The new year has brought some sad moments as we bade farewell to several long-time friends and benefactors - Fr. William Gorman, Beverly Schubert, Joanne Schulz, Jane Palmer, Tom P. Ollinger, Helen Robinson, Anthony Vitale, all loved by a wide circle of family and friends for their genuine goodness and affection.

Recently we were approached by a representative of "Women Making a Difference", a civic group which is interested in improving neighborhoods. Currently, the women are heading an effort to restore Three Mile Creek to a recreational area suitable for canoeing and kayaking, with trails for walking and bicycling. The creek is just north of our property and once was a source of water for the academy and monastery. We are pleased to support this development and welcomed the group on February 10th for a planning meeting in our dining room.

Our next event will be the Ash Wednesday Day of Prayer, led by our pastor, Msgr. James Kee. It begins with registration at 9:00 A.M., and includes the recitation of the rosary, a conference, a simple Lenten lunch, Stations of the Cross, Confession and the chaplet of the Divine Mercy.

On March 13 - 15, 2015, Fr. Eugene Pathe, a popular preacher from the Pensacola diocese, will conduct a retreat for women. Registration will be from 3:00 P.M.; supper will be at 6:00. The schedule includes Mass each day, conferences, Confession, and other devotions typical of group retreats. It concludes with the noon meal on Sunday.

 
 

Getting ready for the next postulant.

Novitiate sisters painting and cleaning rooms.
 
 

Fr. Nicholas King, S.J., of the British province of Jesuits, came from Boston to conduct a retreat for men on February 20 - 22. It was an inspiring experience of Ignatian spirituality which provided the men with a solid foundation for a grace-filled Lent.

On March 7th and 8th Fr. John Licari led a group of eighty-five women from the Pensacola diocese in a spirit-filled reflection on the life of Mary. The talks were drawn from scriptural accounts, enhanced by Father's personal reading, prayer and musical compositions. "It seemed as though we were really there in the events", was a typical comment from the women who attended.

A week later, Fr. Pathe's conferences were deeply moving for the women who were here for that retreat. They appreciated the many rich insights he opened up for them through his engaging explanations of the scriptures. Again, a frequent comment was, "It felt like we were really there."

The week of March 23 - 28 is reserved for a group of ten stalwart men who are driving from St. John the Baptist Parish in Glandorf, Ohio, to offer their skills in construction work to help accomplish some urgent work for the Catholic Social Services. They will be working on site all day, but will begin and end their days in Mobile here at the monastery. It is an inspiration to see the enthusiasm they have for serving the poor - a generous response to Pope Francis' recommendation to spread the Gospel of Joy.

Later in the week, on March 27, the Archdiocesan staff will gather for a day of reflection with Archbishop Rodi, and the following day, the Daughters of St. Francis de Sales will meet for Mass and conferences with Fr. Stephen Hellman, their spiritual director.

 

On March 21, 2015, a faithful group assembled in front of the monastery at noon to participate in a national rosary rally in support of traditional marriage and family values.
 
 
 
Sister Mary enjoyed a visit from members of her class at St. Mary's Daycare.
 
 
Bell in Cloister
 

Our long, hot summer has had its share of lazy, hazy days, bringing a bumper crop of figs, pears and blueberries.

 
 

Summer has also been enlivened by several events, as depicted by the follow photos:

Our inner courtyard, longtime habitat for our cats, turtles and cardinals, saw an invasion of intruders such as the -
 
Saddleback caterpillar
Opossum
Racoon
 

The members of the prayer shawl ministry in St. Patrick's Parish in Mt. Dora, Florida, generously ministered to us, praying for us as they lovingly crafted these one-of a kind- shawls and lap robes, which are being put to use even in these summer days, and will become more evident as the cold weather moves in -

 
 

Sr. Ana and Sr. Alicia, two Minim Sisters of Charity, came from Cullman for a few days retreat and shared with us some information about their small community. Sr. Mary Helena, also on retreat, enjoys the exchange of ideas.

 
 
The novitiate makes the most of their recreation days -
 
 
Sr. June became Sr. Mary Louis as she made her temporary profession on August 12th, feast of our Holy Mother, Sr. Jane de Chantal.
 
 
Sr. Jane de Chantal
 
Our chaplin Fr. Patrick Madden was celebrant of the Rite of Profession. He gave Sr. June her new name Sr. Mary Louis.
 
 
Sr. Ana received the postulant's veil on June 12th and Sr. Gail became a postulant on August 25th.
 
 
Sr. Margaret Mary, Sr. Gail and Sr. Mary Anthony
Novitiate
 
We were surprised and jubilant to receive a new statue of St. Joseph for our cemetery. Found in an internet search by the diligent workers at the Gift Shop, it was put in place by Sammy Wilder and a crew of construction men who promptly and graciously volunteered their time, equipment, and strength.
 
 
 
During the Forty Days for Life and the synod on the family in October, people assembled in front of the monastery to pray the rosary in support of the Church's teaching on marriage and family life.
 
 
The rosary in the photo came from the Basilica of St. Anne in Quebec and was donated by a friend of Ann Thumblin, the case was made by Louis Seiter on left, Ann, Mother Rose Marie and Lee Eilers.
 
 
 
The Saga of the Ring
 

Once upon a time in the days of the academy, one of the pupils received a ruby ring from her grandmother on Christmas Eve. Sadly, her beloved grandmother died the next day, which made her treasured gift even more precious. After the Christmas holidays the little girl returned to school and was showing her ring to her classmates while they were gathered on the outside pavement surrounding the courtyard. Suddenly the ring flew out of her hand over the parapet and into the grass in the courtyard. Horrified, her first though was, "I'm in BIG trouble", for the students were forbidden to sit or stand on the parapet and were never allowed to walk on the grass of the courtyard. What to do? If she asked a sister for help retrieving her ring, she would have to admit that she had been sitting on the parapet, and if she went into the courtyard to pick up the ring herself, she would be committing another, more deliberate, act of disobedience - and she just might caught. Agonizing over her choices, she decided to say nothing and prayed someone would find the ring and turn it in to the principal, who would inquire if anyone had lost a ring. She could then claim it without having to explain how she lost it. Alas, no one mentioned finding a ring, and the longer she remained silent the more difficult it was for her to make inquiries.

More than seventy years later, the former student came to the monastery with her son who was carrying some metal detection equipment. They asked to be permitted to search in the area where the ring had fallen to the ground, despite the long lapse of time. After nearly an hour of meticulous but unsuccessful searching, they asked if they could return another time to resume their efforts with a professional searcher who had more sensitive equipment. This proposal met with the approval of the superior, but no date was set.

Several weeks later the superior was in her office, preparing to make a phone call. Finding the phone in use, she was waiting patiently for the line to be free when a thought came to her to look for the ring in the secretary in her office. At first she dismissed this as being too improbable to pursue. But the thought kept recurring, so finally she opened the cover of the antique escritoire and her eye fell on several small drawers inside. She opened one and found some little boxes inside. Obviously they had been here a long time. The first one she opened surprisingly contained a miniature ring, gold with red stones; not a single ruby, but nonetheless red.

Not daring to conclude that this was the long-sought ring, she called the former student and told her of her discovery. Beside herself with excitement the good lady told her that the reason she was so diligent in seeking the ring was that she had hoped to give it to her granddaughter - and that very day was the girl's birthday! Within an hour she was at the monastery examining the ring. Although it was not quite the same as she remembered from her childhood, it WAS a child's ring, had red stones, had been turned in to the superior at some time in past years, and had been waiting a long time to be claimed. Considering the chain of events that led to its discovery and the several points of similarity between the rings, she was willing to accept this as her long lost keepsake and to pass it on to her granddaughter, whether or not it was indeed a family heirloom.

 
 
April 3, 2016 Divine Mercy Sunday
 
 

Fr. Dan Cambra, OMI, presided at this year's celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday. We were honored to have Fr. Cambra with us for our observance of this feast during the Year of Mercy. He had spent most of the Lenten season giving missions and retreats in the Gulf Coast area and closed his tour of parishes with this glorious event attended by the largest number of men, women, and children we have ever had.

Once again, Mandy Spotswood recruited a crew of helpers to carry out the preparations for the event. Generous donors contributed sufficient funds to defray the expenses. Laura Kay Florist and Marie Martin provided the lovely floral arrangements, and music was supplied by Gerald Vrazel and his fellow musicians from St. Mary's Parish. A number of local priests were available for confessions. The celebration concluded with the veneration of a first-class relic of St. Faustina which has been entrusted to Fr. Cambra.

Father will be back in Mobile next spring for parish missions and the ladies' retreat on March 17th - 19th, 2017.

 
 
 
May 26 - June 3, 2016 Novena to the Sacred Heart
 
 

Fr. Patrick Madden, former chaplain to our community and currently pastor of St. Maurice in Brewton, conducted this year's novena to the Sacred Heart.

Mr. Robert G. Jackson was lector and music was provided by various groups who made time to honor Our Lord with their gifts and talents - Margaret Cooper from St. Partick's Parish in Atmore, Margie Smith, Olga Villar and Juan Torres.

Floral arrangements were provided by a dear friend in memory of her family and friends.

 
 
Outdoor Stations
 
 
During Lent Fr. Pat Madden, who was our chaplain at the time, came inside the enclosure to bless our beautiful new outdoor stations. The gift of a generous and thoughtful benefactor, they had been affixed to the wall of our cloister walk, which provides shelter from inclement weather in a peaceful outdoor setting.
 
 
Golden Jubilee
 

Just a week after Divine Mercy Sunday, Sr. Margaret Mary celebrated her Golden Jubilee of religious profession. The glorious Mass with Archbishop Rodi and several priests and deacons was attended by her numerous family and friends who traveled from all parts of the country to be part of this event.

Rev. Stephen Martin delivered a magnificent homily which perfectly conveyed the significance of our religious vocation, and Jeehae Helen Lee played the organ for hymns chosen for the occasion.

Afterward, there was a joyous reception and dinner prepared and served by members of the Mobile Cursillo. This gathering of family and friends also allowed opportunity for visiting with those who had come from a distance, thus prolonging the festive spirit for several days.

 
 
 
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