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Monastic Family of Bethlehem

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I would like to add a little to the question that Josephine proposed about the Monastic Sisters of Bethlehem and solitude.  I have already indicated the usual times of solitude that each Sister will have during a usual day.  That is - after Vespers (which is at 5:45 pm until Matins of the following morning.  In that time in the cell the Sister will celebrate two hours of the Office - Compline and the Office of Watching (which some Sisters pray during the night).  At 6:45 am the Sisters assemble for Matins, Lauds and the Eucharist followed by twenty minutes of Thanksgiving in the Church.  They will then return to their cells for solitude, study, their meal and of course prayer.  After Sext (in the cell) the Sisters who have work assignments outside the cell leave the cell for their work.  The Sisters in Solitude remain in the cell.  When a Sister goes to her worksite she works alone whenever that is possible.  The Sisters do not speak to one another if there are only two of them present.  And most always they communicate with one another via written notes.  If a Sister was assigned to help me in the kitchen she could not work in the kitchen.  She would take whatever she needed to complete the task and go to a small room across the hall from the kitchen called the kitchenette.  Sisters working in the guest hermitages would work alone.  At the end of work if the Sisters were walking back to the monastery they did so alone.  

Once I had to pick up a Sister who was having a medical procedure done at the local hospital and another Sister was with her.  We all made the trip to and fro in silence.  If I met a Sister on the monastery grounds we would nod and smile but would not talk.  

The needs of the individual for silence and solitude is discerned by two standards - one is the need of the community and the other is the need to the individual.  In my experience I think the MFB is very leanant in discerning the needs of the individual.  I have known several Sisters over the years who asked to be transferred to another monastery because she was not 'at home' in Livingston Manor'. And one of those Sisters simply had a hard time adjusting to the climate.  

Back in the day we had a family in our neighborhood who lost both of their parents.  Some of the siblings were old enough to hold the family together until everyone was old enough to take care of themselves.  That family produced three religious vocations.  Two girls became Sisters - one wanted to do social work and the other wanted to be a teacher.  They joined different orders that would accomplish their career goals.  You may have guessed - the 'social work' Sister ended up to be a teacher; the 'teaching Sister ended up doing social work'.  Just a way of indicating - people join religious life first of all because they are called - and secondly to serve (in some way).  The way we end up serving may not be 'our way'.  

Your brother 




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Paris, februari 27, 2017

Sister Emmanuelle has been named general prioress of the monastic Family of Bethlehem, of the Assumption of the Virgin and of Saint Bruno by the Congregation of Religious, succeeding Sister Isabelle.

The Congregation of Religious accepted the resignation of Sister Isabelle, former general prioress, “thanking her for the years of service when she succeeded the founder, Sister Marie, and for her courageous and timely decision to hand over her responsibility in this new stage for her monastic Family.”

The Dicastery named a new general prioress, Sister Emmanuelle, helped by 5 sisters who are her advisers, and two visitors as apostolic assistants: Father Jean Quris, a priest in the diocese of Angers and an episcopal delegate for consecrated life, and Mother Geneviève Barrière, former Abbess of Jouarre. The community welcomed them with gratitude, having already formed a relationship of collaboration and friendship with them. The role of the assistants chosen by Rome consists in remaining close to the general prioress and to the permanent advisers in order to cooperate in the implementation of the recommendations given by the Dicastery and of the renewal of the Constitutions, in view of a future general chapter to vote on the constitutions and to elect a general prioress.

The points of amelioration have already been communicated by Rome, and the community is firmly resolved to work in sincerity with the assistants and the Congregation of Religious.
The entire Family of Bethlehem is deeply grateful to the Church for her solicitude and for her trust, convinced that this new stage will be a path full of hope.


and two visitors as apostolic assistants: Father Jean Quris, a priest in the diocese of Angers and an episcopal delegate for consecrated life, and Mother Geneviève Barrière, former Abbess of Jouarre. 


Rome is really very serious in monitoring their activities very closely........

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