For over twenty years the Redemptoristine Nuns of New York have welcomed Lay Associates to their communty. The group has always been rather intimate, fifteen to eighteen members - mothers and single woman, homemakers and professionals, and retirees who finally have the time to follow their longings. They meet here in the monastery on the second Sunday of each month to pray together, share input and discussion, participate in Sunday Vespers and enjoy a bit of refreshment afterward. They say that their time at the monastery whether only for meetings or sometimes for retreat are always golden times for them. The charism of our foundress, Ven. Maria Celeste Crostarosa speaks to their hearts. To be a living memory of Christ puts words to what all of them have tried to be for a lifetime. They are so appreciative of the opportunity to learn more about scripture, spirituality, methods of prayer and to share their collective wisdom gained by their lives as woman; daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, grandmothers and working people. There is great comfort in sharing worries and concerns, gains and losses. In addition, as adults in the Catholic Church they value this opportunity to share time and prayer with contemplative nuns, to get the feel of the contemplative monastic way of life and to grow in knowledge of their faith.
Some Associates choose to make a commitment to the community; to share in the life of prayer by praying the Liturgy of the Hours, to cultivate a contemplative dimension in their own lives and to assist our monastic community in whatever way possible. Associates have given valuable help in the library and the cape room, presented programs to their own membership and to larger audiences, and provided wonderful refreshments for any number of special occasions as they did in such an outstanding way for my solemn profession of vows in 2006.
Yesterday, after hearing Fr. Thomas Travers speak on the practice of keeping a "journal of thanksgiving", the associates joined us for Midday Prayer. Then we shared a delicious pot luck dinner which they had so generously provided. On this bounty we will feast for many days.
Fr. Travers was the presider at 2pm Mass in our chapel. After the homily four new associates made their commitment for the first time and eight renewed theirs. Many friends and family members were in attendance and refreshments were later enjoyed by all in the gathering space outside our chapel.
Pictured above: 1. Domenica Bellacicco, Carol Ann Menconeri and Carole Burton in conversation. 2.Our Prioress, Sr. Paula Schmidt, OSsR. 3. Sr. Mary Jane Stefanik, OSsR and grandchildren of one associate. 4. Associates renewing their commitment before the congregation and at the request of the Prioress.