After more than six decades of continuous contemplative prayer in their enclosed monastery in Liguori, the Redemptoristine Nuns are preparing to join the Redemptoristine community in Ireland. Sr. Ann Marie and Sr. Louisa welcomed Redemptorist confreres, Lay Associates, family, and friends to a final Closing Mass at the monastery last Sunday, April 23. Fr. Byron Miller presided at Mass, with concelebrants Fr. Joe Curalli, Fr. John Gouger, Fr. Rick Potts, Fr. Rich Luberti, and Deacon Jesse Gatmaitan. Br. Gerry Patin assisted with the Readings. In his homily, Fr. Byron shared highlights of the six decades the Redemptoristines have been in Liguori. Way back in 1947, Redemptoristine Nuns left England and arrived in Toronto, Canada. Two years later the community moved to Barrie, Ontario. They received so many new religious vocations that their monastery was literally bursting at the seams. They sent forth three founding groups of Sisters to begin new monasteries outside of Canada: six settled next to the Redemptorist seminary in Esopus, NY; another eight came to Liguori and settled on the grounds of Liguori Publications; and still another four set off for Australia.
The Liguori Foundation was officially established on April 28, 1960. More than 1,000 people attended the dedication ceremony for the monastery in October of 1962. The building was completed the next year exactly 60 years ago. Within three years the foundation accepted its first vocation, and their remunerative work has primarily been sewing Redemptorist habits and ceremonial robes for the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher. They also maintained the mailing list for Liguori Publications for a number of years. Over the past six decades, the Redemptoristines have welcomed women from Scotland, South Africa, Malaysia, Argentina, Thailand, and the Philippines. They started a foundation in Legazpi, Philippines on October 16, 1980. An autonomous monastery was canonically erected in Cebu, Philippines on March 8, 2006. Sisters from Liguori founded a South African Foundation on July 2, 1991. When it was closed in 2010, Sr. Alphonsina Mary (Skho) joined the community in Liguori. Earlier this week, she was escorted back to her homeland by former Redemptorist Fr. Michael Fish, OSB. Four Sisters left Liguori to begin a foundation in Thailand on October 7, 2011. Sr. Joan Calver and Sr. Maria Celeste currently reside at the monastery in Korat. Sr. Ann Marie and Sr. Mary Louisa are joining the community in Dublin, and Sr. Mary Helena lives with the Good Shepherd Sisters in Town and Country, MO, near St. Louis.
During Mass, 15 Lay Associates of the Redemptoristines renewed their permanent membership, demonstrating their dedication to the Sisters and ensuring that the spirituality of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer continues in the local area. The Lay Associate program began around 1987 after some friends of the Sisters expressed interest in sharing the spirituality of Blessed Maria Celeste.
Kathy Politte feels blessed to have renewed her permanent membership as a Lay Associate. She has a long association with the Redemptorists at St. Clement’s in Liguori, having been a volunteer for 10 years before she began working there 25 years ago. She was among the very first Lay Associates of the Redemptoristines. “This is a bittersweet time because the Redemptoristines have been very dear to me for most of my life,” she said. “When I was 13 years old, the Sisters invited the local grade schoolgirls to the monastery before the Solemn Enclosure in 1963. I remember that one of the Sisters playfully tugged my long, blond ponytail and asked if I would be willing to give it up for the Lord. When I turned 16 and started driving, I made a special trip to the monastery to visit. I know and love so many of these women, including many of them at rest in the cemetery. They have a lasting legacy in Liguori.”
As a final reflection on their departure from the monastery in Liguori, the Sisters shared a poem by Edward Hays, considered one of the “Sacred Poets of the 19th Century.” Blessed are you, Lord our God, who gives Spice to Life with Change Lord, and Source of all Gifts, we rejoice in the fullness of Your holy generosity. we thank You especially now for the gift of change, that gift of newness that opens doors closed by habit and routine. We bless You and thank You as well For that which is stable and unchanging, for the ancient and traditional which gives meaning to the new and different. We thank You, O End of all Longing, for the capacity for change in our lives, for without change there can be no real growth and no true life. We are grateful, in this prayer, for those persons who, through their gifts of excitement and adventure, have taught us not to fear change, not to resist the new. We are thankful for your Son, your Sacred Word, who spoke to us of new wine for new wineskins and who calls us daily to a new kingdom and to a new covenant. May our hearts be ever-changing, ever in growth as we journey to You, our Mysterious Source, You who are forever fresh and new, yet forever the same. Blessed are you, Lord our God, who gives spice to life with change.
(Courtesy: denverlink 04.28.23)