LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE/KLTV) - The Monastery of the Infant Jesus is celebrating 75 years since its founding in East Texas.
Located on Lotus Lane in north Lufkin, the community of nearly two dozen cloistered Dominican nuns are devoted to praying for the needs of the world around them.
“I wanted to be hidden so that God could be the focus," said Sister Mary Margaret, who oversees the care of the monastery. "I wanted the time and the space to be able to praise Him and that’s what this kind of life offers.”
Last July, Sister Margaret was elected to a three-year term as prioress of the monastery, which was founded in 1945. That year, 14 nuns traveled to East Texas from the Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament in Detroit, Michigan. They established a monastery in a two-story farmhouse on a plot of land on the outskirts of town.
Sister Mary Veronica grew up in Nacogdoches and visited the nuns before submitting an application. She entered the religious life a year after the nuns first arrived in the area.
“My idea was to be with sisters that prayed all the time.”
She says her intentions were always to pray for the problems in her hometown.
“I’m a great lover of intercessory prayers and when I come to pray, I just kind of have the whole world in mind.”
Over the years, the addition of several buildings on the property was followed by the construction of the monastery’s two dormitories in the 1960s.
Today, consecrated women come from around the country and as far away as Cuba, Mexico, Tanzania and Vietnam. They view the contemplative life as a sacrifice for the salvation of others.
“The prayer is important to build our faith, to build our growth, to build our relationship to one another," said Sister Marie Augustine. "I’m not going to pray only for myself or to only my family. I pray for all the community.”
Aside from scheduled work and recreation time, their days are ordered around praise. They celebrate the liturgy seven times daily. Each sister is also assigned a period of adoration.
“This way of life developed over centuries,” said Sister Mary Rose. “What had happened in the early years of Christianity is you would have men and women going out into the desert to devote their lives to prayer. And again the idea was to kind of go to a place where they could be free from distraction to focus on prayer. And so over the centuries we’ve ended up kind of building these little deserts that often they’re now in the cities.”
Much of their day is spent in silence. In all, five to six hours are reserved for prayer, both communal and private.
“It teaches us who God is who we are and what we really need.”
The nuns wear the traditional white Dominican habit with a black veil, preaching their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Prayer requests come in from around the world by mail, by telephone, and online. Others are made in-person through visits to the monastery.
“You do see people who are crying or who are deeply troubled," said Sister Margaret. "And I think that helps us to pray more deeply too -- to be united with them in their sorrow or where they’re praying.”
Their chapel is open to visitors of all faiths for daily Mass or silent reflection.
“If they find a place of peace where they can come and be with the Lord then that’s what we can offer them.”
The sister run the monastery with support from benefactors, as well as through the operation of their Altar Bread department, which reaches about 150 churches and religious houses in five states.
The monastery is located at 1501 Lotus Lane in Lufkin. For more information, visit http://www.lufkintxnuns.org.
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