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MUSIC SAMPLE ABOVE-
By Karen Pulfer Focht ©
They are sisters and they sing like angels. Four of their albums hit the top of the charts. Now, reluctantly, they are breaking up for God's sake!
Yes, for God's sake. They are the nuns of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, at the Catholic monastery in Gower, Mo.
“We are breaking up,” explains Sister Scholastica, assistant prioress. The angelic sound that has blessed them with 10 successful CDs--and four that reached #1 —may never be the same.
This makes their latest album, The Hearts of Jesus Mary and Joseph at Ephesus, even more special. It could be their last recording together as a relatively new religious order and musical group.
In this case, breaking up is an exciting thing. The order has grown so fast that they have outgrown their current monastery. They believe 30-40 sisters should be the maximum size. “I think more than that might start to feel like an anonymous crowd, where one might be among a circle of friends, but not necessarily a family” she explains.
This very traditional order of nuns started with two members in 1995. They currently have thirty-five women, ages 17-94--and more coming in every day. Ready to commit (or seeking admission) are five postulants. Nine have officially signed up for early October and 20 or so more are in consideration.
The monastery began to fill up. In the chapel, they moved from choir stalls to ordinary pews. Then, the new postulants started filling up the back pews normally reserved for guests. As more women came to join the order, Mother Cecilia, the prioress, realized they'd have to build again. They started this tenth recording adventure to help with the financing the project.
“It would be very nice to stay together, but it is very much like in family life: there is a time when the older children grow up, and must begin their own families and carry on the family line” says sister.
In an effort to branch out, they have begun a search for another place of peace and some holy ground to dig in to. “When the family grows large enough that we begin to lose sense of the family, it is time for some "repotting," transferring portions to new soil “ she says with a bit of a broken heart. “While the details are still pending, I can say it will be the most painful thing we have ever experienced as a community since we have such deep sisterly love for each other.”
They are actively looking at different properties and locations to begin a new house. They'll have several sisters go and start a new monastery. “We are still gathering all the information and praying about where God wants us” explains Sister Scholastica.
So, it's possible that the earthly gift of this temporal union of women vocalists may have an uncertain future. But surely there will be more music coming from this sacred homestead?
“We know our sound just won't be quite the same! “ says Sister, “recording again seems a great improbability since several sisters will be sent, but one never knows what God has up His sleeve!”
By Memphis Photojournalist Karen Pulfer Focht © All Rights Reserved
Their CDs can be purchased and donations can be made at http://benedictinesofmary.org
Gower, Missouri- The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, is a group of young Catholic cloistered nuns living a secluded life in the rolling hills and farmlands north of Kansas City.
They have chosen to come away from the world and spend their days working in silence-- except for when they are singing sacred music. These are women are seeking a conversion of life. “We are in a sense reaching back through time and conserving that way of life for the future,” Mother Cecilia said. The Benedictine way of life has given the church thousands of saints, she said.
It is within this contemporary monastery that these sisters are working on their latest album of sacred music to raise money to build their church. These singing nuns gained national attention when four of their albums topped the classical charts.
The convent was built on land donated by a local farmer. According to Sr. Scholastica, the sub-prioress of the order, on the day the nuns first visited the land in 2007 to inspect it, they spotted a cloud formation of a very clear dark-gray arm and hand pointing down to the property. Above the "hand" floated a bright white dove. "It was a truly astonishing sight. Yes, this is where God wanted us," she said.
Their days are filled with silence, chores, prayers, chanting and song while they wait for God to come to them in whispers. Wearing distinctive habits and veils that cover all but their pretty faces and hands, they make their deep commitment to be a bride of Christ, visible to all who come into contact with them.
Each night the nuns have Vespers in their tiny chapel. Evening prayer is part of the Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office. Candles are lit; the pious nuns quietly process into the hallowed space in a very orderly way. They begin to express ancient soulful rituals as they chant, bow and sing, "with the help of the angels."
Their numbers are growing, as are their financial needs. They continue to expand and create a holy atmosphere conducive to a powerful inner life.
They have attracted women from all over the globe. Their average age is 29, including Sister Wilhelmina who will be 93 just after Easter. “It is a great blessing to have her wisdom and experience to guide us” said Sister Scholastica.
The nuns recently started a campaign to build their own church. "The monastery church is the focal point of every community, a place where the faithful may come partake of the prayer that is constantly offered there” the sister explains. The decision to build the $6.5 million church is a practical one, they have run out of room. They have raised half the money needed. The hope it will be finished this fall, just in time for more candidates arrive.
They rely on the money they make from their music and donations. They recently got a glimpse of the changing world when received a large donation in bitcoin.
Written By Karen Pulfer Focht
Former story, photos and video at:
Their CDs can be purchased and donations can be made at http://benedictinesofmary.org //////
©-Karen Pulfer Focht-Not For Use Without Written Permission
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In 1980, John Michael Talbot founded "The Brothers and Sisters of Charity", a Catholic-based community. The members live at the Little Portion Hermitage in Berryville, AR (just outside of Eureka Springs).
Talbot says “We are rebuilding the church one parish at a time, and renewing hearts one life at a time!”
Talbot both sang and preached to a full house Thursday in Memphis, calling for a re-energizing of the American Catholic Church. He met and prayed with attendees following his performance.
Talbot is a Grammy Award winning pioneer of what is known as "Contemporary Christian Music, " he has recorded 54 albums. A prolific author, Talbot has also written 27 books.
The Magnificat Foundation celebrated Magnificat Day 2014 in Memphis, Tennessee this weekend. Their mission is to support Catholic culture through beauty of the liturgies, sacred music and art. Ending a full day of ceremonies on Saturday, All Saints Day, Catholic pilgrims from all over the world processed through the heart of downtown Memphis. The event was brought to the city by Andrew Bowie and Steve Denegri through Lumen Civitatis, " Light of the City," which was founded to promote Catholic education and culture. http://lumencivitatis.com/ http://www.magnificat.com/foundation
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