Category Archives: Women’s Communities

Pro Orantibus: Poor Clares Prepare for Pope Francis

pope-franciseucharistOne group of cloistered Poor Clare sisters are aiding in the preparation for Pope Francis’ visit in a vital way. The thirteen Poor Clare sisters of Langhorne, Pennsylvania have been asked to bake 100,000 hosts to be consecrated by Pope Francis at the Papal Mass in Philadelphia.

The Poor Clares of the Franciscan Monastery of Saint Clare make roughly 150,000 hosts each month, however, they recently have had to increase production after receiving an order for the Papal Mass. The process of baking the hosts takes over two days to from start to finish and involves several stoves which they have named Raphael, Maddalena, Vincent & Benny. The Sisters provide hosts to be used at communion for Churches throughout the United States and Canada, however, they make little profit off of the sale of the hosts and rely mainly on donations.

IMG_0551-300x200The Poor Clares have been tasked with providing hosts for one of the largest Masses celebrated in the United States throughout history with 1-2 million people expected to be in attendance. They will be providing 20% of the total number of hosts which Pope Francis will consecrate at the Mass. The Mass will be particularly special for the Poor Clares as they have received permission from Archbishop Chaput’s office to attend. This will be a historic day for the sisters as they lead a cloistered life rarely leaving their monastery.

The Poor Clares of Langhorne view their apostolate of baking hosts as similar to how they lead their entire lives. Sister Anne says, “it’s a very humble way to participate, which is part of our lives, to sort of be hidden.”

Carmelites in San Rafael Celebrate 50th Jubilee

ocd rafaelThis year, the Carmelites in San Rafael, California, are celebrating the 50th year of their foundation. The Carmel of the Mother of God was founded on November 24, 1965, from the Carmelite Monastery at Carmel-by-the-Sea (a great place to visit for the scenery alone!).

It was Mother Miriam of the Trinity, OCD, the foundress, who received an interior call to found a Carmelite monastery specifically in response to Our Lady of Fatima’s request to pray for the conversion of sinners and for the Russian people. As part of this endeavor, the sisters studied the Russian language, liturgy, spirituality and history with help from priests from a Catholic Russian church. They still however observe the Latin rite and the regular Carmelite horarium.

Espoo Karmel
Espoo Carmelites

While the sisters were unable to establish a foundation behind the Iron Curtain, two of their sisters were able to start a new foundation in neighboring Finland in November of 1988. Today, this monastery in Espoo, Finland,  has ten cells and a chapel, with six sisters praying especially for the people of Finland. It is the only cloistered Catholic monastery in the entire country!

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the sisters purchased a small apartment in downtown Moscow for a tiny Carmel. The difficulties involved and the limited number of sisters for a new monastery caused the sale of this apartment to the Divine Word Missionaries who have established St. Olga’s Parish with the purchase of a nearby building. In that first apartment is still an Icon of the Infant Jesus painted by Mother Miriam which is now seen by the Russian faithful.

The community in San Rafael numbers seven with four American sisters, one sister from England, one sister from Africa, and one sister from the Philippines. To celebrate their jubilee, they have three masses scheduled during the month of November to be celebrated by Most Rev. John Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe (Nov. 1); Very Rev. Stephen Watson, O.C.D., Carmelite Provincial of the California/Arizona Province (Nov. 14); and Most Rev. Patrick McGrath, Bishop of San Jose (Nov. 24).

“… You will see that the majority of these houses have been founded not so much by man as by the mighty hand of God, and that, if we do not stand in His way, His Majesty loves to further the work He is doing.”        St. Teresa of Avila

 

The Call to Cuba

375px-El_Cristo_de_la_Habana
Sixty-six foot statue of Jesus Christ overlooking the bay in Havana, Cuba.

One of the blessings of the opening of new doors to the Catholic Church in Cuba has been the development of new apostolates on the island. Since January 2011, four sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, based in Alton, Ill., have been working at the Havana seminary. A year-and-a-half ago, one of our Executive Committee members answered the Master’s call and said yes to her own General’s Superior’s call to begin a new mission in Santa Clara, Cuba.

Sr. Stephania Newell, F.S.G.M., a religious sister of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, never dreamed or desired to become a missionary. “But through much prayer and preparation,’ she said, “I have come to see this as God’s plan and another step and means to bring His merciful love to the poor, sick, and spiritually needy.”

Sr. Stephania is on the right
Sr. Stephania is on the right

Sister was an orphan adopted from Vietnam into a US Air Force family. Her Father is a permanent deacon in the church. She met the FSGMs in college entered the community at their Provincial Convent in Alton, Illinois, in 1995.

Showing that everything in our life is part of the tapestry of God’s plan for us, Sister said, “It came to me in prayer one day that just as the Sisters of the Sacred Heart Orphanage in Vietnam introduced my adopted Father and me to the Faith in a country where the Faith was suffering, God was now asking me to bring the Faith to a people in another foreign country.”

She adds: “I did not answer His call to the religious life to do my own will, but of Him who beckoned me. ‘A todo puedo hacerle frente, gracias a Cristo que me fortalece‘ – ‘I can do all things in Him who strengthens me'(Phil 4:13).”

To read Sr. Stephania’s complete testimonial and other fascinating stories, see the CMSWR’s newsletter from Spring 2015.

Pro Orantibus: Handmaids of the Precious Blood Move

Handmaids of the Precious Blood TN On the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16th, 2015, the Handmaids of the Precious Blood moved to their new property in New Market, Tennessee. The Sisters sold their property in Jemez Springs, New Mexico recently and have found a new home overlooking the Holston River.

The Handmaids of the Precious Blood found east Tennessee to be “stunningly beautiful” as they looked for property after theATVHPB sale of their New Mexico monastery. They embarked on an adventure to find their new home and even explored on a borrowed ATV! After much prayer and with the blessing of Bishop Stika, the Sisters signed the papers to make the move to the future site of Cor Jesu Monastery official.

The Sisters are extremely grateful for all who aided them in their move. Despite the long day of moving, they made sure to first set up the Oratory where they will have their Divine Office together and their Holy Hours of Eucharistic Adoration. They said “it was only right to expose Our Lord in the Monstrance, sing ‘O Salutaris Hostia’ and kneel before the Master of our new house in deep thanksgiving.”

Their beautiful new property in New Market is a 55 acre property overlooking the Holston River with the Smokey Mountains to the south and the Clinch Mountains to the north. You can view the property thanks to the work of Scott Maentz, their IT expert, who provided a bird’s eye view by filming it with his drone. Please keep the Sisters in your prayers as they transition to their new home.

“The Ground Zero of Prayer” – The Carmelites of Wahpeton

wahpetonThe Carmelite monastery in Wahpeton, North Dakota, has been called the “Ground Zero of Prayer,” says Fr. Peter Andrel, the priest who regularly hears the confessions of the 8 cloistered nuns who live in the Carmel of Mary. According to Father Peter, there hasn’t been a bad harvest in the neighboring fields for 80 years, citing the intercessory prayers of the nuns as a blessing on the area.

Father adds that “very few people are aware of the graces that flow from the hallowed halls of this place. I honestly have never had a prayer request go unanswered here, and usually, very quickly. They’re amazing.”

The Prioress, Mother Madonna, is an Air Force veteran and astonished her parents back in Texas in 1989 when she told them that she was going to enter a small cloistered monastery in North Dakota. “That love for our Lord had been growing since I was very young and I knew if I wanted to serve Him totally I couldn’t do it as a teacher, as a nurse or even in a parish,” she explains. “In order to give myself fully, the cloister would be the only place I could do that.”

Most people are aware of the Discalced Carmelites who were founded by St. Teresa of Avila as a reform of the Carmelite Order. The Wahpeton sisters are Carmelites of the primitive observance and instead of O.C.D. after their name, you will see O.Carm. They are one of only four such monasteries of women in the U.S., the others being in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

The Carmel in Wahpeton was founded in the Marian Year of 1954. They observe strict Papal enclosure. They pray seven times a day and rise at midnight to pray “against the sins of darkness committed at night,” says Father. “That’s powerful.”

There were two articles online recently about the community. Click here to read the first on on Mother Madonna, the prioress, and click here! to read the second on the community in general.

On August 16, 2015, come join other pilgrims for the 59th annual Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Prairies at the monastery. There will be rosary, mass celebrated by Bishop John Folda, confession and a picnic. And a chance to meet the sisters!

ZELO ZELATUS SUM PRO DOMINO DEO EXERCITUUM
With zeal I am zealous for the Lord God of Hosts

Saints2

 

Assumption Little Known Facts

Mural done by artist Raul Berzosa for the Oratory of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Sorrows, Málaga, Spain.
Mural done by artist Raul Berzosa for the Oratory of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Sorrows, Málaga, Spain.

The Cistercian Nuns in Prairie du Sac, WI, in their summer 2014 newsletter, reminded us of the beautiful history behind the Feast of the Assumption.

According to Scripture and Church tradition, only three human beings have been taken up directly to Heaven: Enoch, Elijah and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Enoch was taken by God (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah was whisked into Heaven by a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). The story of Enoch shows us the possibility of intimacy with God in a kind of interior Eden. Elijah’s intimacy with God was the source of his participation in divine power on earth and the cause of his triumph over death. Mary, full of grace, “participates more than any other in Christ’s reconciliation of man with God….The life of a contemplative nun, conceived in the self-gift exchanged between Mary and the Trinity, anticipates radically the life of heaven.”

Here are some interesting facts behind the the Assumption taken from the newsletter and other sources:

  • Mary’s death is dated 3-15 years after the Ascension.
  • St. Juvenal relates that Mary died in the presence of all of the Apostles but when her tomb in the Kedron Valley was opened, it was found to be empty. No one has ever claimed to possess first-class relics of the Blessed Virgin. Fr. William Most wrote: “Since the Church has never sought for bodily relics of the Blessed Virgin, nor exposed them for the veneration of the faithful, we have an argument which can be considered as ‘practically a proof by sensory experience.'”
  • A document from the 4th century is the earliest printed reference to Mary’s Assumption into Heaven.
  • The Feast of the Assumption was universally celebrated in the Church by the sixth century.
  • The feast was originally celebrated in the East, where it is known as the Feast of the Dormition, a word which means “the falling asleep.” In Jerusalem, you can visit the Church of the Dormition of Mary on Mount Zion.
  • In 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, universally held as part of Apostolic tradition.
  • In 1954, Pope Pius XII established the Feast of the Queenship of Mary.
  • All Cistercian houses are dedicated to Mary under the title of her Assumption.

Pope Pius XII wrote: “For she, by a completely singular privilege, conquered sin in her Immaculate Conception, and thus was not liable to that law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, nor did she have to wait for the end of time for the redemption of her body”

 

 

 

 

Debt-free and Free to Pursue a Vocation

Sarah and Sr. Veronica
Sarah and Sr. Veronica

One of the most memorable experiences that the IRL took away from the January Labouré Society boot camp was hearing the story of Sarah Meier. Sarah knew that she had a calling to a contemplative, cloistered community but could not enter because she had $250,000 in student loans to retire.

Sarah worked hard on her own to reduce what was owed but it was not enough. To the rescue came The Labouré Society whose mission is to help those who aspire to religious life but cannot do so due to college debt. Aspirants to religious communities are teamed with an accountability partner, meet weekly to discuss fundraising activities, and at the conclusion of the class are allocated funds based on effort, success and need.

Sarah knew from a young age that she wanted to be a nun but ended up with a doctorate in physical therapy. When her identical twin sister died tragically, Sarah found that she had grown closer to God as she worked through her grief.

She asked God to show her the way and the response she received back was: “Pray, pray for my people.” Her remembrance of a childhood desire to become a nun came flooding back to her. This led her to the Poor Clares of Barhamsville, VA.

groupphotoDec20133_000The sisters’ monastery is new but in many ways of traditional design. There is a wonderful tour of the monastery inside and out on their website. They certainly need the room in their new location for there are now 20 Poor Clares in residence! Here are the guiding principles that guided the design process:

Christ in the center of each sister’s heart;
Christ at the center of our community life;
the church at the center of the monastery;
the tabernacle at the center of the church.

Sarah’s complete story can be read at the National Catholic Register website.

God bless Sarah, The Labouré Society and the Poor Clares in Barhamsville, particularly on this special day, the Feast Day of their foundress, Saint Clare of Assisi.

 

 

 

 

Setting the World Ablaze: Preaching in the 21st Century

Saint Dominic and a dog with a lighted torch
Saint Dominic depicted beside a dog with a lighted torch

Pregnant and on pilgrimage to the Abbey at Silos, Juanna of Aza dreamed of a dog springing forth from her womb with a torch in his mouth that seemed to set the world ablaze. The child whom Juanna carried at the time of her pilgrimage was St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers. The dream came be understood as St. Dominic and his order setting the world ablaze with the love of Christ, as the Order of Preachers was “established, from the beginning, for preaching and the salvation of souls.”

Dominicans continue to preach but the means in which they do so has changed dramatically, allowing them to reach a global audience by utilizing the latest technology. Dominicans are responding to Inter Mirifica which says, “media, if properly utilized, can be of great service to mankind, since they greatly contribute to men’s entertainment and instruction as well as to the spread and support of the Kingdom of God.” They have taken this as a charge to utilize technology in a way that aids people on their journey to find the Lord.

One Dominican affiliate of the IRL which is leading the way in the utilization of modern media is the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Since appearing on Oprah, the Ann Arbor Dominicans have begun a new endeavor in an attempt to catechize through global network television by teaming up with EWTN. Their current show, Catechesis: Communion with Jesus Christ, aims to provide a basis for catechetical instruction. By appearing on television, the sisters are able to preach the truths of the Catholic Faith to an international audience.

The Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph are also following in the footsteps of their founder and seek new ways to preach the Gospel. One ministry which the Eastern Province has undertaken seeks to evangelize the culture through first-class productions of film and media. Blackfriars Media explores the drama and mystery of God and man in productions such as Empire of the Cross, a documentary which examines the artistic and architectural features of the famed Basilica of Saint Clement in Rome. The friars have produced many works and recently released an app for better accessibility which allows their message to reach an even larger audience.

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph are preaching the Gospel in ways that reach millions of people starving for Truth. By utilizing innovative technology, the Dominicans are proclaiming the joy of the Gospel and setting the world ablaze with love of Christ today.

Seeking God in Community: New IRL Affiliate the Missionary Benedictine Sisters

e120089c-fc2e-49a3-b5a6-01a0e559b75fThe IRL Executive Committee has approved the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Norfolk, Nebraska, as a new affiliate member. The main characteristic of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters’ way of life is to seek God in community. The sisters strive to fulfill their role as missionaries by leading “people to faith in Jesus Christ and communion with the Loving Father.”

Founded in Tutzing, Germany, in 1885, the sisters came to the United States to serve German immigrants. They initially worked in education, teaching at St. John Berchman’s School in Raeville, Nebraska, but quickly expanded their apostolates to include healthcare when they opened Sacred Heart Hospital in Lynch, Nebraska. During the Great Depression, the sisters made immense sacrifices as their apostolic work expanded offering religious education in parishes and a boarding school which provided a second home for Native Americans. The community continues to expand and adapt its ministries at the promptings of the Holy Spirit and in response to the changing times.

From youth and young adult pastoral work to outreach to Native American and Latinos, the Sisters currently have a wide array of ministries. The sisters host retreats and social events for youth and young adults while also attending rallies and conferences like the March for Life and FOCUS Conferences. They visit the elderly and one sister, Sr. Cecilia, has been making rose petal rosaries for the last seventeen years. Their Immaculata Monastery Spirituality Center allows for visitors to go on individual and group retreats or simply to make a chapel visit. All of the ministries which the sisters perform are done out of their belief that the Lord has sent them to be missionaries.

Prayer is an integral aspect of the lives of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters as they strive to bring Christ to all. Their daily schedule is arranged to punctuate the day with prayer. Praying both in community and in private, the sisters seek to live a life of unceasing prayer.

“For Love Alone” – New Film on Religious Life

Bishop Senior WebsiteOn August 15, 2015, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious will release a new film on religious life called For Love Alone. The 18-minute video was produced by Grassroots Films.

Mother Mary Clare Roufs, ACJ, and Sr. Clare Matthiass, CFR, went on a two week blitz around the country previewing the film in locations ranging from College Station and the Aggies in Texas to seminaries and finally, appropriately enough, to Hollywood.

Here are some comments:

At the Wake Up the World rally in Toronto, Canada: “Many of us have not grown up or ever met nuns.  This film gave us the perfect exposure to what the consecrated life is like. What a beautiful insight!”

In West Palm Beach: “The comments from the Sisters and all those in the film are so honest.  You can tell they are speaking from a place of truth, and it just pierces through your heart.  It is a film that is not just for Catholics, anyone can watch this film and be captivated by the beauty of Religious Life.”

Texas 1From a seminarian in Denver: “Though this movie is about Religious Life, ultimately it is about ones encounter with the one we love -Christ Himself. For me, as I watched the film, it was as if my heart was being pierced with a longing for this intimacy with Christ. The film moved me deeply and made me want to go straight to the chapel and pray. He (Christ) is the reason I want to be a priest. Thank you for this beautiful, beautiful film!”

From an aspirant in Vancouver: “The film was exciting! I feel it was a good representation of the excitement I feel about my call to religious life. I would love for my parents to see this film!”

Click here to be notified when the film is released!

And thank you to the Hilton Foundation for making this project possible.