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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sister Servants of the Eternal Word

A special thank you to Sister Catherine Mary, SsEW, for bringing her community to my attention. The Sisters have a wonderful website that is well worth a visit. In particular, if you are looking for retreats, I would highly recommend checking out their retreat schedule - they have several OUTSTANDING retreat masters scheduled!

From The Sister Servants of the Eternal Word website:

We, the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word, are a new order that follows the Rule of St. Francis of Assisi with St. Dominic and St. Francis as our patrons. Our foundress and superior, Mother Mary Gabriel, left her Dominican Congregation of Pontifical Rite through obedience in order to fulfill God's will by founding the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word.

"I envisioned a religious community whose structure would make possible a religious family rooted in a deep prayer life enabling its members to work from an enlightened and contemplative perspective. Our work of retreats and catechesis would necessarily focus in the Catholic Faith, thus nourishing the Sisters' spiritual lives as well as those of the people we serve."

"St. Francis and St. Dominic, examples of poverty and learning, as well as their heroic obedience to the Pope and to the magisterium of the Church, have been chosen as the patrons of the Sister Servants. The unity of their hearts in Jesus Christ and their loving devotion to His Immaculate Mother typify the unity, love, and zeal that gave impetus to and sealed their friendship."

Mother Mary Gabriel taught and administered schools at both the grade and high school levels and served as superior, all of which prepared her for the joys and the crosses that are inevitable when beginning a new foundation. When Mother is asked about her studies and her earned degrees, she simply replies, "The letters after your name are worthless without the ST. [Saint] before it."

The Sisters take a correspondence course to obtain a Pontifical catechetical diploma from CDU in order to nourish their spiritual lives and to prepare them for teaching the Catholic Faith in a non-classroom setting.

Our habits reflect our Franciscan and Dominican heritage - brown capes and scapulars over white tunics, with the corded rope familiar to St. Francis and the fifteen-decade rosary for St. Dominic. Bishop Raymond Boland first gave us canonical status as a new community of consecrated women striving to live the evangelical counsels in religious life. On the solemnity of the Holy Trinity in 1998, Bishop David Foley approved our Constitutions.

We should never underestimate what it takes to be an effective religious both inside and outside the religious family. It is necessary that we practice the virtues of meekness, liberality, and charity. Our religious life has one goal: the perfection of charity within the framework of a life consecrated to God. Charity towards one's peers is easily discernable and always noticed. Charity towards one's superiors means cheerful, thorough, and prompt obedience. Learning this is the challenge and blessing of religious life.

Convent and Retreat House, Casa Maria, is located in Birmingham, AL. We have done much of the construction ourselves and with the help of volunteers. Led by Sr. John Paul, who was a general contractor before joining the convent, we laid the Spanish mission tile roof, because the roofing contractors' bid was too high.

Our formation includes a one-year postulancy and two-year novitiate, followed by first profession of vows and five years renewal of vows. After eight years, the Sisters make their final profession of vows. Below are pictures from various ceremonies.

Perpetual Professions take place on the feast of the Queenship of Mary, August 22nd.

First Professions take place on the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, August 15th.

Reception of the habit

5:30 AM Rise 1:00 Lunch
6:00 Holy Hour 2:00 Apostolate/Convent Duties
7:00 Office of Readings 3:00 Divine Mercy Chaplet
Morning Prayer 3:10 Apostolate/Convent Duties
Other community prayers Recreation (Novitiate)
8:00 Breakfast 3:40 Spiritual Reading (Novitiate)
Cleaning Duties 5:30 Vespers
8:30 Class (Senior Novices) Rosary
9:15 Class (Postulants) Other community prayers
9:45 Study 6:30 Supper
10:00 Class (Junior Novices) 7:15 Recreation
10:45 Apostolate Duties 8:15 Rosary and Night Prayer
11:40 Daytime Prayer Other community prayers
12:00 PM HOLY MASS 9:15 Retire
Rosary 10:00 Lights out

We are, as yet, a small but enthusiastic community. We love our life, our habit, our vows; we love our obedience to the Pope and to the magisterium. We love the poverty that demands hard work. Everything seems easy when we consider the enormous spiritual benefits given to us by our loving merciful God.

If you feel called to authentic Catholicism by the Franciscan/Dominican way, this is the religious life for you. The road to Heaven is truly narrow. We've found the road. If you are interested in obtaining vocational information for yourself or others, please add your name to our mailing list.

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