This Old House–75th Anniversary of the Dedication of our Monastery and Chapel!

sanctuary

Copy of an original souvenir card of the September 15th dedication.

If you know where to look as you come up the monastery driveway you will see the cornerstone with the date November, 1925. During that year, (the groundbreaking had been on Annunciation Day the same year) hopes were high as plans for a 15 altar basilica honoring our Lady of the Rosary were underway.

Soon it became apparent that construction would have to come to a temporary halt until a building debt of $120,000 was liquidated. What the Sisters didn’t know was that the Great Depression was right around the corner and that temporary meant 12 years!

In 1937, the Nuns received permission from Archbishop Thomas Walsh to resume building but with the caveat that the entire monastery and church had to be built on the existing foundation (what was the crypt chapel) and within a specified budget. Thanks to the resourcefulness of Mother Mary of Jesus Crucified and the new architect, Luigi Vivoli, the first stipulation was possible but the second, that of the limited budget proved not to be. There were tensions and historians now surmise that Archbishop Walsh’s desire to finally finish the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart may have played a part in his stipulations to the Community.

Finally, however, in God’s Providence the monastery and church were completed in 1939. On Trinity Sunday, June 4, 1939, the community, still in the old house, received a call from the Archbishop’s secretary, Monsignor John Delaney just as they were sitting down for supper. He would be over in a few moments to bless the new building!

So, supper was left to get cold as the nuns grabbed their cappas and made their way through the fence to the new building. Because of the strict laws of enclosure at that time, for most of them this was the first time in the new monastery. Monsignor Delaney arrived and he was in a hurry. The Nuns followed him throughout the house breathlessly responding, “Ora pro nobis! Ora pro nobis!” to the Litany! The ceremony over, it was about 8:30 when they put away their cappas and heated up their supper! A few days later the nuns began the long-desired move into what seemed like an enormous building.

The Community still planned a formal dedication ceremony and it took some effort to convince Archbishop Walsh, who was a bit of a curmudgeon, to agree. Finally, on September 15, 1939, Archbishop Walsh officiated at the solemn dedication of the Chapel. In his closing address he said,
“I, personally, publicly, and officially invite all the clergy, the friends and
benefactors, and all the people to attend all the public services held here at
all times, and even to come here to make private visits to Our Lord. Come here often, come every day to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”

We thank our Lord for the gift of 75 years in this monastery and pray that He will be loved and adored here for many, many more years!

Originally posted 5 years ago for the 70th anniversary.

Video of Solemn Profession of Sr. Maria Teresa!

6:15 PM, Saturday. Corrected video has been posted below.

Sister Maria Teresa’s solemn profession as a Nun of the Order of Preachers was only a week ago! We’re still rejoicing and thanking God for all the graces and joys of that day! If you couldn’t be with us and were disappointed that the live stream didn’t work you can watch it now!

This is an edited version because the Mass and Rite of Profession were nearly 2 hours long!

The rite of solemn profession began when Sr. Maria Teresa prostrated on the sanctuary floor and answered the question which has been asked for 800 years of each Dominican, “What do you seek?” The answer: “God’s mercy and yours”!

Then Bishop Manuel Cruz gave a moving homily on the beauty and obligations of a life given entirely to God in prayer, silence and community. After, Sr. Mary Martin, prioress, questioned Sr. Maria Teresa further on her willingness to take up the obligations of our vocations as contemplative nuns in the heart of the Church.

Followed the beautiful litany of the saints as Sr. Maria Teresa lay prostrate, cruciform like her Crucified Spouse.

Then came the most important part! Kneeling before Sr. Mary Martin with her hands in hers Sr. Maria Teresa pronounced her profession as a Nun of the Order of Preachers, “usque ad mortem” using the words that have been uttered by every Dominican Nun (and friar) from the time of St. Dominic until today:

“I, Sr. Maria Teresa of the Sacred Heart make profession and promise obedience to God, to blessed Mary and to blessed Dominic, and to the Master of the Order of Friars Preachers, and to you Sr. Mary Martin de Porres of Jesus, prioress of this monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary, Summit, New Jersey, according to the Rule of Blessed Augustine and the Constitutions of the Nuns of the Order of Preachers, that I will be obedient to you and to your successors until death.”

Most people are surprised that we don’t vow poverty, chastity and obedience. The mother of one our sisters said after the ceremony, “Didn’t you forget something?” In the Dominican Order, according to ancient tradition, obedience only is explicitly professed as this obedience encompasses an entire way of life of which the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are a part.

After Sr. Maria Teresa made her profession and was given the embrace of peace by Sr. Mary Martin, Bishop Cruz blessed a black veil which the prioress than placed on Sister’s head while the community sang the Amo Christum, an ancient antiphon attributed to St. Agnes. This was followed by the blessing and giving of the ring. As the bishop placed the ring on Sister’s finger he said:

“Receive this ring of divine faith, given in the name of the most Holy Trinity. Be faithful to Jesus, your Spouse, so that you may come to the wedding feast of eternal joy.”

Then Sr. Maria Teresa gave the embrace of peace to the rest of the community gathered at the grille, not forgetting to give it to her former novice mistress first! Mass continued as usual. At the end of Mass Sr. Maria Teresa again knelt before the Bishop to receive the formal blessing. As he and the other priests, deacons, etc. processed down the aisle Bishop Cruz signed to Sr. Maria Teresa to come with him. It’s our tradition that we remain in the sanctuary returning to the enclosure by way of the sacristy but the Bishop is the Bishop! Bishop Cruz took Sr. Maria Teresa’s hand in a fatherly gesture and surprised her family by bringing her to their place in the first pew so that she could give them a hug. It happened so suddenly that Kimberly (Sr. Maria Teresa’s sister) didn’t have time to move the camera.

We want to especially thank Kimberly for agreeing to take care of both cameras at the last moment as the person who was supposed to do it was sick! At one point she even had a regular photo camera as well. Thanks also to Ray Gessner for his wonderful photos. The other photographer you see is our good friend Toni, the “official” photographer who came to photograph the ceremony for us and for a project she is working on.

Special thanks to all our Dominican brothers who braved the heatwave to be with us! It was truly a family day in the Dominican Order.

 

 

Solemn Profession of Sr. Maria Teresa of the Sacred Heart, OP

On Saturday, September 6th, Sr. Maria Teresa made her Solemn Profession in the hands of our prioress, Sr. Mary Martin. Although the day promised to hit the 90s, the heat in the chapel could have been worse and the storms held off until after the reception had ended.

The sanctuary was filled to capacity with our auxillary Bishop Manuel Cruz, 7 priests, 2 deacons, an MC, and 4 servers! Frs. Peter Martyr Yungwirth, OP, Richard Jasztrzebski, OP, Cajetan Cuddy, OP, Sebastian White, OP, Benedict Croell, OP, John Vidmar, OP, and Rev. Msgr. Gerard McCarren concelebrated with Rev. Brs. Philip Neri Reese, OP and John Maria Devaney, OP as deacons. Richard Sofie, (a lay dominican) served along with two of Sister’s cousins, Zachary and Mark, and Louis, a volunteer and friend of the monastery. Br. Clement Dickie, OP acted as Master of Ceremonies, reminding everyone of what came next and where to go when!

Many of sister’s friends and family were able to attend the ceremony and reception, including our good friends the Hubers.  Corey and Katherine Huber founded the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations which issued Sr. Maria Teresa a grant to cover her student loan debt, making it possible for sister to answer God’s call and enter the monastery! Many others joined the celebration “virtually” through our live-streaming of the event (which unfortunately cut out half-way through the Litany of the Saints!). Sister’s good friend from college was unable to attend but was able to be present from Scotland virtually via an app on a friend’s iPhone!