90th Birthday!

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Today is the 90th Birthday of our Sr. Mary Daniel of God, OP!

Sister holds the distinction of being our eldest sister both in age and in religious life. She is such a treasure for our community, as she has the experience of almost 70 years as a Dominican nun here at Rosary Shrine! As you may know, nuns never retire. Sr. Mary Daniel’s main charge (besides praying, of course!) is answering the mail. She spends hours every day handwriting thank you letters for donations and encouragement to those in difficulties. Sister’s memory is fantastic (almost as good as her sense of humor) and she is always willing to share at recreation stories from ‘the old days’. She’s a wonderful story teller and is always called upon to tell her famous Inferno joke to the newcomers in our community.

One of the younger sisters’ favorite stories of Sr. Mary Daniel is the time a few years ago when sister discovered a little Ring-necked Snake slithering its way around the basement. Sister told one of our workmen who was able to catch the little critter and a few of the novitiate sisters promptly adopted ‘Rahab’ as a new pet (although the novice mistress was adamant that it remain in the basement and not step one…scale?….into the novitiate). One day at recreation Sr. Mary Daniel asked the novitiate sisters, “How’s the baby?” Thinking that she must be referring to our dog Sabina, they replied that she was fine and running around the yard. Sr. Mary Daniel explained, “No, I mean the snake!” Rahab was released into the wild after a few days, but the sisters have never yet gotten over Sr. Mary Daniel calling the snake by such an endearing name as ‘baby’!

Happy 90th Birthday, dear Sister! May God grant you many more!

 

Hildegard

MEET HILDEGARD!
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I bet you thought Hildegard is a new postulant!

Actually Hildegard is our new packaging system in the soap department!

As our Cloister Shoppe has grown and we were surprised with “Christmas in July” we realized we needed to investigate better ways of packaging our soaps. Not only did we need to be more efficient we were concerned with the possibility of repetitive motion injuries. And frankly, Sr. Mary Catharine was really tired of the sound of the heat gun running all day long!

Not knowing even what we were looking for we contacted other companies, particularly private label soap manufacturers and packaging companies for some ideas. Most had equipment way beyond what we needed and way beyond our the budget we would have…if we even had one!

Finally, thanks to the patient  listening and expert advice of Marci of Propac we purchased an L-bar- shrink tunnel system. It arrived on September 17th, feast of St. Hildegard.
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The first few weeks were a little frustrating as we became “friends” (as in LIKE ME) with the system. As is often the case with learning a new system we had to put aside our old way of doing things in order to become efficient in the new one. Sort of like the spiritual life, don’t you think?

Now, several hundred bars of soap later we’re almost pros!

Our new packaging also has some great benefits for our customers!

First, as we package the soap a tiny wheel rotates to perforate the plastic. We dubbed it the “Catherine wheel” after St. Catherine of Alexandria! What’s so great about those infinitesimal holes? It means that now you can smell the soap through the packaging! We’ve caught a few sisters doing just that, by the way!

Second, we now use polyolefin not PVC shrink film. It’s got some great advantages such as it is a lot easier to UNWRAP the soap! And some people will love that it is good for the environment as PVC releases small quantities of hydrogen Chloride into the air which polyolefin doesn’t. We’re proud to say we can now say the word POLYOLEFIN fast!

Probably most companies wouldn’t think twice about going into new equipment as we have! They wouldn’t have named their sealer and shrink tunnel after the saint of the day, either! But in the monastery we are grateful everyday for each gift the Lord gives us and we tend to find new challenges not only an opportunity to grow but fun, too!

Go to The Cloister Shoppe to check out our products!

Archdiocesan Formation Mass and Meeting

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Today was the Archdiocese of Newark’s Mass for Those in Formation in preparation for the Year of Consecrated Life (Nov 30, 2014- Feb 2, 2016). As the only cloistered monastery in the Archdiocese, the Mass and meeting that followed were held in our Chapel and lecture hall so that our sisters in formation would be able to attend.

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At 9am Fr. Gabriel Mary of the Community of St. John said Mass with a lovely homily on the fecundity of consecrated life. Our sisters participated from inside our choir, but were given permission to go into the outside Chapel and Lecture Hall for the second half of the event. There was a photographer present from New Jersey Catholic the Archdiocese’s magazine. In an upcoming issue there will be a picture of all those in formation in the Archdiocese, taken at this event.

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About 15 men and women in formation attended the event, along with their formators. There were an equal number unable to attend. Besides our community, other institutes that participated were the Community of St John (both the male and female branch), the Salesians, Missionaries of Charity (a contemplative house), Caritas Sisters of Miyazaki, Korea, and the Benedictines from the Abbey of St Walburga.

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After the photo shoot everyone headed down to St. Dominic’s Hall to get to know one another a little before their meeting. Fr. Gabriel Mary gave a talk on the letter Rejoice! A Letter to Consecrated Men and Women and then there was a period for question & answer. The participants were asked about their experiences: what attracted them to their institute, what are you thankful for in formation, what gifts do they bring to the Church by being in their community? The participants shared their vocation stories and the charisms of their particular institutes.