A new order of women religious is forming in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, a branch of the Contemplatives of St. Joseph, which was originally founded as a monastery for men in 2010.

Three women have joined, with two entering as candidates Aug. 15, 2017, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, and a third entered as an aspirant in January.

“I think there are a lot of contemplatives out there,” said Contemplatives founder Father Vito Perrone. In the years after the Contemplatives were established, 15 women inquired seriously about joining. “I had to say no because we didn’t have a women’s branch,” he said regretfully. At least five of those left the area and are now religious outside the archdiocese, he said.

“We are in a wonderful phase of the COSJ. Men and women are coming to discern. It means things are happening,” he said. The first two years, Father Perrone was the only one in the monastery. In 2012, he was joined by Byzantine rite Father Joseph Homick from Mount Tabor but it was not until 2015 that others joined.

With three priests including Father Perrone, another likely to join, and two brothers and one candidate, the former convent building on the grounds of Mater Dolorosa Church is nearly full. There are two rooms available and the monastery is constructing three more rooms.

“You have to die to yourself in order to understand the riches of life with Christ,” Father Perrone said. “Religious life, especially with the COSJ, is not for the faint of heart.”

“Often times the fruits remain hidden from everyone, even from the person who is the contemplative.”

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.