The pioneer foundresses of St. Joseph Monastery in Silver City, NM saw their religious house blessed by His Excellency Bp. Bernard Fellay on February 10th, 2018, the feast day of St. Scholastica.
With that momentous act, the Benedictine monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Silver City, NM gained a sister congregation of contemplative Benedictine sisters.
Bishop Fellay explained the significance of a new convent for the Church and Tradition thus:
We have two things. First, the blessing itself, which is pouring down the blessing of God and God’s graces, and that makes this place of the earth a holy place, a place of graces. That is the most important part. Then, it’s important for Tradition because it is the first contemplative American monastery that we bless. We hope that there will be many graces and many vocations here. In a country like the United States, which is very materialistic, there is an urgent need for depth that is given by contemplative life and contemplative monasteries. To know God, you must elevate yourself from the earth. You must get that look of the Faith. Nothing but contemplation will do that. This contemplative house for the Benedictine of Americans will complement the traditional Carmelite congregation.”
Fr. Cyprian spoke in the same vein, adding,
The long-desired convent project now completes the Benedictine picture, with both men and women living the Rule of St. Benedict in mutual support and collaboration. The recent extensive acquisition of additional acreage allows room for expansion and privacy to each monastic community. The Benedictine nuns represent the original form of feminine religious life as it developed from the Roman Virgins of apostolic times, made famous by the daughters and relatives of the Apostles and later by the Church Fathers, such as St. Ambrose. Rome is full of the shrines of these first nuns who lived the religious ideal from the very beginning of Christianity, in the imitation of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who Herself was a consecrated virgin in the service of the temple."
The upcoming year is one of formation for the new community of sisters. They will follow the established traditional timeline of religious formation. Besides the status typical of new foundations, there is the usual period of postulancy, two-year novitiate, six years of temporary vows, and then perpetual vows and the consecration of virgins. Current plans envision a community beginning with 10 to 12 vocations. The religious clothing ceremony for the sisters will take place on October 17th this year, the feast of St. Margaret Mary.
“It is true that the Rule of St. Benedict is a code of life composed primarily for men,” Fr. Cyprian said.
Although the feminine interpretation has its venerable precedents and traditions dating back to St. Scholastica, the twin sister of St. Benedict. The Rule is indeed universal and has an equal appeal to women as well, perhaps with the exception that the nuns wouldn’t need to wear a knife on their work belts as the monks do! The current convent property is temporary and will house 30 nuns for at least 5 years. The definitive property, which is one mile further south, is currently under construction. It will be a full-scale abbey with room for 80 nuns. We hope that will be sufficient for the future!
The weekend abounded with other joyful events. Prior to blessing of the house, Fellay generously preached three days of the sisters’ week-long retreat. The morning of the blessing, Bp. Fellay offered a Pontifical Solemn High Mass, and three brothers received the tonsure. There was also Pontifical First and Second Vespers, and all the Divine Offices were sung in their splendor and beauty. In the evening, a statue of Our Lady was carried on a bier in a candlelight procession from the monastery to the convent and back. The celebrations concluded with a brilliant fireworks display.
Readers who would like to support the monastery and convent can purchase coffee through the community’s coffee apostolate: the purchase of a bag of coffee is equal to a new stone in the monastery walls. There is also an online giftshop. More information can be found on their website. But most importantly, a house of prayer lives on prayer. Please pray for the brothers and the sisters.