Cloistered Dominican Nuns Corpus Christi Monastery

A Golden Jubilee Celebration!

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A new vocation is like new love – passionate, exuberant, and ready to take on the life with enthusiastic ideals.  But a vocation that has persevered with love and grace through the years is even more beautiful.  The youthful enthusiasm is there, but now decked with the precious jewels of virtues tested by the fire of trials and the brilliant gold of wisdom.

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Last week our community had the joy of celebrating our Sister Mary Bernadette’s Golden Jubilee (50 years as a professed nun)! The day was filled with gratitude and love, surrounded by our Dominican family, Sister’s friends and family who came to join us in thanking God for Sister’s vocation.

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Sister Mary Bernadette was born and raised in Menlo Park. Her home parish was St. Raymond, where our Dominican friars now serve. At 17 years old, Sister entered Corpus Christi Monastery and found that each day, she become more enriched spiritually and more grateful for the gift of her Dominican vocation.

At the end of the last Millennium, when the Master of the Order asked the nuns in the North America region to found the first English-speaking Dominican foundation in Canada, Sister Mary Bernadette graciously volunteered. In 2000, Sister joined the six Dominican foundresses from other monasteries throughout the United States and began a new journey.

For Sister’s Golden Jubilee, Sister Mary Bernadette has asked her prioress to allow her to come back to her ‘home’ at Corpus Christi Monastery for her retreat.  Sister’s friends and family gathered with us on March 7th which was the date of her first profession for Mass and refreshments after.  As a community, we celebrated with her as well that evening.  Her official jubilee celebration will be held at Sister’s beautiful Queen of Peace Monastery in Canada in July when the weather is better for travelling.

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Our Sister Maura, O.P.; Sister Mary Bernadette, O.P.; Father Eugene Sousa, O.P. (our previous chaplain), and Father Allen Duston, O.P. (our current chaplain.)

In the homily that day, our Chaplain Father Allen Duston, O.P. shared with us his reflection on the Gospel and asked, do miracles happen and then we believe or do we believe and then miracles happen?  Obviously, Father continued, we could see clearly that the latter is the case.  Father Allen further emphasized that when we invite God into our life, miracles happen; and when we understand the vocation God is inviting us to, we must believe that, even in the darkest of days, God will work miracles. We are grateful that Sister Mary Bernadette has invited God into her life and for the miracle of 50 years of her religious profession.  We are encouraged by her witness and happy with Sister for taking all the tribulations and trials God sent to her.

Sister Mary Bernadette has touched so many lives with her vocation and her fidelity to Christ’s call and love for her.  She shared with us simple and heartfelt reflections on her 50 years as a nun – her gratitude for her family, friends and Dominican family and how they’ve helped her grow; her knowledge that her Christ did not call her to cut herself off from her loved ones, but that her vocation was a way to serve them more profoundly, by holding them in her heart before Jesus in prayer.  Her life continues to grow richer and more interesting.

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Seeing the witness of a vocation like this is like seeing the vocation of marriage in a couple married for 50 years (or more).  You can see the tender love that they’ve fought for and share; they know each other so well, they do not need to speak a simple touch of the hands or gaze of the eyes communicates all that needs be said.  And yet, there is a youthful wonder as they know they still have unplumbed depths in the other – they will never exhaust what there is to learn about the other, and they are joyful to have the opportunity each moment they have together.  This is also the beauty of a Golden vocation.  May God grant us all the grace to persevere in His love, no matter our vocation in life.  And may God bless Sister Mary Bernadette many more years and may the fruits of her vocation endure forever in the Kingdom to come!

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