Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Redemptoristine Nuns Open 50th Anniversary Year

Mother of Perpetual Help Monastery

Esopus, New York

1957 - 2007

Order of the Most Holy


In him there is plentiful redemption.

On December 7, 1957 six Redemptoristine Nuns arrived in Esopus, New York, one hundred miles north of New York City on the Hudson River. They had traveled by car from Toronto, Canada. Within two years they would occupy a large new monastery built for them by the Baltimore Province of the Redemptorist Congregation on the grounds of Mount Saint Alphonsus Seminary. Four of the six were United States citizens who went to Canada to follow their contemplative vocation in the only English-speaking Redemptoristine Monastery in North America. They had entered without any expectation of ever returning to the country of their birth. The Canadian Redemptoristine monastery's response to the invitation of the Redemptorists in the United States brought an unexpected challenge to women not only young in age but also having few years of experience in vowed religious life. They met this challenge and even more. Within a few years of occupying a large monastery under papal enclosure they responded to the call of the Second Vatican Council to return to the roots of their foundress; to rediscover their charism; and to redesign a basically medieval life-style to allow for more effective proclamation of the charism in the modern world. Years of experimentation, reaching out within their own order and to other contemplatives, collaboration and self-examination had to be weathered - all to the accompaniment of the steady departure of nuns whose new understandings of the faith and the world led them back to secular life.

Three of those six nuns, Mary Anne Reed of Detroit, Margaret Banville of Toronto, and Paula Schmidt of Grand Rapids remain in the community today. These gold jubilarians are vital to the Esopus community, providing leadership, forming new members, and adding their vitality and their wisdom to a mix of woman ranging in age from 82 to 51.

The community will celebrate the opening of its 50th anniversary year at Midday Prayer. The theme will be 'remembering'; remembering the experiences of these nuns and also all of the many women who came, whether for a short time or many years, and helped to form what we celebrate, a contemplative monastic monastery whose members strive to be living witnesses of the love of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

We will also offer praise and thanksgiving at a celebration of the Vigil Office of Readings for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. We have invited local clergy and religious to join us for prayer and fellowship. We are rejoicing in the presence of three of our foundresses, in the life our community celebrates together and in our call to be 'living memories of Jesus.'

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