Name of Church Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph
Address 17831 Water Canyon Road, Tehachapi CA 93561
Phone number (661) 823-1066
Mass times The public is welcome to join the sisters for mass Monday through Saturday, 8:30 am. They can also pray in the chapel during the day, and join the sisters for the Liturgy of the Hours Mass is celebrated in a twice-renovated space in the property’s original ranch house; the sisters, called canonesses rather than nuns, hope to build a new church as funds are raised.
Names of priests Mass celebrated by a visiting Norbertine priests for the more than 40 sisters who live in the communities.
Homilies St. Michael’s Abbey has maintained its orthodoxy since its founding in 1961. Its priests are both pious and professional. The sisters have followed their example.
Fellow parishioners Family and friends of the sisters come to visit, as well as young women discerning vocations. People can also come on private retreats.
Parish bulletin The sisters have a newsletter, FirstFruits, which they mail to friends of the community about several times a year.
Additional observations The Norbertine Sisters, or “the sisters in the mountains” as the locals call them, were established with help from the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange County, California. They are a cloistered, contemplative community founded in 1997. From 1997-2003 they were led by Mother Mary Augustine; the octogenarian superior stepped down from her role in December. Mother Mary Oda, a Thomas Aquinas College graduate of 2002 who joined the community the same year, was elected superior (prioress).

The original five members occupied a house opposite the El Toro abbey before moving to the mountains of Tehachapi in the Diocese of Fresno in 2000. The priory is located in the mountains, amid many beautiful old oak trees, meadows and a duck pond. It has a 5,450 feet elevation, and it gets cold and snows in the winter. The grounds include a gift shop, where you can buy handmade religious items, plus jams, honey, soaps, salves, powders and candles made from things grown on the grounds. The sisters sew and crochet such items as totebags and aprons. Gift shop hours are 10 – 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 – 4:50 p.m. Please spend some money at the gift shop, as it is the goal of the sisters to be self-supporting. If you can’t visit in person, you can buy items online through the website. The sisters operate a Bethany Guest House, which is available for overnight stays for women discerning vocations and friends of the community. The sisters’ lifestyle is rigorous, and includes eight hours of prayer a day. This includes lights out at 9 pm, rising for midnight prayer, and rising again at 5:15 am.