Into the Woods

It’s that time of year again! Today we’re beginning our annual community retreat, and we’ll be in retreat until June 14. We’re delighted to have Fr. James Sullivan, O.P. as our retreat master, and we look forward to everything he will say to help us grow in our spiritual lives!

You may be wondering–why “into the woods”? Don’t we usually describe retreats as a desert experience? This is much more common, but here in East Texas we’re short on deserts and long (or tall) on pine trees, so we decided to embrace our situation. And after all, the woods can be every bit as wild–if not more so–than the desert. We have all kinds of critters roaming our property, raccoons, opossums, foxes, snakes, bobcats–not to mention the numerous species of birds and some bats! So do keep us in prayer as we go out into the wilderness of the retreat woods, and know that we are all praying for you, too!

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!

Retreat with Fr. Vincent Davila, O.P.

There’s one word that sums up our annual retreat: fantastic!

Fr. Vincent Davila, O.P., a friar from St. Albert the Great Province (central) gave us several great conferences on “The Mystical Body of Christ in St. Paul”. Fr. Vincent was able to blend theology and moral encouragement (that is to say, he gently skewered many of our faults and failings in a way that made us laugh umcomfortably) in a manner that was inspiring to many sisters. In addition to his conferences, Fr. Vincent preached his theme of the Mystical Body during his homilies at Mass, providing further interesting commentary. We contributed by planning hymns for Mass and Benediction to fit his themes, which he appreciated. We\’ll have more news about Father and our retreat in the next issue of “Monastery Bells”.

It was hard to return to the everyday world today after such an excellent retreat, but we all feel refreshed, renewed, and ready to pray–and grow in virtue–with greater fervor. Thank you, Fr. Vincent!

Into the Retreat Desert


It\’s that time of year again! Tonight we begin our annual ten-day community retreat. This year our retreat master is Fr. Vincent Davila from St. Albert the Great Province (aka the central province). We\’ll have more to tell you after the retreat. For now, we just want to let you know that our schedule will vary somewhat in order to accommodate our retreat conferences. However, Mass tunes will still be the same: 7:20 Monday-Saturday and 7:00 Sunday. That\’s right! Our chapel is finally open to the public for Sunday Mass.

Please pray for us! We\’ll be praying for you!

Annual Retreat

 We\’ve been on retreat the last week or so!

Father John Sica, O.P., gave us a retreat on the theme of the Image of God. He used many examples taken from the lives of our own Dominican saints, which we found especially fruitful for meditation. In a nod to our prioress, Sr. Mary Margaret, he gave one conference using St. Margaret of Hungary as an exemplar for the Dominican nuns to follow. Of course, one would need to be prudent in this regard, because while Margaret was generous, self-sacrificing, humble, joyful, pious–all things a good Dominican nun should be–she also tended to disdain things like baths and clean habits. Obviously the source must be considered when imitating most saints of centuries past!

In addition to Father\’s conferences, we enjoyed a few days of \”silent\” retreat, which has become a feature many of us enjoy. Since the schedule is more free, we are able to spend our time in prayer, lectio, and other activities for a much longer period than usual. 

Father John is a Dominican friar from St. Joseph\’s province (or, the eastern province). He has been living at Holy Rosary Priory in Houston the last two years attending classes at the University of St. Thomas. He has come before to give classes and to make his own personal retreat, so he was not entirely a stranger. We were especially lucky to get him for our retreat in these times of pandemic. He drove straight from Houston to Lufkin and always practiced social distancing when he was around us. It is always such a joy to get to know another of our Dominican friars!

We emerged from our retreat spiritually refreshed and ready to return to our daily work and routine. So far none of us has contracted COVID-19, although our chances are probably smaller because we don\’t get out much. Still, we continue to pray for a speedy end to the pandemic–with a vaccine, or some other help–and we pray for all of you in the world who are struggling so much more than we are. This was an important intention during our retreat.

It is our privilege to pray for you, always and at all times!