Young new members drawn to contemplative order in New Jersey

Posted by Katie Loftus
Monday 07, September 2015 | Category:   Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

The New York Times recently profiled a contemplative order of nuns that are attracting a fair number of millennials. The Nuns of the Order of Preachers at the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersey, are eliciting noteworthy interest in their cloistered life of prayer.

In the last decade, 15 aspirants entered the order and nine are on track to take their final vows or have already done so, and two more women will join the community this year.

The community credits the web and social media with helping the order get exposure to grow, but ironically, the appeal to the young lies partly in unplugging from a hyperconnected world. 

Sister Mary Catharine, a mentor there to six women under 30, welcomed four aspirants to the order this summer. When asked why she thinks these young women are interested in religious life, she explained, “With all the technology, I think they’re just saturated. And they see this life as really radical and they have a desire for it. Maybe their families are fractured and they see our life as really stable."

After photographer Toni Greaves accompanied a writer to the monastery to do a story about how the nuns were using the Internet to market their community, she was inspired to spend the next seven years capturing their daily lives. Her book, Radical Love, out this month from Chronicle Books, is a collection of images that document one young nun’s journey from her first weeks in the monastery to her solemn profession seven years later. 

“There was an exuberance and vibrancy to all the young women,” Greaves said. “It’s the energy that we embody when we’re in love, and it was amazing to me.”

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