Gardens Enclosed

Throughout the spring we were busy (“fun” busy!) planting flowerpots to spruce up the nuns’ courtyard and the areas around our Retreat House.

With the arrival of summer’s heat, we aren’t planting too much anymore; the time has come to weed and water gardens, mow lawns and water flowerpots, trim mint and water…did we already mention watering? Thankfully, we have a well from what to draw water because we would not be able to afford to pay for all the water to keep the plants alive! Kentucky’s heat and clay soil makes for a lot of watering to be done!

We would also like to give special thanks to our special donors who gave us A LOT of year-old mulch this year and many of the plants you see in these photos.

But the results are well worth it. Here’s a sampling of the gardens (and gardeners) around St. Joseph Monastery this year.


One of Sr. Mary Therese’s garden arrangements on the Retreat House dining room patio.

Christie is expert at tucking flowers into every nook and cranny of her little garden space.

Daylilies and creeping thyme put on a display for the Blessed Virgin.

Mountains of purple salvia behind the Immaculate Heart statute.


Watch out dandelions! Sr. Frances Marie mows the cloister lawns.

Sr. Mary Veronica planting her famous vincas around the courtyard.

Anyone know what kind of bird made this nest? The nest is covered in lichen from a tree and it is very tiny! Found abandoned, now it is part of Mother John Mary’s rock garden.

Mother John Mary hard at work on her garden during her 8-day retreat in late May.

More of the rock garden. The joe pye weed behind the angel statue is twice as tall now and this bed has a lot more color now!

Sr. Cecilia Maria’s Mint-Henge recently welcomed some new herbs, and a tiny bay sapling in the pot on the pedestal.

By the end of the season, these pots will be overflowing with color!

Sr. Frances Marie digging trenches for asparagus – a gift from a relative of one of our deceased sisters.


Brothers and Sisters in the Passion of Jesus

During May, we were blessed by the presence of five Passionist priests on retreat at our monastery: Fr. Ken O’Malley, Fr. Antonio Curto, Fr. Ronan Newbold, Fr. George Stanfield, and Fr. Joseph Barbieri. They hail from the community in Houston, TX which runs the Holy Name Retreat Center

It was joy for us to have our brothers in the Passion join us for the liturgy, especially for the offering of the holy sacrifice of the Mass each morning. We also shared a reflection morning on a recent letter by Fr. Joachim Rego, C.P. for the 150th anniversary of the canonization of our Founder, St. Paul of the Cross. Sr. Catherine Marie presented some introductory thoughts for us, then after a time of prayer we gathered to dialogue about living out our shared charism in the apostolate of preaching and prayer, as well as in our daily lives in community. We hope this is only the first of many opportunities to celebrate and grow in the Passionist charism with our brothers in Jesus Crucified!

Gathered for our sharing morning, with a precious relic of St. Paul of the Cross.

Fr. O’Malley and Fr. Newbold celebrated their anniversaries of priestly ordination during their retreat.

Fr. Newbold shares some stories about his mission work in Japan.

Fr. Stanfield tells us about his favorite “Passionist” saint – St. Maria Goretti!

Passionist Nuns of St. Joseph Monastery, and Passionist Fathers of Houston, TX

Vocation Storybook, Part 3: The Little Girl Who Loved Presents

This is the third story in our series of three vocation “storybooks.” To read the first two stories, click here and here. There you’ll also find the origins of this storybook project.

And now we bring you the third and final tale of a little girl who met the Great King!

Part 3: The Little Girl Who Loved Presents

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved presents.

Do you like presents? Birthday presents, Christmas presents, just-because-I love-you-presents…They are all wonderful, aren’t they?

But even more than getting presents, what the little girl really loved was to give.

She loved wrapping things up in shiny paper and big, bright bows.

She loved to see people filled with surprise and joy when they opened the packages.

Most of all, she loved to pick out just the right gift for her friends, family, and neighbors. She was very careful to look and listen to everything they said, so she could find the perfect gift for each one. Gifts were such wonderful things; she wished that she could give them to everyone in the whole world!

One day, the girl was hurrying down the street with an especially big package for her best friend’s birthday. The box was so big, she couldn’t see where she was going, and she ran right into someone on the sidewalk. In her surprise, she dropped the box.


She was even more surprised to see who she had bumped into. It was the Great King, with a crown and a robe and the gentlest smile.

“Oh excuse me,” she stammered, “I’m sorry Your Majesty, I did not see you!”

“Not to worry, little girl,” replied the King. “Where are you going in such a hurry?”

“I am taking this present to my friend for her birthday. I can’t wait for her to open it, it is something she has been wanting for a long time, and I found this wonderful big bow for the package, too!”

“I can see that you love to give gifts. I was just on my way to give my own gifts to people all over the world. Would you like to help me?”

“Oh yes!” she cried, “I have dreamed of bringing the whole world the most perfect gifts!”

But then she had a terrible thought.

“Oh King, I want to help you, but I’m just a very small girl, and I don’t even know how to read maps. How will I take your gifts all over the world?”

“My child, I have many friends who know the roads of the world. They will deliver my gifts. But you know how to listen and watch to discover what gifts people need. Will you come to my palace to speak to me about their needs? I have so many gifts to give, but people do not ask for them. But if you ask, I will send more and more of my gifts to the world!”

This delighted the girl. After all, the very best gifts are the kind that surprise you, and with the King, she could surprise the whole world with the most perfect gifts!

So the little girl followed the King to the palace, where he showed her his treasure chest full of gifts. It was incredible!

By herself, she could only give small things, things that could fit in a box like a toy or book or game. But the King, his treasure chest was wider than the ocean, and deeper too! He had all sorts of gifts that wouldn’t fit in a box, like sunrises and rainstorms, like love and joy, forgiveness and hope. And those gifts, she discovered, were the best gifts of all.

At the palace, the little girl met many other girls who also listened to the world and spoke to the King. Every day, they would go to the throne of the King and tell him all about the people. The King loved to hear all that the little girls told him about the people in the world, about who was sick or healthy, sad or happy. While they spoke to him, the King would open his treasure chest full of gifts and pick out the perfect things for each person. Then, just as he had promised, the King’s traveling friends would take his presents out to everyone who needed them.

Although the girl never saw the looks on people’s faces when they received the wonderful gifts of the King, her heart was filled with joy because she knew that they were getting the most perfect gifts.

Register for Passionist Discernment Retreat

Two women joined us for the March Vocation Retreat

Come learn about Passionist life!

  • Attend Mass and pray the Divine Office with us
  • Listen to talks on discernment, Passionist spirituality, prayer, etc.
  • Have quiet time for reflection and prayer
  • Explore the grounds
  • Time for Q & A

Is God calling you to dwell with us and our Lady at the Foot of the Cross, bringing the grace and mercy of Calvary to the world?

Register for our June 9-11 Vocation retreat.

Look here for future vocation retreat dates.

RSVP deadline is 3 weeks away!


Our Lady of Fatima – Crowned Queen of our Monastery

Last Sunday we had our May procession with crowning of the image of our Lady.  During this 100th Anniversary Year of Fatima we have the statue of Our Lady of Fatima brought into our chapel. This image is usually found in our retreat house.

“We all know that a mother’s heart represents love in the bosom of a family. In fact, it is love which makes the mother bend over her baby’s cradle, sacrifice herself for it, give herself, rush to the defense of her child. All children trust in the heart of their mother, and we all know that we have in her a place of special affection. The same applies to the Virgin Mary. Thus the message says: ‘My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.’ Hence, the Heart of Mary is the refuge and the way to God for all his children.”

Sr. Lucia in ‘Calls’ from the Message of Fatima

Vocation Storybook, Part 2: The Little Girl Who Loved to Sing

Wow – We have gotten some great comments about the Vocation Storybook! I even got an email today from a woman who gave us a tip of how to publish it – thanks Gretchen! (our sweet Valentine lady 🙂 )  Hmmm…I wonder if I should get a copyright on this?

Half the Sisters are in an 8-day retreat right now (they are the Marys and we are the Marthas) but when their retreat is over Tuesday I look forward to sharing with them all your encouraging words – thanks!

Now for Part 2…

This is the second story in our series of three vocation “storybooks.” To read the first story (and the origins of the storybooks) you can click here. Vocation Storybook, Part 1

Part 2: The Little Girl Who Loved to Sing

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of a Great King, there lived a little girl who loved to sing.

She sang in the morning and in the afternoon. She sang at home, at school, and at play. She sang in the bathtub and she sang at the dinner table. She sang EVERYWHERE!

You see, she thought that everything got better when it was made into a song.

Joyful things got more joyful, and beautiful things got more beautiful. Even when things went wrong and someone was sad, a song could help them find happiness again. So she wanted to learn how to make everything into a song.

The little girl loved singing so much that someday, she wanted to be a famous singer. She wanted to travel around the world, sharing beautiful music with everyone who would listen.

So, she set about taking music lessons to learn to sing as beautifully as she could. She asked the best teachers she could find to help her, and she spent many years looking for the most beautiful songs to sing. She even learned different languages to sing in.

One day, while she was busy with all this learning, suddenly the Great King came up and spoke to her, “My child, I have heard how much you love to sing.”

The girl was amazed. When the King spoke, His voice was like the most beautiful song she had ever heard.

His voice sounded like a whole orchestra playing together, like the song of the majestic torrents of a waterfall, like the song of rainbows arching out of a thunderstorm. And when He stopped speaking, His song did not stop. Somehow, His silence was even MORE beautiful!

The King spoke again, “I have also seen how much you want to make everything into a song. I am here to invite you to come to my palace and learn to sing with me.”

Now the little girl was even more amazed! “Dear King,” she whispered, feeling very small and ordinary indeed, “You have such a beautiful and majestic voice, a voice as big as your whole kingdom! And I have such a tiny voice! How can I possibly sing your songs with you?”

The good King smiled, and His smile was like the song of the most beautiful sunrise in the world.

“If you come to my palace,” He replied, “I will give you my own voice to sing with, so that you will be able to sing my songs, and the songs of all my people.”

The girl’s eyes widened. “Your own voice, my King? Your voice like a whole orchestra playing together?”

“Yes,” the King smiled.

“And your own songs, my King? Your songs that even make the silence beautiful?”

“Yes,” he replied again, “Come, and learn my music!”

The little girl went with the King to His palace, where she joined a whole choir of others who were learning to sing with the King. They sang together in His great throne room eight times every day, and they sang songs that were written by the King Himself in His great Book.

The girl noticed that even when she was in other parts of the palace, working or playing or eating or sleeping, the songs from the throne room kept singing in her heart.

Just like the King had said, His songs began to make beautiful music out of everything the girl and her companions did all day long.

And the King really did give them His voice. When they sang, their voices sounded like a whole orchestra playing together, like the song of the majestic torrents of a waterfall, like the song of rainbows arching out of a thunderstorm. Even when they stopped singing, their song did not stop. Somehow, their silence was even MORE beautiful!

Vocation Storybook, Part 1: The Little Girl Who Wanted a Sister

Recently we welcomed a group of 50 students from Maximilian Montessori Academy for a day of retreat and exploring Passionist Life. Since many of the students were in the Kindergarten through 3rd grade age range, we decided to rethink our traditional vocation talks to help engage our young visitors.

The result? Vocation Storybooks! Three Sisters each chose an aspect of their vocation story to highlight in a fairytale-style, to which we added a few large illustrations. We’ll be sharing these tales with you in a three-part series, so stay tuned!

Now, without further ado, we present to you:

Part 1: The Little Girl Who Wanted a Sister

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived with her Mom, her Dad, AND FIVE brothers.

ALL that little girl wanted was to have a sister.

She prayed and wished and hoped for a sister.

“If I only had a sister….

We could pretend to be PRINCESSES!

We could wear LONG DRESSES!


We could do our hair and our nails…we could make each other look BEAUTIFUL!”

The little girl loved her five brothers. They were wonderful.

But a brother is not the same as a sister.

Her brothers never wanted to be princesses. They never wanted to wear long dresses or crowns. And they MOST CERTAINLY DID NOT want to look BEAUTIFUL, OR to make their sister look beautiful.

Many years passed, and the girl still did not have a sister.

“OH WELL…” she said to herself. “Maybe I’m just not meant to have a sister…”

BUT THEN, something happened! ONE DAY, she met a KING! He was tall and handsome and kind, and He wore a crown. He said to her, “My Child, will you come to live in My palace?”

The little girl was amazed that a REAL KING would ask HER to come to live in His palace. How could she say no?

“Oh yes, my King, I would love to come to Your palace!”, she replied. “But if I live in the palace of the King, would that make me a REAL PRINCESS?”

“Yes”, the King said. “In My palace, you will be a princess, very dear to the Heart of the King.

“And will I wear a long dress and a crown?”

“Yes, you will have a crown like mine, and a long dress.”

“And will I be BEAUTIFUL?”

“Oh yes, you will become very beautiful indeed. But you will not become beautiful all by yourself. You will need help for that.”

The girl knew how kind and good the King was. “YOU will help me to beautiful, My King!”, she said.

“You’re right”, the King said with a smile. “But I have chosen others to help You, too.”

SUDDENLY, the girl thought of something…Maybe, JUST MAYBE, if she came to live in the palace of the King, she would have what she had ALWAYS WANTED!

Do you remember what she ALWAYS WANTED?


“My King…” the little girl whispered, “If I come to live with You in Your palace….will I have a SISTER??”

The King’s smile got even bigger this time. But He didn’t answer her question! All He said was,

“Come, Follow Me!”

So the little girl followed the King, and came to live in His palace.

She became a princess, very dear to Heart of the King. She wore a long dress. BUT BEST OF ALL, she had SISTERS! Not just one sister. She had many, many, sisters!

The King said to her, “These are the sisters that you have wanted for so long. These are the sisters who will help make you beautiful for the King. And you will help to make them beautiful, too. Your sisters will help you and teach you how to LOVE. And you will help them to love. It is LOVE that makes the Sisters in My Palace the MOST BEAUTIFUL!

To be continued . . .

Eggs of All Sorts

The Easter Season lasts for 50 days, so we hope you won’t mind that we’re a little late in sharing some pictures from our Easter preparations and celebrations on Easter Sunday! As the constant “alleluias” in the liturgy remind us, we are still very much immersed in the joy of the Risen Lord. Here in the monastery, that joy touches everything…even our cupcakes.

The Novitiate and Junior Professed decorating cupcakes for Easter Sunday.

We broke out all the piping bags and fancy icing tips

No two alike

Coconut grass and jelly beans to finish the platter – like a basket of Easter Eggs!

They even look like eggs inside, with a drop of yellow batter in the center!

Our annual Easter Egg hunt, and your annual photo of nuns running.

Sr. Cecilia Maria investigates a flower bed.

Sr. Marie Michael hunts by Christie’s coral bells.

A triumphant Sr. Therese Marie and Sr. Mary Elizabeth show off their findings.

Ruth is on a roll!

Ruth, Sr. Mary Veronica, and Sr. Marie Michael, a wind-swept trio.

Unless a Grain of Wheat…


What was that? An airplane taking off in the courtyard?

No, guess again.

It was our shiny new grain mill grinding hard white wheat for homemade cinnamon buns!

Thanks to some very generous retreatants who are home-milling enthusiasts, our kitchen has welcomed an electric countertop grain mill, a new bread machine, and all the items we need to bake bread from freshly ground flour. The only way we could get more “from scratch” is to grow our own ingredients, but I suspect an opportunity for wheat farming is many years and a dozen Postulants into the future.

So far, we have just enjoyed the resulting simple loaves of bread for breakfast.

But one recent morning found Sr. Cecilia Maria hard at work rolling out some beautiful cinnamon buns for the upcoming Easter festivities.

Watching Sister making bread reminded me (Sister Blogger) of the ancient Eucharistic prayer recorded in the Didache:

“As this broken bread was scattered over the hills and then, when gathered, became one mass, so may Thy Church be gathered from the ends of the earth into Thy Kingdom.”

(Didache 9:4, trans. by James A. Kleist, S.J., Ph.D. in v. 6 of Ancient Christian Writers.)

Thanks be to God for the gift of home-baked bread, nourishing the body and made with love by the hands of our Sisters! And yet, how much greater must our gratitude be for the gift of the Church He has gathered and fed with the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.

Holy Week 2017 – Easter Sunday

Hail, thou festive, ever venerable day!
Whereon hell is conquered and heaven is won by Christ.

Lo! Our earth is in her spring; bearing thus her witness that,
with her Lord, she has all her gifts restored. 

For now the woods with their leaves and the meadows with their flowers,
pay homage to Jesus’ triumph over the gloomy tomb. 

Light, firmament, fields and sea, give justly praise
to the God that defeats the laws of death, and rises above the stars. 

The crucified God now reigns over all things;
and every creature to its Creator tells a prayer.

-From an ancient Easter hymn, Salve, festa dies by Venantius Fortunatus

Dogwood blossoms from our woods

Around the monastery, all creation seems to have put on its finest garments to celebrate the glory of Easter, and we gladly join the festivities with our hymn of praise.

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! Alleluia, Alleluia!