Christmas Unwrapped

As always, there’s been a lot going on! We’d like to share some of the highlights of this Christmas season with you. Yes, the Christmas season lasts until the Baptism of the Lord and that’s not until January 9, so for us it’s still Christmas!

We had a beautiful Christmas, with many lovely decorations by our talented sisters and thoughtful gifts from our benefactors.

Tree and nativity scene in our community room

One of our benefactors had these great bags made–one for each of us! Note the Dominican shield!

Everyone loves puzzles!

Fr. Ian gave us a chime to ring at the epiclesis during Mass and at Benediction–much nicer than our old bell.

What could this be? Maybe something to eat?

I think this one’s popcorn…

Might need some help getting this one open.

On December 30, feast of the Holy Family, our bishop Joseph Strickland came to offer Mass and enjoy a visit and “family” meal with us. We were also privileged to have Br. Christopher Kalan, O.Cist., from Our Lady of Dallas Abbey, staying at our monastery for his priestly ordination retreat–so Br. Christopher served as our deacon at Mass and joined us for dinner afterward, as did our chaplain, Fr. Ian.

Bishop Strickland is always so kind and friendly to us, a true spiritual father.

We presented him with an afghan one of our sisters crocheted.

Brother Christopher is a tall man…

…or maybe we are just kind of petite?

We also had a delightful parlor visit with Br. Christopher. (Hope he got enough retreat!) He will be ordained in February, and we hope he will come back to celebrate Mass for us and give us his first blessing.

All together, Christmas has been a season of many blessings. There have been some serious events too, but everything balances out and we are filled with joy and gratitude as we welcome the New Year 2023, when Sr. Mary Therese will make her solemn profession (January 21) and we are expecting some new faces at our monastery!

Vocation Visit

A lovely group of young women came to visit us from St. Thomas University in Houston, TX. Fr. John Sica, O.P., a friend of the community and doctoral candidate at the University, helped organize the visit and gave the girls a great talk on Dominican spirituality. We gave some other talks on prayer and monasticism, and showed them our slide show and parts of our documentary (you can see our documentary on YouTube!). They had great questions, which we tried to answer–with the Holy Spirit’s help! Please pray that God will inspire many young women to consider a vocation to the cloistered life.

Our Renewed Prioress

Things have been very busy here at the Monastery, and one thing we’ve been working on is the election–or we should say, re-election–of our prioress, Sr. Mary Margaret of the Cross Gyovai, O.P. Our community vicar, Fr. Ed Ruane, O.P., came to preside over the election and confirm it.

Still smiling after three years in office!

After the election, we shared some recreation time in our community room. We invited our chaplain, Fr. Ian Bordenave, O.P., to join us–and later he and Fr. Ed stayed for dinner in the community room, too!

The happy end of our election procedings

The following day, Fr. Ian and Fr. Ed concelebrated a Mass in honor of an abbess–with slight adjustments made to accommodate our situation. Traditionally, Dominican nuns have always had a prioress, a nun who is first among equals, rather than an abbess as the head of their communities.

The Fathers are wearing their lovely Dominican vestments

Usually, when a prioress is elected (or re-elected), she has to change job assignments around. This is because once you change one thing, everything else needs to be changed as well! We’ve all been cleaning our various departments and trying to organize things in preparation for a new sister-in-charge, if that happens. So we expect there will be some upheaval in the days to come. However, one thing that never changes is our commitment and devotion to God witnessed through our prayer life and our continual openness to His will. Whatever the future may hold, we know God will be there, and that is good enough for us!

Please do keep Sr. Mary Margaret and all of us in prayer as she embarks on this new three-year term!

A “FOCUS” Group

Caroline Werther, a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionary at the University of Dallas, came to our monastery recently with four lovely young women. We had a wonderful time sharing about our lives and vocations, and hearing their stories, too!

As you can see, we were a pretty happy bunch! They came to prayers with us and stayed for lunch and dinner before returning to Dallas.

We have received many inquiries from young women about our life and how we live it, and we welcome any more to come and visit our monastery and see what we’re all about. We’d love to meet you! You can find our contact info on the left side of this blog.

Thank you, Caroline and students! We hope you will come again some time!

A Musical Retreat

We recently concluded our ten-day annual retreat, and it was really something special! Our retreat master this year was Fr. Jim Marchionda, O.P., provincial of St. Albert’s Province (or the central province of the U.S.) and a well-known preacher and composer of liturgical music. Father brought our keyboard into chapel to play and sing his own songs as part of the retreat, and he strongly encouraged us to sing along with him! To make things even easier, he brought along songbooks for each sister, which he allowed us to keep. So we may be integrating more of our brother Jim’s music into our liturgies in the days to come–we’ll see!

Fr Jim Marchionda, O.P.

Our one regret was that Father could not stay the full ten days with us. We were glad to have him when he was available, though, and we do understand how difficult it is for a provincial to get away from the province! But we did have several fruitful days of silent retreat, and we came away renewed in our commitment to prayer. Good thing, too, because the world certainly needs it right now!

Thank you so much, Father! We hope to see you again someday!

Student Stop-by!

Deacon Ryan, Shelby, and a group of students from the University of Dallas stopped by recently on their way to an alternative spring break adventure. Instead of partying and soaking up the sun, these students wanted to help the people of Lake Charles, LA rebuild their homes after all the hurricanes and other natural disasters. We had a fun visit with them–the only problem was its short length! Hope you can come visit us again some time!

A Work of Art

As part of our 75th Jubilee celebration, a dear friend of ours painted a lovely portrait of the front of the Monastery. We hung it in the lobby, and it looks fantastic!

Sr. Mary Margaret and Ada Jones, artist

We know Ada from our long association with a family in the La Porte-Beaumont, Texas area, the Polkers, who have been generously bringing us groceries of all kinds for 45 years. When Ada joined the fun, we became friends with her–and that led, eventually, to our beautiful painting.

Ada Jones is a Texas artist who specializes in natural scenes in a variety of mediums. You can see more of her artwork (or even purchase some) at her website, https://www.adavjones.com/

Please keep in mind that this painting, like all of Ada’s work, is copyrighted.