We are a microcosm of the Church, a sign of the peace and unity we share in Christ our Lord.
All religious life in the Church is founded on community in one form or another. The day we enter a community, we become part of a work in progress; we insert our life and self into the holy pilgrimage that began centuries ago when St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers. God calls us not only to consecrate ourselves to Him, but to commit our life to His service in the Order and in this Milwaukee community of cloistered, contemplative Dominican Sisters. God chooses our way, our companions, and the nature of our journey. When we profess vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to Him, we accept the grace He will offer us through the years. We also receive the joys, sorrows, struggles, celebrations, doubts, and fears of the journey, as they come to us from our time and circumstances.
In community life, the power of the Holy Spirit at work in one individual passes at the same time to all. Here not only does each enjoy his own gift, but makes it abound by sharing it with others; and each one enjoys the fruits of the other's gift as if they were his own.
-St. Basil, Long Rule, in Vita Consecrata
For us as consecrated women dedicated to a life of intensive prayer, community offers an environment in which we are free to grow and become the person God called us to be. Each of us experiences the silent comfort and strength of the Sisters in times of struggle or personal sorrow. We rejoice together as well, whether welcoming a postulant into community, congratulating a Sister for special accomplishments, or celebrating the jubilee of a Sister whose dedication to God spans many decades of happiness as well as trials.
Much of our work is manual labor, occupying the hands and freeing the mind for God. We work to support our community, to accomplish the ordinary household tasks of cooking, cleaning, and sewing. We also maintain our monastery and its grounds, doing whatever repair work we can. While we keep silence during the day, practicing the recollection that allows each of us to remain present to God, we work together on many tasks.
Our primary source of support is a thriving Altar Bread Department. Sister Mary Dolores takes responsibility for organizing the orders, packing, and shipping altar breads to more than 100 parishes and convents in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Other Sisters help out by preparing labels, keeping track of details, and verifying invoices. In keeping with our vow of poverty, whatever we have over and above our basic needs we give to the poor.
In community life, then, it should in some way be evident that,
more than an instrument for carrying out a specific mission,
fraternal communion is a God-enlightened space
in which to experience the hidden presence of the Risen Lord.
-Pope John Paul II, Vita Consecrata
Leisure and Recreation
We gather twice during the day for Recreation. These leisure times are for conversation, sharing the events and news of the day, enjoying one another's company, cooperating in various projects, occasionally celebrating a feast day, or joyfully welcoming a young Sister to the larger community on the day of her first profession.
A few special days during the year call for special community celebrations. On Christmas Day, Easter, the Feasts of St. Dominic and Our Lady of the Rosary, our Prioress' feast day and birthday, and sometimes New Year's Day we extend Recreation. This means we can enjoy a meal in our community room where we are free to linger and talk.