Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Big Dominican Day!

Each year near the Feast of St. Dominic on August 8, our local Dominican Laity Chapter of St. Thomas Aquinas has a special Mass at which various members move to the next stage in their formation. This year they had a big crowd, with people in each of the three categories.

Linda began her official time of formation as a "novice". She had already been attending the monthly meeting for quite a while.

Then 5 people concluded that first phase and pronounced their Promises to  live by their Laity Constitutions  for three years and further explore the Dominican way of life. From left to right, below: Brian, Bruce, Debbie, Maria, and Jose.

A father and son team (Deacon Jesus and his son, Chuy) concluded their initial formation as members of the Dominican Laity by pronouncing their Final Promises for their entire lives. The Laity Chapter President, Dr. Matt Rowley, stands as a witness.

We met with them briefly in our Gate Parlor after Mass so that we could congratulate them and meet members of  their families. After we left, they had a special breakfast together.

Sr. Mary Rose in the parlor with her parents who are now both members of the Dominican Laity.

Then, in the afternoon, we had a brief party with Sr. Ana Christiana. She had come to us a year or two ago and is preparing to return to Mexico on August 10. Sister is very talented in the areas of computer, crafts, sewing, and cooking. It has been a wonderful joy to have her with us.

In the photo to the right, Sister Ana is preparing to play a game especially created for her, using riddles to find the prizes.

Sister did very well - 
100% correct!!!

In the photo to the left Sister is modelling one of her prizes. A knitted cap made by one of the Sisters.

Vaya con Dios!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Some July Visitors

During the past month, we received various visitors. There are two events we would like to share with you.

In mid-July Father Emmerich Vogt, OP came for a long week end from the Holy Name Province based in California. He had been with us last year for our annual retreat. He gave about six lectures on different aspects of Community Life and how to create a spirit of peace and harmony. We found the talks excellent and very practical. Besides a lot of note-taking there was also a lot of laughing. He gave down to earth examples of how Jesus calls us to "die to ourselves" so that we may be more transformed into His radiant image.

Thank you, Father Emmerich. We hope to see you again. 

Then, two weeks later we had a delightful visit with the Pastor and members of the Altar Society of Most Holy Trinity Church in Trinity, Texas. The town of Trinity is about an hour's drive southwest of Lufkin through the Davy Crockett National Forest.

Our picture below looks a little strange because they were spread throughout the room and we couldn't get everyone in one photograph. As you can see the pastor, Father Carlos Rangel, originally from Querétaro, Mexico, came with half a dozen women to visit. They had many important and interesting questions. 

We hope they come to see us again, and we can learn more about them.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Fourteenth of July???

We hope and pray everyone had a safe and happy July 4th celebration. We had a very peaceful and relaxing day. As always we begin the day with our Patriotic duties: Pledge of Allegiance, patriotic songs and a prayer. This year there was a light rain so we omitted the raising of the flags on the flagpole. Instead, we went into our main building where we have 3 flags: Texas, American and Papal.

After our songs and prayer, most Sisters stop by the snack tables before settling into a game or an adventure outside. Rain was forecast and it showed up 2 or 3 times. However, it did not last long, just enough to cool the temperature down a bit.

Several Sisters grilled our picnic dinner in the morning. They grilled enough for dinner and supper: hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, corn, schish kabobs (some with beef and others with shrimp). Everything was delicious.

There were games as usual, and just enjoying one another's company. Ping-pong and Sequence were the favorite activities this year.

A special THANK YOU to all our benefactors who made the day EXTRA SPECIAL!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Unexpected Surprises

This past Sunday afternoon about 1:20, two little puppies appeared at our Novitiate door, looking for someone to play with. They were very friendly and cute. Both females, they looked young and had lovely markings. One was light brown with four white feet and a white line on her forehead. The other, shyer one, was dark brown with dazzling, almost blue eyes.

Sister Mary Dominic took to the dogs right away. They looked like chihuahuas. Sister and her mother had had a chiweenie named "Peanuts". Sister set them up in one of our courtyards with a little house and some water until we were able to give them to the proper authorities about 3:00.

Since our buildings are more or less at the center of our property, it must have taken then some time to find us. They looked well cared for, but had no collar or tags.

About 5 or 6 Sisters saw them. Someone eventually called the Animal Rescue who came and picked them up. One of the people who came said she knew just the right elderly gentlemen for one of them.

The dogs had a great time "playing" ... or was it "praying"?!

Friday, June 8, 2018

70th Anniversary of Profession

First, we apologize that our last post did not go up sooner, explaining our preparations for this important Jubilee. It was scheduled to upload at midnight on June 2, but it must have "over-slept"! We just noticed it was not published. Well, the "silver lining" is that it gives us more time to put up the next one. 😁

We had a BIG day on Saturday celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Religious Profession of Sister Mary Veronica. She worked outside for many years so many of the people in the area know her. She decided just to send out a "few" invitations, mainly family. But with that, the chapel was overflowing.

We had over 80 guests, so some went to our Oratory which we empty and open so people can come in there. They are behind the glass behind the altar. It's something like a "cry room". The sound comes in, but we do not hear them. Some people said they went their so they could see the nuns! The bishop went to them when it was time to distribute Holy Communion. If you look closely you can vaguely see some people behind the wooden slats. Our sacristan made the beautiful flower arrangement.

The principal celebrant was Bishop Eduardo Nevares, the auxiliary bishop in the Phoenix Diocese. He originally came to Lufkin as a seminarian and was missioned here off and on for many years. He even served as Pastor. The bishop is flanked by two Dominican friars of our Southern Province: on our left is Fr. John Lydon, OP, our resident chaplain; and on our right is Fr. Brian Pierce, OP who was the homilist at the Mass. He was very good and regaled us with stories of Sr. Mary Veronica (SMV) when he was a simple student at Stephen F. Austen University (SFA) up the road in Nacogdoches.

The three priests to the right of the crucifix are left to right: Fr. Joseph, pastor at Immaculate Conception Church in Moral, a few miles from Nacogdoches, This was SMV's home-parish. Her parents are buried in the Church cemetery. Next, Fr. Ron Fosage, MS, a LaSalette priest, who is pastor of St. Michael Church in Jasper south of us and a monthly confessor for the nuns for over 25 years. The one closest to the grille is Fr. Francis O'Dowd, a true Irish leprechaun, who was pastor in Lufkin for a few years, but is now at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Daingerfield, north of us.

After a beautiful Liturgy we went to the "Gate Parlor" to visit with Sister Mary Veronica's family and friends. There was a little mix-up and some people ate lunch first, lovingly supplied by Sister's family. We have a few pictures of the gathering in the Parlor.

It looks like our community friend Loraine from Nacogdoches took center stage. The only others we currently remember is the man sitting on our left. He is a friend from Arizona, dressed in his Knights of Columbus uniform. The little girl on our right with her mother is one of Sister's great-nieces, Eliza, a very friendly 3rd grader.

As with most of our celebrations this one lasted more than one day. This occurred on Saturday, then Monday evening all the nuns gathered in a "circle" at recreation to share our memories from different perspectives. It was so good to see friends who had come from other states (IN, MS, AZ, etc.), as well of those just "down the road a piece". Sister received many beautiful, useful, and creative gifts. But, of course, as always, the "Greatest Gift is LOVE."

We close our brief survey of the Jubilee celebration with a fitting photograph. This is Sister Mary Veronica with one of her sisters, Catherine, from Pasadena, TX; and her sister-in-law, Dell from Sulpher Springs, TX.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Preparing for a Jubilee

We are currently, clearing rooms and moving furniture in preparation for a big Jubilee celebration later today. It is for Sister Mary Veronica who is our first local vocation that has remained throughout the years. This is only the second 70th Anniversary of Religious Profession that we have had in our monastery.

Chairs from the parlors and guest dining room have been moved to our long hall inside the enclosure to make room for food and sitting areas for our friends to have lunch after the ceremony, as well as seating for an overflow crowd for the Liturgy in the Chapel. We tease Sister Mary Veronica that she is related to half of East Texas!

Beginning at 10:00 am, we will have the Eucharistic Liturgy with the principal celebrant, Bishop Eduardo Nevares, Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix, Arizona; and the homilist, Fr. Brian Pierce, OP, currently of Irving, Texas. After Mass, we will all visit in our "Gate Parlor" then break for a lunch provided by the family.

Check in with us tomorrow for pictures of the grace-filled event.

You are most welcome to join us for this special time
of praising God for His love and fidelity!

Friday, June 1, 2018

May Crowning 2018

Every year on the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth (May 31), we conclude the day, the month of May, and our special May Devotions with the Crowning of Our Lady. Usually this is the privilege of the younger Sisters

This year, Sister Mary Therese (temporary professed) made the crown and crowned Our Lady; while Sister Bernadette Marie (solemnly professed) was the crown-bearer during our procession and Litany.

First, we line up outside the community room in the hallway. When the prioress sees that all is ready and everyone is there, she gives a "knock" and we begin processing to our outdoors shrine.

The shrine has been very beautiful this year with many kinds of flowers. We usually have not finished singing the Litany and do that at the shrine. Then the prioress prays a special consecration she has composed for the occasion dedicating the Community to Our Lady. Afterwards we sing a Marian Hymn while the youngest Sister crowns the statue of Mary with the homemade crown.

The crown this year is made from a white jasmine bush from the Novitiate. It has a wonderful aroma, but unfortunately will not last long in our Texas heat, which has been in the 90s.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Lovely Lilies

This year on the Feast of the Ascension and Mother's Day we feel like Easter is just beginning. There are bundles of lilies all over the place - indoors and outside!!

If you like the traditional white Easter lilies we have a simple way to increase your bounty. Lilies are perennials, meaning they grow every year. Each year when the lilies from the Chapel after Easter have died, several Sisters vie to get the "dead" ones. We just plant them outside in our gardens, or you can plant them in flower pots, as our sacristan did last year. Then, the next year at the appointed time, up come your new lilies. Unfortunately, they do not bloom in time for Easter, at least in East Texas, but they usually appear in time for Pentecost (late May or early June).

This year our Chapel has a large renewal of Easter lilies! There are many in the gardens and others have been cut for various shrines around the property. Any gardener knows that there are "good years" and "not so good" years. Last year was a "not so good" year, but that makes this year double the beauty with bumper crops of lilies. We enjoy their beauty and fragrant aroma.

Praise the Lord! He is Risen!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May is for Mary

Today is the first day of May and we begin our special community devotions to Mary for all our relatives, friends, and benefactors, and their intentions.

Every evening we stop our recreation period 5 minutes early and line up by twos in the hall. When the prioress gives the signal we begin our procession to a special statue of Our Lady outside. As we process, the chantresses intone to Litany of Loretto to Mary. We gather around the statue and when the Litany is finished we conclude with a prayer. We end the month of May with a crowning of Mary made by a Sister in the Novitiate and sometimes a special hymn.

Those large pink flowers on either side of Our Lady are begonias. They are usually medium to small flowers, but these are a special variety and are huge, the size of roses.

There are usually special flowers around the Statue which we call, "Our Lady of the Pines". But, you might recognize it as the statue that St. Therese said smiled at her when she was very sick as a child.

May this new month bring you many beautiful blessings!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

What's Your Vocation?

It's probably not what first came to your mind. In fact, the basic vocation of every human being is radically the same, and yet, radically different in that we are each individuals with different life experiences and talents.

Our Basic Vocation is Holiness! To become Holy like God (Leviticus). We are created precisely for this, to resemble and live in the Presence of the Triune God for all eternity!!

Pope Francis recently issued an Apostolic Exhortation entitled, Gaudete et Exsultate, "Rejoice and Be Glad", on this very subject. If you would like to read the pope's entire text, you can find it HERE. A friend of ours has written an article in which he offers 10 key points from the pope's document for our growth in Holiness.

Holiness is
  1. ... the deepest meaning of our life. "‘This is the will of God, your sanctification.’ Each saint is a mission, planned by the Father to reflect & embody, at a specific moment in history, a certain aspect of the Gospel.” “To the extent that each Christian grows in holiness [that] he or she will bear greater fruit for our world.”
  2. ... found in ordinary daily life. It is often found “in our next-door neighbors,” among our “own mothers, grandmothers and loved ones,” who “living in our midst reflect God’s presence.” We are all called to this holiness “through small gestures,” mindful that “every minute of our lives can be a step along the path to growth in holiness.”
  3. ... begins with desireSt. Thomas Aquinas stressed that to become a saint we have to “will it.” The whole Church should "devote herself anew to promoting the desire for holiness” and praying that God will “pour out upon us a fervent longing to be saints for God’s greater glory.” 
  4. God carries out the work of our sanctification through the traditional “means of sanctification already known to us: the various methods of prayer, the inestimable sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, the offering of personal sacrifices, different forms of devotion, spiritual direction, and many others.” 
  5. ... is more simply living the Beatitudes. “In the Beatitudes, we find a portrait of the Master, which we are called to reflect in our daily lives: … being poor of heart, … reacting with meekness and humility, … knowing how to mourn with others, … hungering and thirsting for righteousness, … seeing and acting with mercy, … keeping a heart free of all that tarnishes love, … sowing peace all around us, … accepting daily the path of the Gospel, even though it may cause us problems, that is holiness.”
  6. ... flows from a life of prayer“Holiness consists in a habitual openness to the transcendent, expressed in prayer and adoration. ”There is not without prayer.”
  7. ... our prayer must overflow into charityThe ultimate criterion on which our lives will be judged, he says “is what we have done for others.”
  8. ... our holy, self-giving love must be cheerful“Far from being timid, morose, acerbic or melancholy, … the saints are joyful and full of good humor.” The exhortation is entitled “Rejoice and Be Glad” because the Christian life is marked by “joy in the Holy Spirit,” which is what helps make holiness “the most attractive face of the Church.” Each of us is called to have that joyous face.
  9. ... a battle that requires perseverance, patience, courage and meekness. “You cannot grow in holiness without committing yourself, body and soul, to giving your best to this endeavor,” because “The Christian life is a constant battle. The battle is not just against the ways of the world or against our human weaknesses and inclinations; it’s also a “constant struggle against the devil” who incessantly seeks to divert us from the path of sanctity—and from God—in this world and in the next. For that reason, “Those who really wish to give glory to God by their lives, who truly long to grow in holiness, are called to be single-minded and tenacious.”
  10. ... not principally a solitary battle, but one waged in communion with God and his faithful in heaven and on earth. “Growth in holiness is a journey in community, side by side with others,” something we see in the Holy Family in Nazareth, in the early Church, in so many homes and religious communities today. We are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1) urging us on to victory, so that we may truly become one as God is one, a communion of saints within the Triune communion. Among all the saints, stands Mary, who “teaches us the way of holiness and walks ever at our side.”

(HT: Fr. Roger Landry)

As a former chaplain loved to say,
"Adelante! Keep marching with the saints!"

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

New and Older Friends

Yesterday we welcomed a number of friends and visitors. In the morning we met our Southern Province Novice, Carlos. You can read more about the visit with our Dominican Friars at our Facebook site.

Then in the afternoon, we welcomed back Fr. Gavin Vaverek. We joke that we have seen more of him since he left the parish a few months ago than we did when he was pastor.

He spoke to us for almost 1 1/2 hours about CONFLICT: what it is, what causes it, how to resolve it. Especially interesting are his very real examples from everyday life.

Thank you Lord, for Father Gavin. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our lord


From the Gospel:
"While they were eating, He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "Take and eat; this is My Body." Then He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My Blood of the Covenant, which will be shed for many." (Mark 14:22-24)

Today we read the entire account of Jesus' Passion from the Gospel of Mark. This narrative will be with us the entire coming week. We need to ponder this mystery with Mary during the coming days.

Today we recount and relive the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem. But the joy does not last for long. He is soon attacked, conspired against, arrested, beaten and crucified for each of us. He does this in total selfless love.

Make an act of Spiritual Communion asking for an increase in faith, and reflect on the Mystery of the Eucharist

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Castle Visit

In mid-week we enjoyed an interesting visit with Fr. Nathan Castle, OP of Holy Name Province in the western third of the United States. He was home visiting family and friends in the Groves, Texas area near the Gulf of Mexico. Some of the Sisters have known Father Nathan and members of his family for many years.

Although much of his ministry has been with young adults on College campuses,  he is now assigned to itinerant preaching, which involves many different audiences. He told of us the many kinds of retreats he gives: to prison inmates, those struggling with addictions, healing of memories, etc. We teased him that he was "auditioning" to give us a retreat.

He even gives a retreat on the classic film, The Wizard of Oz. For example, his retreat of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is called "The Red Slippers" after the sparkling shoes that Dorothy clicks together to take her home. In fact, he has written a book on the spirituality of Oz, And Toto, Too: the Wizard of Oz as a Spiritual Adventure. His main goal is to find new ways to reach out to those who have no religious affiliation.

May God bless Father Nathan and his preaching
for the Kingdom of God!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Thursday of the 4th Week of Lent

From the Gospel:
 "The works that the Father gave me to do, and that I perform, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me." (John 5)

The work of Our Lord for which the Father sent Him is the salvation of souls.

Pray the Our Father for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, while meditating on the gift of eternal life.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Lent

From the Gospel:
"... whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  (Mt 5:19)

It important to respect the Ten Commandments, because they are the basic "law" given by God to the Jewish people through Moses, and passed on to Christianity through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

And yet, the Ten Commandments are not a property of any religion. They are part of the natural law written into the human heart by our creator, God almighty.

Consider each of the Ten Commandments and make a firm amendment to change a habit in your life that leads you to sin.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A Musical Visit

As the Sisters from the Association Council were leaving us, we welcomed another Nun from a Dominican Monastery in Guadalajara, Mexico. Sister Leticia, OP, was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, visiting her mother who recently had surgery. She wanted to stop by for a visit since we are the closest Dominican monastery to them. She brought with her a lovely statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe with vigil lights. You can see it on the TV tray in front of Sister Leticia and our prioress, Sister Maria Guadalupe.

Sister had previously spent three years in the United States, so her English was fairly good. All the Sisters could understand her. The past few years she has been studying music. The evening before her return to Mexico Sister wanted to serenade us. She played a few solos on the violin and piano, but also played with the two others Sisters from "South of the Border".

Tet -- the Year of the Dog

We celebrated the Lunar New Year on the evening of the First Sunday of Lent. Normally Lent is not a celebratory time for us with treats. But in the Liturgical calendar, the Sundays of Lent are not strictly considered Lent. This is because every Sunday is a "little Easter" commemorating the Resurrection.

First step is to pick up some snacks of Vietnamese treats: young coconut (we had some home made this year), jack fruit, lotus seeds, sesame seed cakes, ginger candy, nuts  (peanuts or cashews), and good old American popcorn. Then we take a "lucky envelope" off of our special yellow Vietnamese tree.

Sr. Mary Therese reads us the character traits of "dog" people.
You can see our Vietnamese tree and the red envelopes behind her

We then enjoy a beautiful dance, usually performed by the Sisters in the Novitiate. This year they carried candles in each hand and it was very beautiful. Sometimes they use umbrellas or hats or other objects.

The envelope contains real money given us by friends and relatives. With the money we were able to "buy" tickets to play the various games. Each year the games are different because they are made up to fit the theme of the New Year. But the last game is always the same, and the most difficult.

We have a large (6 inch square) "die" with animals on the 6 sides. After the cube is thrown up in the air and crashes, if our tickets match the animal on top, we win. Finally, with our accumulated tickets we redeem them for prizes.