Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sisters Out Of India

Today is the Feast of St. Francis Xavier, the great missionary to Asia. Together with St. Therese of Lisieux, he is co-patron of the missions. He devoted almost 3 years to preaching the Gospel to the people of southern India and Ceylon (today, Sri Lanka), converting and baptizing many. He built nearly 40 churches along the southwestern coast of India. While on his way to China, Francis Xavier died on an island on the southeastern coast of India.

We recently had some lovely and holy visitors from India, and the area St. Francis Xavier evangelized. The Sisters of the Destitute came to our Monastery to make their annual retreat.

The community was founded in 1927 by a young diocesan priest, Fr. Varghese Payapilly. "There were few organized charitable services in Kerala to care for the poor and the destitute, aged and infirm, unwanted and downtrodden ... abandoned in the streets or uncared for at home." Father Varghese, like Mother Teresa 20 years later, was deeply moved by Jesus' words, "As you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me." (Mt 25:40). He believed God was calling him to found a religious community to care for all these people; providentially, the Archbishop introduced him to five young women who wanted to enter religious life to care for the poor. And so, the Congregation began in 1927. It was first called the "Little Sisters of the Poor", but when they discovered there was already a group by that name, they changed theirs to the "Sisters of the Destitute". He passed on to his spiritual daughters his mystical experience of contemplating the face of Jesus in the destitute and offering loving service to the poor. Unfortunately, while taking care of typhoid patients two years later, he contracted the disease and died on October 5, 1929. He left this world encouraging the young community to seek always God's will. The Congregation has spread throughout the world with more than 1,500 Sisters; and Father Varghese's cause for sanctity has been opened and he is officially a "Servant of God". Most of their vocations have come from the state of Kerala which is very Christian, due perhaps to the presence of St. Francis Xavier and some say even, St. Thomas the Apostle.

The Sisters of the Destitute have two communities in the USA: Shreveport, LA (4 sisters) and Beaumont TX (3 sisters). So the two groups met half way in Lufkin TX! All the Sisters studying nursing, and currently help in Catholic Hospitals. Because there were 7 and we have only 1 small guest room, they spent the nights at the house of a friend; and the days and meals were here at the monastery. Our chaplain gave them a conference each day on the consecrated life. We were very impressed with their prayerfulness in chapel and walking up and down our main road.

Their last evening here was an opportunity for all of us to meet them and learn about their vocations and ministries. We all had a wonderful visit and will keep them in our prayers. Perhaps they'll be back for another retreat.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Very Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!!

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA, and around the world where there are Americans. But we want to wish everyone, wherever you are, may you have a Blessed Day filled with Thanksgiving to God for all His blessings and graces.
At the Office of Readings today we had a beautiful refection from Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman. We include a portion for you below:

Let us look at all we have as God's gift, undeservedly give, and day by day continued to us, solely by His Mercy, in a spirit of total dependence upon His providence, thankfulness and a careful remembrance of all He has done for us.
He gave us all we have: life, health, strength, reason, enjoyment, conscience, whatever we have good and holy within us; whatever faith we have, whatever loved toward Him, whatever power over ourselves. He gave us relatives, friends, education, training, knowledge, the Bible, the Church, our home and family. All comes from Him.
Let us humbly and reverently attempt to trace His guiding hand in the years which He has allowed us to live. Let us thankfully commemorate the many mercies He has given to us in time past, the many sins He has not remembered, the many dangers He has averted, the many prayers He has answered. Let us dwell upon times and seasons, times of trouble, times of joy. How He has cherished us as His very own children. How He has kept our hearts faithful. He has been all things to us. He has brought us thus far, in order to bring us further, in order to bring us to the end. He will never leave us or forsake us; so that we may boldly say:
"The Lord is my helper; no evil will I fear."

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Bishop Comes for Dinner

Our Tyler Bishop, Joseph Strickland, has been to our monastery a number of times, but never for a lengthy visit. The big day finally arrived last week and he planned to be with us from 4-8 pm. After arriving, the prioress and sub-prioress drove him around outside in our golf cart to see our spacious grounds. He enjoyed this, having grown up on a large farm in northeastern Texas.

Then at 5:00 it was time to go to Chapel for Vespers (Evening Prayer). After that we went to the Refectory (dining area) to pick up our meal and take it to the Community Room where we could eat and talk more freely. After supper, all the Sisters formed a circle to ask the Bishop questions and get to know him on a more personal basis.

Bishop Strickland's birthday was on Halloween, so we presented him with a number of gifts for himself or places in the diocese. For example, we had a beautifully carved statue of St. Peter made from a tree trunk in Vietnam, which he wanted to put in the Chapel of Sts. Peter and Paul in Tyler. Our evening with the Bishop concluded right on time at 8 pm, when he drove back to Tyler and we went to Chapel to pray for his safety and Compline (Night Prayer).

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Poetry Reading

We had an afternoon of culture with the visit of two Incarnate Word-Blessed Sacrament Sisters from Corpus Christi: Sr. Lou Ella Hickman and Sr. JoAnne. Sister Lou Ella has been writing and publishing poetry for a number of years and wanted to share with us her first book of poetry on women in the Bible. Although there are many books about women in the Bible, hers seems to be the first book of poetry on the subject.

She: robed and wordless contains 70 poems on women in the Old and New Testaments. Our prioress, Sister Maria Guadalupe, open our culture-gathering with a prayer and we were encouraged to name our favorite women in the Scriptures. It was amazing how many poems Sister Lou Ella had written about almost everyone we mentioned. Among the "crowd of witnesses" were Old Testament women such as Eve, of "the first love song", and Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel, "the epitome of a pray-er."
They mingled with women of the New Covenant such as two from the Gospel of Luke: Elizabeth recalling her son John the Baptist "dancing within her in like a curtain fluttering in the breeze" and old Anna in the Temple to see the new-born Messiah, speaking of herself and Simeon, as, "we like old books were there."

You may purchase She: robed and wordless at Catholic gift stores or from

After the formal meeting we had a little photo-op. The first photo below has one of our own Corpus Christi Sisters, Sister Mary Gabriel; the second photo shows some of our poetry aficionados.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sister Mary Anne of Jesus, OP

Our dear Sister Mary Anne died on Oct 15 at the age of 89. We were all gathered around her praying and singing the Salve Regina, a tradition going back to the early days of the Order. Sister entered the Dominican Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament in Detroit MI in 1944, and 6-months later came now to found our Monastery of the Infant Jesus in the pineywoods of deep East Texas. She was just a white-veiled novice. Sister loved beauty and was a talented artist, craftsman and seamstress, making vestments and habits. She also served as a Novice Directress and Chantress.

Sister Mary Anne had a very deep devotion to God the Father throughout the years and always kept a drawing of God the Father on her wall. In addition to her consecration to Jesus, Sister had a devotion to the Carmelite mystic, St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila). She constantly read her books, underlining passages until they were almost in technicolor. Thus, it was most fitting that Sister Mary Anne returned to her loving and merciful God on the Feast of St. Teresa, October 15. May Sister rest in peace.