I received this mailing from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. The crisis this community is experiencing is not one of a lack of vocations but managing to attend to the "miraculous draught" of vocations. In the enclosed letter from Mother Assumpta Long, Prioress General, she describes how in the thirteen years since their foundation their numbers have increased more than 2,500 percent, from four sisters to over one hundred. At a time when the average religious sister is in her sixties, most of these Dominican sisters are in their twenties.
What are the secrets of this phenomenal growth? Mother Assumpta points to:
- The Providence of God
- Unwavering orthodoxy. Throught the eight years of formation, from postulancy to final vows, the sisters study the fundamentals of the Faith as presented in Scripture, the Summa Theologiea of St Thomas Aquinas, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal writings and other source documents. They also study Mariology, Church history, spiritual classics, liturgy and more. Then they take these treasures into the world through their teaching and evangelising.
- Constant prayer. "Prayer is as necessary to the religious life as water is to a plant. Without it, we die." So prayer comes first so their apostolate overflows from contemplation nourished before the Eucharist. The sisters join in daily community prayer as follows:
- Divine Office
- Eucharistic Holy Hour
- Renewal of Consecration to Mary
- Prayer for Vocations
- The Traditional Habit. The habit is a sign of consecration and a witness to poverty. "It speaks instantly and eloquently, yet wordlessly, of who we are and what we believe. As a symbol of one 'given to Christ,' the habit 'claims' us to be His spouses in much the same way that a wedding ring announces to the world - and reminds oneself - that one is 'taken'. It is a sign of hope in a world that needs to be reminded of the possibility of living joyfully in the freely chosen consecration of chastity, poverty and obedience."
- Joy! These sisters love being sisters. To them a life of service is not a burden but a high privilege and a thrilling adventure.
The Sisters are dedicated to reviving the tradition of teaching Sisters that, in the past, made Catholic schools educationally superior, genuinely Catholic and widely affordable. In the last four years, the Sisters have accepted invitations of local bishops to expand their teaching apostolate to five new dioceses: Pheonix, Arizona; Charleston, South Carolina; Sacramento, California; Venice, Florida; and Austin, Texas.
All this expansion and the miraculous draught of vocations means that they are short of space and short of funds. How can they handle this crisis?
"We could, of course, refuse to accept new vocations. But that, to us, would be like a married couple refusing to accept the gift of new life: it betrays a lack of trust in God's promise to provide for our every need if we seek only to do His will."
Rather than simply expand their Motherhouse again, which would make it difficult to maintain the close-knit community spirit that a convent needs, they want to build at least one additional Priory in another part of the USA which will allow them to accommodate up to one hundred new vocations and, at the same time, begin the long prayed-for nationwide expansion of their apostolate in a permanent way.
So they are looking for money! You can find out more about them at their website.
When I visited Detroit a month or two ago, I took the opportunity of visiting their Motherhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Sister Mary David, pictured above with Father Larry Van Damme, Pastor of St Michael's Church in Marquette, and me kindly gave us a guided tour of the Convent.
at their website.
I have previously blogged on this community at
Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist on Oprah Winfrey tonight
Oprah promotes Dominican Sisters of Mary Ann Arbor Michigan - must watch
A thriving Dominican Order of Sisters in Michigan