Be My Valentine…Anytime

OK, it’s been a week, but the whole month of February is usually dedicated to the loving feelings of Valentine’s Day. At the Monastery, we don’t give valentines to each other, but sometimes people give us valentines! We were surprised and delighted with the Valentine’s Day treats we received.

Note the Fritos–always great with a Dr. Pepper

As you can see in the pictures, each valentine bag contained a small package of chips (various kinds) and a Dr. Pepper! One could say it was a Texas style valentine.

These lovely treats were given to us by Earl and Judy Parker, good friends of our Monastery who celebrated their second wedding anniversary on February 14. They met at a local retirement place and fell in love. Very sweet!

Judy and Earl Parker

And speaking of sweets, we also each received a small box of chocolates from other good friends–Tim and Susie Healy, who visit us as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus each year. So we had both the salty and the sweet, and everybody was happy.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just for romantic love. We are reminded of the need to put agape, or charity, into everything we do. This is a love that transcends the self and looks for the good of another–as, indeed, all love should do.

Love is shown in so many beautiful ways. One of our sisters received this floral tribute from a former student this year. (She was a teaching Dominican before she entered out Monastery.) We are all so grateful to him–the flowers were gorgeous and they made Sister very happy! Charity in action!

The month of February is almost over, but there’s still time to tell someone you love him or her or to reach out in charity to your neighbors. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. As St. John of the Cross wrote, “Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.”

Tet: Year of the Tiger

Photo by A G on Unsplash

Grrrr! We had a great time welcoming the Year of the Tiger in our community recently! As our readers may know, we have many different cultures in our community and we try to honor them in some way. This was our 20th year to celebrate Tet.

Gathered together to begin the evening. It’s been cold in Texas, by the way!
Sr. Mary Christine

Did you know that the Lunar New Year originated in Vietnam? At least, this is what our Vietnamese sisters tell us, and we think they should know! Sr. Mary Christine did her usual fantastic job of explaining all about the Year of the Tiger. We don’t have any “tigers” in our community right now, but if we did, it sounds like they’d fit in just fine! Tigers are supposed to be very strong minded!

Picking our “lucky envelopes” from the tree and enjoying the delicious Asian snacks. Everything was generously provided by Sr. Mary Christine’s family!

Sr. Mary Christine devised a number of original and unusual games for us to play, as she always does. We enjoyed ourselves by playing in teams for points.

A fun game similar to Telephone, only we wrote on each other’s hands–tricky!
Sr. Marie Augustine shows off her fine sense of balance with game counters balanced on a chopstick

We were still having fun when the bell rang to summon us to Compline and Benediction, and that’s the way an evening should end. Sr. Mary Christine organized things so that although only one team won the evening, each sister received a prize.

We are grateful for our opportunities to share in the heritage of our sisters and to make this heritage part of our own community life. Thank you so much to Sr. Mary Christine and Sr. Mary Giuse, our two Vietnamese sisters, who bring so much talent and joy to our community, and thank you for your great example of prayer!

Renewal of Vows!

On January 27 during our usual morning Mass, Sr. Mary Therese of the Divine Mercy, O.P., renewed her vow of obedience for one year.

Sisters in temporary vows have to make these vows first for three years and then renew their vows each year for three more years. This is Sr. Mary Therese’s second time to renew for one year. Thus, she is beginning her fifth year of temporary vows.

Actually, Dominicans only take one vow, that of obedience, but it encompasses the other two evangelical counsels–poverty and chastity. The sister makes her profession in the hands of the prioress (as seen above), a traditional gesture dating back to the early days of the Order and 13th century ways.

Please continue to pray for Sister as she takes another big step forward in her monastic journey!

Christmas, Unwrapped!

Since we usually wrap Christmas presents to go under the tree prior to the big holiday, we thought this could be our “unwrapping”–showing you all what’s been hiding under the paper!

We were blessed to receive special visits from two sets of people–Santa and Mrs. Claus on December 23, and a bunch of Santa’s elves a few days before that.

Santa and Mrs. Claus also brought along their parish priest, to remind us of the reason for the season
The incredibly generous elves who brought special gifts for each sister! Thank you so much!

On Christmas Day, we had our traditional Christmas dinner cooked by the faithful Knights of Columbus. We are so grateful to the Knights for all they do for us–as one of the sisters said, “They are our Knights in shining armor!”

The grill
Cooking–a family experience for all of us
Recreating with the Knights and their families before dinner
We love to see all the young families and children

“Picking up” our delicious Christmas meal–steak, baked potatoes, green bean casserole, salad, rolls…
Sister Mary Christine’s amazing Jell-O creation

After dinner and a good nap, we came to the community room to open the community gifts (lots of puzzles, treats, and various and sundry useful items) as well as a personal gift for each sister.

Opening the elves’ gifts…
“I’m sure they’ll fit you, Sister!”

We have creches set up all over the monastery. Here are a few of them:

Refectory
Gate Parlor
Infirmary

On December 29, the bishop of Tyler, our own Bishop Joseph Strickland, came to say Mass for us. Our chaplain, Fr. Ian, concelebrated with him.

Bishop Strickland chose to commemorate St. Thomas Becket–very appropriate for a bishop

After Mass, we visited with the bishop and Fr. Ian, then all had dinner together in the community room. We had a great time!

It’s truly been a blessed Advent and Christmas season! We pray you continue to enjoy this beautiful season, and we wish you a very Happy New Year 2022!

Year of Mary and the Eucharist

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, TX has declared that 2022 will be a year dedicated to Mary and the Eucharist for all of us here in the diocese. This has special meaning to us because Eucharistic devotion is an important part of our spirituality here. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed in our chapel from 8 AM to 8 PM every day, and each sister takes a turn praying with Our Lord truly present under this sacramental sign. We also welcome anyone who wishes to come and pray with us during these times.

It almost goes without saying that Mary is another big part of our lives! Each of us takes the name “Mary” as part of our religious name–usually just Mary but sometimes it’s Maria, Marie, Miriam, etc.–and cherishes a special devotion to the Mother of God, especially as Queen of the Most Holy Rosary. We pray the rosary together every afternoon at about 2:40 pm (on Sundays we say it privately) and you are welcome to join us for that, too.

Dominicans through the centuries have been devoted to Mary and the Eucharist. Legend has it that Our Lady herself gave St. Dominic the rosary as a powerful prayer to help in his work re-establishing the Catholic faith in Europe. St. Catherine of Siena, it is said, lived on nothing but the Eucharist for the last few months of her life. Our own monastery traces its Eucharistic roots back to France, where a monastery of Dominican nuns established perpetual adoration and then brought this tradition to the United States when a foundation was made here.

We feel blessed to be a part of a year that will lift hearts and minds to Mary and the Eucharist–in the diocese of Tyler, Texas and hopefully in many other places as well. If you are in the Lufkin area, please come by and spend some time with Jesus–He’s waiting for you!

Jubilee Pictures!

Wow! We apologize for being so long in getting this up. All we can blame it on is “the monotony of the cloister”…you know, nothing ever happens at the Monastery…But without further ado, pictures!

Fr. Tom Condon, our provincial, with all the active Dominican sisters who joined us!
All our religious guests–the Dominican sisters, friars, and friar-novices, plus two diocesan priests and Bishop Eduardo Nevares of Phoenix, AZ
Receiving line after Mass
Enjoying lunch in the Large Parlor
Enjoying recreation with everyone in Gate Parlor

It was a most wonderful and blessed day, and we are grateful to God for all the many graces He showered down! May His name be forever praised!

Jubilee Mass!

One of the priests who attended (and concelebrated) our 75th Jubilee Mass recorded it, and you can see it here (it starts about 9:07) https://www.facebook.com/stpatrickslufkin/videos/1025853264863968/

We hope to have more pictures and other good things to post next week! It’s been busy (as usual) here but it will happen!