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.

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!

Christmas, Unwrapped!

Since we usually wrap Christmas presents to go under the tree prior to the big holiday, we thought this could be our “unwrapping”–showing you all what’s been hiding under the paper!

We were blessed to receive special visits from two sets of people–Santa and Mrs. Claus on December 23, and a bunch of Santa’s elves a few days before that.

Santa and Mrs. Claus also brought along their parish priest, to remind us of the reason for the season
The incredibly generous elves who brought special gifts for each sister! Thank you so much!

On Christmas Day, we had our traditional Christmas dinner cooked by the faithful Knights of Columbus. We are so grateful to the Knights for all they do for us–as one of the sisters said, “They are our Knights in shining armor!”

The grill
Cooking–a family experience for all of us
Recreating with the Knights and their families before dinner
We love to see all the young families and children

“Picking up” our delicious Christmas meal–steak, baked potatoes, green bean casserole, salad, rolls…
Sister Mary Christine’s amazing Jell-O creation

After dinner and a good nap, we came to the community room to open the community gifts (lots of puzzles, treats, and various and sundry useful items) as well as a personal gift for each sister.

Opening the elves’ gifts…
“I’m sure they’ll fit you, Sister!”

We have creches set up all over the monastery. Here are a few of them:

Refectory
Gate Parlor
Infirmary

On December 29, the bishop of Tyler, our own Bishop Joseph Strickland, came to say Mass for us. Our chaplain, Fr. Ian, concelebrated with him.

Bishop Strickland chose to commemorate St. Thomas Becket–very appropriate for a bishop

After Mass, we visited with the bishop and Fr. Ian, then all had dinner together in the community room. We had a great time!

It’s truly been a blessed Advent and Christmas season! We pray you continue to enjoy this beautiful season, and we wish you a very Happy New Year 2022!

New Faces, Part 2: Sr. Martin Marie, O.P.

Sr. Martin Marie comes to our monastery from another Dominican monastery in Pennsylvania which, sadly, has to close. Because Sister has some health issues, she is living in our infirmary–but she is still a vital part of our community, as are all our sisters there. We are grateful that Sr. Martin Marie set out like Abraham for the “land of promise” (Texas!) and we love her independent ways and dry sense of humor.

We should note that since these pictures were taken, Sister got a new pink walker which (she says) makes her look like the Energizer Bunny! (And she walks like it, too!)

New Faces, Part 1: Sr. Carmen Gloria, O.P.

We have two new faces at the Monastery of the Infant Jesus! The first one is Sr. Carmen Gloria, OP, a Dominican nun from Chile. We first met her about six years ago when she visited us for a few months, and since then she’s been hoping to come back and join us–and we’ve hoping, too. Now she has!

Sister is our sacristan, and she is doing a great job. She is also working hard to improve her English skills, with the help of a teacher friend of ours. In her spare time, Sister enjoys handwork of various kinds (she is currently doing some lovely embroidery) and walking around our spacious monastery grounds. We are delighted to have Sister Carmen Gloria with us!