Sr. Mary Therese’s Solemn Profession

Saturday, January 21 was a day of great rejoicing for our community as Sr. Mary Therese of Divine Mercy, O.P. professed her solemn vows as a cloistered Dominican nun!

The chapel was decorated with Sister’s favorite color–pink.

Sr. Mary Therese seated up front, waiting for Mass to begin.

The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Robert Merced, O.P., provincial of St. Martin de Porres province, and the ceremony was conducted by Fr. Scott O’Brien, O.P., our community’s vicar. There were lots of Dominican priests present, as well as others! The novices from our province were able to come, too, which gave us a chance to meet them.

Sister’s two nieces…

read the first and second readings beautifully!

Sister prostrating herself during the Litany of the Saints

Sister Mary Therese made her vows in the hands of our prioress, Sr. Mary Margaret, O.P.

After Sister’s veil was blessed, she received her ring, symbol of her mystical marriage to Christ.

Presentation of the gifts

The Mass continued.

Sister greets her family…

and more family…

and more family! You can see three of Sister’s nephews to the right–they assisted at Mass.

Next, Sister greeted the community.

There was a fun reception afterward! Our guests mingled in this parlor, while Sister and her family gathered in another parlor.

Sister got to sit at the prioress’ table for the day!

Her placemat

On Sunday night, we had a special recreation and watched as Sister joyfully opened all the gifts she had received. Many will go back to the community but some she can keep!

If you would like to see the Mass and profession ceremony, please go to our website and click on “About Us” and go to “Videos and Blog”. We hope you will join us in praying for more vocations, to praise and serve and intercede before God for the whole world.

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.

The Gang’s All Here

Wow! We’ve had a busy time recently, with Sr. Mary Margaret’s feast day celebration and several women visiting to learn more about our cloistered Dominican life on Lotus Lane! In fact, one of our aspirants graciously took this group photo of the community which we’d like to share with you all.

There are a few sisters in this picture who aren’t on our website Community page yet, but we’ll post them soon!

If you’re interested in finding out more about our community and our Dominican way of life, please visit our website and consider writing (or calling) our vocation directress. We’d love to hear from you!

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!

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.”

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.