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!

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!

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!