As our chaplain, Fr. Ian, reminded us, a death in the monastery is always bittersweet. We mourn the loss of our sister, and yet we rejoice that she has gone home to God. In the spirit of hope and expectation, we celebrated Sr. Mary Regina’s funeral on Tuesday. The bishop of our diocese of Tyler, TX, Bishop Joseph Strickland, was on hand as main celebrant and he was joined by Fr. Ian our chaplain, Fr. Tom Edelen, and Fr. Ron Foshage, M.S.
We are fortunate to have our own cemetery within our enclosure, and that is where Sister was laid to rest. After the funeral, we met briefly with Bishop Strickland in the community room. The rest of the day was spent in much-needed rest (most of us had spent time throughout the night in vigil with Sister’s body) and ended with a circle recreation at night, as we all reminisced about Sr. Mary Regina, remembering her many talents and good qualities, the things she did as part of our community, and her steadfast devotion to prayer, especially in the last years of her life. May you rest in peace, Sister Mary Regina!
Sister was an amazing person! She had many talents, including cooking, playing the organ, sewing, doing various kinds of handwork, and even set design for the plays we put on! We don’t have too many pictures of Sister in her early days, since she came from another monastery, but we’d like to share a few of the ones we have.
Sister was a joy to live with and we miss her a lot!
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
When a woman enters religious life, especially cloistered life, she is often called “Sister” almost immediately to indicate that she has taken a step which makes her available to the whole world. She keeps the family she had previously, and gains the family of humankind–starting with the community of nuns she lives and works with every day. This connection is incredibly rewarding most of the time, because working to fulfill God’s will for you completes you. There are days when you may wonder about your choice, but if you are where God wants you to be, the good times usually outweigh the inevitable hard times. Doing God’s will gives us a peace nothing on earth can ever provide.
Being a religious sister means never having to ask, “Who is my mother, my father, my sister or brother?” We recognize everyone as fellow children of our heavenly Father, and we always pray for them, no matter what. This isn’t as easy as it may sound when written down in a blog post! But the more we live in communion with Jesus, the more we recognize him shining out even through what Mother Teresa famously called his “distressing disguise”. Maybe you’re reading this and wondering if God might be calling you to a life like ours–even at our Monastery. Today, don’t be afraid to explore the possibility.
Sr. Martin Marie comes to our monastery from another Dominican monastery in Pennsylvania which, sadly, has to close. Because Sister has some health issues, she is living in our infirmary–but she is still a vital part of our community, as are all our sisters there. We are grateful that Sr. Martin Marie set out like Abraham for the “land of promise” (Texas!) and we love her independent ways and dry sense of humor.
We should note that since these pictures were taken, Sister got a new pink walker which (she says) makes her look like the Energizer Bunny! (And she walks like it, too!)
We have two new faces at the Monastery of the Infant Jesus! The first one is Sr. Carmen Gloria, OP, a Dominican nun from Chile. We first met her about six years ago when she visited us for a few months, and since then she’s been hoping to come back and join us–and we’ve hoping, too. Now she has!
Sister is our sacristan, and she is doing a great job. She is also working hard to improve her English skills, with the help of a teacher friend of ours. In her spare time, Sister enjoys handwork of various kinds (she is currently doing some lovely embroidery) and walking around our spacious monastery grounds. We are delighted to have Sister Carmen Gloria with us!
This has been some week for visitors! First Bishop Eduardo, and now Bishop David Toups of Beaumont, TX on Thursday. Bishop Toups was on his way to Nacogdoches (a town near Lufkin), realized he would be passing by, and called to ask if he could stop for a brief visit. Of course we said yes! Bishop Toups arrived with a young priest from the Beaumont diocese, Fr. Philip Tran.
We have a strong connection to the Beaumont diocese because our monastery was located within it for many years. In fact, the Monastery of the Infant Jesus has been in four different dioceses–Galveston, Galveston-Houston, Beaumont, and Tyler–without ever changing its location.
Of course we had to get a picture with the Bishop and Fr. Tran, and our chaplain Fr. Ian kindly took it for us:
Thanks so much for coming by, Bishop! We hope we will see you again some time!
Our dear friend Bishop Eduardo Nevares, the auxiliary in Phoenix, Arizona, was in town recently and paid us a visit. What with COVID and meetings and the usual work a bishop has to do, we haven’t seen him in a while, so this was a real treat!
Bishop Ed (as we fondly call him) has known our community since he was a seminarian with the La Salette Fathers here in Lufkin, back in the early 1970s! He served as pastor at one of our local parishes (St. Patrick’s) for many years, so he has a lot of friends to visit whenever he comes to Lufkin. He also has family near Houston.
It’s a fair bet to say that our Sr. Mary Veronica is his favorite nun, though! Sister, a talented cook and a woman brimming with hospitality, has been taking care of Bishop Ed both spiritually and physically ever since she’s known him.
Thank you for coming, Bishop Ed! May God bless you and your ministry abundantly!