Part Two: That’s Not Your Convent, Sister
By Beverly Stevens, REGINA Editor
Drawing by Jane Privett
Once upon a time, a few elderly sisters from a vocation-less but legendary Order decided that they needed to provide for their comfortable retirement.
Their Order was in possession of a spectacular but empty convent built 100 years before with the donations of immigrant Catholics. Today, it’s located in an upscale neighborhood – just perfect to be made over into luxury condos and sold at eye-watering prices.
At the same time, their bishop was in need of housing for a fast-growing group of habit-wearing young sisters. He approached the elderly nuns – who had abandoned their habits many decades before — with the request to use their convent for the future of the local Church; in return he promised the Diocese would provide for their old age.
The sisters outright refused him. The Bishop took his case to canon law in Rome. Rome decided in favor of the Bishop. The sisters simply ignored Rome.
Net, net, their convent is now a luxury condominium building, and they are retired on the considerable proceeds.
The Bishop was left to his own devices to house the young sisters.
This is a true story. Why is this so shocking?
In the Church’s 2000 year history, it has always been the duty of young nuns to support elderly nuns within their convents. Now, with so many Orders left adrift without young blood to continue their Founder’s vision, this is happening all over the world.
Immigrants’ Grand-daughter With Something to Say
Now, speaking as the grand-daughter of Italian immigrants who donated out of their sparse pay to build a similar convent, I have something to say.
It was the laity who gladly provided these teaching and nursing Orders with their support. We built those convents and schools and hospitals.
It was not the laity who decided to stray from their original charisms in the 1960’s in pursuit of a mythical – and some say diabolical – ‘Spirit of Vatican II’. It was also not the laity that, when vocations were not forthcoming, decided to double down on said ‘spirit’.
In fact, if this were to happen any place else but the Church, this would be called outright theft. Yep, that’s right – the theft of the legacy of the Faith from future generations.
Which way do you want to go, Catholics?
This is a BIG reason why it’s so important for the present generations to be very careful about where we are putting our money. Simply put: do you want your donation to go to an Order which will use it to ensure a cushy retirement for their few remaining members? Or do you want it to go to a vital, growing Order that will pray unceasingly for your soul — and teach the authentic Faith to your posterity?
If you vote for the latter, here’s the good news: there are many wonderful new communities of Sisters bursting with young vocations that we laity can support. In fact, it’s probably THE most under-reported religious story of the decade: young Catholic girls are FLOCKING to traditional religious orders.
No, our choices are not infallible. Obviously, we cannot provide bullet-proof picks– but we can tell you that we have spoken with, or visited, or known good people associated with each of these. Some have been subjects of REGINA articles, as well.
Further, if you can’t find a community on our list, it’s not necessarily a bad bet. It may only mean that we don’t have any information on that particular organization.
In any case, we can wholeheartedly recommend the following:
The Sister Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus Christ Sovereign Priest
This growing young Order in the hills of Tuscany supports themselves making extraordinarily beautiful sacred vestments for the celebration of Mass. They are also sending Sisters to support the mission of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, in Kloster Engelport Germany, St Louis Missouri and Preston, England. Languages spoken include French, German and English.
REGINA Story HERE
Official website: http://institute-christ-king.ie/vocations/sisters/
Little Sisters, Disciples of the Lamb
Diocese of Bourges, France
The Little Sisters, founded in 1985, are made up of women with and without Down’s Syndrome. The Sisters follow the ‘Little Way’ of Saint Therese; their simple life is composed of prayer, work and sacrifice. Together the sisters work to teach their little disabled sisters the manual labor necessary for their development, which includes adoration and praying the rosary adapted to their rhythm and capacities.
REGINA Story HERE
The Benedictines of St Cecilia’s Abbey
Isle of Wight, England
Founded in 1882 in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, St Cecilia’s Abbey belongs to the Benedictine Order, part of the family of houses connected to the famous Abbey of Solesmes, France. The nuns live a traditional monastic life of prayer, work and study in accordance with the ancient Rule of St Benedict – and they are attracting young vocations these days, too.
REGINA Story HERE
The Dominican Nuns
Cloistered Dominicans in the hills of northern New Jersey for the past 100+ years, this community continues to attract young vocations.
REGINA Story HERE
Official website: https://www.summitdominicans.org/
Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles
Begun in Pennsylvania in 1995 under the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, this growing young community releases hit chant albums – and they are building a new convent and church to accommodate all of their young vocations.
REGINA story HERE
Official website: https://benedictinesofmary.org/
Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel’s Hope
Begun under Cardinal Burke in 2008, this relatively new Benedictine community of contemplative-active sisters has a two-fold apostolate is to be “messengers of hope” to a world that has lost its way, first, by being signs to God by their presence in the streets, parks, and in every manner of neighborhood, reaching out to all they meet, and secondly, by helping to restore God’s design for the family, especially within the home.
Official website: www.motherofisraelshope.org
The Dominican Sisters of St Cecelia
This teaching community continues to go from strength to strength, as they open a new House of Studies for their Sisters, send them abroad to staff schools and parishes and most recently are working to acquire a Dominican house near Rome itself.
Official website: https://www.nashvilledominican.org/
Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist
Ann Arbor, Michigan
This community has been growing by leaps and bounds, as young women have been flocking to their motherhouse since 1997. Now they have plans to build a Religious House in Texas which will house, form and educate up to 50 Sisters.
Official website: https://www.sistersofmary.org/
Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa, California
The Sisters, who live a non-cloistered life in community, were canonically founded in 2012 with just two members. They now have 14 and the average age of their new members is 24 years old.
REGINA Story: HERE
Official website: http://www.mariansisters.com/
Norbertine Sisters of California
This new establishment of active Norbertine Sisters is in. They minister to the poor, teach religious education and work in the book store and parish office of Saints Peter and Paul Church there.
Official website: http://www.congregationofnorbertinesisters.org/meet-us/
REGINA story: HERE
The Sisters of St Birgitta
This medieval Swedish Order was revived in the early 20th century and today runs retreat houses all over the world – including in Rome and Jerusalem.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Convent-of-St-Birgitta-168804289901777/
Carmelites of Jesus, Mary & Joseph
Since moving into the Elysburg monastery (vacated in 2007 by an aging community), the Nuns have experienced a surge in vocations. Here, this new generation has found the perennial ideals of the cloistered Carmelite vocation lived in all its traditional fullness. While this is a blessing, it has also created a challenge. With these new vocations, the Nuns have outgrown their current monastery. Rooms meant for recreation, meals, and work are fast being turned into living quarters to accommodate new postulants.
Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Harrisburg Diocese gave the Carmelites permission to branch out and found a new community. With his blessing, the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph began the design process and in 2012 purchased the land on which to build.
At both Elysburg and the new monastery, the nuns will be able to continually grow, attracting new vocations and providing powerhouses of prayer and sacrifice the world so desperately needs.
Valparaiso Carmel, Nebraska.
This is a traditional Carmelite with Mass and liturgy in Latin, upholding the spirit of St Teresa of Avila.
They have many vocations!
Looking for an Order that’s closer to home?
Check out the the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.
See the whole ‘That’s My Money, Your Excellencies’ series HERE.