December 23rd, 2009
Ceremonial opening of the Jubilee Year CONGREGATION CELEBRATES 150 YEARS SINCE FOUNDING
The sisters formally opened the 150th Jubilee year of the Congregation on the evening on December 23rd. Joy and solemnity filled the air of the 1862 recreation hall as the Congregation gathered to inaugurate the year.
After Mother Ann Marie's opening remarks, members of the General Council began by reading excerpts from the early annals of the Congregation, written by Mother Frances Walsh, one of the foundresses. Following the readings, the sisters prayed for each of the 212 deceased members of the community, lighting a taper as each name was read aloud. The dimmed room gradually filled with light, and after the reading of the last name, the community prayed Compline, the liturgical close of the day. The ceremony concluded as the sisters walked in candlelight procession to the Chapel of St. Cecilia, singing the Dominican antiphons Salve Regina (in honor of Our Lady) and O Lumen (in honor of St. Dominic).
In honor of the Jubilee Year, Pope Benedict XVI has granted the Congregation a Plenary Indulgence, which may be gained under the usual conditions. The official Vatican decree lists more than 36 occasions on which the indulgence may be gained, from December 24, 2009 through December 31, 2010. A copy of the decree, signed by then-Prefect of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Francis Cardinal Stafford, hangs in the exonarthex of the motherhouse chapel. The opportunity for gaining the indulgence extends both to the sisters themselves and to members of the faithful who participate in the Jubilee celebrations. Specific dates and conditions for gaining the indulgence are explained on the Congregation website. (For a more thorough explanation of indulgences from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, click here).
(above right) Prayers for the deceased sisters of the congregation
(bottom left) Mother Ann Marie prepares to announce the Jubilee opening. On the table are candlesticks, a Sacramentary and ciborium from the early days of the community.
Prelude to Midnight Mass
Each year before Midnight Mass, the sisters ponder the Christmas mystery with a musical prelude. The musical selections are both choral and instrumental, and span the ages, from medieval to renaissance and contemporary sacred. Included in this year's prelude was a vocal rendition of Do you hear what I hear? sung by the schola with the whole community; Haydn's Pastorale with woodwinds and stringed instruments; and a vocal duet of O Holy Night with organ.
(top right) Sister Veronica Anne and Sister Gianna on French horns
(above) Sister Maria Catherine conducts the schola
(bottom left) Sister Mary Josephine on the violin
(bottom right) Sister Mary Thomas on the trumpet
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