The Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph in Tehachapi, California, have announced the joyful news that, on December 5, they elected Mother Mary Oda (Jennifer Tilley ’02), O.Praem., as their new prioress.
“Giving thanks to God,” the sisters wrote in their announcement, “we ask you all to pray for Mother Mary Oda and for us all, that, by the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of our Order, we might be of one mind and one heart on the way to God, and be made worthy of the promises of Christ, following always the saintly example of our holy fathers, St. Augustine and St. Norbert.”
Mother Prioress is one of three Thomas Aquinas College alumnae members of the “Sisters of the Mountains,” the others being Sr. Mary Thomas (Alison Bright ’09) and Sr. Mary Andre (Anne Huguelet ’11). Since the Holy See’s elevation of the community to an independent canonry within the Norbertine Order on January 29, 2011, the monastery has grown substantially, from 20 to over 40 sisters.
Shortly after making her solemn profession in 2011, Mother appeared in a promotional video for her community, in which she discussed how she came to Thomas Aquinas College and then to religious life.
“I went to Princeton University first, and I was Protestant, but I came to a fuller understanding of the Catholic faith, and so I converted while I was there,” she said. “Then I decided that I wanted a deeper experience of living that Catholic faith and knowing more about it, so I transferred to Thomas Aquinas College in California. Part of my thought in going there was that it would be a good place to find a good Catholic husband, but I found a really good husband in Christ as my spouse. I came to realize that really I was being called to the consecrated life.”
Mother Prioress’s term lasts 12 years.