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


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.


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.


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.


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.


Solemnity of Our Lady of the Rosary brings a New Postulant!

The Solemnity of Our Lady of the Rosary is always a special day for our community as it is the patronal feast of our Monastery, but this year it was extra special with the entrance of a new postulant! This afternoon Sr. Emily Ruzicka, 23, entered the enclosure to begin her postulancy.

DSC_5516Sr. Emily is from Newtown, Pennsylvania in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. She graduated from La Salle University with a BS in nutrition and is a registered dietitian. Sister’s parents, sister Katie with her husband Ryan and twins CJ and Kalynn, friends, grandparents, aunt and High School chaplain Fr. Chris Walsh attended the brief entrance ceremony and visited with the sisters in the parlor afterwards.

Below is a gallery of pictures from the event. If you didn’t know already, nuns love babies (who are thankfully too young [and too cute] to be bound by the rules of enclosure) and CJ and Kalynn were happy to be held and fussed over as their aunt introduced her family and friends to the community, and the community to her family and friends!

Please keep Sr. Emily in your prayers as she begins her postulancy, as well as the other young women who are preparing for their entrances.