Saturday, April 30, 2011

It's Official

News Release
from the
Baltimore Province of the 
Redemptorist Congregation
Issued by Office of Mission Advancement (ROMA)

Church Communities to Lease Mount St. Alphonsus

Redemptorist legacy at the retreat house in Esopus will be preserved by the new

April 29, 2011 — The Redemptorists of the Baltimore Province are pleased to announce an agreement with Church Communities to lease Mount St. Alphonsus Retreat Center on Route 9W in Esopus, NY. Church Communities ( will move in by February 1, 2012 and plans to continue the use of the existing facilities as a religious community and educational center. Some of the property will be used for farming, which hearkens back to the days when Redemptorists first worked the land when it served as the congregation’s North American seminary.

“The agreement with Church Communities is a wonderful fit for the Mount,” said Baltimore Provincial Kevin Moley. “We’re pleased that the property will remain a place of prayer and of work for the glory of God.”

The chapel’s stained glass windows, a very visible representation of the Mount’s Redemptorist history, will remain along with much of the original construction and d├ęcor. A perpetual easement for the cemetery will guarantee continued access to and use of the burial ground by the Redemptorists.

During a transition period, the Redemptorists will continue to use the gatehouse. The Redemptoristines, a group of contemplative Catholic nuns, also will continue to occupy their convent, which is located on the property.

Built between 1904 and 1907, the Mount opened in 1908 as the Redemptorists’ North American House of Studies. In addition to being a place of study, Mount St. Alphonsus was a self-sustaining property — the Redemptorist brothers farmed and raised animals for their own food. Since 1985, when the students relocated to Washington, D.C., the Mount has served as a retreat center.

In February 2011, the Redemptorists announced that they would cease retreat operations at the Mount in January 2012 due to changing ministry demands and an aging membership.

“The Mount will always hold a special place in the hearts of all Redemptorists,” Father Moley said. “The decision to end our ministry here was not an easy one. More than 1,000 Redemptorist priests were ordained in the beautiful chapel over the years, including myself. And the many thousands of retreatants who have come to the Mount over the last 25 years have been a great blessing to us.”

Church Communities, also known as the Bruderhof, is an international network of Christian communities originating in 1921 in Germany. Its first community in the United States, Woodcrest, was established in nearby Rifton, NY in 1954. Members take Jesus Christ and the early Christian church as their example for daily living.

Esopus Town Supervisor John Coutant said, “The Mount property is an important part of the fabric and history of the Town of Esopus. Together with the Town Board, I am excited to see the stewardship of this property pass on to Church Communities, and that our Town will not be negatively impacted by a change to this pristine environment.”

Who are the Redemptorists?

The Redemptorists were founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori in 1732 in Naples, Italy. The priests and brothers minister to the spiritual and material needs of the faithful, especially the poor and most spiritually abandoned. Their primary ministry is preaching. There are approximately 300 Redemptorists serving in the United States, and approximately 5,300 worldwide.

The Baltimore Province of the Redemptorists maintains its headquarters in Brooklyn, NY. The province was created in 1850 and took its name from its home city of Baltimore, MD. The name was retained when the headquarters relocated to New York.

For more information about the Redemptorists of the Baltimore Province, visit

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Woman
in the

Maria Celeste
1696 - 1755

The Triduum of Holy Week, the moving Liturgy of the Easter Vigil and our totally joyous celebration of the Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ served to ground us in His life and in our commitment to live in union with Him as Redemptoristine Nuns. All was blessing standing out in bold relief from the background of our impending move and our search for a new home.

These last few months, amidst all else that has been happening here, another enterprise has served to ground me in our charism. On May 15th I will be flying to Dublin, Ireland to spend three weeks with our sisters in an historic Redemptoristine monastery. Check out their website at They have a webcam set up in their chapel so you can see them in action any time. Their blog is terrific too.

While there at the invitation of the Prioress, Sr. Gabreille Fox, OSsR, I will be offering some input to the newer sisters and others in the community. My topics will be the spirituality of our foundress, Ven. Maria Celeste Crostarosa, and the way in which her mystical inspiration received from Jesus is expressed in our current Constitution and Statutes. So for quite a while I have been engaging in a program of self-directed 'post-graduate studies' on the topics. What a grace it has been to be re-reading material last encountered in the novitiate or in on-going formation before solemn profession. Along the way much new material has also been studied. In the teaching process it is not merely the student who learns; the teacher is taught by her preparation.

Check out our website for information about our foundress, a great mystic of the 18th century. Also click on "Ven. Maria Celeste Crostarosa" or "Redemptoristine Charism" in the blog index appearing at the bottom of this page if you scroll down. You will be brought to other blog articles about her and about our spirituality.  Her mystical revelations consistently emphasized the life of faith, anchored in contemplation (the gaze fixed on Jesus) and charity in community. This is the constant predisposition of each Redemptoristine Nun in order that she might, by the power of the Holy Spirit, enter into a union of participation in the life of Jesus Christ such that her whole being will become a "living memory" of the Redeemer. A pretty lofty aspiration, isn't it? But in reading the considerable written record Celeste left behind, one is assured that the soul so disposed, so available, so surrendered and accepting becomes more an more permeable, so much more pliable for the process of conversion and subsequent transformation in Christ.

Do I sound fired up? I am. Praise the Lord! Alleluia!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Schedule of Holy Week Liturgies
Esopus, New York

Palm Sunday, April 17 - Mass 11:00am

Holy Thursday, April 21 - Mass of the Lord's Supper 7:00pm
followed by Adoration at Altar of Repose

Good Friday, April 22 - Liturgy of Good Friday 3:00pm

Holy Saturday, April 23 - Vigil Mass of Easter Sunday 8:00pm

Easter Sunday, April 24 - Mass 11:00am

We welcome those who would like to join us.

All liturgies celebrated in the Monastery Chapel.
We are located on Route 9W about 10 minutes south of Port Ewen,
ten minutes north of the intersection of Routes 9w and 299.
1001 Broadway, Esopus, NY 12429

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"The Times They are a Changin' "

"Whither Thou Goest I Will Go"
Ruth 1:16

The word ‘monastery’ conjures immediate mental images. Among them are notions of stability, solidity and timelessness. In the long view of history, however, these associations are not verified. A tramp through Europe brings the curious tourist from one abandoned monastic ruin after another. A reading of the histories of the major monastic orders reveals dislocation and destruction in abundance; sacking of monasteries in Britain in the 16th century; expulsion of monastics from France in the 17th and again in the 18th centuries; ravages of repeated wars as in the destruction of the Benedictine monastery of Monte Casino, linchpin of the German hold on Italy subjected to incessant Allied bombing in World War II. These are just a few examples. And today we see historical evidence of a cross cultural phenomenon in the Dalai Lama and his community of Buddhist monks made to live in exile from their monasteries in Tibet.

Today our community is beginning the process of giving witness to the universal reality of the impermanence of all things. At this time of year the meaning of the adage, ‘There’s nothin’ certain ‘cept death and taxes’, rings very true with US taxpayers. But that wisdom also speaks about the ever present insecurity of life. Things change all the time. People we love move away or die. Jobs are lost. Marriages end. Relationships suddenly go haywire. Fortunes disappear. What we planned for, what we desired, does not come to pass. The rug can get pulled out from under us in so many varied ways and when we least expect it.

An effort has been made on this blog to present the reality of contemplative monastic life within the context of vocation and the life of faith. So here it is. We have just begun to grapple with the knowledge that we will have to move our community within the next two years. The foundation was made here in Esopus, New York in 1957 by six sisters who came from Canada. Three of those sisters were born in the United States but became Redemptoristines in Canada because there was no monastery of the Order in the US. In 1960 the nuns moved into large monastery built to house over forty. Over the years the community failed to reach that size; the building became more and more difficult to maintain and heat; and an aging community found the lack of handicapped accessibility more and more problematic. In 2001 the original monastery was razed and this coomunity of  nuns moved into a new building immediately adjacent which was more suitable to its size and needs. All of this was done by the generosity of our Redemptorists brothers, the Baltimore Province of the Redemptorist Congregation of priests and brothers. We are endlessly grateful to them.

Through these last ten years we have been blessed in this comfortable house filled with light and open to views of the surrounding hills and the flowing Hudson River. All the while the Redemptorists have been struggling in the effort to maintain this large property and the huge former seminary building now a retreat house. Within the last few years they have had to come to grips with this reality and have been in discernment mode, all the while keeping us aware of their considerations. At the beginning of the year we learned of their Chapter’s decision to lease this property and what that eventuality would mean for us. At this time we have no other news to share.

Contemplative nuns take solemn vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Each baptized person is called to live out these virtues according to their life circumstance. Those in vows make a determined and dedicated effort to do so. Our current situation calls all of these vows, the evangelical counsels, into play. We are living the poverty of not owning our own home; of having to strip ourselves for the second time of all the extraneous things we collect in life; of having to suffer separation from the known and familiar, from the place to which we have become attached and the beauty that is all around us. In chastity, we are being called to underscore our singular relationship to Jesus Christ, to cling to Him and to cling to and support each other in the quality of mutual care that is to mark community life. And we are called to live out of the vow of obedience, to follow the call no matter the cost. At times in this process each of us will be asked to cooperate with decisions that may stand in opposition to our personal desires and opinions. This is obedience for the sake of community. Finally this is obedience to the reality of life.

Please pray for the leadership of the Baltimore Province of the Redemptorist Congregation and for this community of Redemptoristine Nuns at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Monastery as we proceed in trust and hope to negotiate new territory on the way to the future.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Peak into a Stunning Film

Of Gods and Men

Recently posted my comment regarding this moving film. Here is a link to a segment from the PBS program "Religion and Ethics" in which Fr. James Martin, SJ reviews the film and essential clips are shown. His words and the visual images are a rare treat.

For those who missed the first post, this French film is about a small community of Trappists who lived in Algeria and were kidnapped and murdered in the course of the Algerian uprising in 1996. How timely today when the Middle East is in such turmoil.