The following comes from a July 23 story on the Catholic World Report blog.
A blessing ceremony of the recently completed monastery expansion building was held this past Saturday, marking another milestone in the life of the growing community of Norbertine nuns.
The Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph’s new extension was designed to suit the growing needs of this first North American community of cloistered contemplative Norbertine canonesses on their sacred ground in the mountains above Tehachapi, California.
“The new building, two stories tall with a half-basement (principally for the aging of our artisan cheese), provides much-needed living and working space for up to 48 women, gratefully replacing the leaking and damaged modular trailers that served as our dormitories and novitiate and which are literally falling apart,” said Mother Mary Augustine, Prioress of the Bethlehem Priory.
Kern County Building Department awarded the Norbertine nuns an occupancy permit for the new building in April 2013, and, following some interior finishing works done by the sisters, the 26 women moved into the expansion in mid-May on Pentecost Sunday, providentially a very special feast day for all Norbertines who follow the Rule of St. Augustine, which is modeled on the life of the first disciples of Christ as in the Acts of the Apostles.
The blessing ceremony at the Priory was officiated by the sisters’ Pater Abbas (“Father Abbot”), The Right Reverend Eugene Joseph Hayes, O. Praem., of St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado/Trabuco Canyon (Diocese of Orange), the sisters’ founding and “Mother Abbey”, and was attended by about 50 guests, including the Fresno Diocese’s Chancellor, Teresa Dominguez; Father Alphonsus Mary Hermes, O. Praem., Provost of the Priory, and other priest-confreres from St. Michael’s Abbey; local Church clergy, including Fr. Michael Cox, Administrator of St. Malachy’s in Tehachapi, and Deacon Richard Lambert from the Parish ; the sisters’ major benefactors of the project; and other special guests….
The population of the mountain-based Priory, which is nestled at 5,400 feet above and between the California’s Mojave Desert and San Joaquin Valley, has grown from the first five founding sisters to 26 nuns in various stages of religious formation, of which the first ten have made their Solemn Profession (final and perpetual vows). The sisters have several young women discerning with them at this time, with four new entrants possible in the coming months.
Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph
17831 Water Canyon Road
Tehachapi, California 93561
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