The second of a series of three interviews with Fr. Nageeb Michael, OP, this video focuses on the current suffering of Iraqi Christians. Fr. Nageeb speaks at length about the current persecution of the Christian community in his homeland and even introduces his viewers to priests he knows personally who were killed for the Christian faith. The interview concludes with a plea for solidarity with and prayers for the Christian community of Iraq.
St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers to preach the truth of the Gospel message in a world that was in need of saving grace. But prior to founding the friars, St. Dominic established the community of Dominican nuns. St. Dominic saw that an intimate life of contemplation, prayer, and penance was necessary for the preaching of his Order to bear fruit in the world. In this post I would like to draw attention to the Dominican life lived by the Dominican nuns at the Monastery of St. Jude in Marbury, Alabama.
Having grown up one mile away from the Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament in Farmington Hills, Michigan, I would love to say that I made numerous trips to pray in the monastery chapel. Unfortunately, I cannot make such a claim. And while I wish I had visited more often, I suppose an important truth can be grasped from my lack of contact with the Dominican nuns. Ultimately the life of a cloistered religious is a hidden witness and one that cultivates great faith well outside their walls.
The Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, NJ was founded by a group of fourteen sisters from Union City, NJ on October 2, 1919. The following spring, a group of pilgrims from a nearby place spontaneously asked to make a pilgrimage to the new monastery in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, and over the following years, the monastery became a well-known pilgrimage destination, receiving the name “Rosary Shrine”. Established with the mission of praying without ceasing, especially through the Rosary, in 1926 the monastery also established the practice of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. After the nuns initially occupied an existing mansion creatively adapted to serve as a house of the Lord’s praise, the present monastery was completed in 1939. Situated on the top of a hill in Summit, a town so named on account of its elevation with respect to the surrounding suburbia, the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary is a center of prayer and peace within New Jersey.
The idyllic setting of rural New England, far from the bustle of the cities and college towns, is a fitting location for contemplative religious. Near the small town of North Guilford, Connecticut, about a half-hour drive from the Dominican priory of St. Mary in New Haven, stands the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace. This place, rich with colonial tradition, is enriched by an even older tradition—that of the cloistered nuns of the Dominican Order. Here, thirty nuns, comprising one of the Order’s largest contemplative communities in the nation, live a life of intimate prayer and varied labor in the heart of the Order of Preachers, on their 125-acre property nestled among several small farms along Race Hill Road (according to local legend, the sisters tried to change the name to “Grace Hill Road”).
There is something about the Dominican way of life that people notice even if they cannot articulate it right away. The very atmosphere of the place, whether church or chapel or convent or monastery seems to be instilled with the peace and joy and awe that comes from the contemplation of God. All the monasteries of Dominican nuns are wonderful in just this way. Today I would like to draw attention to one in particular: our Dominican monastery in West Springfield, MA.
Samantha and her boyfriend Joe, two seniors at Villa Maria College, are walking down Pine Ridge Heritage Boulevard after class on Friday. They make a right turn onto Doat Street and stroll half a mile to find a beautiful old stone monastery on their left. As they pause to examine the building Joe asks the first question:
Joe: What’s that old building doing in the middle of these suburbs? It seems a little out of place.
Samantha: Well, it only seems out of place today. This whole area used to be farmland, you know, and the monastery fit right in back then.
On January 28, 2013, the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, a true son of St. Dominic and St. Thomas Aquinas passed away in the Lord. Fr. Joseph Kenny, O.P. entered the Order of Preachers in the Province of St. Albert the Great in the United States in 1956 and was ordained in 1963. In 1964, he was sent to Nigeria, where he devoted the rest of his life to the missionary work of building up the Church and the Order of Preachers, and to the academic work of furthering the Catholic dialogue with Islam. In addition to his work in Nigeria, Fr. Kenny became famous throughout the world for his contributions to research on St. Thomas Aquinas and the Church Fathers by cultivating an online collection of English translations of Thomas and the Fathers. In the late Autumn of 2012, Fr. Kenny became ill while visiting his family and Dominican brothers in Washington, D.C., and he lived at the Little Sisters of the Poor Home in Washington for the last months of his life.
In this homily, delivered on August 12, 2012 at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., Fr. Kenny begins by alluding to his unusual situation of having dual citizenship as an American and Nigerian, developing from this an analogy for understanding Christ’s human and divine natures as a sort of dual citizenship. Dominicana is pleased to present this homily in the spirit of §16 of the Constitutions of the Order of Preachers: “Let the brothers reflect on and make known the teaching and achievements of those in the family of St. Dominic who have gone before them, while not forgetting to pray for them.”
Here at Dominicana, we welcome you to the start of our series on our sisters in St. Dominic, the Dominican nuns in the United States. Throughout this year we will feature posts on individual American monasteries, and today we begin with a brief history of the very first of these foundations. The nuns were established in 1206 by St. Dominic in Prouille, France. From the beginning of their establishment, the prayers of the nuns have served as a treasury of grace to make the friar’s preaching ever more efficacious for the salvation of souls. Six and half centuries after their founding in Prouille, the daughters of St. Dominic and their hidden monastic life finally arrived in the United States of America.