Community of the Lamb dedicates Lumen Christi
by Jill Ragar Esfeld
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — On the solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Lumen Christi, the monastery of the Little Sisters of the Community of the Lamb here, was inaugurated with an outdoor Mass and a blessing by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.
No day could have been more appropriate.
The weather was beautiful and, as the archbishop told hundreds of guests who filled the street in front of the Little Monastery, the date itself commemorated the beginning of the Little Sisters’ journey.
“God in his providence chose the perfect day,” he said.
Indeed, on this same feast day in 1975, Little Sister Marie, the order’s foundress, was a young Dominican Sister in France.
While in eucharistic adoration, contemplating Jesus on the cross, she questioned the triumph of evil in the world, and in her heart recalled these words of St Paul:In his own flesh, Christ destroyed the enmity; in his own person, he killed hatred! (cf. Eph 2: 14-19)
Little Sister Marie would later say, “I understand now, the Community of the Lamb was born in that moment.”
Archbishop Naumann told the audience that at that same time, 33 years ago, he was a new priest in St. Louis with barely four months of experience.
He said he wouldn’t have believed that one day “I would be a bishop in Kansas blessing a monastery for an order that was just thought of by a French nun.”
Little Sister Marie was at the event, along with Little Brother François-Dominique, prior of the Little Brothers of the Lamb. Several other members of the two religious communities came over from Europe to join in the celebrations.
In his homily, the archbishop thanked the Little Sisters and their guests, saying, “Each of you has played a part in the miracle of this monastery.”
He also thanked Father Anthony Ouellette who initially introduced him to the Little Sisters.
Father Ouellette befriended the community while a seminarian in Rome.
The archbishop said he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to bring the Little Sisters to Kansas because “we need their example.”
“Each person here has a story of how God brought you to encounter the Little Sisters,” he said. “And your life has never been the same.”
The archbishop then delighted the audience by announcing that Little Brother François-Dominique had accepted his invitation to establish a presence for the Little Brothers of the Lamb in the archdiocese.
During the celebration of the Mass, the archbishop blessed the bells, altar, tabernacle, the statue of St. Agnes, patroness of the Sisters, and the monastery itself.
The monastery is an unadorned structure with a low profile in keeping with the order’s commitment to simplicity.
The Sisters devote substantial time each day to both community and individual prayer.
They are especially devoted to Our Lord in the Eucharist.
The community is mendicant, living only from donations and trust in providence. The two principal charisms of the Little Sisters are contemplative prayer and evangelical poverty.
The name of the monastery means “light of Christ” and reflects the order’s mission to bring the light of Christ to all who dwell in darkness.
During the Mass, the archbishop asked that the monastery be a place where the Holy Spirit rekindles his fire in the hearts of the Little Sisters so they can “carry the light of their Bridegroom into our hearts and homes.”
He called the Little Sisters “handmaidens of the Lord who, while wounded, never cease to love.”
The Mass and blessings were followed by an open house, at which guests were invited to tour the Little Monastery.
Afterwards, the doors of the cloister were closed, and it became a permanent place of retreat and silence for the Sisters.
Only the chapel, at the center of the monastery design, and the community part of the monastery are open to the public. The liturgies of the community are also always open to everyone.