Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Contemplative Nuns Send Annual Christmas Letter

Advent 2007

May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, so that you, rooted and grounded in love, will be able to grasp fully the breadth, length, height and depth of Christ’s love and, with all the holy ones, experience this love that surpasses all understanding, so that you may be filled with the fullness of God, whose power now at work in us can do more than we ask or imagine!

Eph. 3: 17-20

Dear Ones,

What wonders God has done for us! What love that surpasses all understanding, at this Advent/ Christmastide, as we rejoice in our God who became man! This has been a very special year for us as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary of Foundation in Esopus. We began our celebration year on December 7, 2006 with our Foundresses, Sr. Paula, Sr. Mary Anne and Sr. Peg reminiscing about the early days of Esopus within the context of Midday Prayer. Each Sister spoke of their hopes and fears and joys of starting a new foundation in the United States. It was a beautiful, prayerful way to bring to mind our graced history and to thank God who has given us more than we could ever ask for or imagine. That evening we invited our friends to join us in a special Vigil of hymns, psalms and readings in preparation for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

We had two more special Midday Prayers with the rest of the Sisters sharing their memories. One was on April 25th, the day the Ven. Maria Celeste received the revelation regarding the Order. Sisters Mary, Lydia and Maria Paz shared memories that touched their hearts over the years. On the Feast of the Transfiguration, the day the first Sisters in Scala, Italy, put on the new red, blue and white habit of the Order, Sister Mary Jane showed a DVD she created featuring early pictures of the Sisters in Esopus, much to our delight. Then Sisters Moira and Hildegard shared their memories and impressions of life in the monastery in Esopus. All the recollections throughout the year have reminded us of how we have been blessed to be Viva Memorias of God’s love for the world by sharing the breadth, length, height and depth of Christ’s love with all the holy ones in our own time and place.

As we conclude our
Golden Jubilee Year of Foundation the Redemptoristine Nuns of Esopus invite you to a Eucharistic Celebration on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Saturday, December 8, 2007 - 1 p.m. , Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel Rev. Thomas Travers, CSsR, celebrant.

Our Christmas last year was overshadowed by sorrow when we learned that our former chaplain, Rev. John Kiwus, CSsR, died on December 27th. He suffered many years from depression and we pray with confidence and thanksgiving that he is now at peace in the arms of his beloved Redeemer.

Our Postulant, Mary Sommer, returned home after discerning God had something else in mind for her. She has kept in touch and still comes to share some quiet time in our community.

We were blessed with wonderful conferences this year. Fr. Kevin O’Neil, CSsR, gave us a very informative day on Bioethics, particularly on end of life issues. Fr. Jorge Colon, CSsR, shared with us for three days on his recent doctoral thesis on ‘The Mystery of Redemption.’ Fr. Quinn Conners, O. Carm., spoke to the Metropolitan Association of Contemplative Communities, here, on ‘Growth in Body, Mind and Spirit: Integrating Sexuality as Celibates.’ Sr. Arlene Flaherty, OP, gave MACC a presentation on ‘Healing a Brokenhearted World’ where she addressed issues such as Fair Trade and human trafficking. All these issues we carry in our heart and pray for the most abandoned in our world. Before Sr. Arlene spoke to us about Fair Trade our community had already decided to buy Fair Trade coffee for all the coffee lovers in our monastery. It’s wonderful coffee! and it is good to be helping the working poor receive a just wage. We buy it online: http://www.equalexchange.com/interfaith.

In August, Santa Claus paid us a visit with his helper (Sr. Regina’s niece, Justine, and her husband, Bill) and surprised each of us with little gifts plus a sweet statue of an angel for our cloister garden. Justine and Bill have helped design and implement our flower beds around our new monastery. We always have a jolly time when they come for their yearly visit and are grateful for their generosity.

Our old friend, Sr. Betty Finn, SC, who helped us in our discernment process when we were pondering whether to build new or renovate our old monastery, gave us our preached great retreat in September. It was a joy to welcome her into our new monastery and hear her share from her rich experience.

We saw the film ‘Into Great Silence’ and were moved by the stark beauty and simplicity of the lives of the monks at Chartreuse. Sr. Hildegard will be part of a panel discussion at Marist College in Poughkeepsie December 1, 2007.

One of the brightest highlights of our year was our Regional Association Meeting, October 22-30, 2007, with our Sisters from Liguori, Missouri and Fort Erie, Ontario. Representatives from our affiliate monasteries of St. Therese in Quebec and Merrivale in South Africa also joined us to add their unique perspective to our discussions. We were 25 Sisters in all. The Redemptorists at Mount St. Alphonsus generously hosted our entire time together. Thank you, brothers.

We began the meeting with a video address from Father General Tobin, CSsR. He echoed the challenge he made in his letter of April 2005 to the Order to work toward creative fidelity and look at our structure of governance of the Order, to work toward unity and the reorganizing of the monasteries themselves so that historically significant foundations will not close. With his words ringing in our hearts we spent a great deal of time pondering these important questions.

Fr. Ronnie McAinsh, CSsR, Formation Director and Rector in Zimbabwe, was with us for five days of the meeting before he had to return to Africa. He gave us a presentation on ‘From Ritual Purity to Purity of Heart’ challenging us to get rid of any hypocrisy in our lives and put on ‘purity of heart’ which ‘is openness and transparency in which God can clearly be seen in us.’ Fr. Ronnie facilitated all our other discussions and met personally with many Sisters.

Each Community gave a presentation: our Sr. Paula spoke on ‘Celeste and Community,’ Sr. Joan Calver of Liguori spoke on ‘Community with Fidelity and with a Sense of Humor,’ Sr. Margaret Ried of Fort Erie gave us a practical look at ‘The Challenge of Being a Viva Memoria in an Aging Community’ and Sr. Marie Veronique Neault of St. Therese presented a spiritual examination entitled ‘Thoughts on Our Vocation.’ We had another guest speaker, Sr. Kitty Hanley, CSJ, who used the image of the modern icon ‘The Road to Emmaus’ as a starting point to her presentation on ‘Community: Gift and Challenge.’ All the talks were followed by small and large group sharing which were very moving and enriching.

The night before the sisters departed to return to their own monasteries we were presented with the ‘Ratio Formationis’ in English! Thanks to Sr. Chantal Lussier. Our time together culminated with a joyful Mass of Thanksgiving with our Sisters from the Region and our Lay Associates for our Golden Jubilee of Foundation. Father Provincial Patrick Woods, CSsR, was our celebrant and during his homily thanked us saying our lives ‘…are shining lights to the world, a great witness to those seeking God in their lives.’ Mass was followed by a festive dinner in the Mount’s refectory and we were all gifted with a sky blue fleece vest with our monastery name and the date of the years of foundation stitched on them. Our Redemptorists are so thoughtful and wonderful to us!

Our year has been full of joys and we thank God for our fifty years of Redemptoristine Life in Esopus. May the Christ-child dwell in your hearts through faith always and may you experience his love now and in the year to come.

To all our Redemptoristine Sisters, Priests and Brothers, our Friends, Family and Benefactors,
Peace and Joy and Blessings, Good Health and Wisdom; you will be remembered nightly at our Evening prayer during our Novena before Christmas

Adore, oh my soul, in the bosom of Mary,
the only Begotten Son of God,
who was made man for love of you.
(Novena Prayer)

Tel: 845-384-6533 Website: Google: Redemptoristine Nuns Esopus

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