A new Contemplative Novitiate in Brooklyn, New York
Dear Religious Family,
After a year since returning to the Province of the Immaculate Conception, I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you all the marvels God has done and continues to do for our small Religious Family, through the foundation of another Contemplative Novitiate here in the Province of the Immaculate Conception. These months have given us the opportunity to reflect and experience in a real way God’s loving and provident hand, so that we can say with St. Paul that nothing, not even the pandemic, can hinder God’s will nor separate us from His love.
After receiving my new assignment to be Mistress of Novices for this contemplative novitiate, I arrived at our monastery in Brooklyn last year on October 11, 2019. Would we begin that same month? Will the first postulant arrive in November? While the missionary, for his or her part, ought to be ready for anything at a moment’s notice, in our case God desired to take a little more time to prepare things with His usual attention to detail.
Just two months after leaving Italy, I had to return in December to be able to participate in the Formator’s Conference in Rome. Then at the end of February, Sr. Mary of Jesus arrived from the Contemplative Formation House in Genova to be an assistant at the novitiate. Lent of 2020 began and we were still unsure of when the first candidate would be able to enter, so we simply continued praying, especially through the intercession of St. Catherine of Siena who was named as the patroness of the new novitiate in January.
Then, as God’s grace and providence would have it, just as the pandemic began to hit hard in Brooklyn and the lock-down was being enforced – our first postulant, Sukriti Sapra, entered on the vigil of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the beloved father and guardian of the Servidoras, on whose solemnity the contemplative branch was born in 1991. Sukriti is originally from India but had been living in California and came to know our Religious Family at Our Lady of Peace, CA. God permitted that she would begin this new step of dedicating herself completely to unum necesarium unaccompanied (at least physically) by any family members or friends. Alone in the church, she recited the entrance prayer, expressing the desire “to contemplate and live the mystery of the Incarnate Word in the maximum expression of his self-emptying, which is the Cross.”
Being that our novitiate has been entrusted with the intention to pray that “all men may sincerely seek, love, and be formed in the truth, and find its fulness in the Incarnate Word,” it is indeed most appropriate that our first postulant be a soul who converted from Hinduism to Catholicism after pursuing the truth, and finding it in Christ and His Bride, the Church.
Three months later, on the vigil of the Ascension of the Lord, our second postulant arrived from California, Anne Leger. She is the second Servidora in her family; her older sister is Sr. Advocata Nostra, missionary in Mankato, MN. Then, on August 2, our community grew a bit more with the entrance of Deyanira Liberato, who came from New Jersey but is originally from the Dominican Republic.
The beginning of this novitiate became an opportune moment to clean up and re-paint the hall and cells in the south wing, which used to be the novitiate wing for the Sister Adorers of the Precious Blood here in the Precious Blood Monastery. With the help of our “Irish St. Joseph” (that is, the monastery’s maintenance man named Joe), we were able to move into the new cells in August.
Other preparations during the summer included setting up a separate dining room, class room, iconography room and office space. By the beginning of the Academic Year on August 24, we were able to begin the new academic year with a schedule and rhythm of life proper to the Novitiate, while still uniting daily in prayer and the liturgy with the other contemplative sisters in the monastery.
We give thanks to God and to Our Lady of Lujan for this new contemplative novitiate and for the vocations He continues to raise up for our small Religious Family. We also give special thanks to the sisters of the St. Edith Stein community and to the Sister Adorers of the Precious Blood for their support and help in all that was involved in embracing this new community, and most of all for their example of fidelity to the contemplative life and zeal for souls through their hidden lives of prayer, penance, silence and solitude.
May Mary, Our Lady of the Precious Blood, and all the Holy Patron martyrs obtain for us the grace to be all and only for Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, and disposed to shed our blood, if necessary , in union with His Redemptive and Most Precious Blood, crying out “Vive le Sang de Jesus!”
Mother Mary Our Lady of the Nativity Uy, SSVM