Priests – First-rate Vocation Promoters!

This summer is bringing us a number of visitors looking to discover just what it means to be a Passionist Nun.

In June, we welcomed three young women – Rosa, Emily, and Jessica – for a very graced weekend Vocation Retreat.


Jessica, Rosa, and Emily with some of the nuns.

All three of them were encouraged to contact our community by priests who have been to the monastery on retreats. We are so grateful for Fr. Vincent Ferrer Bagan, OP, Fr. Eugene Batungbacal, CSSR, and the Dominican Friars at Indiana University for helping to spread the word of our Passionist life, near and far!

In July, we were honored to be among the many stops of a cross-country Nun Run from Holy Family Parish in St. Paul, MN.

The Minnesota Nun Run: So many young women open to God’s will!

Mother John Mary’s NET Alumni friend, Bishop Andrew Cozzens, sent the Nun Run our way. Many thanks to Bishop Cozzens, and to the priests (Fr. Johnson and Fr. Tyson) and chaperones who brought these young women all the way to the “Holy Land” of Kentucky to see us

Thank God for our priests and all they do as His ministers!

Please join in our prayers that many young women will hear and respond to the call to follow the Lord as brides of Jesus Crucified.

Interested in making your own visit to discover Passionist contemplative life? Click here to sign up for an upcoming Vocation Retreat.

Birds of a Feather

Our ever-resourceful Sr. Mary Andrea recently decided to give an old wooden pallet a new lease on life. With the help of some power tools, nails, and a novice, she transformed the slats into a birdhouse! Once it’s hung up by the garden, we hope it will invite some good neighbors – robins – to help control the resident insect rabble-rousers.

Sr. Mary Andrea and Sr. Frances Marie with the new robin residence

Of course, with birds’ nests come baby birds, and we are excited at the prospect of watching the little ones grow and fledge next spring. In the meantime, there’s plenty of fledging to anticipate inside the monastery. Yes, take a good long look at that photo, because on August 15, Sr. Frances Marie will “molt” her white novice veil and receive the black veil, Passion Sign, and wedding ring of a professed Passionist Nun!

Please keep this beloved “Dove of the Crucified” in your prayers as she begins her retreat on August 10th in preparation for her first profession of vows. We will certainly be asking the Lord to touch each of you with the incredible graces that surround the consecration of a new Bride of Christ!

The Language Barrier

One of you left a comment in an earlier blog post asking how we overcame the language barrier (that Tower of Babel!) while we were in Rome. I certainly wish Sr. Catherine Marie and I spoke good “broken” Italian but, alas, we are dependent upon others to assist – and Google Translate can only go so far!  🙂

With us during our time of work in Rome was a dear friend and canonist who speaks fluent Italian, having lived in Italy about 10 years.  Special thanks to Msgr. Michael Palud for assisting us during the days of work. We had many questions about our juridical structure of communion and Msgr. was unflagging in translating our conversations with our representatives in Rome.

During our visit with the Nuns in Campagnano, Italy

Msgr. is a member of the Congregation of the Oratory and a missionary in Jamaica. He and all the brethren there have a special place in our prayers!

Grazie mille Msgr. Palud!

Arrivederci Roma

We leave you with a few more Italian pics!

While walking to their car parked near St. Peter’s, Mother John Mary and Sister Catherine Marie encountered these stately fellows. Fr. Floriano, C.P. jokingly told them that two cloistered nuns needed two guards for protection. Anyway, they posed with our sisters for a photo, and rarity of rarities, the Swiss Guards are almost smiling!

Here you can see the indomitable Fr. Floriano, C.P. – he seems to have boundless energy, and has climbed the mountain in the background, Gran Sasso (the highest peak of the Apennine Mountains), over 20 times, even offering Holy Mass at the summit! This photo was taken on the way to our Passionist St. Gabriel’s Shrine at Isola Gran Sasso.

This is the spectacular view from Our Holy founder’s cell at St. Joseph Novitiate on Monte Argentario. You can see why the lagoon below the mountain is a resort area nowadays.

Beyond this statue of St. Paul of the Cross, found at SS. John & Paul, you can glimpse the Colosseum. It is extremely near the Passionist Generalate – so near, in fact, Mother and Sister Catherine Marie were kept up at night by a rock opera performance in the historic entertainment center!

Arrivederci amici!


Visitando le monache passioniste d’Italia

Translation – Visiting the Passionist Nuns of Italy

During Mother John Mary and Sr. Catherine Marie’s trip to Rome in June, they also had the chance to visit three of our Passionist monasteries. Here are some highlights of their time with the Italian nuns.

The first monastery they visited was in Tarquinia, which is also the very first home of the Passionist Nuns! They enjoyed a walk in the various small cloister courtyards where gorgeous flowers are cultivated along with kiwi and other fruits. In Tarquinia, they only have a little grass which grows along a very high section of the city wall which belongs to them, very different from the rolling green hills of our Kentucky community, but still full of Passionist spirit. They posed for some pictures on the wall, and Mother John Mary valiantly walked along it.

They were able to meet at long last Sr. Daniela from one of the Brazilian communities. She has been in contact with us for many years, and is currently in Tarquinia for a time of study and formation.

You can learn more about Tarquinia here:

 Mother John Mary and Sr. Catherine Marie also saw the nuns in Vignanello. Their monastery is located in a medieval city built on the sides of hills. The Vignanello nuns sang three-part hymns for their American guests, and would have sung all afternoon if we’d let them! They have beautiful voices and harmonies, and about 50 local people join them regularly for the Divine Office.

The Vignanello community does all kinds of farming as well as vestment making. They regularly supply fruit for Sts. John and Paul, the Passionist Generalate in Rome, and we got to sample their pears and plums which were in season during our visit.

Finally, our travelers stopped at the monastery in Campagnano, where Sr. Catherine Marie was delighted to see Sr. Margaret Corona whom she had met during the Passionist Nuns Assembly back in 2015. They shared a delicious cena (supper) with pizza from Sr. Margaret’s own recipe. Then followed recreation which consisted of the beautiful singing of Panis Angelicus by the Indonesian nuns in the community, and several very peppy dances (one looked like our Virginia Reel).

Campagnano has been blessed with many vocations, including these two young women. The postulant on the left is from China; she was going to the university in Rome when she met Sr. Margaret and learned of the Passionist Nuns and entered their monastery.

What a joy it was to have a taste of how our Italian sisters live the Passionist life. We are so grateful for the warm and generous hospitality of the monasteries at Tarquinia, Vignanello, and Campagnano!

Passionist Holy Places

Mother John Mary and Sister Catherine Marie were recently in Rome for a week of meetings about strengthening communion between the Passionist Nuns throughout the world, and they took advantage of their time in the “Eternal City” to visit some of the holy sites of our Passionist history. Here are a few pictures and stories from their pilgrim adventures, adapted from their delightful diary of the travels.

On one of their first days in Rome, they visited the Church of Santa Maria in Domnica, also called the Navicella because of the boat-shaped fountain in front of the church entrance. This church is just down the street from SS. John and Paul, the generalate of the male Passionists where Mother and Sister stayed. This fountain marks the place where our holy founder, St. Paul of the Cross, and his brother, Ven. John Baptist Danei received the Pope’s verbal permission to start gathering companions.

One day, our friend and community canonist Msgr. Michael Palud, CO, offered holy Mass at the tomb of St. Paul of the Cross in his side chapel in the Basilica of SS. John and Paul. Then they took a tour of the basilica.

Another day, they drove to Monte Argentario to visit the first Passionist Retreat – dedicated to the Presentation of Mary – and St. Joseph’s Novitiate, a bit further up the mountain. Here they are on the drive up, with the Presentation Retreat in the background!

At the Retreat of the Presentation, they saw a 300-year old+ tree under which our holy founder had prayed when he and Fr. John Baptist first lived on the site. It was already a tall tree when Paul prayed there in the 1730’s and 1740’s. There was an air of holiness surrounding this prayer nook, and our pilgrim nuns stayed awhile there.

A couple of days later, they were blessed to travel to the Apennines to see the shrine of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (Possenti). They had Mass in the room in which St. Gabriel died. It had been the room of his spiritual director, Fr. Norbert, which the priest gave up so that Gabriel would be more comfortable as he lay dying.

At St. Gabriel’s time, the bodies of the Passionists were buried one on top of another under the floor of the basilica. Fr. Norbert had the inkling that St. Gabriel’s remains should be marked in some way, so he placed a crown of flowers on his body which identified the saint when he was exhumed for the process of his beatification. That wreath of flowers has been preserved, as has the leather belt he wore around his habit.

This is the original shrine of St. Gabriel, an ancient monastery, founded by St. Francis of Assisi, which was given to the Passionists three years before Gabriel arrived and they had to flee from it three years after he died. With such a narrow window of Passionist residence during Gabriel’s lifetime, it really seems that God wanted Gabriel’s shrine to be in this place! The people of the Abruzzi region, where St. Gabriel’s shrine is, have an uncanny ability to recognize sanctity. Even while he was alive they knew he was a saint. They would come to Mass just to see him go to Holy Communion.

Finally, here are Mother John Mary and Sr. Catherine Marie inside the new shrine of St. Gabriel, beside the lifelike reliquary of our holy brother in the Passion. You can see more photos of the shrine here.

What a blessing to walk in these places trod by so many saintly followers of Christ Crucified!

P.S.  Although San Clemente is not a Passionist Holy Site, surely our Founder prayed there since it is just down the hill from Ss. John and Paul. While in Rome we had a delightful visit with our fellow-Kentuckian, Fr. Austin Litke, who gave us a tour of the ancient basilica and the excavations beneath the present basilica.


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!