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!

Pope Francis’ Consecration of the World to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Chapel at our monastery on the solemnity of the Annunciation

Pope Francis is consecrating the world–and especially Russia and the Ukraine–to the Immaculate Heart of Mary today. He’ll be doing this about 12:30 PM Central in the USA and you can watch it on the Vatican website. Today at Mass we made the consecration ourselves, led by Father Ian. Here’s where you can download it if you’d like to do the same! Let us all be united in prayer for peace in Ukraine and Russia.

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!

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.”

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.

The Dominican Laity

We are blessed to have a group of the Dominican Laity located here in Lufkin. They are not associates of the monastery itself, but full members of the Dominican Order according to their lay state of life. They make promises similar to our vows and strive to live the Dominican pillars of preaching, prayer, study and ministry. We had a group of six make promises on February 12, which is a blessing for all of us. Three made temporary promises, for three years, and three made permanent promises.

Fr. Ian Bordenave, O.P., and Deacon Jesus Reyes, O.P.L. celebrating Mass for the professions
Left: Permanent promises–Mrs. Maria Burt, Dr. Brian Carlin, Mr. Jose Santana Center: Fr. Ian Right: Temporary promises–Mrs. Lorraine Lambert, Mr. Christian Burt, Mr. Randy Burt

After the ceremony, which took place within our usual daily Mass, the newly professed, other members of the OP Laity, and their families met in the Gate Parlor for breakfast and a little visit with the Sisters.

Dr. Brian Carlin joined his wife Virginia and his daughter, Sr. Mary Rose, in the Dominican order through his profession.

The Dominican Family, as we often refer to our order, is made up of many groups: friars, nuns, active sisters, laity, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic, and the Dominican Youth Movement just to name some of them. We are so happy to have three branches of the family here in Lufkin: the monastery (nuns), a friar (our chaplain) and the St. Thomas Aquinas chapter of the Dominican Laity. We hope someday we will have active sisters and other groups.

Do Nuns Vote?

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

We can’t say for sure that every cloistered nun in America votes, but we know that in our monastery we take our voting rights very seriously. Several of our sisters come from other countries, and when they become citizens, they are always happy to finally be able to vote. Some of the sisters get mail-in ballots; some of the sisters go out to the polls. Either way, we think it’s a great witness. People always notice nuns in full habit wearing their “I Voted” stickers!

This participation isn’t limited to national elections. We also like to keep current with state and local elections. Recently, a candidate for Angelina County Judge, Keith Wright, came out to our monastery with his wife Amy (a dietician and friend of ours) to talk to us about his platform and just what a county judge does, anyway. It was an enlightening experience for all of us–including Mr. Wright, who had probably never been in such close contact with so many nuns before!

We’ve had other local candidates visit us before, and we’re happy to meet anyone running for office–we are not committed to one political party or another. And we’ll certainly pray that all voters will work together to choose the candidate who is following God’s will, whether he/she realizes it or not.

So please, exercise your rights and vote for the candidate of your choice!