St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers to preach the truth of the Gospel message in a world that was in need of saving grace. But prior to founding the friars, St. Dominic established the community of Dominican nuns. St. Dominic saw that an intimate life of contemplation, prayer, and penance was necessary for the preaching of his Order to bear fruit in the world. In this post I would like to draw attention to the Dominican life lived by the Dominican nuns at the Monastery of St. Jude in Marbury, Alabama.
In August of 1944 two nuns, Mother Mary Dominic, O.P. and Mother Mary of the Child Jesus, O.P., departed from Catonsville, Maryland and arrived in Marbury, Alabama to found the Monastery of St. Jude. The monastery was to be a place where those who aspired to the contemplative life could enter without prejudice to race. Bishop Thomas Toolen and Fr. Harold Purcell welcomed the two foundresses and helped them in the establishment of their monastery. Due to a shortage of materials during wartime, the nuns had a nearby frame farmhouse converted into temporary housing thirty miles North of Montgomery. Named after St. Jude, patron of the impossible, the nuns began to solicit funds in the 1950’s for a permanent monastery on the adjoining hill top of Marbury. By November of 1952 the ground was broken by Bishop Toolen to begin construction, and the community of nuns was able to enter the new monastery on the Feast of St. Jude, October 28, 1953.
Today the nuns at the Monastery of St. Jude remain ever faithful to their charism of work, study, and prayer set out by St. Dominic and their two foundresses. The nuns are consecrated women dedicated to truth in their study of Sacred Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, and St. Thomas Aquinas. Their schedule of work, study, and the liturgy of the hours keep the nuns in constant contact with the truth of Jesus Christ. The Constitution of the Nuns states that the solemn celebration of the liturgy is the heart of their whole life and the chief source of their unity. The Monastery of St. Jude is also known for its Hour of Guard, where one or more of the nuns are always at watch before the Lord, praying the rosary at the feet of the Blessed Virgin before the Eucharist.
The nuns see their lives as a consecration to God out of love. Through their work, prayer, study, and penance, God draws these consecrated women closer to himself and uses them as powerful intercessors on behalf of the world. They pray daily for the work of the Dominican friars who preach for the salvation of souls. The life of the nuns, therefore, is one dedicated to prayer that souls may come to know Jesus Christ.
St. Dominic founded the cloistered nuns to be at the heart of the Holy Preaching of his Order, and the need for these consecrated women is just as great today. This summer the nuns at the Monastery of St. Jude are hosting a vocations retreat for young women from the evening of Friday July 26 through the morning of Sunday July 28. This is a special event for the nuns, since usually women are invited only to make private visits. The nuns have also invited a Dominican friar to come for the retreat to give conferences and speak about the consecrated life in the Dominican Order. The retreat will include praying the Divine Office with the nuns, silent adoration, and times when the women can share their experiences with each other. May the Lord continue to bless these Dominican nuns with vocations and with the indispensible graces of their charism, as they intercede for the world and the salvation of souls.