore, FHM, the first Superior General.

Some years prior, Father Lissner had received the blessing of the Holy Father to establish missions to serve the black population in the main cities of Georgia. Father Lissner and other SMAs, in six years, established six churches and seven parochial schools in Georgia.

But in 1915, the state legislature proposed a bill that would outlaw the teaching of black children by white teachers. Alarmed, Father Lissner, a member of the Society of African Missions,  and Miss Elizabeth Williams, an African American woman, founded a new congregation, the Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary in Savannah, Georgia to minister to and evangelize the African American community. This title was chosen to inspire the members of the congregation to serve their neighbors and each other “with the same zeal and love with which Mary served her son Jesus Christ”.

osf ny2Their life is centered on the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of Unity and Transformation. They pray as Jesus taught His disciples for each other, for the grace of self-transformation, renewal of neighbor, the Church, our society, for victims of injustice and for peace and justice in our broken world (Luke: 11:1-13).  They focus mainly on the promotion of Catholic social justice teaching, youth evangelization and healing missions, education of the young and feeding the needy.

We have a firm belief with experience that Prayer works miracles and ardent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has power to heal wounds.

IHM Sisters Move Into New Motherhouse

The IHM sisters in their new chapelIn November of 2015, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary moved into their new home, a 32-bedroom Novitiate House of Formation in Colwich, Kansas, on the site of the former Simon horse ranch. The convent, chapel and altar were blessed by Bishop Carl Kemme on December 8, 2015.

The sisters bought the property in 2012 so that they could house all of their sisters under one roof. Previously, the sisters had been living in smaller convents throughout Wichita and did not have a place to gather as a community.

Mother Mary Magdalen, IHM
Mother Mary Magdalen, IHM

“We had no chapel large enough for us to be able to pray in together,” said Mother Mary Magdalen O’Halloran. “We had no dining room large enough for us to take our meals together; we had no room where we could meet for community meetings, days of recollection, conferences, or recreation. In addition, we were quickly running out of bedrooms.”

The new novitiate has a chapel, community dining room and assembly hall. In the future, the Motherhouse will be built as the next phase of the building plan. They have the fortunate situation of needing most of the bedrooms in the Novitiate already  for they have had five young women enter their community since the building began and another entering this month as a postulant.

The sister’s primary apostolate is to educate the young in the Catholic faith. Thus, they will retain two of their current convents at St. Joseph Parish and Holy Cross Parish for use during the school year.  They also  are active in the St. Paul Student Center at Wichita State University. The sisters “first” apostolate though is to contemplate the Word and to pray and work for the conversion of sinners and the sanctification of priests.

ihmTheir founder, Fr. Joaquin Masmitjá (1808-1886), said, “Thus the Sisters would instruct others, especially young women, in the Catholic faith so that they in turn might become the instruments for instructing and strengthening others, and in this fashion rebuild the foundations of morality in a society weakened by its divorce from religion.”  As it says on their website and how true it is: “An honest look at our world today will testify to the need for our charism among the young.” Visit their website to see how their charism is beautifully summarized in their insignia (above).

“We’d been planning and waiting for this day for 39 years, since we arrived in the Wichita diocese,” said Mother Mary Magdalen. “It was a monumental day for us.”

For the complete story, please visit the Catholic Diocese of Wichita’s website.

Foundress of the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Beatified

oshj picLast October, a group of forty-one pilgrims consisting of sisters, their relatives, priests and lay people from the Diocese of Youngstown made a pilgrimage to Italy for the beatification of Mother Maria Teresa Casini, foundress of the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which took place on October 31, 2015.

Mother Casini founded the Oblate Sisters in 1894 in Grottaferrata. Their charism is to pray for the sanctification of priests and the holiness of the Church. Mother was beatified in the Frascati cathedral where she was baptized in 1864, two days after her birth.

oshjFor the Oblate Sisters from Hubbard, Ohio, this was an extra-special event because the miracle required for Mother’s beatification occurred in their own diocese. In 2003, five-year-old Jacob Sebest of Campbell, Ohio, was diagnosed with irreversible brain damage after a swimming pool incident. Two days later, on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, after intense prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the intercession of Mother Teresa Casini, young Jacob miraculously awoke from a medically induced coma without any signs of brain trauma. Today he is a healthy, vibrant 17-year-old and a senior in High School.

The day before the beatification, the pilgrims visited Grottoferrata where Mother first established the congregation and where she later died in 1937. They prayed before the historical tabernacle that depicts her vision of the Pierced Heart of Jesus. They also venerated a relic, a braid of Mother’s hair that was cut off when she made her first profession of vows. Unbeknownst to her, said Sr. Joyce Candidi, O.S.H.J., it was preserved “by those who sensed that one day she would be recognized for her great love and heroic virtues.”

Jacob and Bishop Murray
Jacob and Bishop Murray

Jacob and his family were able to make the trip to Italy and greet the Holy Father in Rome after the beatification along with the General Superior and General Counselor of the Oblate Sisters. On the Feast of All Saints, Pope Francis said: “(Mother Teresa Casini) was a contemplative woman and missionary; she made her life an offering of prayer and concrete charity in support of priests. Let us thank the Lord for her witness!”

On November 2nd, Bishop George Murry, S.J., celebrated Mass for the pilgrims in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica at the site of St. Peter’s tomb where they gathered to pray in thanksgiving once again for the life and holiness of Blessed Mother Teresa Casini. After the return home, one pilgrims observed, “As each day goes by, it continues to sink in that we experienced life-changing, as well as once-in-a-lifetime events.”

The Diocese of Youngstown is planning to celebrate Mother Casini’s beatification on Sunday, May 22, 2016, at St. Columba Cathedral.

See additional photos from the trip on Facebook.

Franciscan Sisters’ “Discernment of Spirits” Silent Vocation Retreat

osf manitowocAre you a 20-something young woman discerning if God is calling you to religious life or to married life? Or seeking to follow His will more closely? A Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity, Sr. Jacqueline Spaniola, is offering a silent retreat, March 11-13, 2016, based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

The Spiritual Exercises are a timeless and always useful “exercise” to guide you in the spiritual life as you seek to do God’s will. Most free time will be spent in blissful silence in order to pray and to ponder how God is working in your life. The retreat begins Friday, March 11th, at 6 p.m., and ends after a noon meal on Sunday, March 13th. The retreat is being held at the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity’s beautiful Motherhouse in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. For more information call or text 920-323-9632. Register for the retreat here.

The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity foundation dates back to 1866 when 5 young women, inspired by St. Francis of Assisi’s simple way of living, banded together to form a small community dedicated to teaching religious education amongst the scattered parishes in the area. By  1872, there was such a growth in the number of sisters that  property was purchased on the shores of Silver Lake, the current site of the Holy Family Motherhouse. Today, they serve in education, healthcare and outreach to the poor.

If the retreat dates do not work for you, please let them know, and they will try to schedule alternate dates and invite other young women to join you.

For more information, please contact Sr. Julie Ann Sheahan, OSF, at sjulieann@fscc-calledtobe.org or address: 2409 S. Alverno Road, Manitowoc, WI  54220.

Discernment of Spirits retreat_8.5x11_2015outline

“My vocation was a surprise when I first became aware. Over the years of saying yes to the call to religious life, my life has been one of purpose, meaning and satisfaction.”

 

Need Custom Liturgical Habits & Vestments?!?

norbert sequoiaAre you looking for someone who can design (or repair) high-quality liturgical vestments, linens or religious habits? Someone who understands the Catholic faith and prayerfully goes about her work of making beautiful designs for God?

A good resource is the The Liturgical Co., founded and run by Sequoia Sierra, a Lay (Third Order) Norbertine. Sequoia designed the postulants’ habits for the newly established Norbertine Sisters in Wilmington, CA. You can see the beautiful result in the picture!

The Norbertine sisters were originally founded in the Czech Republic in 1902, though this community was founded in 2011 by the General House of the Congregation of Norbertine Sisters in Slovakia. In the US, they minister to the poor, teach religious education and work in a book store.

In an article in Regina Magazine, Sequoia described the design process and how special the work was to her. “This was an incredible and profoundly moving experience… Having the honor of being a part of their history, at the very beginning of them establishing themselves here in the U.S. is an experience that will always be very special and dear to my heart.  It was the experience of a lifetime.”

I love that the new postulant uniform has 5 buttons on them, to remind everyone of the five marks of the Norbertine Order;

  • Solemn and Reverential Celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in Choir
  • Devotion to the Holy Eucharist
  • Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • A Spirit of Penance
  • Zeal for Souls

opraem vestMay they be blessed with many young women in postulant habits!

To read the Regina article, visit their website. To learn more about The Liturgical Co., visit www.theliturgicalco.com. To read about the new Norbertine family of sisters, visit the Sts. Peter and Paul parish website!

 

Capuchin Poor Clares in Delaware – Thirty Years in America!

PCC DEThe Capuchin Poor Clare nuns of St. Veronica Giuliani Monastery in Wilmington, DE, are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. On December, 12, 1986, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, ten sisters left their beloved Mexico and came to a foreign land to be prayerful support to the Capuchin friars in their service to the poor. When they arrived in Philadelphia, a group of Capuchin Franciscans were awaiting them at the airport holding a large image of the Blessed Virgin of Tepeyac Hill, a heartwarming sign that Our Lady of Guadalupe was still with them in this new mission.

pcc de2The sisters make the habits for the Capuchin Brothers as well as liturgical vestments and altar linens. They assist the Brothers by  preparing meals for an emergency shelter for women with children.

The Capuchin Poor Clares were founded in by Ven. Maria Laurentia Longo in the 16thC. St. Veronica Giuliani, mystic and Capuchin Poor Clare, is their famous saint.

The sisters are blessed to have three young vocations, raising the number of nuns to twelve. They pray every day that the Lord will bring many more vocations “so they can join us in giving God adoration and glory through a life of prayer!”

 

 

 

New Dominican Foundation in Ireland

opIn 2016, the Dominicans are celebrating the 800th anniversary of their founding. Their Order was officially confirmed by Pope Honorius III on December 22, 1216, as a body of Canons Regular. The year-long plus celebration takes place between November 7, 2015, and January 21, 2017.

The history of the Dominican family in Ireland is almost as ancient. The Order of Preachers came to the Emerald Isle in 1227, 789 years ago. Rounding up, that’s 800 years too!

In this jubilee year, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, based in Nashville, Tennessee, gave Catholics in the city of Limerick some happy news. It had been announced that the Dominican fathers were leaving the city because of falling numbers. But beginning in August, four sisters from Nashville will be moving into the priory associated with St. Saviour’s Church.

It was Bishop Brendan Leahy who issued the invitation and much to his surprise, received an interested reply. Two sisters came last summer and “were very taken with Limerick.”

saviourThe church is dedicated to the Most Holy Saviour Transfigured. Paintings and stained glass windows honor the Dominican saints, namely, Sts. Vincent, Catherine of Ricci, Pius V, Albert the Great, Catherine of Siena, Rose of Lima, Peter the Martyr, Margaret of Hungary, John Macias, Thomas Aquinas and Dominic. Sounds like a worthy Dominican pilgrimage site for the Jubilee Year!

The Nashville Dominicans were founded in 1860 and came to the city at the invitation of the second Bishop of Nashville, the Right Reverend James Whelan (born in Ireland). The Bishop, also a Dominican, wanted sisters to “conduct an academy for higher education of girls and young ladies” with an emphasis.”

The sisters will continue the Dominican tradition of contemplative prayer and evangelization, namely teaching and religious formation, in their new home city.

“In this year dedicated to Consecrated Life, it is like a gift from God to us that we can now look forward to the arrival of new young Dominican Sisters who will surely also be an inspiration to young people,” said Bishop Leahy.

To read more, visit The Limerick Reader website.

Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration Update

m angelThe Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Hanceville, Alabama, were in the news recently for two very different reasons.

The Catholic News Service reported that Mother Angelica, PCPA, their foundress and founder of EWTN, is receiving nutrients from a feeding tube. Suffering lingering effects and partial paralysis as a result of two  strokes she suffering 14 years ago , she is able to communicate with a squeeze of the hand or gestures with her eyes. On her 92nd birthday in April, the sisters said that she offers all her sufferings for the Church.

It was also announced recently that the Poor Clares of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville will be merging with the Poor Clares from Charlotte, NC. Mother Dolores Marie, PCPA, who is presently the Abbess of St. Joseph Monastery in Charlotte, will be the superior.
In 2002, the Hanceville Poor Clares sent sisters to help their monastery in Portsmouth, Ohio. Sisters were also sent to help reopen their cradle monastery in Troyes, France. Over the past seven years, the community has also made new foundations in Tonopah, Arizona, and San Antonio, Texas.

Mother Dolores Marie and three other solemnly professed nuns of the Charlotte community started out as members of Our Lady of the Angels in Alabama. They were invited to come to Charlotte from Portsmouth, OH, in 2010 by Bishop Peter Jugis.

 Mother Delores says: “I ask your prayers for both of our Communities during this time of transition and for me as I assume the role of Superior of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery. …With this new mission before us, our building plans in the Diocese of Charlotte are obviously placed on hold. However, the Holy See has granted that Saint Joseph Adoration Monastery be held canonically open to facilitate a return in the future.”
For more information, see the posting on the Charlotte website.
Lord, we pray for bountiful vocations for the Poor Clares, so that through their lives prayer, poverty and sacrifice, they can continue to serve the Church both in Alabama and North Carolina.

Visitation Sisters Renew Vows

vhm2
Visitation Monastery in Tyringham

On November 21, 2015, Visitation Sisters around the world renewed their vows. On the day when the entire Church celebrates the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the day when Sts. Anne and Joachim presented their daughter to the Lord, these daughters of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal presented themselves before the altar of the Lord and professed their eternal devotion to their Spouse.

Joining in this renewal of vows was the the Visitation Monastery in Tyringham, Massachusetts. It is relatively new, the sisters having moved there in 1995 from Delaware. It is called Mont Deux Coeurs or the Mount of the Two Hearts because it is dedicated to the Heart of Jesus and the Heart of His Mother, Mary.

It could also be said that the term Mont Deux refers to the hearts of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal who were the co-founders of the Visitation Order. One biographer said that their relationship went unbelievably deep – “One is forced back to Scripture parallels: the love of Joseph for Mary, the love of our Lord for Martha and Mary.” One could say that the Visitation nuns are twice twice blessed!

VHMThe Visitation Sisters of Tyringham are cloistered, contemplative religious whose lives are dedicated to prayer and to living in community. They try to be gentle instruments of the Lord in the midst of a world increasingly violent and intolerant.

Their “work” is to sing the Liturgy of the Hours throughout the day with the Church. On the first Sunday of the month,  one of the Sisters gives a talk on the Heart of Jesus at the monastery, open to everyone. One of the recent talks was about Leonie Martin (d. 1941), sister of St. Therese of Lisieux. She was a Visitation nun, in Caen, France, and her cause is being promoted.

Leonie was the most difficult of the Martin children, prone to outbursts and a poor student. Can you imagine having a saint for a sister? Yet, she persevered, really persevered and found her heart filled after a long life with the infinite tenderness of God.

Sr. Leonie Martin, V.H.M.
Sr. Leonie Martin, V.H.M.

Here is a Visitation sister’s reflection on what her canonization would mean to so many: “To those millions of souls who see themselves ungraced, ungifted, unlovable, unlikely to succeed (in every conceivable way), Leonie presents the impossible turned possible, the lost sheep hoisted upon the shoulders of the Good Shepherd, Who searches out the least of His flock and gathers them close to His heart.”