In their latest newletter, “At Ephesus,” the Benedictine Priory of Mary, Queen of the Apostles in Gower, Missouri, dedicated the entire issue to one of their members, Sister Wilhelmina, who is celebrating her 70th anniversary in vows (fifth from left, bottom row).
Born materially poor in a segregated world, Sister’s greatest wealth was the Roman Catholic faith that had come down to her from her mother’s side of the family. Young Mary Elizabeth Lancaster knew from an early age that she wanted to become a nun. After high school she entered the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore and after novitiate became a teacher and later the archivist for this active religious community.
In May 1995 Sister came to realize that the Lord was calling her to a deeper union with Him as a contemplative religious. So she left the Oblate Sisters to become part of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, a new community affiliated with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. She became to first prioress of this emerging community whose special charism is “to pray for priests, all priests everywhere, especially those who are hunted, hated and persecuted just like Our Lord was.”
In 2007 the community moved from Pennsylvania to Missouri to be part of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Since their arrival they have flourished with young vocations and have established a beautiful monastery in Gower.
The Benedictines of Mary have been blessed in so many ways as they strive to live out their contemplative vocation. They attribute many of these blessings to the beautiful life and religious witness of Sister Wilhemina, whose faithful commitment to her Beloved Spouse and tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary has inspired so many.
To view the special issue of “At Ephesus” dedicated to Sister Wilhemina visit here.
According to a Christmas 2013 newsletter from the monastery, the cloistered sisters expect to move to an active community of Dominicans in Springfield, Illinois, by late 2014 or early 2015. The newsletter noted that Fr. Bruno Cadore, Master General of the Order of Preachers–also known as the Dominicans–”has urged the [contemplative] nuns around the world to reflect on their future due to the lack of vocations.”
The Elmira Dominicans’ previous newsletter, dated Sept. 29, 2013, had first raised the probability of a move, explaining that the community has not received new vocations “in a number of years” and asking for prayers while stating that “it is a tremendous undertaking to empty and close a monastery after living here for almost 70 years.”
Although as a cloistered community members do not leave monastery grounds, the sisters at the Monastery of Mary the Queen have maintained ties with the general public by making daily Mass available and inviting prayer requests to be mailed to them. The monastery also hosts the Third Order Dominicans, a branch of the Order of Preachers created for the laity.
Sister Miriam, Prioress of Mary the Queen Monastery, described the community’s decision as “translocating” the monastery to Illinois, within the Diocese of Springfield. They will build a new but smaller, self-sustaining monastery on beautiful farm land presently owned by the Springfield Dominican Sisters.
Mother assures that the sisters will continue top live as a cloistered community dedicated to a life of prayer and sacrifice, but with the support of our Dominican Brothers and Sisters of the Order. The Mary the Queen monastic community presently has 16 sisters.
Please keep this intention in your prayers. The Elmira Dominican website can be found here.
Remember the pillar saints? Like Simon Stylites the Elder? The next time you think that absolutely nothing can get done in this world unless you get physically involved, remember Maxime the Monk is praying for you.
“When I was young I drank, sold drugs, everything. When I ended up in prison…. It was time for a change. I used to drink with friends in the hills around here and look up at this place, where land met sky. We knew the monks had lived up there before and I felt great respect for them.” In 1993 Maxime took monastic vows and climbed the pillar to begin his new life. “For the first two years there was nothing up here so I slept in an old refrigerator to protect me from the weather.” Since then Maxime and the nearby Christian community have constructed a ladder to the top, rebuilt the chapel, and built a cottage where Maxime spends his days praying, reading, and “preparing to meet God.”
He and his fellows are praying for us all. Click through to see his fascinating vocation.
A Circular Letter addressed to those in consecrated life and permeated with the Pope’s Magisterium has been released by the Vatican. It opens with an enthusing declaration, “I want to say a word to you and the word is JOY. Wherever there are consecrated people, there is always joy!”
The solid Biblical foundation of the Letter (Isaiah 66: 10-14 and 40: 1-2) is summarized in the key words: Rejoice and Console. These words often return in moments of crisis, sadness, and sterility, to evoke God’s power of giving meaning and fullness of life, transforming a people of fragile bones, and opening new horizons of hope. God makes Jerusalem and all of us a joy, because when fear is removed, we can be a prophecy of joy and consolation for the world. The beauty of consecrated life lies here… it is the response to a call of love in the joy of a faithful yes.
The text of this letter, written by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz and Most Rev. José Rodríguez Carballo, O.F.M., can be found here.
The Year for Consecrated Life officially begins on November 30, 2014, the first Sunday of Advent. Pope Francis has called for a special yearlong focus on consecrated life, asking the Church’s religious sisters, brothers and priests to “wake up the world” with their testimony of faith, holiness and hope. It will end on February 2, 2016, the World of Consecrated Life.
Several special events in Rome will be scheduled: a plenary assembly of the Congregation for Institutes of Religious Life and Societies of Apostolic Life is supposed to be held in November 2014; an international conference on the theology of consecrated life will be organized on the theme: “Renewal of Consecrated Life in Light of the Council and Future Prospects,” as well as an international exposition on “Consecrated Life, the Gospel in Human History.”
During the Year of Consecrated Life, it is hoped that the Holy Father will promulgate a new apostolic constitution on contemplative life in place of Sponsa Christi, which was promulgated by Pope Pius XII in 1950.