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543 Springfield Ave
Summit, NJ, 07901
United States


Monastic community of Dominican contemplative nuns.

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Summit Dominican Nuns

For many in our community  the discernment of our vocation began with a desire to be a missionary or some similar form of apostolate. However, as our discernment progressed instead of finding peace in this desire there was a sense of lack. It wasn't enough. Missionary life would 'restrict' us to just one location while in the meantime the whole world was yearning for the Good News. The active apostolates were just too limited in outreach. We wanted to bring Christ to everyone, every single soul. 

The monastic life is like Moses on the mountain.  Not the famous time when he received the Commandments, but during the battle against the Amalekites. As Joshua led the Israelites in combat on the battlefield, Moses remained on a hilltop above with his hands raised. When Moses raised his hands the battle went in favor of Israel,  but when he let them drop the Amalekites prevailed. 

If Moses had gone down with Joshua into the battle he would only have been able to fight one man at a time...maybe two if he were particularly daring! His influence would have been restricted to the enemy he directly engaged. But on the hilltop, though it looked as if he did nothing the battle was dependent on him. He never faced off with an Amalekite warrior; in fact, he did not even hold his hands up himself...they were held up by Aaron and Hur! And yet the outcome of the battle lay in his hands (literally!). 

Similarly, Jesus's most efficacious act was not his teaching, not even his miracles. It wasn't the multiplying of the loaves or the raising of Lazarus. It was his seemingly 'inactive' crucifixion. He converted many through his teaching and miracles. He would have converted still more had he continued his ministry on earth. Yet it was through is total gift of self on the Cross that has converted untold billions. 

So it is with us. Our most efficacious prayer for you is not necessarily when we are on our knees in choir. It isn't the words we pray or the acts of penance we do. The efficacy of our lives is rooted in our consecration as religious. By our consecration everything we are and everything we will be is set aside for God and made sacred. By this consecration, effected by our profession, our entire being becomes an act of worship. We become Moses on the hilltop, Jesus on the Cross. 

There are many things with which our life is identified: the habit, enclosure, common life, poverty, chastity, obedience. Yet these are not the heart of our life, they are not its purpose or end. They are aids which enable and guard our life of consecration, of worship. 

Many people identify religious as those vowed to poverty, chastity, and obedience--and rightly so, as the Church has often defined religious in this way. Yet the fundamental virtue of our vocation, the reason why we are called 'religious', is the  virtue of religion.

"The virtue of religion is the most excellent of the moral virtues; it is akin to the theological virtues because through prayer we reach out to God Himself. Since by religious consecration a holocaust is made to God and all other virtues become enriches with this virtue of religion." (Consecrated Life by Dominic Hoffman, OP)

Religion is to give God what is due to Him--namely worship--, and by our profession what is due to Him is all of us, the totality of our being. It is this gift, lived out day to day, that God responds to by flooding the world with grace. Our growth in charity is mysteriously fruitful in the life of the Church (Verbi Sponsa). 

As we discerned where God was calling us, the frustration over the limits of the active apostolate slowly opened our hearts to God's call to the cloister. Whereas before we felt hemmed in by the idea of being restricted to a missionary territory, we feel abundantly free within the cloister walls. While the relatively 'small' number of souls we could help in an active apostolate made us feel limited; the silence, solitude, and separation from the world in the monastery lets us reach to the ends of the earth, to every soul. 

By our consecration, our life--all of it, even when we are recreating or sleeping!--is mysteriously fruitful in the building up of the Kingdom of God.  So when you ask for our prayers, one of the ways we 'pray' for you is just by living out our vocation as a sacrifice of praise for God!

One Kansas Kid to Another...

Summit Dominican Nuns

... written by Sr. Mary Magdalene, OP

I first met Fr. Emil Kapaun in May of 2008. I had just arrived in Pilsen, KS for training week of Totus Tuus. The sky was purple and black, worse than I’ve ever seen it before or after. Big billowing clouds flying across the sky. Staring up, you could almost see the tornados forming. By 4PM it was so dark you could hardly see in front of you. I had visions of us dying out there in the middle of nowhere and weeks passing before anyone even noticed. Noting the seriousness of the situation, they gathered us all up in the parish center and told us to pray. 



Thus my relationship with him was first established as peace ensued and we were all spared. As his cause was opened for canonization that year, he became the patron for all the teams.   The more I learned about him, the more fascinated I was by this man’s life.

Father Kapaun, was born in Pilsen, Kansas on April 20, 1916 (Holy Thursday).  He was the first Pilsen native ordained as a Priest for the Diocese of Wichita on June 9, 1940 and entered the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps in 1944. He served in Massachusetts, Georgia, Burma, India, and California.

Separated from the service in 1946, he obtained his Master’s Degree from Catholic University of America, and re-entered the Army in 1948. This time he was sent to Texas and then Japan.  In July of 1950 Father Kapaun was ordered to Korea.  Tirelessly ministering to his men, he racked up miles on his jeep, averaging 2000 miles a month.

Fr. Kapaun, second from the right, helps a soldier.

Fr. Kapaun, second from the right, helps a soldier.

Without regard for race, color or creed, Father Kapaun spent himself in heroic service to his fellow prisoners. So dangerously did he minister that even his smoking pipe was shot out of his mouth by a sniper’s bullet.

He took the time to write personal letters to the family of service men, assuring them the fallen soldiers had died in the presence of a priest with the consolation of the last rites.

On November 2 of that same year he was taken as a prisoner of war in North Korea. Check out this awesome video:

It tells the story of his capture. (Although I believe he says his name wrong, it's still really well done. I think it's "cape-n" not "ka-pon", yet both seem to be surfacing.) He would pray to St. Dismas (the good thief), then sneak out to steal food for the starving men. Using scrap metal, he would boil water to wash clothing, tend the wounded, bathe the ill, and purify the water.

Statue in Pilsen, KS of Fr. Kapun with a wounded soldier.

Statue in Pilsen, KS of Fr. Kapun with a wounded soldier.

To this there is testimony of men of all faiths.  Ignoring his own ill health, he nursed the sick and wounded, until a blood clot in his leg prevented his daily rounds.  Moved to a “hospital”, but denied medical assistance, his death soon followed on May 23, 1951. As a tribute to Fr. Emil Kapaun, POW Major Gerald Fink, a Jewish fighter pilot, carved a crucifix to be displayed in the camp. The crucifix is currently at Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School in Wichita

The fellow POWs hold the crucifix carved in honor of Fr. Emil Kapaun. 

The fellow POWs hold the crucifix carved in honor of Fr. Emil Kapaun. 

As I learned more about his personality and life story, I find compelling how many witnesses say in the later months of his life, he began to look like Jesus (whatever that may mean). So, as he was being more deeply transformed by charity to be Christ-like in action, some sort of physical manifestation took place.  

Fr. Emil Kapaun is the most decorated chaplain in US Military history. He has received the Medal of Honor, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device, Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with Japan Clasp, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, Combat Infantryman Badge, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations Korea Medal, and Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

Now what is the connection between this Kansan Army Chaplain and this Dominican Nun?

I never thought my life would be intertwined with a man who died 64 years ago today. Of course, as nuns we pray for the men and women serving in the military, all military chaplains, the intercession of the saints, the salvation of souls, we pray for peace, we pray for priests, and even the priests of the Diocese of Wichita being ordained today. But you're still probably asking, "Why did she write this?" Reading this story you may quickly realize we have a grand total of 2 things in common: We both love God and we’re both from Kansas. Yet, there's more to it than that.

I decided to write this because St. Thomas Aquinas tells us,
“It is God's will that inferior beings should be helped by all those that are above them, wherefore we ought to pray not only to the higher but also to the lower saints; else we should have to implore the mercy of God alone. Nevertheless it happens sometime that prayers addressed to a saint of lower degree are more efficacious, either because he is implored with greater devotion, or because God wishes to make known his sanctity.” (S Th II II, q.83, art. 11)

Although Fr. Kapaun is not an official “saint” but a “Servant of God” (declared by St. Pope John Paul II in 1993), maybe “God wishes to make known his sanctity” through our prayers. Here is the official prayer: 

Lord Jesus, in the midst of the folly of war,
your servant, Chaplain Emil Kapaun spent himself
in total service to you on the battlefields and
in the prison camps of Korea, until his
death at the hands of his captors.

We now ask you, Lord Jesus, if it be your will,
to make known to all the world the holiness
of Chaplain Kapaun and the glory of his
complete sacrifice for you by signs of
miracles and peace.

In your name, Lord, we ask, for you are the
source of peace, the strength of our
service to others, and our final hope.

Chaplain Kapaun, pray for us.


If you are interested in further reading about the Life of Chaplain Kapaun,
Fr. Arthur Tonne's book is available as public domain, here


Summit Dominican Nuns

On Wednesday, we had the joy of Sr. Judith Miryam's seminarian, Bogumil Misiuk, 'deaconing' Mass. Bogumil was ordained to the diaconate only 3 days before and this was his first time preaching at Mass. He did a wonderful job! After Mass we were able to visit with him in the parlor for a little while. 

Trouble Comes in Threes!

Summit Dominican Nuns

As the saying goes, trouble comes in threes.

The first 'trouble' occurred Thursday afternoon. Sr. Mary Daniel, 90 years young, took the mini-vator down to the basement level to go for a walk in the gardens (with her rollator).  It was a beautiful day and many sisters had gone outside during recreation to enjoy it. As one group of sisters was returning to the house they noticed Sr. Maria running towards them calling for Sr. Mary Magdalene.  ....have you guessed the 'trouble' yet? That's right. When Sr. Mary Daniel attempted to use the mini-vator to return to the ground floor it wouldn't work! The good thing was that sister was able to exit the mini-vator and was not stuck in between floors. This would have been especially treacherous as there is no room for a chair in the mini-vator, just enough room for Sr. Mary Daniel and her walker! The mini-vator refused to budge, so Sr. Mary Martin loaded Sr. Mary Daniel up in a wheelchair and took her around the side of the monastery to use the ancient laundry lift. This 'elevator' was used for bringing the laundry from the basement level outside to hang on the lines. After touching down in the laundry, Sr. Mary Daniel was wheeled to another lift which finally deposited her on the ground floor where the infirmary is. 

The second 'trouble' hit yesterday before Vespers while the kitchen helper sister was preparing for supper. Everything was going smoothly until sister opened the kitchen refrigerator and made the dismal discovery that it had broken.  A mad dash followed as sisters scrambled to transfer the contents of the kitchen fridge down to the basement walk-in fridge. Thankfully our mini-vator decided to work yesterday which helped with moving the food.  Everything was quickly relocated and the sisters were only a little late for rosary.

The third and hopefully final 'trouble' occurred today before Vespers. Interestingly, the same sister who discovered yesterday's fridge fiasco also discovered the third trouble today...that our basement walk-in freezer was a balmy 42F and rising! This freezer holds the majority of our food, so this was quite a problem. Unfortunately, it wasn't discovered until quite a bit of the food was un-salvageable. Our heroic kitchen sisters once again created an assembly line transferring the food from the walk-in to....where to put all this food?! Thankfully we have a few large freezers that are used to keep donated bread 'fresh'.  The bread was evicted and the walk-in food took up temporary residency in the bread freezers. It took over an hour to move what could be saved, but the ice cream that greeted the sisters at supper (...though more in the form of a milk shake...) was well-deserved. Update: It took over an hour to move the perishables that could be saved; the sisters went back to work after supper to re-home everything else!