Thursday, December 08, 2011

Our Immaculate Conception Vigil Office - A Love Fest

Last night's celebration of the Vigil Office for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception was a lovely and very moving affair. So many of our friends gathered with us to honor our Mother Mary. So many came to express solidarity with us as we walk our current path toward a new location. Before calling us to prayer Sr. Paula, our Prioress shared these words of remembrance and gratitude.

Good evening everyone!  And thank you for joining us.  This evening marks a special anniversary for us—54 years ago six weary young Sisters arrived from Canada to begin this monastery in Esopus. The big bells of Mount Saint Alphonsus rang out as the two cars carrying the foundresses began the long drive in.  We came to call those bells the “happy bells”.  Whenever we heard them over the years we knew something special was happening.  The bells were still sounding as the Sisters climbed the front steps of the Mount to attend solemn Benediction in the Mount’s chapel.  At that time the chapel was filled with handsome young seminarians, eager to welcome their Sisters, the Steens. 
So much has happened since that auspicious day.  So many precious memories for which we are grateful.  Three of those ‘young Sisters’ have gone home to God, after a good long life:  Sr. Mary Bridget who died at our monastery in New South Wales, Australia; Sr. Mary Catherine and Sr. Peg, in our cemetery here—all awaiting the final Resurrection.  Two of those Sisters are still with us, continuing to “age in place”.  We leave it to you to guess who they are!
Tonight we remember too the many women, true God-seekers, who shared life with us for longer or shorter periods in those 54 years. We cherish our alumnae.
And we cherish you, our friends with us tonight, and all those who could not come, who have supported and enriched our lives over the years.  The Redemptorists, the Marists, the Benedictines, monks of Holy Cross, Sisters of St. Ursula, Dominicans, Franciscans, Christian Brothers, Presentation Sisters, Sisters of Christian Charity.  And all our Associates and friends.  This is a time for memories, a time for gratitude.  A very special time too, as it will be the last time we will celebrate this special day in Esopus. 

Tonight as we honor Mary our Mother we celebrate our union in the mystery of the Communion of Saints, and we invoke a special blessing on each one here, and on ourselves as we move into the future.  God bless us all! And thank you!

After prayer we enjoyed the company of our quests and they seemed to relish being with each other, particularly the religious whose ministerial paths have criscrossed through the years. They were also delighted to see a display of photos reflecting the history of the community.
Today we pray to our Mother Mary for the needs of Our Church and our needy world. We ask that her maternal love will be poured out upon the hungry and home, the jobless and the under-employed, the refugees and the undocumented immigrants. May she embrace us all.

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