Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Friend from Trinidad

We had the joy of hosting Sr. Ann Bradshaw, OP, the Prioress of Rosary Monastery in Trinidad for several days. She stopped here on her way to Immaculate Heart of Mary Monastery in Lancaster PA, where there is a meeting of the prioresses of the Dominican monasteries of our Association of Monasteries.

Sister Ann and our prioress, Sister Maria Guadalupe, left yesterday for the important meeting which begins today. The Master General of the Dominican Order, Fr. Bruno Cadore, will come and talk with them as a special treat. The Sisters will return to Lufkin later in the week.

Please join us in praying for the success of this meeting.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

We Thank God for You, Our Readers

Another Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, but we continue to enjoy the entire Thanksgiving weekend, as we hope you do. Here are a few pictures of preparing for our special dinner in the Community Room. We eat in that room when we want to talk during a festive meal, but usually eat in what we call the Refectory where we keep silence and listen to the reading of a book or CD.

Everything for our Thanksgiving Dinner came to us as gifts from our generous benefactors. We even had fresh lemonade right from the tree.

While the Professed Sisters prepared the Meal,
the Novitiate Sisters prepared the Room.

We had a new table this year to celebrate the "internationality" of our Community. It was ladened with dishes from Tanzania, Cuba, Vietnam and Columbia... and we had homemade Mexican hot chocolate and bunuelos for breakfast.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

East Texas Autumn

The glorious season of Autumn has arrived in East Texas. We usually have something like a "default" season of summer. That is, every few days, or maybe even a week, the weather turns hot. But this week we are enjoying the cold nights and warm days.

Even some of the trees are turning  pretty reds and oranges. The photo above is of our Japanese persimmon tree behind the professed dormitory. We have several "American" persimmon trees. Their fruit is almost heart shaped and must be soft to eat, if you do not want your throat to close up because of the unripe astringent elements in the fruit. The fruit of a Japanese persimmon, on the other hand, is a squatting square, and stays hard even when ripe. Having the two kinds of persimmons makes it especially important to know which you are eating, or you can be in for a very unpleasant surprise.

We have a cute little family of tree frogs living in one of the flower pots next to St. Joseph by one of the entrances to the professed dormitory. When the days are warm they are out looking for food; when the air turns cold, they are back for a snooze in the leaves and dirt. This one is at the very top of the door near the ceiling of the porch. This is one of the Parents", about 1 inch long. The baby is only 1/2 inch long.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Circle

To have a "Circle" at the Monastery is a "technical term".   😄    Or, you might say it is a form of "monastic-speak". In other words, it means that we gather in an open circle to share recent news or events.

Whenever a Sister needs to go on a trip, we have a "circle" after her return, to hear about her adventure, travels, people she met, etc.

In this way, we can all hear the news at one time... and get the story straight. Sister has many souvenirs that the other members of the International Commission gave her.

One day they took a special field trip to see where the Dominican Friars first lived when St. Dominic sent them to Bologna, Italy. They also had Mass in the cell where our holy father died and then visited the side chapel in the Church of St. Dominic where he is buried today.

We are excited that we now have more pictures to add to our Dominican History class!!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Meeting Goes On

A wonderful new development in the procedure of the International Commission on the Nuns occurred when Fr. Cesar, the Nuns' Promoter, asked the representatives to write the monasteries in their region every, or every other, day. This has been a simple way to keep us all connected through the internet.

        From left to right: Sr. Paola (Italy); Sr. Maria de Mar (Spain); Sr. Mary Rose (Lufkin TX); Sr. Lioba (France)

Yesterday they discussed Youth, and, Justice and Peace issues.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

International Commission of Dominican Nuns

Sister Mary Rose was chosen as the new representative of Dominican Nuns for the North American Region. The International Commission is composed of eleven representatives from throughout the world. They are currently holding their annual meeting in Bologna, Italy.

Whenever any of the Nuns go out for a trip, we always pause to get the prioress' blessing for safe and blessed travels.

Two of the Nuns drove Sister Mary Rose to Bush International Airport, near Houston, on Wednesday, October 18, to fly to Bologna by way of a 5 1/2 hours layover in Frankfort, Germany. 

She will return to Lufkin next week on Thursday, October 26.

 Our last view of Sister as she prepares to enter the Security area. Buon Viaggio!

Please join us in praying for Sister and all those attending this meeting, that the Holy Spirit will fill their hearts and minds for the future of the Dominican Nuns.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Last we we had a wonderful workshop on the Theological and Moral Virtues with Fr. Leo Almazan, OP, of our Southern Province. Father Leo is originally from Mexico City, but joined the Dominican Order while studying and working in the USA. He is an excellent teacher! His most recent assignment was as Prior of our Student Brtohers Formation Community in St. Louis, MO.

There are three theological virtues which join us directly with God:

There are four Moral, or Cardinal, Virtues which concern our relationships with other people.
PRUDENCE  &  JUSTICE  - direct our relations with others

FORTITUDE & TEMPERANCE  -  regulate ourselves

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Columbus Day Celebration

We had a restful and joyous Columbus Day. It's often more enjoyable than the excessive heat of July 4th. It was very overcast threatening rain; and, in fact, as soon as we concluded the opening flag ceremony, the drops began to fall. However, that did not last long. Yes, it was a lovely day indeed: warm sun and cool breeze.

Now and then some of the Sisters enjoy grilling. So, this year Sister Mary Christine did a fine job of cooking our picnic dinner. Not only did we have hamburgers and hot dogs, but also plenty of chicken.

The day was spent playing games, eating snacks and talking. But we never, ever stop the Divine Office, heading for chapel 7 or 8 times a day to pray for you and everyone in the world.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Until next year ...

The Dominican Contemplative Novice Mistresses of the North American region concluded their annual meeting on Friday, September 29, the Feast of the Archangels. They were fortunate to have all but two of the member monasteries represented. It was a very profitable meetings and everyone is energized to put into practice all the wonderful ideas they discussed.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Novice Mistress Meeting in the Bronx

This week our Novice Mistress, Sister Mary Rose, is attending the annual Novice Mistress Meeting held at Corpus Christi Monastery in the Bronx. They are having talks in the mornings given by Father Walter Wagner, OP, the current Pastor of St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Manhattan. Almost all the Novice Mistresses have been able to attend. We are only missing the ones from Trinidad and Lancaster PA. The meeting is going very well and our hosting community is very warm and welcoming.

From left to right: Sr. Joseph Maria (Summit NJ); Sr. Mary Jordan (Marbury AL); Sr. Joseph Marie (Menlo Park CA); Sr. Mary Angela (Los Angeles CA); Sr. Mary Rani (Farmington Hills MI); Sr. Mary Rose (Lufkin TX); Sr. Mary of the Sacred Heart (Bronx NY); Sr. Emmanuella, (Springfield IL); Sr. Isabelle (Squamish, BC, Canada); Sr. Maria Pia (Bronx NY); and Fr. Walter Wagner, OP (NYC)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Retreat in the Desert

The Nuns aee making their annual retreat from September 13-20. Many people laugh when they hear the nuns are going on retreat. "Aren't you in a perpetual retreat?!"  Well, yes. But we do live in community, and sometimes we need more solitude than we normally have; as well as extra silence and time for prayer, reading, and simply resting.

We usually have a "preached" retreat in which someone preaches to the entire community twice a day on aspects of the spiritual life, plus the homily at Mass ties in with the theme of the retreat. Another kind of retreat might be a "directed" retreat, in which a person might meet daily, or every other day, with a Retreat Master and share privately what he or she has been praying about.

 In the photo above, Fr. Emmerich is explaining where he obtained his white rosary.

Our retreat Master this year is Father Emmerich Vogt,OP, from the Western Province headquartered in California. We had never met him before so when he arrived Tuesday afternoon we arranged to visit with him, before "going into the desert" Wednesday morning. Although Father Vogt is originally from Connecticut, he has lived most of his life in California. He has had various ministries: parish work, Provincial, chaplain for our nuns in Los Angeles, and now giving retreats and workshops throughout the country, and world.

The theme of our retreat is "Liturgical Asceticism".  We are enjoying the retreat and Father Emmerich's very thought provoking reflections. He is funny yet profound.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Chaplains - Old and New

Our new chaplain, Fr. John Lydon, OP, began his ministry with us on August 1. He comes from Philadelphia, but is quite acclimated to living in Louisiana and Texas. Most of his ministry has been in the area of Campus Ministry. It's easy to see that he must have done well. He is down to earth and loves people. We thoroughly enjoy his daily homilies and never know what to expect.

By co-incidence, just yesterday our previous Chaplain, Fr. Marcos Ramos, OP, successfully defended his doctoral dissertation in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Ad multos anos!!
That's more or less, Latin for "Congratulations".

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Hurricane Harvey

The recent hurricane to charge through Texas was not as windy as some, but it was very cruel none the less. We are praying for our many friends and benefactors along the coast who have been flooded by the overabundant water.

During the Hurricane itself we received many phones calls from friends and relatives to check on us to see if we were OK. Yes, we are fine and thank you for your love and concern. We only had a light rain for over a week that amounted to about 2 feet, but fortunately no flooding. Our pond did fill up as you can see.

During Hurricane Rita about 12 years ago, there was a great deal of wind and we lost over 40 trees. However, because there was not much wind we only lost one tree. It looks like it fell over due to water-logged soil.

Since Hurricane Harvey left the area, many evacuees have come up to Lufkin and other towns, from what in Texas is called the "Golden Triangle", that is, Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange. It is called golden because of Spindletop that brought much wealth to the region. Spindletop was the first oil well along the Gulf Coast and issued Texas and the USA into the oil boom age. Now the area is populated with refineries.

Lufkin has almost 2,000 evacuees and some places have run out of food. So we sent down some food (they wanted cooked meals). In the photos below you can see our latest donations: healthy chicken soup and nourishing Texas white beans.

We pray for all who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. May the Lord send you the Good Samaritans you need, and  the Lord embrace you with His compassion and courage.  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Feast of Roses

On August 23, Dominicans around the world celebrate the feast of St. Rose of Lima, the first canonized saint of the Americas. But that day is also the feast day of our own Sister Mary Rose, the Novice Mistress of our monastery. Because of her office, or duty, the sisters in the novitiate always make it a special celebration. This year it was magnificent!

Here is the Guest of Honor-Sr. Mary Rose-as she enters the Novitiate

Sister Mary Therese devised two fun and exciting Dominican games. In the first one the Sisters scoured the Novitiate building for clues on the back of Dominican shields telling them how to find the grand prize. After that there was a more "sedate" card game. Sad to say, our honoree did not win any of the games.

Here, Sr. Mary Dominic, Sr. Mary Rose and Sr. Mary Therese are playing the 2nd Dominican game. It was a card game as you can see with all the Dominican shields.

The Sisters enjoyed hamburgers for dinner and in the afternoon watched a movie, "The Secret of Ronan Inish".

There were cupcakes galore (twice as many as seen in the photo), and each one was different!!!

After Vespers, the party sisters returned to the Novitiate for a special supper prepared by Sister Mary Dominic who helps in the Novitiate. She cooked a delicious chicken dish with wine, which turned the chicken purple!

 The recipe goes back to 4-5th century Rome!!!

 After the meal it was time for Sister Mary Rose to open gifts.

Here's an unusual gift: a knitted crocodile that also functions as a scarf. I bet a little boy would like that one.

Looking on as Sister opens her gifts: Sister Mary Dominic and Sister Bernadette Marie.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Peace Be with You

"Peace be to your homes!"  (Psalm 122)

Please join us in praying and sacrificing for peace in our world, our country and in the hearts of all people.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Towards the Heights

Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven!

Sometimes we may not know what to think of this feast. But we should always remember that it is a promise to each of us that if we love Christ and try to do God's will, one day, we too, will be taken to Heaven.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Providence Does Provide!

We had only just finished consuming the last chunk of the big watermelon, when a friend from the Dallas area showed up yesterday morning with FIVE watermelons!!!!!

Sister Mary Veronica had been praying for more watermelon; and when she starts praying ... watch out!

We are constantly thanking and praising God for the way He takes care of us and provides for our needs, ... even ones we don't know we have.

One of the Sisters went to the Laundry after dinner and smelled something strange. She did not have time to check it out because it was time for her Eucharistic adoration.

The memory of the strange smell kept coming back to her during adoration. So as soon as she finished she went to find our workman, David. He went to the Laundry and the smell was even worse. "It's an electric burning!" he diagnosed. The Sister and he began to feel the walls to find where it was. David found it with an "Ouch!" It had become very hot. The electrician that works on our A/C was called and quickly fixed the problem.

PRAISE GOD Whose hidden Providence saved us from a fire. Another providential moment was to realize that it the burning had happened at night, it probably would have burst into flame.

Thank you GOD,
St. Joseph and all our Guardian Angels
for protecting us from fires!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Surprise Visit

We were unexpectedly called to the parlor yesterday afternoon for a visit with our friend Bishop Eduardo Nevares, Auxiliary of Phoenix. Bishop Eduardo is busy throughout the Arizona diocese ministering to the 30+ ethnic groups, as well as the many spirituality communities, such as Cursillo, Charismatic, Encounter, etc.

This time he surprised us with a beautiful gift in honor of Sister Maria Guadalupe's Golden Jubilee. You can see them both in the photo above. And Sister Mary Veronica, his "spiritual mother" enjoying the scene from the background.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Summmmer time

Summer time in Texas is watermelon time. And someone recently gave us a very large watermelon. We like watermelon, and have several being chilled right now.

We want to thank all our friends who have shared with us the produce of their gardens, or sent over fruits and vegetables.
We remember you in our prayers as we consume these delicious gifts of God's creation. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Monastic Funeral

With the recent funeral of Sister Mary John, we thought we would describe how we have our funerals.

Almost all of our Sisters have died here at the Monastery surrounded by the other Nuns, singing the Salve Regina and offering various prayers. Once a Sister dies, we accompany her body until burial. This is a custom which goes back centuries to the original Dominican Monastery in Prouille, France.

As is the custom here in the USA, the remains are taken to the funeral home for preparation for burial. When the body of our deceased Sister is returned to the Monastery the casket is placed in our choir at the gate where we receive Holy Communion. A Sister remains in prayer "with her" until the funeral. Although the Blessed Sacrament is not exposed until after the funeral, we still keep our times of adoration in the chapel and pray the Psalms for the deceased Sister. In this way, the entire Psalter is usually prayed 2 or 3 times.

Since the establishment of our Tyler Diocese, it has been the practice of our local Bishop to officiate at the services if he is in the diocese. Bishop Joseph Strickland was here for the occasion. Because Sister Mary John had been our prioress for a number of years, a large number of local friends of the community came, as well as some of her relatives.

While we walk to the cemetery with the hearse, the laity go to the cemetery from the outside. 

They can enter through a special gate, which is only opened for those who take part in the services. We keep our enclosure by standing on one side of the casket and the laity on the other. In the photo below you can see the laity have already taken their places before we arrive.

After the Mass and Committal in our cemetery, we provide a lunch for all those who come. Then we all meet in a parlor to visit and share stories about the deceased Sister.

 If possible, that evening the nuns gather in our Community Room to share about the "big event".