Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

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".

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