Cloistered Dominican Nuns Corpus Christi Monastery

The Feast of a Prioress

Last month, we had the joy of celebrating the feast day of our prioress, Sister Maria Christine of the Cross, O.P. in an extra special way according to our monastery’s custom. In the monastery, feasts are generally recognized with greater festivity than birthdays, and the feast of the prioress is a nearly all-day celebration.

As Dominicans, we honor our prioress as primus inter pares (first among equals) in accordance with St. Dominic’s vision of a divinely inspired form of democratic government that fosters maturity, trust, openness to dialogue, collaboration and teamwork. All of this is evidenced in the willingness of the prioress and her sisters to listen to one another, and be attentive to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit.  The prioress holds first place in the community, but before God, is the servant of all.  Chosen by God through a free election, she receives the grace to ensure the flourishing of both the common good and the personal vocation of each sister. It falls to her to uphold discipline, to foster the unity of charity, constantly promote the contemplative life of the nuns, to “admonish the unruly, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, and be patient toward all,” and diligently care for regular observance.

In our monastery, we foster the fraternal bond of charity through liturgical worship, personal prayer and meditation, study, work, recreation, and regular chapters—meetings led by the prioress to renew and develop the life of the community. These pillars of the monastic life are safeguarded by our prioress. We are indeed grateful to our prioress, Sr. Maria Christine, for her generous self-donation, and for her many sacrifices, both hidden and manifest. So, with great appreciation for her service and in honor of her office, we pull out all the stops to celebrate her feast day.

The morning began with beautiful liturgical worship and a solemn Mass, followed by delicious meals and entertainment by the novitiate featuring a variety of talents in drama, music and the arts. This year, the novitiate hosted dinner in their “newly renovated” common room.  A wonderful Italian feast was donated by friends of the community.  After dinner, the novitiate entertained the community with a skit entitled, “I Love Sister Mary Lucy”, inspired by the antics of the sitcom, “I Love Lucy.”  The show included a waltz performance interpreting the election of a prioress and an original composition by one of our sisters describing the responsibilities of a prioress.

Then, Sister Maria Christine was presented with many gifts, some made by the sisters, some given by friends of the community in her honor, all useful to her and/or the community.

After Vespers, the celebration moved outside for a luau picnic of barbequed ribs (also generously prepared and donated by friends) and macaroni salad.  We ended with our customary night prayer (Compline) with a procession in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our holy father, St. Dominic.  Truly a wonderful day of gratitude and rejoicing with and for our prioress.  Deo gratias!

 

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