For the Dominican Nuns in Summit, New Jersey a simple letter from the mail brought a welcome surprise. When Sr. Mary Martin, OP, prioress of the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, NJ opened a letter from Archbishop Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia she assumed that it was a request for prayers for the success of the World Meeting of Families and the visit of Pope Francis.
Instead, it was an invitation by the Archbishop for the nuns to provide their famous Seignadou Soaps for the Holy Father’s room when he stays in Philadelphia.
“You can imagine our surprise,” said Sr. Mary Martin. “Of course we are honored that the Holy Father will use our soaps!”
Archbishop Chaput had seen the recent article about the Dominican Monastery in the September 6, 2015 issue of the New York Times and despite all the many details of planning for the Pope’s visit, took the time to invite the nuns to participate through the work of their hands.
Sr. Danielle, postulant, and the newest member of this community of cloistered nuns was so excited that she had a hard time falling asleep that night.
“I was so excited! We are making our soap for the Holy Father!”
Will the nuns be making a special “Pope Soap on a Rope?”
“Absolutely not,” said Sr. Mary Catharine, OP, novice mistress and manager of the soap department at the monastery.
“We are choosing a selection of our soaps that we hope will please the Holy Father.” We try to make all our products the best they can be no matter who uses them. Our soaps and other handcrafted items are the work of our hands and we believe that because we are consecrated to God everything we do, no matter how simple and ordinary, is a participation in the redeeming work of Christ.”
“We are so excited and honored to have been invited by Archbishop Chaput to participate in the Holy Father’s visit in this very simple and ordinary way,” said Sr. Mary Catharine.
The Order of Preachers, commonly known as the Dominicans, will be celebrating their 800th anniversary in 2016, an anniversary coinciding with the Extraordinary Year of Mercy called for by Pope Francis. The Dominican monastery in Summit, NJ was founded in 1919. Currently there are 19 nuns in the monastery from age 25-90 with an average age of 46. The nuns live a life of prayer, study and work. Their ministry is that of prayer.
The nuns have been praying for the success of the visit of Pope Francis.
“If we can’t go and be with the Holy Father in person when he comes at least our soaps can,” said Sr. Mary Catharine.