Going into the desert...of Newark, New Jersey!
St. John the Baptist, who's solemnity we celebrate today, is the special patron of men and women dedicated to the monastic life. Like St. John the Baptist we are called to go out into the desert—not for ourselves—but to prepare the way of the Lord in the hearts of all men and women. So, it is fitting that on this day, June 24, 1880, Mother Mary of Jesus, OP and 3 other nuns of the Dominican monastery of Oullins, France set sail for Newark, NJ to begin the first monastery of the Nuns of the Order of Preachers in the United States. It is because this monastery in Oullins had the privilege of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament that the US monasteries founded from Newark continue this tradition unlike most Dominican monasteries in other parts of the world. Monasteries, such as ours, which were founded from the Monastery of the Perpetual Rosary in Union City, New Jersey did not all have Perpetual Adoration although most did. Because Newark is a 20 minute drive up the Garden State Parkway, the Newark Monastery and ours enjoyed a close, sisterly relationship. Sadly, the Newark Monastery closed in 2004 and while we are happy that the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have made it their home and restored the monastery, we still miss our sisters. We are blessed to have some articles from the monastery and one of the treasured items we received is St. Dominic's orange tree. This tree is not from a seed from the tree in Rome but from a small slip that the first nuns brought with them on the ship from France. 133 years later it is still going strong and like St. Dominic's tree in Rome is a sign of the continual cycle of new life in the Order of Preachers.
Bro. John Maria Devaney, OP wrote a wonderful article on the Newark Monastery here.