Tag Archives: sisters

Sisters throw Jesus under bus

The world of medical care is always under the gun due to costs. It is has changed so radically in the last 40 years that it would make your head spin. The Church has for 2000+ years been at the center of healthcare around the world. I can think of the hospices at the cathedrals, monasteries, parish churches, roadside stations. Historically, no cathedral church would be without facilities to welcome the stranger, care for the ill person or instruct the ignorant. The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy were always and without reservation kept fresh in our daily activities and living the Gospel. In Connecticut we are blessed to have several hospital centers that were founded by religious sisters following the example of the Lord and then the Apostles in healing the sick and caring for those in need of certain medical attention in body, mind or spirit.

In today’s New Haven Register (26 April 2012) I read the article about the merging of Yale New Haven Hospital with Saint Raphael’s Hospital, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth (Convent Station, NJ) with great interest because I wanted to know what was being done about the Catholic nature of Saint Raphael’s. I got my answer. The article reported,
“The first thing we wrestled with was the question of Catholicity, and the sisters were incredibly engaged and courageous and made this decision [to merge with the secular hospital] that it was more important to meet the mission in New Haven than to retain official Catholicity.”
What exactly does it mean say that a Catholic hospital should be able “to meet the mission in New Haven” and divorce itself from the Catholicism? With a Catholic hospital is there a mission without the gospel of Jesus Christ? How can the Sisters of Charity abort their mission to heal based on the charism of their order to easily?
Without a doubt the merger seems to be a good thing, though I am skeptical as to why an alternative like working with a Catholic healthcare organization could not be worked out. Clearly the Sisters of Charity and the CEO Christopher O’Connor are being opportunistic for the bottom line and not too respectful of Christ’s mission through the Church. The Catholicity of any organization in the Church is not lipstick on a pig. The Catholicity is the heart and mind of what we do, why we do it, and how we do it in light of following Christ. 
The Sisters of Charity aided by Christopher O’Connor care little, it seems, for the sacramentality of medical care and the care of the whole person as passed down to us by Christ, the Apostles, the Archdiocese of Hartford and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.
AND we wonder why the Church wants to reform the Leadership Conference Women Religious. If you throw Christ under the bus, there is no reason why we need groups like the LCWR. They are as one may think, not following Christ and the Church too closely, not thinking with the Church.

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist to purchase JPII Cultural Center in DC

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucahrist logo.jpgMother Assumpta Long announced last evening that her new congregation of religious sisters, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, are hoping to purchase the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center across the street from the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC and using the facility as a house of studies.

Mother Assumpta’s email letter to Deal Hudson making the announcement of purchase of the JPII Center is here.
The video presentation can be seen here.
May the great Mother of God, Mary most holy, pray for the sisters and for us!
JPII Cultural Center DC.jpg

Benedictine sisters meet to discuss the virtue of hope

This week in
Rome the Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum (CIB) for a congress, their
6th, on “Hope in Benedictine Spirituality.”

Abbot Notker.jpg

Benedictine nuns and sisters
from Europe, Africa and America are attending the meeting. The CIB is meeting
on the Aventine Hill at the Primatial Abbey of Saint Anselm (known in Italian
as Sant’Anselmo), home to the Abbot Primate , Notker Wolf (pictured left) who heads the confederation of
Benedictine monks and nuns
, the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, the Mabillion
Institute and the college for theological studies for those preparing for
ordination, earning degrees in theology and monastic studies (the general link for all these institutes for higher learning is here).

Zenit ran an
interview today with Sister Maricarmen Bracamontes de Torreon, a Benedictine
sister from Mexico who talked to aspects of hope and how understanding this
virtue is key in Benedictine spirituality, and thus for all Christians. Sacred
Scripture instructs us to look at how God works with us, that is, He gazes on
us with faithfulness, compassion and mercifully. Looking to the holy Rule,
Saint Benedict tells us “not to despair of God’s mercy” (4.74).
Sister Maricarmen said the participants are keenly aware that there is “only
one Benedictine heart beats at the bottom of our universal diversity, and on
the other, there is no doubt that we are going through a historical moment of
darkness and we need a light, precisely like St. Benedict, which shines on high
and gives us clarity in the midst of darkness.” 

Two questions of the interview
are worth thinking about here on the Communio blog:

Benedictine nuns.jpg

ZENIT: Can we then speak of
a reflection from a holistic-rational perspective?

Sister Bracamontes: The
Benedictine way leads to a process of integration that embraces the different
dimensions of the human conscience: cognitive (the mind), affective (the
heart), ethics and morals (the will and all its capacities), religious (the

This integration enables us to love in a unified way and it is the
condition to advance on the path of conversion. “However, the workshop
where we must practice all these things diligently is the enclosure of the
monastery and stability in the community” (Rule of Benedict, 4.78). The
monastic dynamic animates the processes of integration in those who live in the
“monastery,” which is the place where we ask God with the most
insistent prayers to bring to completion the divine work of our lives: that
they all may be one.

If we persevere, trying to live in the
“conversatio,” the experience of God’s unconditional love gradually
integrates all the dimensions of our being, and thus we become unified in
ourselves and in the diversity and plurality that characterizes us. The result
of all this is that we live with transparency and consistency, that we do not
separate our judgments from our feelings, or our conduct from our belief. In
this way, our integrity and social and personal responsibility will not allow
us “to say one thing and do another,” or to establish ourselves in a
life of contradictions and inconsistencies.

ZENIT: At present the Church is
facing difficult moments. Does it call for hope?

Sister Bracamontes: Obviously.
I think that some sectors of the Church have slipped up in the dialogue with
the signs of the times that was so encouraged by the Second Vatican Council.

signs have revealed that for centuries, both in the society as well as the
Church, efforts were dedicated to contain diversity and plurality, so
characteristic of humanity. There are many human groups, with different views
of reality; they are arriving on the first plane and ask that they be
recognized, respected and integrated. The new methods of understanding and of
discovery of humanity leave antiquated the old systems of relationship based on
dominion, submission and marginalization. These systems of the past considered
some human beings superior to others, based on race, gender, social class,
ideology, religion, etc.

In face of a clearer awareness of the common dignity
of all human beings, the absence of dialogue between those who are open to the
signs of the times and those who continue to adhere to visions of the past and
close their mind and heart to the historic change that we are experiencing,
calls for hope.

From a perspective of faith, we are conscious and are convinced
that the whole of humanity, with its differences, has been created with equal
dignity in the divine image and likeness. We are children of God and sisters
and brothers among ourselves in Christ, who is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), and
in him all discrimination and marginalization is overcome (Galatians 3:26-28).
From this awareness we hear the call and we open ourselves with wisdom and
maturity to our world with its urgent need to recognize diversity, to promote
integration and to encourage dialogue and participation. Hence, many challenges

Nashville Dominicans sisters lead in new vocations

As mentioned a number of days ago I posted a list of religious congregations attracting new recruits in 2010, now the Associate Press has picked up on the trend. I am glad they did.

The AP story can be read here.
Unremarkable, perhaps quite cliched, is the remark of Dr Catherine Mooney linking the vocations to Pope John Paul II. As much as it goes, the life and work of John Paul led many to to become a member of a thriving religious order. But do you think a theology professor would mention the work of the Blessed Trinity as a source of the call? Relying merely on a pope’s influence doesn’t go to far. Does it?
Thanks be to God for those who freely say ‘yes’ to the call of Christ to live the consecrated life. Saints Dominic and Catherine of Siena, pray for us.

Pope Benedict address priests, nuns, sisters & consecrated men & women

Benedict XVI arms.jpgAddress of the Holy Father Benedict XVI

To the Participants in the

Plenary Assembly of the Congregation

For Institutes of Consecrated Life

And Societies of Apostolic Life


Clementine Hall
Thursday, 20 November 2008




Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,


I meet you with joy on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which is celebrating 100 years of life and activity. Indeed, a century has passed since my venerable Predecessor, St Pius X, with his Apostolic Constitution Sapienti Consilio of 29 June 1908, made your Dicastery autonomous as a Congregatio negotiis religiosorum sodalium praeposita, a name that has subsequently been modified several times. To commemorate this event you have planned a Congress on the coming 22 November with the significant title: “A hundred years at the service of the consecrated life”. Thus, I wish this appropriate initiative every success.


Today’s meeting is a particularly favourable opportunity for me to greet and thank all those who work in your Dicastery. I greet in the first place Cardinal Franc Rodé, the Prefect, to whom I am also grateful for expressing your common sentiments. Together with him I greet the Members of the Dicastery, the Secretary, the Undersecretaries and the other Officials who, with different tasks carry out their daily service with competence and wisdom in order to “promote and regulate” the practice of the evangelical counsels in the various forms of consecrated life, as well as the activity of the Societies of Apostolic Life (cf. Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus, n. 105). Consecrated persons constitute a chosen portion of the People of God: to sustain them and to preserve their fidelity to the divine call, dear brothers and sisters, is your fundamental commitment which you carry out in accordance with thoroughly tested procedures thanks to the experience accumulated in the past 100 years of your activity. This service of the Congregation was even more assiduous in the decades following the Second Vatican Council that witnessed the effort for renewal, in both the lives and legislation of all the Religious and Secular Institutes and of the Societies of Apostolic Life. While I join you, therefore, in thanking God, the giver of every good, for the good fruits produced in these years by your Dicastery, I recall with grateful thoughts all those who in the course of the past century of its activity have spared no energy for the benefit of consecrated men and women.


This year the Plenary Assembly of your Congregation has focused on a topic particularly
2 nuns.jpgdear to me: monasticism, a forma vitae that has always been inspired by the nascent Church which was brought into being at Pentecost (Acts 2: 42-47; 4: 32-35). From the conclusions of your work that has focused especially on female monastic life useful indications can be drawn to those monks and nuns who “seek God”, carrying out their vocation for the good of the whole Church. Recently too (cf. Address to the world of culture, Paris, 12 September 2008), I desired to highlight the exemplarity of monastic life in history, stressing that its aim is at the same time both simple and essential: quaerere Deum, to seek God and to seek him through Jesus Christ who has revealed him (cf. Jn 1: 18), to seek him by fixing one’s gaze on the invisible realities that are eternal (cf. 2 Cor 4: 18), in the expectation of our Saviour’s appearing in glory (cf. Ti 2: 13).


Christo omnino nihil praeponere [prefer nothing to Christ] (cf. Rule of Benedict 72, 11; Augustine, Enarr. in Ps 29: 9; Cyprian, Ad Fort 4). These words which the Rule of St Benedict takes from the previous tradition, clearly express the precious treasure of monastic life lived still today in both the Christian West and East. It is a pressing invitation to mould monastic life to the point of making it an evangelical memorial of the Church and, when it is authentically lived, “a reference point for all the baptized” (cf. John Paul II, Orientale lumen, n. 9). By virtue of the absolute primacy reserved for Christ, monasteries are called to be places in which room is made for the celebration of God’s glory, where the mysterious but real divine presence in the world is adored and praised, where one seeks to live the new commandment of love and mutual service, thus preparing for the final “revelation of the sons of God” (Rm 8: 19). When monks live the Gospel radically, when they dedicate themselves to integral contemplative life in profound spousal union with Christ, on whom this Congregation’s Instruction Verbi Sponsa (13 May 1999) extensively reflected, monasticism can constitute for all the forms of religious life and consecrated life a remembrance of what is essential and has primacy in the life of every baptized person: to seek Christ and put nothing before his love.


Trap2.jpgThe path pointed out by God for this quest and for this love is his Word itself, who in the books of the Sacred Scriptures, offers himself abundantly, for the reflection of men and women. The desire for God and love of his Word are therefore reciprocally nourished and bring forth in monastic life the unsupressable need for the opus Dei, the studium orationis and lectio divina, which is listening to the Word of God, accompanied by the great voices of the tradition of the Fathers and Saints, and also prayer, guided and sustained by this Word. The recent General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, celebrated in Rome last month on the theme: The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church, renewing the appeal to all Christians to root their life in listening to the Word of God contained in Sacred Scripture has especially invited religious communities to make the Word of God their daily food, in particular through the practice of lectio divina (cf. Elenchus praepositionum, n. 4).


Dear brothers and sisters, those who enter the monastery seek there a spiritual oasis where they may learn to live as true disciples of Jesus in serene and persevering fraternal communion, welcoming possible guests as Christ himself (cf. Rule of Benedict, 53, 1). This is the witness that the Church asks of monasticism also in our time. Let us invoke Mary, Mother of the Lord, the “woman of listening”, who put
BVM sub tuum.jpgnothing before love for the Son of God, born of her, so that she may help communities of consecrated life and, especially, monastic communities to be faithful to their vocation and mission. May monasteries always be oases of ascetic life, where fascination for the spousal union with Christ is sensed, and where the choice of the Absolute of God is enveloped in a constant atmosphere of silence and contemplation. As I assure you of my prayers for this, I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to all of you who are taking part in the Plenary Assembly, to all those who work in your Dicastery and to the members of the various Institutes of Consecrated Life, especially those that are entirely contemplative. May the Lord pour out an abundance of his comforts upon each one.


Some data:

Currently, there are 12,876 monks living in 905 monasteries and 48,493 contemplative nuns living in 3,520 monasteries, two-thirds of which are found in Europe. Spain has, by far, the most of any country.

The story is carried here.


About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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