Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Golden Jubileeeeeeeeeeee

Our prioress, Sister Maria Guadalupe, recently celebrated her Golden Jubilee (50 years) of professed life as a Dominican Nun. The reason for all the "e-s" above in the title is because we spread it over three days, instead of one. We celebrated liturgically with the celebration of Holy Mass for her on the actual date in early June. Then, because one of our Sisters was away at the Monastic Theological Studies Program, we waited until her return to have our community day of joyful sharing.

Sister especially wanted a day in which everyone could relax and enjoy themselves as on a Picnic Day. We began with a beautiful song written by our two Sisters from Mexico. Then they danced to the lovely lyrics. The two Sisters wearing the salmon colored vests were the composers and choreographers.

In the morning a 30 minute documentary was available about the Apparitions at Fatima in honor of 2017 being the hundredth anniversary. Games were available for those who wished. Treats and time to talk were the norm. We also had our meals in the community room so we could chat as we ate.

In the evening, we opened the gifts the Sisters had made for the occasion. These gifts are usually specialty items that the prioress can offer to friends and benefactors, or put out in our Gift Shop. Sometimes, these treasures are even used in our annual Easter raffle.

We concluded the festivities on Sunday by viewing the old black and white classic, The Miracle Worker, about Anne Sullivan teaching Helen Keller to communicate.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

MTS 2017 Conclusion

On Wednesday, June 7, at 7:30 pm a solemn disputatio was held in the Community Room of the Dominican Monastery in Summit, NJ,in the style of St. Thomas Aquinas.
There were two designated judges: Sister Mary Martin, prioress of the Monastery, representing the civil authorities by her gold sash; and Sister Mary Jeremiah of the Lufkin Monastery, representing the academic authorities by her red sash.

The Quaestio Disputatio of the evening was: Whether it is fitting to pursue AI (artificial intelligence) as far as possible?

 We had two teams evenly divided with four on each team. The tram presenting objections (about 15) to the disputed question were, below left to right: Sr. Mary Veronica, Sr. Isabel, Sr. Francisca, Sr. Mary Jacinta.

The team responding with their determinatio were, below: left to right: Sr. Mary of the Angels, Sr. Maria of Jesus, Sr. Mary Magdalene, Sr. Dominic Marie.

After each group gave their finest polished arguments, they were allowed time to prepare a rebuttal. The team of the objections were very conversant in the topic and supplied Dilbert cartoons for each objection.

Our Monastic Theological Studies Program concluded on Friday, June 19, 2017. In the afternoon we had a round table discussion of the topics that Fr. Allan White presented in his classes. In the evening we had presentations of various certifications.

The students presented the co-ordinators with expressions of gratitude. The students received a lovely laminated card of St. Thomas with his prayer for study on the back, a pocket calendar with a quotation from St. Catherine of Siena: If you will be what you are, you will set fire to the whole world", and finally their award for completing the entire course.

We will take a year break before beginning our next four-year cycle. This will give time for more young professed Sisters to take advantage of this Program, taught, in most part by our Dominican Friars.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

MTS 2017 Second Week

During the second week of our Monastic Theological Studies Program we had as our guest speaker, Fr. Allan White, OP. He is originally from the English Province, but is currently working in El Centro, California.  He tells us he works in the desert and the photo above certainly gives that impression.

From left to right: Sr. Isabel; Sr. Mary Magdalene; Sr. Mary Veronica; Sr. Maria of Jesus; Fr. Allan White; Sr. Mary Martin; Sr. Mary Jeremiah; Sr. Mary Jacinta; Sr. Francisca; Sr. Dominic Marie; Sr. Mary of the Angels

At evening recreation the Sisters enjoy sharing their talents, and learning how to things a bit differently. The Sisters here are working on making rosaries (left to right: Sr. Francisca, Sr. Mary Magdalene, and Sr. Mary Isabel)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

MTS 2017

The Dominican temporary professed Nuns have been meeting for two weeks during the past four summers at the Monastery in Summit NJ. We have not had a student in this cycle of studies, but we hope to have one or two in the next four-year cycle that will begin in the summer of 2019.

On their first evening together one of the Sisters shared photos with us of her recent Solemn profession.

Last week the Sisters came from four different monasteries to learn about the Church Fathers from Father Andrew Hofer, OP. He is currently the Student Master for the Dominican Friars in Washington DC.

 From left to right: Sr. Mary Magdalene (Summit NJ): Sr. Mary Jeremiah (Lufkin-Coordinator); Sr. Mary Martin (Summit NJ Prioress & Assistant Coordinator); Sr. Maria of Jesus (Farmington Hills MI/Nigeria); Fr. Andrew Hofer; Sr. Mary Veronica (Summit NJ); Sr. Dominic Marie (Farmington Hills MI); Sr. Francisca (Kenya); Sr. Mary Jacinta (Summit NJ); Sr. Isabel (Menlo Park CA); Sr. Mary of the Angels (Los Angeles CA)

The Sisters cannot study all the time, so they could sometimes be found outside after meals. However, they did work very hard. One group even gathered on Sunday afternoon to prepare for their Disputatio which will take place the evening of June 7.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Dominican Family Fun

A week or so ago we had a somewhat spontaneous Dominican Family meeting. There were us, the nuns, our laity, and a friar, our chaplain. The directors of the RCIA programs in our two Lufkin parishes (St. Patrick and St. Andrew) had gone on a special pilgrimage to the Holy Land and wanted to share about their trip.


The event was opened up to our Dominican Laity group, and in addition to them, our chaplain stopped by as well. The meeting was held in our Large Parlor. We simply turned our chairs around and they projected the slides on a large screen attached to the wall.

We all had a delightful "trip" to the Holy Land!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

RB at TT

A Dominican friend of the Monastery of many years, Father R. B. Williams, OP, filled in for our chaplain, Fr. Marcos Ramos, OP, for a few days last week. He took the opportunity to give the community two lectures: the first, on itinerant preaching, and the second, on the Blessed Virgin Mary. Father is a full-time itinerant preacher, giving parish missions and retreats throughout the United States. He also works in campus ministry at Texas Tech University in Lubbock TX, where the Dominican Friars have charge of St. Elizabeth University Parish.

For Father R.B.'s visit this time, he sported a TT beanie that he wore most of the time. For some reason we did not get a photo of it, but it looks more or less like the one below. Father's wasn't red, but a green-gray color, and he liked to fold up the back so it looked like a cap.

Six months after the official approbation of the Order in 1217, St. Dominic dispersed the original 16 brethren to the university centers of Europe. After 800 years, the Dominican connection to the university remains strong. Besides Texas Tech, the Southern Province Friars serve as professors, chaplains, campus ministers or in research at:

Friars are also at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio TX and Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis MO.

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Day Late...

We are a day late wishing all our women readers a Happy Mother's Day - physical, spiritual, potential. All of you were in our prayers. We had a special day, filled with flowers and joy. Below you can see our original Infant Jesus statue brought down from Detroit on the foundation in 1945. Notice all the "Easter Lilies".

You, too, can have a yard full of lilies. It's very simple. Just save your Easter lilies, or those from your church. After they have bloomed, plant them outside in the flower bed or at the base of a tree. They will grow, reproduce and bloom--all on their own--for years to come!

We even had flowers we could eat. Some of the nuns made strawberries covered with white chocolate. They were decorated to look like roses. We had enough for both dinner and supper. Delicious!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Visitors Galore

This past week we received several groups who came to visit our monastery and learn about our way of life. On Tuesday, the Choir from St. Patrick's School came and offered us a concert of almost a dozen songs. They provide the music for the school's weekly Friday Mass. The students ranged from 3rd to 8th grade. They were quite impressive ...... correct key, tremendous tone and awesome articulation. After they sang for us, we had a delightful visit in which they asked us many interesting questions.

Then, the next day on Wednesday, the second and third graders came for a visit. They were so well behaved and also asked us many questions... once they got started. They principal joined the students with her husband and precious new baby girl. Actually, one of the older students was also hers. It was a wonderful visit. When the Houston Dominican Sisters taught at the School they used to bring their students every year, but after the Sisters retired, we haven't seen the children. So this was a double treat to renew acquaintances.

Perhaps a future vocation??


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Raffle Re-visited

Last week several of the nuns were busy phoning, packing, mailing and distributing the prizes to our 2017 raffle winners. Most of them live in other states, such as Virginia or Minnesota. But we have two who are quite close.

The giant Teddy Bear, made from scratch, was won by a woman here in Lufkin. Janice Ann, who writes a weekly column, "Janice Ann's Journal" in The Lufkin Daily News. She has grandchildren that will enjoy playing with "her". Janice Ann came over one night and together we named the Bear "Annie" after Janice Ann's mother.

Our last prize to award went to a cousin of our Sister Mary Veronica. She is pictured here with her brother John (in the background) and Lonnie holds the raccoon cross-stitch and homemade frame. Lonnie enjoyed receiving the picture because as he said, "I used to hunt lots of coons when I was young."

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Defender of Jesus Christ

Today is the Feast of St. Athanasius of Alexandria, Egypt.
(c. 296–298 – 2 May 373)

He was a great leader of Christianity in the 4th century. While exiled 5 times by the Arian heretics, he met and later wrote the life of St. Antony of Egypt, who is considered the "father of monasticism".

Athanasius was also famous for his teaching on the Incarnation and was instrumental in the success of the First Council of Nicaea (325). Our chaplain shared a good quote from him during his homily this morning:
"Instead of arming yourselves with swords,
extend your hands in prayer."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017 Raffle

As has become our tradition, we have our annual raffle drawing on Easter. You can see the lovely 2017 tickets. This year we gathered in our Community Room for the ritual. The Sisters who made the various prizes drew the winning ticket for her project. Plus, as usual we had some extra surprises. It's always a little "let down" to stop drawing the tickets. We hate to stop. 😊

Prizes this year are being sent off to all parts of the country: California, Minnesota, Iowa, Virginia, in addition to several in Texas. The ages of the winners range from 10 to 93 years old!

We want to thank everyone who sent in tickets as well as voluntary donations. We hope you enjoy receiving the gifts as much as we enjoyed making them and drawing the winning tickets.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Easter!!

The Lord has risen from the dead, as he said;
let us all exult and rejoice,
for he reigns for all eternity, Alleluia.

A Blessed Easter Season to one and all!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Monastic Cyberspace

The Internet can be an excellent tool for cloistered nuns! Contacts can be made without ever having to leave our enclosure. Some Nuns in the other monasteries even take classes online. Two of our North American monasteries, have been having several classes via "Go-To-Meeting", a program similar to Skype of which most people have heard.

The Association Council suggested the possibility of expanding its reach to include all the monasteries, if they wish, for our On-Going Formation Program. So, this weekend we are in the midst of a trial run to see how we can communicate through cyberspace.

Four Monasteries took the challenge: Summit, NJ, which is the "hub" of digital Dominican monastic activity; Squamish, BC, near Vancouver, Canada, who have been doing classes with Summit; Trinidad; and ourselves in Texas.

We are attending four lectures given by Father Augustine Thompson, OP, of the Holy Name (California) Province. He is speaking on the History of the Dominican Lay Brothers. It is fascinating and he is an excellent teacher. I think those of us who are attending the lectures would agree that it has been an enriching experience in many ways!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Feast of the Annunciation

Twice a year we have  what we call, "Solemn Chapter." The two days are the eves of the Annunciation and Christmas. We gather in our Chapter Hall in the pre-dawn hours after the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer. This year we began with Sister Mary Christine singing the account of the Annunciation from the Gospel of Luke. At the climax, all prostrate themselves (or best they can) in gratitude for the Incarnation and worship of our Merciful God. Afterwards, we listen to the Sermon, today given by our Novice, Sister Mary Therese.

It is posted below if you would like to read it. Sister compares Mary's ascent to God's will to our call to religious life. But as you reflect on it, you might want to consider how your own personal response to God's call in your life and vocation is intertwined with that of Mary. 

Solemn Chapter: Annunciation 2017
Year ago, God called a woman to serve Him in a special way. He chose an ordinary woman to undertake an extraordinary vocation, to be in a special relationship with Him and to help bring Christ into the world. This woman was you. This woman was me. This woman was all of us whom God has called to a religious vocation. The Virgin Mary was the first and most perfect woman He called to this special role, and even though our vocation is not quite the unique one that hers was, we can all look to her for inspiration and guidance on how to live the vocation to which God has called us.
The Annunciation begins when “the angel Gabriel was sent from God … to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph.” From this, we learn that God has already prepared Mary for this extraordinary calling. She doesn’t have any other duties or family that will interfere with her role as the Savior’s mother, but she’s also not alone. God has already given her Joseph, who will take care of and protect her and Jesus when they need him. In the same way, when someone receives a call to a religious vocation, she often realizes, in retrospect, how God has planned things in her life to allow her to accept the call. Things given, or even denied, have helped to prepare her to be in a position in life in which accepting the call is made easier. God is always watching over us and guiding us towards what He knows is best for us. As it says in Jeremiah, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you…plans for your welfare, not for woe; plans to give you a future full of hope.”
The angel Gabriel’s first words to Mary are, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Mary is called because she is precious to God. The call itself might be sudden, but God has always been with her, and she can find comfort in His presence. In a similar way, when a woman is called to the religious life, she feels a very special presence of God in her life, a presence that makes her feel that she is a favorite of God and is being especially chosen to be with Him.
But Mary’s reaction is one of fear and confusion: “But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” Even though Mary knows and trusts God, she is still understandably distressed by the angel’s words. Not only is this message unexpected, but Mary has a strong reverence for the power and majesty of God and therefore understands the magnitude of what it means to be favored and called by God. A call to any vocation often causes fear and uncertainty. The one called may be scared of the unknown or of the crosses to be encountered in the vocation. This fear is natural, and is a sign that they are taking the call and everything it includes seriously.
The angel Gabriel assures her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Mary is assured that being chosen by God is a good thing. Being favored by God is a great honor, and she should not be afraid because God will continue to favor her throughout her vocation. In the same way, women who are called to the religious life can continue to find comfort in God throughout the trials of their vocation.
Gabriel then tells her specifically what she is being called to do: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” The Annunciation is the beginning of Jesus’ mission on earth, and Mary has the special role not just of physically bringing Him into the world but also of taking care of Him and supporting Him in His mission. Christ comes to us through Mary. In a similar way, all religious women are called to bring Christ into the world in a special way, through our example, through our embracing of the truth of Christ, and through our charity for others, all of which come from God.
Mary is still understandably confused by this declaration, and asks, “How can this be?” Mary knows her own situation and abilities, and doesn’t understand how she, a mere girl, can help God in this amazing way. She trusts God, and she knows that she needs His guidance and help. A normal reaction to any awareness of a calling is to question whether we are understanding it correctly, whether God is really calling us in all our imperfections and deficiencies to such a special vocation. We trust God, but we question our own ability and worthiness to serve Him.
The angel Gabriel then assures her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Mary is called to do an extraordinary, even seemingly impossible thing, but she will be able to do it because God will help her. Through the Holy Spirit, God will give her the grace, ability, and strength to do what He is calling her to do. And God still uses the Holy Spirit to give us all of the graces and talents we need to serve Him in whatever He calls us to do. When we follow a call, we don’t act with our own power, but with God’s. God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
Gabriel then gives Mary a sign by which she can be assured of the truth of her calling: “Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age.” Mary has faith in God, but a sign is also helpful in confirming a calling. And it will be helpful for Mary to be with someone who is experiencing a similar miraculous experience. When God calls someone to a vocation, He often guides them towards someone who will be supportive and help them in discerning and embarking upon their new life. God gives us other people to help and support us in our vocation.
Finally, the angel Gabriel assures Mary, “Nothing will be impossible for God.” God is doing this extraordinary thing, not Mary. She doesn’t have to rely on herself or her own talents to be the mother of God. She just has to trust and allow God to work in her life. Trust is one of the most important things that anyone can do for God, particularly when being called to an extraordinary vocation. There are so many unknowns and so many struggles that the call cannot be answered without putting ourselves in God’s hands, trusting that He will take care of us and be everything that we need in order to do what He asks of us.
Mary responds, “I am the handmaid of the Lord.” In accepting her calling, Mary recognizes that she is the servant of God. She is not being called to do what she wants under her own power, but her vocation is to serve and help God in whatever He needs her to do. Women religious are chosen to be special servants of God and to serve Him in a way no one else can. We respond to the call by giving ourselves completely to God in whatever He needs of us.
In Mary’s final acceptance of the Annunciation call, she declares, “May it be done to me according to your word.” With these words, Mary completely accepts her vocation. She responds to God by making herself completely open to everything that He wants from her and everything that she will experience as part of her calling. The perfect response to a call from God to any vocation is to accept whatever God wants us for, without conditions or holding anything back.

In our call to the religious life, we are all called to imitate Mary, beginning with how we respond to the call itself. Initially there might be fear and confusion, but we need to trust that God will be with us and will give us the grace and talents we need to do what He is asking us to do. So just like Mary, we need to accept completely and readily our vocation and all of the crosses and joys that come with it, and always keep our mind and heart with God as we live the life of a religious. Maybe that’s why so many of us have taken “Mary” as our religious name: not only are we calling upon her to help and guide us in a special way, but we are also embracing our roles as new Marys in our response to this special relationship with Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Easter Raffle

For a number of years we have been holding a yearly raffle of some of our hand-made treasures. At the moment we cannot post pictures of the prizes on our web site due to some technology problems. But, we did want to share them with you, so we have posted them below. If you have not received our raffle tickets and you want to enter, just send us your name, address and telephone number. We will write out 6 tickets for you. It is not necessary to send money to enter.

The big drawing will be at our evening recreation on Easter, April 16.

1st prize - cross-stitch of the Face of Christ

2nd prize - embroidered tablecloth


3rd prize - cross-stitch of raccoons and home-made frame

4th prize - crocheted afghan

5th prize - creative art piece

6th prize - giant stuffed Teddy Bear

There will also be several other smaller prizes.
Join the fun!!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Before God for the World - 4

Those who have left all things to follow Jesus more closely encounter Him in prayer. We meet Him in a special way in intercessory prayer for all of humanity, for those who suffer, who weep, who die.

In Eucharistic Adoration, contemplating His Face with the eyes of pure Faith, we receive the greatest, most beautiful gift. He does not give us words or things, miracles or extraordinary graces, but an awareness of His Presence.

 The presence of Jesus is the joy that surpasses all the joys of this world.

Our duty, our vocation, "before God for the world", is of divine beauty. It is great because it asks us to love the entire human race. It is a gift and grace because as we draw closer to God, He invites us to embrace all our brothers and sisters scattered throughout the world.
Everything is a grace! 
We pray that your personal relationship with Jesus will deepen throughout this Lenten Season.