The Redemptoristine Nuns of Mother of Perpetual Help Monastery celebrate today the 54th anniversary of their arrival at Mount St. Alphonsus in Esopus, New York. Six sisters came from Canada (three US citizens) at the invitation of the Baltimore Province of the Redemptorist Congregation of priests and brothers to establish the first American monastery of their contemplative order on property surrounding the major seminary of the congregation. It was December 7, 1957, a time when these sisters were still accustomed to complete enclosure and therefore quite overcome by their entrance into the seminary chapel where they were greeted by all the gathered students and faculty and ushered to the front row to participate in Solemn Benediction. Two sisters still speak of the bishop they saw standing behind the students in the entry foyer. Later, in questioning the Redemptorists about this bishop they learned that no bishop was present. Could it have been the spirit of Bishop John Nepomucene Neumann (1811-1860), Redemptorist Bishop of Philadelphia? They will not know until they reach the other side. On this auspicious note began the long story of close relationship between the Redemptorists and our community of Redemptoristines sharing this park-like environment of 400 acres on the banks of the Hudson River.
Tonight we will celebrate the Vigil Office of Readings for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mother in the chapel of our monastery. We have invited the clergy and religious of our area, our lay associates and a few other friends to the first of our efforts to bid farewell to this home and to the people we have come to know so well in this place. Although the location of our new home remains a question we do know that we will be relocating some time in the spring.