Late Spring Visits

So much has been going on since the dedication of our new wing!

Towards the end of May the novices for St. Joseph Province stopped by with their Novice Master, Fr. Michael Dosch, for a visit on their Provincial Tour. We enjoyed hearing about their journey to the Order and their novitiate year. At the end of our visit the brothers sang for us and Father gave us a blessing.

On June 3rd we had the joy of welcoming two brothers who were recently ordained and came to say Mass for us and give us their blessing. Fr. John Paul Kern, OP, and Fr. Joseph Martin Hagan, OP, of the St. Joseph Province of the Order of Preachers were ordained to the priesthood on May 25th along with four other friars. At the end of Mass Fr. John Paul and Fr. Joseph Martin gave us their blessings and then joined us in the parlor for a visit. As has become our custom, we gave them our handwoven confessional stoles as an ordination gift.

On Pentecost we had a visit of a different sort: the heart of St. John Vianney! This past year the Knights of Columbus have been orchestrating the Relic Pilgrimage of St. John Vianney’s incorrupt heart. The tour began in November of 2018 and is just finishing now in June of 2019. Dominican Father Jonathon Kalisch organized its stop in Summit. It wasn’t available for veneration by the public, but just spent a few short hours in our choir with the nuns. Fr. Jonathon was accompanied by a photographer from the Knights of Columbus magazine Columbia who took pictures of the sisters venerating the relic. Sisters were able to touch rosaries and holy cards to the reliquary. When we visited with Father in the parlor he spoke to us about St. John Vianney, his heart, and its pilgrimage. Thousands and thousands of people showed up to venerate the relic as it made its way through the country. Particularly poignant were stories from parishes that take St. John Vianney as their patron. We were so grateful that Fr. Jonathon thought of us and for the opportunity to venerate the heart that loved so fiercely with the love of Christ.

On June 1st four of our sisters hopped a plane for Texas for the Monastic Theological Studies Program…more on that in a coming blog post!

The Story behind the Guest Room Beds

For the last several months, Sister Mary Magdalene has been collecting pallets and other wood leftover from the job site construction. A few construction crew members were very generous and more than willing to help Sister transport her new found treasures (aka pallets).

After a few conversations with our Contractor, Joe, Sister was able to explain to him what wood she was hoping to save from our trees. A generous man who did the excavation for the site volunteered to have the wood milled for Sister.

This wood when it came back several months later was stored in a different shed outside so that it could “dry out” for several months before Sister could use it.

The wood from our trees (mostly pine) was run through a planner. It took many passes to clean it up and many of the construction workers were in awe to see a nun woodworker.

All of the usable oak from the old parlor was saved by Sister (the first picture), the 4x4 posts (in the picture the three boards nearest to Joe—the guy in red) used to hold up the cement wall of the basement were used as the posts for the foot and head boards. As the wood oak for the new wing arrived, Sister Mary Magdalene, eyes it (third picture) and was able to use several “scraps” for the headboards in the third guestroom.

Using the planned, cut wood from the previous middle picture, Sister Mary Magdalene cuts the mortise for the side rail hooks. These mortise cuts were on both head and foot boards for every bed—that’s 40 total pieces to mortise and it took a long time!

In between mortising, Sister worked on the main panels for the headboards. These are held together by biscuits, screws, and glue.

After the panels boards and attached together, they are glued into a custom cut dado that runs the side of the panel pieces.

After the headboard and side rails are completed, the pieces were temporarily assembled in the infirmary stockroom. In order to check the width of the mattress, Sister made a temporary foot board as seen in this picture. She also had a huge piece of cardboard she used as the mattress in order to get the dimensions right.

Once the dimensions were tweaked, the foot board made, stain and finish were applied, and the approval for the temporary occupation obtained, then Sister transferred all the pieces upstairs to the guest dining and living room and re-assembled for finishing touches.

Then, thanks be to God! The beds were completed and moved into the guestrooms.

Dedication and Open House of the New Wing

On January 20th of 2018 Cardinal Tobin presided at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of our monastery’s new wing. This past Saturday, May 18th, Cardinal Tobin was back for the Dedication and Open House of the new wing. At the end of Mass Cardinal Tobin conferred the Apostolic Blessing with the plenary indulgence granted for this occasion by Pope Francis. Roughly 300 people attended the event with over a dozen priests concelebrating. After the Mass our prioress Sr. Mary Martin led Cardinal Tobin through the new wing for its’ blessing. Following this we invited all attendees to tour the wing. Sisters were stationed throughout to guide, explain, and answer questions.

One comment that came as a surprise was in regards to the picture of the young man hanging in our new exercise room. “Sisters, why do you have a hunk hanging on the wall?!” ….it is Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a fellow Dominican! In fact, the exercise room is named after him.

At the end of the tour guests were invited into our backyard for refreshments and to see the grounds. As a cloistered monastery, the majority of the new wing and our backyard fall within Papal Enclosure, meaning that this area is reserved for the nuns and is off-limits except in very specific cases (such as maintenance of the facility and grounds). Many people who have been coming to the monastery for decades were so happy to be able to explore our grounds. The predominating theme of the comments: “We had no idea this was back here!”

Thank you to everyone who made this day such a splendid success and who made this new wing a reality! We couldn’t have done it without you! A special thank you to the “Knights of Rosary Shrine” who took charge of beautifying the yard for this event. This deserves a blog post of its own, so stay tuned!

Photo credit for above slideshow: Jeffrey Bruno with Aleteia

A Visit with "Our NEW Seminarians"

Last Friday “our seminarians” came by to visit and pray with us. This is mostly a new “batch” of seminarians, as the majority of “our seminarians” from the past few years have been ordained priests. Don’t worry, we still pray for our seminarians after they’ve been ordained! The seminarians shared with us a little about them and their vocation before having an opportunity to speak with ‘their’ nun. After our parlor visit we invited our seminarians to join us for rosary and Vespers.

Rosary Sunday

On Sunday we held our May Rosary Pilgrimage with guest preacher Fr. Timothy Danaher, O.P. Father is a Dominican friar of the St Joseph (Eastern) Province and currently serves as Parochial Vicar at St. Patrick’s parish in Philadelphia and as a volunteer chaplain at two hospitals in that area. After the Dominican rosary led by Vinny, Fr. Danaher gave a reflection on Mary and her role as mother in our lives.

The May Pilgrimage also always includes the crowning of Our Lady. This year Sr. Mary Magdalene’s niece, Isabella, flew in all the way from Kansas City, along with Sister’s mother, to crown Our Lady. She did a beautiful job!

After the Pilgrimage (which also included Benediction) most of our guests headed downstairs for refreshments while others browsed the gift shoppe or stopped by the new St. Thomas Aquinas parlor to say hello to the nuns.

If you missed this month's Pilgrimage, you will get another chance in October with another great guest preacher and the blessing of the roses! The Rosary Pilgrimages are (almost) always the first Sunday of May and October, mark your calendar so you don’t miss the next one!