Friday, December 19, 2008

Redemptoristine Nuns Send Christmas Greetings

Each year our contemplative community sends out a letter to the other monasteries of the Order, our families, friends and benefactors to share the blessings and spirit of this holy season, to share our joy in the mystery of the Incarnation celebrated at this time and to present a review of the year with its gifts and challenges. This letter was written by our Prioress, Sr. Paula Schmidt, OSsR.

Advent 2008

Dear Sisters, and Brother Redemptorists,
Dear Family and Friends,

Once again we approach the rich liturgical season of Advent and Christmas. For those who live close to us we want to invite you to join us for Advent Evensong at 5:30 pm on the four Sundays of Advent: November 30, December 7, 14 and 21. You are most welcome to come and join your voices with ours. It is a lovely way to prepare our hearts to celebrate the coming of God among us in Jesus our Savior.

The past year has been a difficult year for our world, our country, our families, our communities. We are very united by prayer with all those who have suffered from the failing economy, for all affected adversely by the various natural disasters, for those who have experienced illness and death in their families and communities. Three of our Sisters lost a loved one in the course of the year: Sr. Peg’s sister Diana, Sr. Lydia’s sister Alicia, and Sr. Maria Paz’s step-mom, Estrella died. May they all be rejoicing now in the presence of our loving Creator. We also rejoice with the life that continues to spring up among us, new families being formed, babies being born, and in our religious communities new members who have joined us.

For us it has been a year for connections with our Redemptoristine Sisters. In January Sr. Paula attended the 100th birthday of her cousin, Sr. Mary Margaret Miller, of our monastery in Liguori, MO. Sr. Mary Anne traveled to Liguori in March to visit Sr. Mary Gerard, her novice companion of 1948, who has been quite ill. In May Sr. Maria Paz spent two weeks with our Sisters in Fort Erie helping with their Confirmation Gown work. In early October Sr. Paula travelled to our Dublin monastery to confer with Sr. Gabrielle on ways of Vocation Recruitment that have added three new members to that community in three years. Her visit included five days of retreat, and a brief but precious visit with our Sisters in Gillmoss, England, across the Irish Sea. We prayed for the OSSR Secretariate meeting in Rome in October and rejoice to know that plans are beginning for a General Assembly of the Order in 2011.

With our Redemptorists too there have been some special times together. During Holy Week the CSSR students from Whitestone and their directors came for retreat at Mount St. Alphonsus and celebrated the Paschal Triduum in our chapel. What a treat that was! We had wonderful homilies, with the different celebrants, and beautiful music. Brother Benedict’s singing of the Exsultet was truly memorable. It is a joy to accompany these men on their journey to the priesthood and brotherhood in the Alphonsian family. A great sadness for us and for the Redemptorist family was the death of our rector at the Mount, Fr. George Keaveney on May 23rd. We trust that his great heart is still watching over us and all the Redemptorists at Esopus. Daily Mass and fine homilies continue to be generously provided for us by our new rector, Fr. Tom Travers, and the other priests stationed here: Frs. Brinkmann, Deeley, Grohe and Bonneau. We offer a prayer each morning for all our Redemptorists and for their various ministries.

The New York Archdiocese, to which we belong, celebrated its 200th anniversary this year. On March 2, Srs. Lydia, Hildegard and Moira attended the Bicentennial Mass for Religious at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in which Cardinal Edward Egan noted the valuable contribution religious communities have made to the history of the Archdiocese. Another memorable occasion was the visit of Our Holy Father Benedict XVI. Srs. Maria Paz and Paula attended the Eucharist at the Cathedral in New York, while the next day Srs. Lydia and Hildegard were present for the gathering in Yankee Stadium. We felt so blessed.

A few days later we began our community retreat with Father Matthew Flynn, OCSO, from Spenser Abbey. Providentially, all the themes for the retreat were drawn from the writings of Our Holy Father, and focused on Benedict XVI’s concept of ‘universal salvation’. We are grateful for those days of prayer and pondering together.

One evening a week in Lent Sr. Hildegard gave presentations on Contemplation for the people of the area, followed by sung Compline. These were much appreciated by those who attended. Four Sisters prepared reflections for this Advent which can be found at the website of Rev. Daniel Francis, CSSR, . On the 2nd Sunday of each month we also share with our lay Associates of the Most Holy Redeemer some aspect of our charism. Fr. Phil Dabney gave them a morning of retreat on September 14th, when fifteen Associates renewed their annual commitment.

Sr. Mary Jane used her research skills to find an excellent program for us to create our own website: Do visit it sometime. Sr. Hildegard learned the program and, using the work that Sr. Moira had done, brought it to completion. Each Sister wrote her own vocation story so we have all played a part.

This year, along with all Americans, we followed closely the long process for choosing a new President. As a community we made a novena during the nine days prior to voting, asking God to help us and all the electorate to choose the person most qualified to lead us during these difficult times. Now we accompany President-elect Obama with our prayers for the important decisions he has to make as he prepares to take office in January. May God’s wisdom be with him, and with all world leaders.

Our 50th anniversary concluded last December with the promise from a friend of a very special gift. The gift arrived on November 17-18 when Sr. Janet Ruffing, RSM, came to give us presentations on “Love Mysticism”. Sr. Janet focused on the life and writings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Gertrude the Great and the Sufi mystics Rumi and Hafiz. It was the occasion for a very deep sharing in the community. Thank you, Sr. Janet!

In the same spirit of gratitude we thank all of you for your friendship, your prayers, your support through the years. We ask your prayers as we prepare for our community elections at the end of January 2009. Please also pray along with us for the gift of new vocations to carry our precious charism into the future. All your intentions will be remembered in our community Christmas Novena.

Blessed Christmas and a New Year of True Joy and Peace for you and all your loved ones!

Your Redemptoristine Sisters of Esopus

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