The following comes from a July 28 article by Kelly Ardis:

Outgrowing a church is a good thing. Though it means lots of expense, work and patience to find a solution, it also means more people are interested in the message being shared there, and even the temporary headache of close quarters can’t dim that light.

That’s what the Sisters at the Norbertine Priory of St. Joseph have found over the years as little by little they have outgrown their facilities. Since the cloistered priory moved to the 475 acres in the Tehachapi mountains in 2000 after starting the order in 1997 with five sisters, their numbers have grown to 40, with four more sisters joining by the end of the year. That will leave two open chairs in the sisters’ 46-capacity chapel, and it likely won’t be long before those are filled too.

The sisters come from all over the world and range in age from 19 to 77. Some joined shortly after high school, but others left careers and college educations.

With help from a group of volunteers that call themselves Friends of the Norbertine Canonesses, the sisters are currently raising money to build a larger chapel and residential wing, the second phase in an expansion project that started with a new monastery finished in 2013. A fundraiser on Aug. 27, “A Night in the Vineyard,” will give the public a chance to support the priory’s efforts.

The construction project is complicated by the property’s topography. The monastery sits atop a hill and takes up most of it, with no room to expand on any side. Since the sisters want the new chapel to be level with the monastery, it will be the top of a three-level building, with lower levels built at the bottom of the hill. Working with a 40-foot slope means the project will be expensive: $8 million to start and another $4 million to finish.

A Night in the Vineyard: A Benefit for the Norbertine Canonesses’ Future Chapel

When: Saturday, Aug. 27
Where: Triassic Vineyards, 24627 Cummings Valley Road, Tehachapi
Admission: $100 per person before Aug. 1, $125 per person after until Aug. 21 deadline
Information: 319-0691

The fundraiser next month will give the community another chance to help the sisters. The second annual fundraiser, to be held at Triassic Vineyards, will include dinner, wine-tastings, live and silent auctions, live music and a pop-up gift shop of items the nuns made. Though the sisters will not be present, Mother Mary Augustine will address attendees in a recorded video presentation.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity to learn more about them,” Wolfe said.

Dinner will be catered by Perfetto Italian Restaurant in Tehachapi, though the food will be French-inspired after the prioress’ home country and site of the first Norbertine monastery. The menu includes a choice of beef bourguignon, coq au vin or a vegetarian option.

Leo Severino, a Catholic Hollywood producer and co-founder of Metanoia Films, will speak at the fundraiser, as will the parents of one of the sisters.
Auction items will include a two-night stay at Vineyard Hacienda Bed & Breakfast in San Diego and a two-night stay at St. Anthony’s Retreat in Three Rivers.

Last year’s event sold out, with 130 people in attendance and raised about $50,000. The venue this year is bigger, with space for 156. Wolfe and Bloom didn’t have a specific fundraising goal for the evening but the more they are able to help the sisters with the better, they agreed.

Bloom said she hopes the event will bring awareness to “this beautiful community in the mountains with 40 sisters who sacrifice and pray daily for the salvation of all souls. Their need at this time is only met with the generosity of little feet and little hands.”