New Jersey Dominicans launch monastery expansion initiative
By Kate Veik .- The Dominican monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary was first built in 1930s on donations of a dime per brick. Today, the Dominican community is praying for God’s continued providence for their new expansion project.
“Our monastery was built literally by the dimes of people, who after the Depression would donate a dime for a brick,” Sister Mary Catharine Perry, OP, told CNA July 8. “To this day this is how, in God’s providence, we continue to receive support.”
“It’s a beautiful tribute to the faith of so many people to our way of life.”
The $4 million “Making the Light Shine Brighter” capital campaign aims to build a 5,500 square foot addition to the monastery.
The new wing will be fully handicapped accessible, and the chapel will be renovated to provide handicap accessibility.
Sr. Perry said the accessibility is crucial because many elderly or disabled faithful come to the monastery for Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament or to pray the Office of Readings and Midafternoon Prayer with the Dominican community.
“We have people who painfully go up the stairs with walkers and canes,” she said. “We know of people who drive up to the front (of the monastery) and, because we keep the doors open in the summer, they make their adoration from their cars because they can’t come inside.”
The new wing will also include several guest rooms, parlors, a dining room and a gift shop, to further accommodate guests and visitors.
“The monastery is not just for us nuns,” Sr. Perry reflected. “I think it’s significant that our monastery is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary because it is through her and the power of her rosary that each person is drawn to a more intimate union with Christ. We don’t know how many moments of conversion have happened here, but we have heard enough stories to know that it happens.”
The proposed addition will also accommodate the growing contemplative community.
Today, the Dominican community boasts sixteen nuns. But they are expecting four new postulants to begin arriving in the fall. Sr. Perry said several other young women have expressed a desire to apply to enter the community after they graduate in 2015.
Sr. Perry said the monastery’s current living quarters can comfortably fit twenty-four, which is the limit for the refectory, chapter hall, and community room. The new wing will include workrooms, offices, and an exercise room for the sisters.
The “Making the Light Shine Brighter” initiative launched in May; thus far, the Dominican community has received about $575,000 in donations and pledges; they also produce soaps, balms, and similar products for purchase.
Sr. Perry said her community hope to begin construction as early as 2016 to mark the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Dominican Order; in order to meet that deadline, they need to raise at least 75 percent of their $4 million goal.
“We see our monastery as a gift of which we are merely stewards. With so many churches and convents closing today isn’t it wonderful to be part of something that is growing?”