Congratulations 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!
On July 20, 2013, the Norbertine Canonesses’ new priory, the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph, in Tehachapi, California, was blessed in a ceremony presided over by Abbot Eugene Hayes, O.Praem., Abbot of St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California. The Catholic World Report has a fine article on Norbertines in general and the sisters new priory in particular.
The monastery is needed for three reasons: to handle the influx of vocations, to give the sisters a permanent place to live and to allow them to be self-sufficient. The acreage, kitchen and work areas will allow them to work the land, raise animals, produce their artisan cheeses, sew priestly vestments, create their Christmas wreaths, etc. There were five founding sisters originally with the number of Norbertine nuns now up to 26. The monastery will be able to house 48 sisters.
A local TV station did a wonderful feature story on the sisters and their new home, giving us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of their life. Interviews with the sisters, a tour, a picture of their cloistered life and thoughts from Mother Mary Augustine are all included. Well worth a look.
One of the precious items in the new chapter room is a crucifix that was spotted in 1967 in a dumpster behind a church by a man who rescued and restored it himself. Not an easy task as two arms were missing and a new cross was needed. After the man’s death in 1987, the crucifix found its way to an antique shop where a friend of the monastery purchased it for the sisters. I hope this man is able to look down from heaven and see how treasured is his gift of love.
He wants to be wholly fixed in your hearts
Who for your sake let Himself be fixed
to the Cross.
The Sisters of the Canonry of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph in Tehachapi, California, otherwise known as the Norbertine Canonesses are expanding! On March 30, 2012, a groundbreaking ceremony was held marking a new chapter in the life of this new community which was founded in 1997. The canonesses have grown from five members to 25 members, ten of whom who are in final vows.
The old modular trailers are a “health hazard” and a new building will accommodate not only the nuns but also their artisan cheese, biscotti and jam production. The nuns also make priestly vestments and sell Christmas wreaths. Over 1000 were shipped last year!! Plan a retreat with them and stay at their guest house for a time of spiritual renewal.
The Norbertines were founded by St. Norbert on Christmas Day in 1121 in France. The canonesses in the spirit of St. Norbert sing the divine office seven times a day in community in both Latin and English. They are the first women Norbertines in the US.
Click here for the full story in the Tehachapi News. Zenit also had a wonderful story after their solemn possession in 2011.