We Dominican Nuns—the Nuns of the Order of Preachers— are gearing up for our 800th anniversary in 2006-2007! The offical date of the celebration set by the Master of the Order is Advent 2006 to Epiphany 2007. The traditional date of the founding of the Nuns by St. Dominic is Dec 27, 2006 but there is a debate among historians as to the exact date because all documentation was lost during the French Revolution.

So, I think these next few years will be years of many graces—in particular for the nuns of the Order and therefore for the whole Church.We are for some reason not only one of the slowest growing branches but probably also the most misunderstood and yet when the Master of the Order promulgated our new constitutions in 1971 he said, "The specific mission of the contemplative vocation, then, is to undertake,cherish and promote what is most deep in the life of the Church....The Dominican family has a certain global unity analogous to that of the universal Church. The integral purpose of the Order,that is, to give to others the fruits of contemplation, cannot be attained in that fullness proper to it except through the cooperation of all the members of the family. In this the particular role of the Dominican Nuns plays the highest part, and is therefore of the greatest importance."

I have no doubt that today in the year 2005 Jesus continues to call young women to follow in the footsteps of St. Dominic, continuing his love and passion for the salvation of souls today. A commentary on our constitutions says that, "Dominic's heart was so filled with love for the Lord that he participated in the deepest desires of His heart. To him, it meant offering himself as Christ did, giving himself with such intensity that the gift won souls."

And so, my prayer—my desire for my beloved Monastery of our Lady of the Rosary is that the Lord will bless us with NINE new vocations by the end of our jubilee. Nine souls that will also have a yearning to participate in the deepest desire of Christ—the salvation of souls.Nine souls that will give themselves with the same love, the same intensity.

Why NINE? Because almost 800 years ago St. Dominic gathered together NINE women in a run down, falling apart church, the Church of ourLady of Prouilhe. Seven out of the nine had been converts from the Cathari sect whom St. Dominic has won over for Christ. In the earliest life of St. Dominic written by Bl. Jordan it is said of these first Dominican Nuns, "By the vigor of their holiness and the noble purity of their innocence, they lead a life which is of spiritual benefit to themselves, a source of edification to men, a joy to the angels, and a pleasure to God."

The need to be "fast-knit" to Christ, sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His words, spending oneself for the salvation of souls and by this life proclaiming to the world that only in Christ is true happines to be found, is as necessary today as it was 800 years ago in St. Dominic's day.

Can you accept the challenge?

Do you have a vocation to follow Christ as a Nun of the Order Preachers?