The annual Sacred Heart Novena of Masses at Visitation Monastery will begin Thursday May 26, 2016 and continue through Friday June 3, 2016, starting at 730PM each evening.
Please join us!
The annual Sacred Heart Novena of Masses at Visitation Monastery will begin Thursday May 26, 2016 and continue through Friday June 3, 2016, starting at 730PM each evening.
Please join us!
This week a woman from Singapore has arrived for retreat with a vocational possibility in mind.
Our new discernment program as mentioned in a previous post can be applied for after 3 private retreats here at the Monastery.
If you are considering a monastic vocation, we welcome your e mail or phone call.
A winter retreat gives you the opportunity to explore the monastic grounds during this season.
Four American Visitandines from different US Monasteries attended the conclusion of the Year of Consecrated Life in Rome at the end of January and beginning of February. Mother Susan Marie of the Brooklyn Visitation Monastery was among them, joined by
Mother Rosemarie, Mother Mary Emmanuel and Sister Suzanne, from Mobile, Rockville and Mineapolis. We met in the Atlanta airport for the transatlantic flight on Tuesday January 26th and were thrilled to meet other Sisters from various congregations also on the same plane, some of whom we knew: Sister Diane from the Cincinnati Poor Clares and two Consecrated Virgins, Barbara and Eileen. Small world!
When we arrived in Rome the next morning, Wednesday the 27th, we Visitandines were quite surprised to see airport signs in both Italian and English, making our hurried steps to the baggage claim that much easier to find.
The Holy See had arranged for all 38 Visitandines from around the world to lodge with the Sisters of Charity on Via della Greca and we Americans were met by a competent taxi driver who took us on the half hour trip to our new convent.
First impressions of Italy were multiple: honking horns, throngs of motorcycles, ancient ruins, everyday folk waiting for a bus, large apartment houses with laundry drying from windowsills, groups of men in animated conversation on the sidewalks, and some poor homeless individuals. Palm trees and pines were scattered here and there on this sunny day.
We were one of the first groups to arrive at the Sisters of Charity Generalate and were greeted so warmly by the Sisters, invited to lunch and given time to explore the surroundings of the 4th floor where our rooms were located. A roof terrace gave us access to a wide view of this section of Rome which included sights of cupolas and domes of the Churches in the area, and an unusual looking tower.
One of the most delightful discoveries was that the Generalate had about 20 postulants staying there all from China.
Tired from the long travel, we made it an early night.
Early in the morning we rose to join the Sisters of Charity for Morning prayer- in Italian- fumbling with the pages of the books a little, and then attended Mass with them. Their chant and singing is harmonious and gentle. After breakfast of a roll, yogurt, some fruit and Italian coffee, we had a little free time in the morning, so the first exploration was within the grounds, which offered vine covered trellises, winding upward paths with views of the distant Vatican and a partitioned cave, vigiled with lights before a painting of their Foundress, for prayer.
Mothers Rosemarie and Susan Marie then went beyond the walls for their “Roman adventure”, a walking spree that took them past the National Monument, many ruins, such as the Teatro di Marcello,
Palazzo Venezia and down the Via della Corso for 2 and a half hours.
Back with the others in time for lunch in the colonnaded dining room with the local community, we all enjoyed the first course of pasta as well as the main meal. Many other Visitandines now began to arrive and by 3PM there was a bus ready to take us to the opening prayer service at St. Peter’s Basilica.
The first challenge wasgetting to the bus across a wide street with not enough time to beat the light! That accomplished we had a short 2 mile or so ride to a bus terminal- no door to door service here. Then walking the streets of stone- not easy for Mother Emmanuel’s walker- to the phenomenal lines of 4000 religious waiting to be scanned for entrance into St. Peter’s Basilica.
We were blessed to pass through the Holy Doors as we made our way into this vast cavern of holiness, trying to identify the statues as we were ushered to our seats. We needed to feast our eyes on what lay above and around us then for little did we realize then that we would never be able to enter St. Peter’s after this day.
The opening prayer service was so moving and we flooded our hearts with prayer. You can watch the entire service here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzzjA25cLjU
The unity was powerful among us, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament so profound.
After this first service we 4 American Visitandines were, thankfully, together and made our way in tremendous crowds to try to find our way back to the bus, several colonnades and blocks away, it seemed. But Mother Emmanuel’s walker could not keep pace and we were confused as to which direction to go. We made our way, blessedly with a gentle, kind and distinguished cleric who helped us. Much to our dismay it turned out the bus did not wait for us and we were stranded amid the homeless souls surrounding St Peter’s. The kindly cleric took us with him, and slowly we made our way to a taxi stand where we obtained a ride home. The cleric left us. We saw him a few days later. He was a Cardinal from Ghana!
Friday, January 29th, 2016 our attendance at “Consecrated Life in Communion,” began in earnest. The early morning became routine: a quick breakfast with 38 Visitandines in a private refectory setting with the Sisters of Charity, off to the bus, or in our case, sometimes a taxi and then to our place of meeting.
Because Mother Emmanuel’s walker wasn’t the best vehicle for transport for cobblestoned streets and swarming crowds of religious, the Sisters of Charity lent us a wheelchair and Mother Rosemarie became her main companion. One of the other of us would take a leisurely ride in the taxi with them.
When we arrived to enter Paul the 6th Hall at the Vatican, we were again met by the scanners and long lines of 4000 religious. Thus we were separated as those with special needs were taken to different areas.
The Hall was spacious enough for all of us. In our bags we were given tiny red “translator” machines with earphones and these worked fora while, at least, although many of them needed battery changes and that ran out eventually too.
The first talk was by Cardinal A João Braz de Aviz the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life . He spoke about Consecrated life in the unity of charisms.Some of his key points were:
The closing of the Year of Consecrated Life is an historic event. Five continents of religious were meeting for the first time in the “House of Peter”
He emphasized: joy, waking up the world, religious as experts in communion, going to the existential outskirts, to listen and be courageous.
Religious are to confess the Holy Trinity and insert ourselves into the life of the Trinity.
To be compassionate and joyous; service is a source of joy.
We are to be prophets and a prophet testifies how Jesus lived on this earth, not solitary but in communion. We are to be a school of communion.
We must adapt to new needs and not have a self-referential approach.
Unfortunately, this writer’s translation device then failed and I was unable to understand the remaining talks, which were in Italian or Spanish.
We lunched at Urbano College, and had evening prayer there as well.
The weekend of Saturday and Sunday January 30 and 31st, 2016 was set aside for individual meetings within each of the lifestyle groups: Consecrated virgins, monastic, apostolic religious, secular institutes and new ecclesial movements. Therefore our gathering was greatly reduced from 4000 total religious to merely 800 cloistered contemplatives!
We met at Urbano College, first for Mass in the Chapel and then in the modern auditorium with bleacher seats that provided authentic translators and headphones. This university was within walking distance also of both the Vatican and the ubiquitous bus terminal and being on a height, afforded wonderful views of Rome.
The talks were dynamic, filled with care and concern for us, informative and helpful. It became very clear that the Holy See is well aware of the many concerns of our monasteries throughout the world and intends to continue trying to gather us together every once in a while.
The first talk was again by Cardinal Aviz entitled Fraternal Communion in the Monastic Community and the second by Sr Fernanda Barbiero SMSD entitled Formation in the Monasteries; the legacy of the past and openness to the future.
Sunday January 31st brought us again early in the morning to Urbano College Chapel for Mass at 830AM. While the Liturgy was always in Italian, Mass readings and intercessions as well as homilies were varied as to language: Spanish, French and English.
Then it was back to the bleachers and the headphones for excellent talks on Autonomy of the Monasteries, the Biblical Foundations of Cloister and the present and Future of the Federations.
One key thought on autonomy that was striking was that if a Monastery does not meet the requirements of autonomy because of aging, poor finances, etc, but still exhibits some vital signs of life, the Monastery can be “temporarily adopted” by a more flourishing Monastery of the Order until it achieves or regains the criteria to be autonomous again. That was a very hopeful point!
The Holy See greatly desires that all monasteries be federated, but nevertheless this condition still remains optional. However it is for the good of the community to share resources and it was emphasized over and over that federations do not threaten autonomy.
A leisurely lunch period, again buffet style with no seating arrangements other than steps or stoop, yet with tasty food, gave all a break, and then afterwards we could walk about the campus, pray in the chapel or meet with friends, new or old.
These two days of monastic meetings really capped the experience for many.
In the evening another vespers service with all 800 of us in the Chapel gave a fitting conclusion to these special monastic days.
Monday February 1st as well as Tuesday February 2nd were each to be the “day of all days” as the religious attending the “Consecrated Life in Communion” event in Rome were to meet with Pope Francis, both in a private audience( all 4,000 of us!) and at the Papal Mass closing the Year of Consecrated Life.
Thus excitement ran high.
We Visitandines left our Sisters of Charity residence earlier than usual to arrive at Paul the 6th Hall at 8AM, which would mean over a 3 hour wait for our Holy Father to greet us.
The time was well spent; in opening prayer, certainly, expressed again in several languages; in music and in private conversations as we got to know the religious in the seats around us.
The Federation Presidents of our Order were blessed to get second row seats in some cases which gave us great hopes of being close up to the Holy Father.
As time drew near, and rumors that Pope Francis was approaching were whispered the sedate religious began to exhibit decorum of a more spontaneous kind. As the Holy Father was running late, the anticipation kept building and finally the doors opened and the religious roared with joy!
He walked down the aisle to the stage greeting all those in his path. As he stepped to the podium Pope Francis gently handed over his prepared speech and spoke spontaneously, with much dynamism, humor and integrity.
Three key messages he gave were prophecy, proximity and hope.
View the video of the Holy Father‘s audience here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwMkWVxxyIQ
At the conclusion of his address, the Holy Father greeted the Cardinals, Bishops and other clergy, and music ministers on stage then came down to bless and greet the religious personally, especially those in the front rows, and those who scrambled to get there!
We Visitandines were very blessed to have at least three of our Sisters shake the hand and speak with Holy Father and kiss his ring, and possibly more. The three favored ones pictured here are Mother Rosemarie of Mobile, Mother Emmanuel of Rockville and Sister Jane Margaret of Waldron.
After this extraordinary morning we lunched again at Urbano College, had free time and then Mass at Urbano at 330PM.
The evening was set aside for a concert.
Not all of we Americans were feeling up to this event.
Tuesday February 2nd, was the Feast of the Presentation, and the concluding day of the Year of Consecrated Life. One of us four Americans was privileged to go on the pilgrimage to St. Paul Outside the Walls Church with all the other religious, passing through another Holy Door with a beautiful prayer service to partake in.
Three of us stayed behind with the Sisters of Charity for various health reasons, but in God’s Good Pleasure, were thereby available to greet Ms. Anne Goetze, artist, photographer and niece of the late Sr Margaret Mary Goetze, when she arrived to join us in this last half of our journey.
It was a delightful encounter, and Anne went off to take pictures of the lovely setting of this Generalate. It also happened to be the departure day of one of the Sisters of Charity from Malta who was returning there after 50 years of service in Italy. So a special meal and cake was prepared for dinner at 1PM, which we were invited to enjoy as well.
At 3PM Anne, Mother Rosemarie and Mother Emmanuel left to go to St. Peter’s for the Papal Mass, while Mother Susan Marie waited until 4PM and then taxied down to the Basilica, joining once more the incredibly crowded line of religious waiting for this final opportunity to pray with our Holy Father and each other.
After at least an hour or so of waiting, separated though we were, we obtained seats; for those with special needs, inside the Basilica, but for the rest of us, outside in St. Peter’s Square. Another experience! The dark and cold did not daunt us as the beautiful lights lit up St. Peter’s with a golden glow; flocks of birds circled above at propitious times like at the Offertory and the big screens helped us enter into the spirit of the Liturgy.
Here is the Holy Father’s Homily: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2016/documents/papa-francesco_20160202_omelia-vita-consacrata.html
Here is the video of the Mass: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chLXd3N07ik
The holy Father emphasized that “. Consecrated men and women are called first and foremost to be men and women of encounter.,”and that “All forms of consecrated life, each according to its characteristics, are called to be in a permanent state of mission, sharing “the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted”
At the end of Mass, the Pope went to St Peter’s Square to greet the faithful gathered outside:
Dear Consecrated Brothers and Sisters,
Thank you so much! You partook in the Eucharist while a bit chilly, but the heart is aflame!
Thank you for ending this Year of Consecrated Life in this way, everyone together. Go forth! Each of us has a role, has a job in the Church. Please, do not forget the first vocation, the first call. Remember! And with the love with which you were called, today the Lord continues to call you. Do not downplay, never downplay the beauty, the wonder of the first call. And then keep working. It’s beautiful! Continue. There is always something to do. The main thing is to pray. The “marrow” of consecrated life is prayer: pray! And grow old, but age like fine wine!
I’ll tell you something. I so enjoy when I come across those elderly women and men religious with eyes that shine, because they have the flame of spiritual life alight. It hasn’t gone out, that flame has not gone out! Go forth today, each day, and keep working and look to tomorrow with hope, always ask the Lord to send us new vocations, so our work of consecration can go forward. Memory: do not forget the first call! Daily work and then the hope of going forward and sowing well, so that the others who come after us can receive the legacy that we shall leave them.
Now let us pray to Our Lady….
Have a good evening and pray for me!
Then it was the 4000 religious “mad dash” to leave. We each got home as best we could, to the refectory for a meal, and there who also greeted us but Fr Eduoard Marot and Alicia Beauvisage, our friends whose mission is the promulgation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
A beautiful ending to a treasured day!
The conclusion of the Papal Mass on February 2 ended the more than a year-long celebration of Consecrated Life and this special week of Consecrated Life in Communion. Most of the 4000 religious returned to their home communities. But not we Visitandines! With his usual foresight, our Assistant General, Father Corrignan, planned to gather the 39 of us together for a few more days of meetings.
So, on the morning of Wednesday February 3rd, we said very grateful goodbyes to the Sisters of Charity with whom we had been housed, especially Sister Mary, Mother Jacqueline, Sister Ramona, Sister Isabella and Sister Frances, and boarded a bus for our next destination, the Salesianum. Anne Goetze also would be among us and would take photographs of this historic gathering.
When we arrived at the Salesianum hotel, some peacocks greeted us.
We met in the afternoon, introducing ourselves, our Federations, and citing number of Sisters and communities. As we had already been together for a week, we had found our own ways of communicating, but Fr Corrignan greatly enhanced that by translating in rapid succession into three languages: French, English and Spanish, all that was said.
The second day we shared, by Federation, what we were thankful for, and what our hopes and challenges were. Our final morning consisted of some early brainstorming after it was announced that our General Assembly would be scheduled for September of 2017.
Mother Marie Therese Dennel, Superior of Annecy, also related the recent history of our Holy Source and encouraged us to think of ways to connect with hope and help to this treasured monastery of our Order.
Friday February 5th was the First Friday of the Month- very special to Visitandines who are dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We had Mass in one of the Salesianum’s Chapels, named after St. Francis de Sales, with African decor.
Our last gathering, as previously mentioned, was a remote preparation for a General Assembly.
As the afternoon was free, two Americans, the two British Sisters, a Portuguese Sister, Fr Corrignan and Anne Goetze all decided to go back to the center of Rome one more time to perhaps see St. Peter’s Basilica with more leisure. A huge van transported us and the driver promised to give us a return trip as well.
Unfortunately, St. Peter’s Basilica was again closed! This was hugely disappointing, but we could not imagine why there was such crowds. As it turned out, this was all to be a blessing as the relics of St Padre Pio of Pietrelcina were soon to arrive, so thus many of us were present in the vicinity as they made their way to the Basilica.
What a tremendous send off for us! Accompanying St Pio were the remains of St Leonard Mandic.
There was no doubt that Italians and other Europeans still have faith as they prayed, welcomed and cheered the arrival of the relics of these two saints!
A bit of touring and a leisurely wait in a cafe until the van arrived, ended this day. Saturday we were homeward bound!
On February 10 2016 we will celebrate Mass and distribute ashes at 9am.
To qualify, a woman must be between the ages of 18 and 59 (with exceptions considered), free from dependents and unmarried, a practicing Catholic for 5 years (if a new convert).
A candidate must have or pray to find a spiritual director.
She must also make two retreats of 3 days each in our Monastery before being considered for the program.
The Discernment Program is 6 months long, at the minimum. The candidate would make a retreat every month for 3 days, if living locally, and meet with her spiritual director once a month.
If living at a geographical distance, at least 3 retreats would be necessary during the 6 month period.
After 6 months, if the candidate feels ready, a thorough recommendation from the spiritual director favoring the candidates vocation in our Monastery would be the next step before deciding an entrance date.
Other particulars before entrance would then follow as an appropriate day of entrance would be decided upon.
The Discernment Program can be extended beyond six months, based on the candidates’ circumstances.
The Lord is also gracing us with vocational inquiries and this weekend three women are planning to make a retreat with discernment in mind.
If you have an attraction toward monastic life as you seek the Lord’s Will for your life, you may want to make a retreat in our “oasis” of prayer here in Brooklyn.
Please contact us and we will be pleased to guide your initial steps!
To learn more of the various presentations Fr. Kirby offers, please visit his website at: