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Monday, 29 August 2022 13:16

Dominican nuns of the Monastery of Mary the Queen move into new home in Girard

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Nuns with bishopBishop Thomas John Paprocki stands with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Mary the Queen on Aug. 15, the day he celebrated Mass and dedicated the church and alter at their brand-new monastery in Girard. 

1Dominican nuns of the Monastery of Mary the Queen move into new home 
Guests are welcome to visit monastery, attend Mass, walk the grounds, talk with the sisters
By ANDREW HANSEN 
Editor 

GIRARD —Tucked away in the silence of corn fields and beautiful woods in rural Macoupin County outside Girard, sits the new home for the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Mary the Queen. Years in the making, the nuns have been praying, waiting, and trusting to get to this joyful day. It’s the first Dominican monastery in Illinois. 

“I am very grateful that the Lord chose this spot for us,” said Sister Anna Marie Pierre, OP, the prioress of the community. “It’s just quiet and calm, and the fact that it is so far away from the hustle and bustle, yet people can get to us.”

In July, the community hosted public tours of their new monastery and on Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, they welcomed Bishop Thomas John Paprocki to celebrate Mass and to dedicate the church and altar.

“My dear Dominican Nuns, the Lord has given Himself to you in many ways, not least of which are the blessings of this glorious day,” Bishop Paprocki said in his homily. “Truly, this day is a gift to all of us from Our Lord! My simple reminder is that the greatest of all God’s gifts is when He gives Himself to us, and that every moment of His silence is a treasured occasion when He renews that gift. Never underestimate how much of a gift this is! Creation was brought into being with a thought of love. The Incarnation happened with a whispered ‘yes.’ Our redemption was accomplished when Christ bowed His head and laid down His life. The consecration at Mass occurs with the silent outpouring of God’s Spirit upon the bread and wine. Finally, God’s plan for all of us, to carry us body and soul into everlasting friendship with Him, was marvelously, but mutely, prefigured when He assumed His mother into eternal glory. God’s greatest works in our hearts will also happen in silence. The simple question that He asks us each day: ‘Will you let my silent Love dwell in your heart?’”

4“What we want to do is encourage the faithful to take the daily demands of their lives and take time away from that and just come here,” Sister Anna Marie said. “We can create such a fellowship with them, even their kids. We can encourage the kids to learn the faith properly just by witnessing to them, the art of being silent, and probably engage with different schools to bring the kids to the parlor to teach them and bring them to the chapel with their teachers — have that kind of rapport where they come in contact with nuns again.” 

The Dominican nuns have 16 sisters who now call this new monastery home, which was built by O’Shea Builders of Springfield. Sister Anna Marie says they are thankful to the Dominican Sisters of Springfield who have allowed them to live as guests at their motherhouse on Monroe Street over the past several years.

“With the Dominican Sisters, that bond that we created there with them, they have become such an integral part of our lives that we feel — we always talk about the Dominican family — we have created that,” Sister Anna Marie said.

While the new monastery will not offer directed retreats, guests are invited to the property daily to attend Mass, use the chapel for prayer, talk with the sisters about things going in their lives, and walk the grounds, which includes nearly 40 acres of woodlands and a lake, which you can fish.  

The Dominican nun’s lives are structured around a rhythm of prayer, both liturgical and personal. Living a contemplative monastic life, their days also include study, penance, and witness. They also take time for recreation and learning new creative pursuits. 

5The words “sister” and “nun” are oftentimes used interchangeably by lay people, but there is a distinction. Sisters are more visible to the outside world. Examples include teaching in schools or taking care of patients as a nurse. Nuns, on the other hand, are cloistered and have limited contact with the outside world. 

“Whenever we go out and meet people, they are so shocked that they say, ‘Oh my goodness, it has been so long since I have seen a nun. Are you for real?’” Sister Anna Marie said. “Now they can come here and realize that this was not a pipe dream. It took a long time, but this is a place for them. When they see us and come to a place like this, they can think of our life, reminding them that there is more to life than this. It’s about the Kingdom to come.”

The community is still figuring out when Mass will be offered and other schedules of their days, so make sure to check their website opnunsil.org for that information as they continue to get settled. You can also donate to their mission. The nuns also eventually plan a gift shop. You can visit the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Mary the Queen at 15635 Greenridge Road in Girard.