Our Groundbreaking Ceremony and Site Blessing for our Centennial Wing on Saturday, January 20th, exceeded all expectations, with over 90 guests attending the event. The Lord blessed us with sunshine and unseasonably warm weather.
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, arrived at 10 a.m. to meet with the community before the ceremony began. Right before 11 a.m., we nuns went out to the enclosure door in the sanctuary and took our places in the first rows of pews. It was exciting to see our guests gathered in the chapel, and a few of us exchanged smiles and waves.
As the Cardinal and ministers entered the sanctuary, we sang "Nisi Dominus," the Dominican Latin Chant of Psalm 127 ("If the Lord does not build the house..."). After the opening prayer, Sr. Mary Martin, prioress, welcomed those present, particularly the Cardinal and Nora Radest, Mayor of the City of Summit. Sister noted with gratitude the presence of many of those involved in the design and building of the new wing. After Sr. Judith Miryam's brief reading from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians ("we are God's co-workers; you are God's field, God's building..."), Sr. Denise Marie and Sr. Mary Catharine chanted Psalm 121 "The Lord will guard your coming and going, both now and forever," an apt expression of trust in God's protection for the construction crew.
Cardinal Tobin preached a brief homily in he identified us nuns as those who "hunt for the face of the living God" on this hill in Summit. George and Margaret Roeck, both dedicated members of our Centennial Committee, offered the intercessions. We then processed out the chapel, chanting the Dominican "Salve Regina" ("Hail O Queen...") in honor of Our Lady, patroness of the Order of Preachers and our monastery, followed by the "O Lumen" ("Light of the Church...), calling upon the prayers of our Holy Father St. Dominic, We went down the chapel stairs and down the drive through the open gates to our enclosure grounds, followed by the Cardinal, the visiting priests, and the long line of guests.
After the Prayer of Blessing of the site by the Cardinal, Sr. Judith Miryam invited the ceremonial diggers to come forward and take their places behind the line of beribboned shovels, each with a hard hat on top. After a bit of positioning, all were behind a shovel, hard hats on, and the digging began, in some cases with great gusto, as the cameras snapped away. At one point, Sr. Mary Catharine shouted encouragement to our two project managers, Nick D'Amore and Mike Schettino, "Don't stop! Keep on digging!"
When the ceremony had concluded, we had the opportunity to mingle and meet each other, before the guests headed to St. Dominic's Hall for light refreshments prepared by us.
We thank God and all who attended for a grace-filled day, a most memorable and impressive prelude to the construction of our new wing.