Catholic Vancouver Dec. 3, 2017

After 5 years, Dominican sisters strive for sustainability

By Agnieszka Ruck

Sister Elizabeth Marie Tjoelker (kneeling) makers her first profession of vows. (Photo courtesy Queen of Peace Monastery)

GARIBALDI HIGHLANDS—Five years after some Dominican sisters moved in to a secluded monastery 25 minutes north of Squamish, they say their community is thriving.

“It was a very encouraging year of harvest,” for the monastery’s large garden and for new vocations to religious life, said prioress Sister Marie Tersidis Tarimo, OP.

“There has been steady growth of the community.”

There are currently 12 Dominicans living at Queen of Peace Monastery, with another five women in formation. This October, the sisters welcomed their newest member as Sister Elizabeth Marie Tjoelker made her first profession of vows and received the black habit.

“It was really happy,” said Sister Tarimo. “If there was anything that marks our celebration (this year), that was the highlight.”

Five is the largest number of women in formation their community has ever had at once, Sister Tarimo added.

A growing community means more hands to work the agricultural land reserve, where the sisters grow corns, beans, squash, and other food for themselves, their neighbours, and a local food bank.

It also means more talents, including pottery, candle making, and soap making, are being cultivated, said Sister Tarimo. These items are sold to help support the sisters.

“We have been blessed to have a lot of good harvesting this year.”

The Queen of Peace Dominicans moved in to the monastery in 2012. Sister Tarimo said they strive to be self-supporting and sustainable, which is why they are working on a small hydroelectric project that would see water from a nearby stream powering their lights.

“It’s also coming steadily,” said Sister Tarimo. Though there are still some technical hurdles to leap over, the prioress hopes the project will be ready to go by next spring.