You might remember the National Catholic Register article we posted last October about the growth of the Catholic Church in Norway. It featured our Dominican monastery Lunden Kloster, a community of nine nuns from 5 nations.
Yesterday we had the great joy of welcoming the prioress of Lunden Kloster, Sr. Anne-Lise, into our monastic enclosure. Sister arrived with a wide open smile and a big hug which brought the joy of sisterly love to our community! It doesn't matter how far away the sister comes from or whether or not she speaks English (Sr. speaks it fluently) for in less than 1 second it is like we've known each other for years! "How good and how pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) live in unity!"
Sr. Anne-Lise's stay with us is unfortunately very brief as she is accompanying a friend who has a brother (a mutual long time friend of Sister's) to the Carthusian Charterhouse in Vermont where he is a monk. Eighteen months ago Hans, a professor and an atheist, was on his death bed from several serious illnesses all at once, including 2 strokes. His Carthusian brother called Sr. Anne-Lise and said, "Get him a priest!" She said, "He's an atheist, he'll never let a priest come." "Get him a priest!" Which Sister did. Hans converted on his deathbed! That was 18 months ago and Hans is walking around, driving, etc. He said, "Now I have to learn how to LIVE as a Catholic!"
He and his wife asked Sr. Anne-Lise to accompany them here to the States to visit his brother and much to her surprise the Bishop was most enthusiastic about Sr. Anne-Lise coming. So, she knew she had to visit some Dominican monasteries and found out that we are only 20 minutes from the Newark airport.
Last evening Sister shared with us about her monastery and its relationship with the predominately Lutheran population which is 98% of the country. There are approximately only 250,000 Catholics in the whole country but she said more and more are converting every year.
She shared her own story on how she wanted to become a Catholic when she was eight and her attraction to the Blessed Sacrament. Later, in her teens she and her family lived in Australia for awhile and then returned to Norway. She became attracted to Our Lady of Lourdes and when there on pilgrimage learned of the Dominican Monastery on the hill near the grotto. Around her 20th year she spoke to a priest about her vocation and wanted to join the St. Joseph Sisters, the only congregation of Sisters she knew about but he said, "No, you have a contemplative vocation." "What's that?" she asked. When he described it to her she thought, "Oh, no!" One thing led to another and she entered the Dominican Monastery in Lourdes, France and became one of the foundresses of the Dominican monastery in Norway, the first cloistered monastery to be founded in Norway since Catholics were allowed to practice their faith in 1840.