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Tucson monastery hosts final Thanksgiving Mass

Tucson monastery hosts final Thanksgiving Mass - (27-02-2018)

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PHOTO: The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration hosted a final Mass of Thanksgviing in January, bringing to conclusion more than 80 years of spiritual presence in the Tucson, Arizona, community. (Photo credit: Kevin Donnelly)

For more photos, please visit http://www.tucsonmonastery.com.

January 19 was a “warm and heartfelt celebration of faith, friendship and love” when the Benedictine Sisters hosted their Final Mass of Thanksgiving at their Tucson, Arizona, monastery.

Those thoughts from Tucson Superior Joan Ridley, OSB, summed up an evening that was both bittersweet and appropriate.

“We, the Sisters, know that we are loved and valued by the people of Tucson,” she added. “God gave us the grace and strength to be a support for the faith of the people of southern Arizona for 82 years. God will continue to give grace to deepen the faith of the people without our immediate presence in the years to come.”

The Benedictine Sisters arrived in Arizona in 1935 at the bequest of Bishop Daniel Gercke. The Congregation opened a temporary monastery at the Steinfeld home until the Sisters’ permanent residence could be built. Ground breaking on the property at 800 N. Country Club Rd. took place on Nov. 7, 1939, and the Sisters made the permanent move in December the following year.

After eight decades of spiritual presence, the Congregation announced in September 2016 it would be closing its Tucson monastery to consolidate and reorganize personnel and resources.

The Sisters hosted the special Mass for 300 people and included concelebrants Bishop Edward Weisenburger and Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas, remarks from Sister Joan Ridley and BSPA Prioress General Sister Dawn Annette Mills, OSB, and musical performances by the Arizona Repertory Singers and harpist Gregg Reynolds.

The Mass capped 82 years of ministry by 172 Sisters in Arizona, works that included a chapel opened to all, liturgical and bible studies groups, spiritual direction, hosting a community garden and a variety of events that welcomed and included community groups. While the Sisters have completed their transfer to Clyde, the monastery’s oblate-affiliated groups will continue under the leadership of lay people. They will continue to be a part of the BSPA congregational oblate program under the direction of Sister Sarah Schwartzberg, OSB.

“For all that has been we give thanks and for what lies ahead we wait in hope, trusting that the God who helped us in days past will be with us in the days to come. You have been part of our journey and our companions in the desert,” Sister Dawn Annette told those in attendance. “As we return to our roots in Clyde, Missouri, we trust that God who brought us together will bring us together again when our earthly sojourn is done. Until then, let us hold one another in our hearts and in our prayers. God bless us all.”

The evening concluded with refreshments, fellowship, exchanging of stories and memories, and promises to stay in touch.

There would be one last goodbye two days later when 

the final official Mass was held with Monsignor Jeremiah McCarthy presiding.

“I found myself at a loss at what to say on this day, searching for the right words that would convey to you not only our deep love for you but also comfort and peace for us who will remain here, forever indebted to you and the gift of your Benedictine charism,” Monsignor McCarthy shared during his homily. “We desert dwellers know how important water is to sustain life and for that reason we cherish our oases that provide this precious resource. Your presence and this monastery have been a spiritual oasis for all of us. You have taught us how to find that ‘living water’ in the Eucharist, and this gift of yours will be your enduring legacy to us.”