Yesterday our prioress, Sr. Mary Martin, as well as the sub-prioress from the monastery in Squamish, B.C., Sr. Jean Marie, and the prioress from the monastery in Menlo Park, California, Sr. Maria Christine, traveled down to Camden with one of our externs, Sr. Maureen. The Dominican Monastery in Camden, after 113 years, was closing with a final farewell Mass. This monastery had been reduced to only three sisters due to a lack of vocations and could no longer live the full Dominican monastic life. The three sisters left will be joining the monastery in Elmira, NY to continue their life of prayer.
Each Dominican Monastery in America (there are now 15, as well as 2 convents of contemplative Dominican sisters) was invited to send sisters to attend the farewell Mass. Sisters from our monasteries in Elmira (NY), Summit (NJ), Squamish (B.C.), Menlo Park (CA), Lancaster (PA), Lufkin (TX), Bronx (NY), and New Castle (DE) (I may be missing some!) attended the event to give their support to our three Camden sisters.
The closing of the Camden Monastery leaves the Camden diocese without a single contemplative monastery and it brings the number of Dominican monasteries in New Jersey down to one--ours here in Summit.
Bishop Dennis Sullivan celebrated the Mass with many friends of the community in attendance. Many of the priests and one seminarian mentioned that they owe their vocations to the prayers of the Camden nuns. One priest, Fr. Vincent Garland, even owes his very life to the intercession of the Camden nuns after hope was lost that he would recover from being hit by a car as a child.The event marks the last time the bells were rung and the last singing of the Salve Regina (sung by Dominican nuns every night after Compline) in the Monastery chapel.
While we are saddened to see such a house of prayer come to an end, we rejoice for the grace of 113 years of prayer and penance for the salvation of the world.