Saints on the Stage

As you may know, our monastery has a small “publishing house” called DNS Publications. It all started back in 2012 when Fr. Walter Wagner, OP graciously allowed us to transcribe and publish his retreat conferences which became our first book Dominican Life. We’ve been publishing books ever since, some of our own and some by friars, laity, or sisters of the Dominican family. Our main objective is to make available books that would otherwise be inaccessible, but that we believe are profitable for the Christian life.

Awhile ago a manuscript was submitted that, although we were busy with a few other important projects, we knew we wanted to bring to print. In October Saints on the Stage became available on and as of last week is also available on our online Cloister Shoppe. We have not yet published the Kindle version but are planning to in the future.

Saints on the Stage is a compilation of two plays written by Fr. Dominic Rover, OP, of St. Joseph’s Province. In 1956 Fr. Rover was asked by the producers of NBC’s “The Catholic Hour” to write a series of plays for their television and radio program. Both “Till the Green Word Grew” and “Catherine, My Mother” were performed on NBC.

“Till the Green Word Grew” recounts St. Dominic’s legendary encounter one night with an innkeeper steeped in the Albigensian heresy and his efforts to win him back to the truth faith. In “Catherine, My Mother” the story of the great Dominican saint, Catherine of Siena, is related by the major characters in her life.

Saints on the Stage is available for $6.25 on Amazon and our online Cloister Shoppe. The Kindle will be coming soon!

And just a reminder, December 17th is the last day the Cloister Shoppe will be accepting orders. The shop will reopen on January 2, 2019.

Monastery Cookbook for sale!

In honor of the 100th anniversary of our Monastery, we have created a cookbook entitled Good Things. Recipes are from the sisters as well as many of our friends and family. The books are available at the Monastery Gift Shop, at Paperfolio, and on our online gift store The Cloister Shoppe. Each cookbook is $20, tax included.

From the foreword:

“In this year of Jubilee, when we celebrate God's generous, all-providing love for us over the past 100 years, we invite you to celebrate with us in one of the best human ways: by sharing a good meal. Although fasting and penance are an intrinsic part of our life, so are feasting and rejoicing in the Lord.  You can't have a group of women living together without some, in fact most, of them being good cooks! Included in this cookbook are 100 years of our best recipes, as well as those shared with us by you, our friends.”

Upgrades for St. Dominic's Orange Tree

Last month our St. Dominic’s Orange Tree got an upgrade. Sr. Mary Magdalene and Sr. Joseph Maria made the new container and, with a little help from our construction crew, we were able to remove the tree from its old container and plant it in the new one.

What is St. Dominic’s Orange Tree? On St. Dominic’s last journey from Spain he brought an orange tree and planted it at Santa Sabina’s (the headquarters of the Order) in Rome. It is said to have been the first citrus tree planted in Italy. This tree has been re-propagated in the 800 years since then, both from seed and from new shoots. When the first Dominican monastery in the United States was begun, its foundresses brought with them cuttings from St. Dominic’s tree in Santa Sabina which they planted and nurtured until it became a lovely tree at the Newark Monastery. In 2005 when the Newark Monastery was suppressed we asked if we might have the tree, as the nuns obviously couldn’t take it with them (though they did take some cuttings with them to the Farmington Hills monastery).

You might be wondering how a citrus trees has survived in New Jersey. During its time at the Newark Monastery it lived in the cloister during the summer and was moved into a sunny corridor for the winter. At our monastery a little greenhouse was built for it to stay in during the colder months. Every spring it gets brought back out into the sun. However this means that the tree couldn’t be planted in the yard, as it would have had to have been dug up again every Fall before the frost came. It’s been living in a half whiskey barrel on wheels so that it can be rolled in and out of the greenhouse. The tree is very heavy, and more recently we purchased a little forklift which made moving it much easier. Wood doesn’t last forever and it was time for a new container. Unfortunately, it turns out whiskey barrels are quite expensive! Thankfully we have a very talented “handy-nun” in Sr. Mary Magdalene, and she and Sr. Joseph Maria created a beautiful new home for the tree from faux-wood decking material which will drain well and won’t decay like wood.

There is a tradition that the fruit on the tree is a gauge of the community’s vocations. Lots of little green oranges mean many vocations on their way! (Alas, we have not found the tree to be prophetic as far as vocations go, although it is always fun when its bounty matches the number of sisters in the novitiate!)The tree’s fruit is bitter, but Sr. Joseph Maria, who is the caretaker for the tree, has had great success in making tasty marmalade! Is it a coincidence that the caretaker of the tree and the caretaker of the novices is one and the same sister??

Chapel closed all day Thursday

Our chapel will be closed to public access

all day Thursday, December 6

This is to facilitate the paving of the new parking lot and drive. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and look forward to seeing you all back on Friday!

Community Celebration

On Wednesday, Nov 21st, Feast of Our Lady’s Presentation and the actual 25th anniversary of profession for Sr. Mary Catharine we held the community celebration of her Silver Jubilee. We began the night before at evening recreation by welcoming Sister to the community room with a ‘greeting song.’ Once the lovely rose crown was placed on her head the sisters greeted her in profession order. As is usual, each sister received a piece of chocolate and a small gift (bookmarks and blank cards). Whoever finds a mark on her gift (or sometimes on a small piece of paper drawn) wins the door prize. This year the very first sister, Sr. Mary Martin, won the door prize! After all the greetings we enjoyed ice cream and cookies.

Wednesday morning sister chose instead of ‘10&4’ to have a cooked brunch in the community room. This was extra special because we only have cooked breakfast once a year, on Easter Monday, and that’s without talking. At 10 we played Pictionary where the topic was things around the monastery. Some were easy while others took a lot of thinking! Dinner was again a talking meal in the community room, as was Supper. At 4 we had ice cream and cookies while Sister opened her gifts from the community. At evening recreation we enjoyed watching some good old fashioned comedy.

The next day was Thanksgiving…two recreation days in a row! At Dinner Sr. Mary Martin asked for a show of hands of who’d prefer to have Compline at 8 instead of recreation: every hand went up! Two days in a row of eating and talking is a lot for a cloistered nun!

Sr. Mary Catharine's Silver Jubilee

This past Saturday we had the joy of celebrating Sr. Mary Catharine’s Silver Jubilee of Profession. A Silver Jubilee is the 25th anniversary of a sister’s First Profession; Sr. Mary Catharine professed her First Vows on Nov. 21, 1993. Even though the actual anniversary of Sister’s profession is not for another week or so, Jubilees aren’t limited to the actual day but often are celebrated as jubilee years. While Saturday’s celebration consisted of a public Mass and reception for Sister’s family and friends, on Sister’s actual anniversary the community will celebrate.

Expecting a larger crowd than St. Dominic’s hall has held before, a new table arrangement was tried; placing the food tables outside the room left plenty of space for more tables. In the days leading up to the celebration, the monastery humming with activity. There was food to make, tables to decorate and set, flowers to arrange, music to practice, and, for one very busy Jubilarian, cheese to make, altar linens to sew and embroider, etc.!

Sr. Mary Catharine invited Archbishop Hebda who, for a brief while, was Co-adjutor for our diocese, and we were grateful that he was able to come. The Mass was absolutely beautiful. Sr. Mary Catharine chanted the first reading, Sr. Mary Martin read the second, and our chaplain Fr. Gregory Salomone chanted the Gospel. Fr. Roger Landry gave a wonderful homily interspersed with quotations from different articles that Sister had written over the years about her vocation. Fr. Peter Stravinskas acted as Master of Ceremonies, flawlessly directing the celebrants. We are grateful that Fr. Stravinskas is always happy to perform this role. Con-celebrating were Fr. Jack Carmichael, Fr. John Vidmar, OP, Fr. Benedict Croell, OP, Fr. David Adiletta, OP, Fr. Patrick Seo, Fr. Douglas Milewski, and Fr. Tom Barry. Richard Sofie and Luis served the Mass.

After the Mass and obligatory pictures in the chapel, the guests headed down to St. Dominic’s hall for refreshments. As a privilege for her Silver Jubilee, Sr. Mary Catharine was given permission to leave the enclosure to mingle with her guests. Sr. Judith Miryam roamed with the camera, capturing the event.

It was an exciting and joyful day as we gave thanks for the gift of Sr. Mary Catharine’s yes” to her vocation these past 25 years as well as for Our Lord’s faithfulness to Sister, upholding her with His grace and enabling her to persevere in her vocation.