Archbishop Miller blesses and anoints the new home for St. Dominic's contemplative nuns
By Nathan Rumohr
After settling in B.C. 11 years ago, the Dominican Contemplative Sisters welcomed hundreds of guests, both lay and religious, to their new home for a dedication Mass at the brand new Queen of Peace Monastery.
"This monastery and its chapel bridge the gap between beauty in the world of nature and the unfathomable beauty of eternal life, between the beauty of things and God Who is beauty itself," Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, said during his homily Aug. 8 on the Feast of St. Dominic.
Archbishop Miller celebrated the Mass with Friar Andre Descoteaux, OP, the Dominican Order provincial; Dominican priests from across Canada; and several priests of the archdiocese.
"This morning we are praying that this monastery will be for the Dominican nuns, and for all of us, a place where God reveals Himself," Archbishop Miller continued.
He said the monastery reveals God's "tremendous majesty" in the natural beauty of B.C., which he called a reflection of Mount Zion.
The monastery sits in the Coast Mountains in Squamish, out of range of cell phones. The 50 acres includes many hiking trails and several gardens.
The building sits on a hilltop, with almost every window welcoming the light to beam through. Behind the altar in the chapel are floor-to-ceiling windows seven metres high, giving a view of the property and the surrounding glaciers.
"With stone, and wood, and glass, this building points to the One Who is our Rock of Refuge," Archbishop Miller said. "Truly, the beauty here is a pathway to God, and the choral prayer, the Church's praise of the Creator which the nuns will faithfully carry out in this chapel."
Archbishop Miller explained the Dominicans' journey to complete the monastery. In November 1999 a handful of nuns responded to a call from the Master General of the Dominican Order, Father Timothy Radcliffe, to establish a convent in B.C.
They settled at Rosemary Heights before moving to Langley two years later. Then three years ago Queen of Peace Monastery was finally realized when it was canonically erected at the request of Mother Mary Thomas, prioress of the Dominican Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament in Farmington Hills, to Pope Benedict XVI.
"Now, at long last, still at the dawn of the third Christian millennium, with the support, sacrifice, exertion, and prayers of men and women too numerous to mention by name, we are ready to dedicate this chapel to the glory of God and bless this monastery in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Queen of Peace," Archbishop Miller proclaimed.
The archbishop added that the archdiocese is blessed to now host a third monastery, as this new one joins the Benedictine monks of Westminster Abbey and the Poor Clare Monastery in Mission.
Over the last year the Dominican nuns found accommodation at the Mystic Mountain Lodge. Now, with the completion of the monastery, the nuns will move back into contemplative life. The monastery was built in just over a year. Archbishop Miller broke ground with the nuns in March 2011.
"In their new monastery they will return to the enclosure of the cloister, certainly not to be removed from us, but to be more present to our hearts and souls, as never before," Archbishop Miller said. "Their monastic life is a reminder to us all of our fundamental vocation to live in the presence of God and for Him above all else.
"We are counting on you, dear sisters, not only to pray for us but to share with us, in ways appropriate to your cloistered life, what the Lord is saying to us individually, and as a community which loves you."
After the homily, Archbishop Miller anointed the altar stone and the walls of the church. He placed the relics of St. Albert under the mensa of the altar. Relics of St. Therse of Lisieux, St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. Dominic, and St. Thomas Aquinas will be added later.
Several priests and Dominican nuns assisted in anointing the crosses on the chapel's pillars and later in lighting the candles.
Before the benediction Prioress Sister Claire Marie Rolf, OP, gave an emotional thank-you to many of the principle helpers who contributed to erecting Queen of Peace Monastery.
She thanked the building's architects, Andreas Kaminski and Jayne Song, who brought their newborn son Dominic to the benediction. She also thanked financial supporters big and small for contributing financial support to the $5 million monastery.
The sisters raised part of the money on their own, and the rest has come from a mortgage. Several religious communities also helped the sisters by making financial sacrifices so the monastery would be completed without delay.
"We are so blessed and so grateful for your families and loved ones," Sister Rolf said. "You will be held in our hearts and prayers forever."
There are still some finishing touches left to be done. Sister Rolf said she is looking forward to finally settling back into the cloistered life in the next couple months.
"It's a beginning," she said. "This location is one of vision."
Sister Rolf said she is proud of the accomplishments of the monastery, but was quick to point out that it is the monastic lifestyle that attracts women seeking a religious vocation.