Tag Archives: Dominican

Our Lady of Grace Monastery observes 62 years of monastic life in North Guilford

Today is the 62nd anniversary of the monastic foundation of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in North Guilford, Connecticut. Faithfilled nuns made the journey from a Dominican nun’s monastery in Summit, New Jersey to a suburb of New Haven in 1947 to spend their lives for the Gospel and the Church.

nun at adoration.jpgNearly 40 nuns of the Order Preachers live in a papal enclosure offering sacrifices and prayers for our salvation; they study and work for the up-building of the Kingdom of God. The nuns follow the charism of Saint Dominic as it is lived today within the Dominican Order which says that “there is indeed a diversity of gifts, but one and the same Spirit, one charity, one mercy. The friars, sisters and laity of the Dominican Order are to preach the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world; the nuns are to seek, ponder and call upon him in solitude so that the Word proceeding from the mouth of God may not return to him empty, but may accomplish those things for which it was sent.” (From the Fundamental Constitutions of the Nuns)

I am grateful for the presence of the monastery because it has offered me a place to pray, that is, to enjoy the friendship of Jesus and His Mother, Mary. Nuns have perpetual adoration before the Blessed Sacrament open their chapel to countless visitors who want to do the same; there is a possibility of making other spiritual exercises like the Stations of the Cross. The nuns support themselves entirely on the donations they receive and the income from a modest bookstore.

The context of Our Lady of Grace Monastery is in the Archdiocese of Hartford, 15 miles from New Haven and priests from the Dominican Priory of Saint Mary’s, New Haven.

OP cross.jpgThe value of prayer and sacrifice was learned early in my life through the nuns of this monastery. Now with the Lord, Sisters Mary Dominic and Veronica used to sit with me talk about life and God. Over the years I made a regular pilgrimage (really a short trip from my parents’ home 12 miles away) to the monastery because it was interesting, even mysterious. How many places do you that beckon you to know Christ? As a teenager I would ride my bicycle to the North Guilford monastery to serve the Sunday Mass celebrated by Father Luke and then ride all the way home again. I count on the witness of these nuns because I trust it. Our Lady of Grace Monastery is not sentimental; it’s not fake, it’s not transient; the lives of the witnesses are rooted in Jesus Christ. Would that all of us could say the same. Would that the witness of these nuns could rub off more so that we could give be the face of Christ in the world.

Our Lady of Grace Monastery
11 Race Hill Road
North Guilford, CT 06437-1099

(203) 457-0599

Preaching to Young Adults

Clearing Away the Barriers: Preaching to Young Adults Today” is an insight and very helpful address by Dominican Father Augustine DiNoia.


J Augustine DiNoia.jpgThe Very Reverend J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P. is one of America’s most active and respected theological minds. In April 2002, the Pope John Paul II appointed Father DiNoia to work at the Vatican as undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican. The congregation oversees and promotes the doctrine on the faith and morals in the Catholic world. Until 2005, Father DiNoia served under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.


Raised in New York, DiNoia is a member of the  Province of St. Joseph of the Dominican friars. He earned a doctorate from Yale University in 1980. The Order of Friars Preachers granted him the master of sacred theology (S.T.M.) in 1998.

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Religious Life & Priesthood: the Dominican Way


National Catholic Register Correspondent

June 8-14, 2008

WASHINGTON — When five Dominicans were ordained on May 23 at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., it was the fruit of a long process.

St Dominic receiving the habit.jpgThe Order of Preachers, whose religious and priests are commonly called Dominicans after their founder St. Dominic, took a high profile role in Pope Benedict XVI’s U.S. visit. And their profile is only getting higher.

The Dominican House of Studies — the order’s prominent seminary in Washington, D.C. — recently announced plans to build a new academic center and theological library, confirming an increase in vocations and a broad expansion of the order.

The Dominicans’ long-standing reputation for forming highly educated religious and priests appeals to many called to vocations these days, but study alone is not the draw, said Father John Langlois, master of students at the Dominican House of Studies.

“We see study as a contemplative activity,” he said. “We seek to integrate it into our prayer life. It’s pushing lectio divina [prayerful reading of Scripture] to a new level: This is a meditative study of theology, nourishing our life of prayer.”

To that end, the study of St. Thomas Aquinas — one of the Church’s master theologians and a Dominican himself — is an important emphasis for those in formation.

“They imbibe the teaching of Aquinas,” said Father Langlois, who agreed that the Angelic Doctor is neglected even in Catholic education these days. “If they don’t do it here, where are they going to do it?”

The new priests for the Dominicans are: Father Martin Philip Nhan, Father Pius Pietrzyk, Father Hugh Vincent Dyer, Father John Martin Ruiz-Mayorga, and Father Thomas Joseph White. There are as many stories as there are Dominicans.

“Our formation takes place in the context of our community life,” said Father Langlois, “which models the life for the brothers. There’s a fraternity with the older members who’ve been active for many years, and they share their experience. It’s a complete integration of study, prayer, common life and the apostolate, from direct service with the poor to hospital and campus ministries to RCIA in parishes.”

Even the order’s prayers, while deeply liturgical and traditional, have their own ring to them.

“There are distinctive antiphons and Psalm tones,” Father Langlois said, “as well as Dominican propers. There are some chants that are proper to the order. We do a fair amount of chant, and we’re trying to integrate it more. While our Salve Regina and Regina Coeli are in the same modes as the Gregorian, they are distinctive, with their own flourishes.”

Gabriel O'Donnell.jpgThis unique path within the living tradition of the Church comes down from the establishment of the order, said Father Gabriel O’Donnell, vice president and academic dean of the pontifical faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies.

“Our way is unique in that we are tied together by the decision of St. Dominic and St. Thomas,” said Father O’Donnell, who has spent some of his life in diocesan seminaries. “We’re tied inextricably together through liturgical life and community life; it’s not possible to be formed for the priesthood without the whole life.”

That corpus, as it were, goes beyond preparation for the priesthood. A more apt description, said Father O’Donnell, “is formation for a way of life in which one is a priest. You’re not a Dominican and a priest; you’re a Dominican priest.”

The same charism cannot be mirrored in diocesan formation, which prepares a man for a way of life he carries with him from one parish to the next.

“Dominican formation,” said Father O’Donnell, “is not preparatory; it is the way of life we continue until we die. Formation is never outside of the framework of the strong community of faith. The community takes responsibility for caring for each other, and there’s a lot of freedom there.”



Martin Farrell OP.jpgStill, Father O’Donnell admitted, community life has its challenges. “We’re all a little bit eccentric. The greatest penance of Dominican life is the common life.”

Brother Austin Litke, who’s finishing his second year of theology at the Dominican House of Studies, agreed.

“Community life presents you with all kinds of involuntary penances, and they’re always more efficacious than the ones we take on ourselves. If you embrace that, it creates a habit of deferring your will to another, and in the spiritual life that trains you to give your will to God.”

The common life is, in fact, what drew Brother Austin to transfer to the Dominicans after studying for five years in diocesan seminaries as a collegian and first-year theologian.

“Back in my home diocese in rural western Kentucky, [diocesan priests are] pastors for likely two or three parishes. Being very busy in the ministry of parishes is a beautiful way of life, but I felt the draw of the common life. Part of it is temperament, but part of it is accountability, which forms character. The common life is a school of charity, day in and day out, and that’s a challenge.”

Brother Austin also agreed that study integrated with prayer and the common life takes a different kind of dedication.

“In diocesan seminaries you study in a way that you most likely won’t again. Here, study is to be a part of our lives always, a formal commitment that distinguishes how we live our priesthood. There’s a continuity of life here; there’s no urgency to get ordained.”

How seminarians are guided along that path — how their formation is administered, in other words — is a question specific to their ministry, said Father Stephen Boguslawski, president of the Dominican House of Studies and executive director of the John Paul II Cultural Center.

“The diocesan rector establishes the general tone of the seminary; he oversees the whole operation,” he said. “He stands in for the bishop, and that means a high concentration of administration in one person. In Dominican formation, those responsibilities are diversified; I, for instance, oversee the intellectual development as well as our own” plan of studies.

Thumbnail image for OP arms.jpgThat expansion of responsibility extends down through the ranks, with the newest seminarians learning directly from Dominicans ordained for decades.

“There is a sense in Dominican formation,” Father Boguslawski said, “that all are being led by their older brothers; in that sense it’s more comprehensive. What happens in the choir or in the chapel is carried into the classroom, just as what happens in the library affects their manner of prayer.”

This program of formation is working exceedingly well for the Dominicans, said Father David Toups, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ associate director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. “There’s a very healthy integration of spiritual, human, academic and ministerial formation at the Dominican House,” he said. “Section 115 of the “Program for Priestly Formation” speaks of spirituality as the integrating force of the other dimensions, and I see that happening there.”

The author of “Reclaiming Our Priestly Character” — a scholarly and spiritual treatise on the sacrament of Holy Orders — Father Toups lauded in the Dominican House of Studies’ formation what he sees in successful seminary programs across the country. “In all of his addresses, Pope Benedict XVI brings it back down to the basics: a personal, loving, and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s about teaching our young people how to pray. It’s a genuine relationship with Christ that grounds everything.”

Father Boguslawski also mentioned the importance of reaching youth.

“The rising generation is coming with a different set of challenges forged from the matrix of the culture. That’s why the ‘Program of Priestly Formation’ will always undergo updating.”

Jordan Kelly.jpgIn the meantime, the Order of Preachers will continue to serve according to their charism.

“From the very inception of our ministry,” Father Boguslawski said, “the order was established to serve the Church and the bishops through the preaching office.”

A New Mission: Nashville goes down under

Dominican sisters based in Nashville start new mission in Australia

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) — The 12 months spent by three U.S. Dominican sisters

Thumbnail image for Nashville Community.jpgin 
 Sydney, Australia, to help plan and organize World Youth Day has led to a new mission in Australia for the congregation. The three — Sisters Mary Madeline Todd, Mary Rachel Capets and Anna Wray — are members of the St. Cecilia Congregation in Nashville. They have returned home but two of them will go back to Sydney to help establish their community’s first permanent mission outside the United States. Cardinal George Pell and Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, a fellow Dominican, “we’re eager to have our sisters working in Sydney,” said Sister Mary Madeline. “What we could offer and what they needed were complementary.” What the Dominicans offer and what is needed in southern Australia, Sister Mary Madeline said, is a “witness of religious life.” Although Australian society has become increasingly secular, “there is a great interest in religious life in Australia,” Sister Mary Madeline told the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Nashville Diocese.


On another note, the Nashville Dominicans finally professed 11 sisters on July 25th. May God grant many years!


If you are interested in knowing more about the Nashville Dominicans, send an email to Sister Mary Emily at: vocation@op-tn.org

A new monastery of Dominican nuns: the witness

Saint Dominic’s Monastery is where a group of Dominican nuns –not to be confused with the

OP arms.gifthird order sisters like Nashville Dominicans or Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist– are beginning a new life in Linden, Virginia, and they ought to be on your radar screen. The monastery is 12 miles from Christendom College and a short distance from Washington, DC.

The nuns need our prayerful solidarity, vocations and material support. What’s more beautiful than a life dedicated to following the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the charism of Saint Dominic by faithfulness to a life of sacrifice, worship, study and community life? The nuns live what is considered a traditional Dominican nuns’ life with the night office, the traditional habit, community life and abstinence. Their life is not easy but they it is beautiful, happy and rewarding. The monastery will be blessed (dedicated) and the nuns formally enclosed by the bishop of the Dicoese of Arlington, The Most Reverend Paul Stephen Loverdi on October 7, 2008, the feast of the Holy Rosary.

A great story of monastic adventure may be found at Roman Catholic Vocations blog.


About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT, follows the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, and is an Oblate of Saint Benedict, works as a monastery farmer and a keeper of honey bees. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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