Don’t we always wish that good things will last forever? But we know eternity is the only thing that lasts forever. This reality has been brought home to us in the last few years as we saw four of our Sisters pass to the Lord during the two years of the pandemic. Sr. Eleanor,
Sr. Janice Marie, Sr. Nanette and Sr. Elaine have crossed that threshold. This situation has given us much cause for reflection and discernment.
Our Community has been international since the very beginning. The founding eight Sisters were from Canada and the United States. Through the years, women came to join us from Scotland, South Africa, Malaysia, Argentina, Thailand and the Philippines. We have founded monasteries in the Philippines, South Africa and Thailand.
From the beginning, our remunerative work has been mainly sewing. We sewed the habits for Redemptorists and the ceremonial robes for the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre. For a number of years, we also kept up the mailing list for Liguori Publications.
The early years saw one Redemptorist serving as our chaplain, Fr. Peter Youngblood. He knew our prayer schedule, which also included daily Benediction. He would even remind us when it was time for certain novenas. After he officially retired, the Fathers began to take weekly turns for our spiritual needs. Then there was what was called the Brengazi bus service. In the days before Vatican II, the Sisters were not allowed to drive themselves to their appointments. Fr. Martin Brengazi, who was retired in Liguori, graciously drove the Sisters to their appointments. He patiently smoked his cigar while he waited for them and drove them back to the monastery.
Right from the beginning and with the approval and encouragement of the then-Archbishop Joseph Ritter, the Redemptorists at Liguori took turns giving the Sisters classes in Scripture, Theology, and other matters which were deemed helpful to the contemplative life. In 1960 when the Sisters arrived, there was a large community of Redemptorists that could draw from a variety of ministerial experiences to benefit the Sisters and guide their religious, cultural and human development. We were blessed especially having such good direction in the years following the confusion in the Church after the Vatican Council.
We began a Lay Associate program around 1987 after meeting with some Community friends and asking if they thought there would be an interest in such a program as is encouraged by our Redemptoristine Rule to share the spirituality of Blessed Maria Celeste so that others could benefit from it in their daily Christian life. The group responded very positively, and so we began. There is a monthly Sunday meeting starting with Holy Mass and afterwards a talk given by one of the Sisters. On occasion, the Associates themselves have volunteered to give a talk. There is peer sharing, and each of the Associates is grateful to have a Redemptoristine prayer partner.
According to the newest document from Rome for contemplatives, we no longer have the required number of Sisters to be autonomous. We have been in dialogue with our Sisters in Ireland and New York. We were humbled and grateful when two of our Sisters, Sr. Gabrielle and Sr. Lucy, came across the pond from Dublin and visited us earlier this year to show their concern and asked if there was any way they could help us. To our delight, Sr. Lucy came to be with us temporarily. (Note: We trace our roots back to the Dublin monastery. They would be our great-great-grandmother.) Recently, Sr. Moira and Sr. Maria Paz came from the monastery in New York for the same purpose. We are most grateful to them. But all this is only a temporary measure. Since we do not have enough Sisters here to welcome candidates and have a formation program, we cannot grow.
It is with regret, but trust in the God who first brought us here, that sometime in the early part of 2023, we will be closing the Liguori monastery, and the Sisters will move on to other places.
The tradition and charism introduced by St. Alphonsus and Blessed Mother Maria Celeste continues to this day all around the world. We are truly “two branches on one tree.”
You are always remembered in our prayers. Sincerely in the Redeemer,
Sr. Ann Marie and Sisters
courtesy of Denverlink, update of December 16, 2022.