norfolk Prison Cloistered Brothers

Our «Cloistered Brothers»

(We received “Our «Cloistered Brothers»” from Faith Flaherty which we gladly publish.)

“God does not ask us what we have been. He looks at us for what we are now.” 1

The above quote from Blessed Père Marie-Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P.,2 expresses the spirituality of Our Lady of Mercy Chapter—a Lay Dominican Chapter inside a prison. The fact that this Lay Dominican Chapter resides inside a prison makes it historically unique.

How the prison chapter came to be is a story told in the on-line book, A Word of Hope.3 It is inside a medium security men’s prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA. They meet for chapter every Sunday. Some Sundays are for on-going formation, business/community issues, or a special Mass. Our on-going formation usually follows the guidelines of our province, but presently we are reading and discussing Amoris Laetitia.4 Additionally, for those who desire more study, we have a Dominican Study group which meets every other Wednesday night.

The best way to learn about Our Lady of Mercy Chapter is to see how they approach and utilize the four Dominican pillars:
Prayer: The prison administration forbids the men to meet in groups led by fellow inmates. So the men pray Morning and Evening Prayers, and the Rosary, individually, in their cells. We attend a weekly Mass along with all the other Catholics inside the prison. We begin every chapter and formation session with Evening Prayer and the Blessing of Houses. 5
Study: We follow the Province of Saint Joseph’s formulae and we keep up with papal documents. The Dominican Study groups reads and discusses various topics.
Community: The chapter meets every Sunday.
Apostolate: The chapter is a source of hope inside MCI Norfolk prison. Every member of Our Lady of Mercy Chapter is a light in a very dark place. Additionally, some members have individual apostolates leading Bible studies, a rosary group, or a prayer group. We did attract people to our chapter through our Dominican cross. However, due to unfortunate circumstances, our crosses have been banned. We cannot give our novices Dominican crosses, although a few of the life professed still have their crosses and wear them proudly.

Our Spiritual Promoter is Father Nicanor Austriaco, O.P.,6 who tries to visit us once a month. He celebrates Mass with us and keeps us updated on what’s happening in our OP world.

The life of a Lay Dominican in prison, at times, is similar to life in a monastery; hence they are familiarly referred to as “cloistered brothers.” They live in a closed community. They pray the Office and Rosary. They are isolated from the public. But as our spiritual hero, Blessed Père Marie-Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P., has taught us, the only difference between a cloistered nun in a monastery and inmates in a prison, is attitude. Prisoners live in misery and despair. Our nuns, although shut inside a monastery, are happy and hopeful. Thus, the prisoners in Our Lady of Mercy Chapter surely are our “cloistered brothers,” full of hope and God’s love.
“Whatever may have been your past, do not any longer consider yourselves inmates, but people consecrated to God.” —Père Marie-Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P.


1 Père Marie-Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P. Retreat in Cadillac I, 18 September 1864

2 Père Marie-Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P., (5 September 1832 – 10 March 1869) was a French Roman Catholic priest who was a member of the Dominican order. He established the Dominican Sisters of Bethany in 1867 in order to work with women who were abused or from prisons.

5 The Blessing of Houses is a litany Our Lady of Mercy Chapter prays asking for blessings on their benefactors. It is a tradition for the Dominican Sisters of Bethany to pray this litany for each other, and Our Lady of Mercy Chapter is included in their prayers, as they are in theirs.

Our «Cloistered Brothers»http://www.fraternitiesop.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Norfolk.jpghttp://www.fraternitiesop.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Norfolk-150x150.jpgEdoardo MatteiEnglishMissionSlider,
(We received 'Our «Cloistered Brothers»' from Faith Flaherty which we gladly publish.) “God does not ask us what we have been. He looks at us for what we are now.” 1 The above quote from Blessed Père Marie-Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P.,2 expresses the spirituality of Our Lady of Mercy Chapter—a Lay Dominican Chapter...
<em>(We received "</em>Our «Cloistered Brothers»<em>" from Faith Flaherty which we gladly publish.)</em> <em>“God does not ask us what we have been. He looks at us for what we are now.”</em> <a title="" href="#_edn1" name="_ednref1"><sup>1</sup></a> The above quote from Blessed Père Marie-Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P.,<a title="" href="#_edn2" name="_ednref2"><sup>2</sup></a> expresses the spirituality of Our Lady of Mercy Chapter—a Lay Dominican Chapter inside a prison. The fact that this Lay Dominican Chapter resides inside a prison makes it historically unique. How the prison chapter came to be is a story told in the on-line book, <em>A Word of</em> <em>Hope</em>.<a title="" href="#_edn3" name="_ednref3"><sup>3</sup></a> It is inside a medium security men’s prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA. They meet for chapter every Sunday. Some Sundays are for on-going formation, business/community issues, or a special Mass. Our on-going formation usually follows the guidelines of our province, but presently we are reading and discussing <em>Amoris Laetitia</em>.<a title="" href="#_edn4" name="_ednref4"><sup>4</sup></a> Additionally, for those who desire more study, we have a Dominican Study group which meets every other Wednesday night. The best way to learn about Our Lady of Mercy Chapter is to see how they approach and utilize the four Dominican pillars: <em>Prayer</em>: The prison administration forbids the men to meet in groups led by fellow inmates. So the men pray Morning and Evening Prayers, and the Rosary, individually, in their cells. We attend a weekly Mass along with all the other Catholics inside the prison. We begin every chapter and formation session with Evening Prayer and the Blessing of Houses. <a title="" href="#_edn5" name="_ednref5"><sup>5</sup></a> <em>Study</em>: We follow the Province of Saint Joseph’s formulae and we keep up with papal documents. The Dominican Study groups reads and discusses various topics. <em>Community</em>: The chapter meets every Sunday. <em>Apostolate</em>: The chapter is a source of hope inside MCI Norfolk prison. Every member of Our Lady of Mercy Chapter is a light in a very dark place. Additionally, some members have individual apostolates leading Bible studies, a rosary group, or a prayer group. We did attract people to our chapter through our Dominican cross. However, due to unfortunate circumstances, our crosses have been banned. We cannot give our novices Dominican crosses, although a few of the life professed still have their crosses and wear them proudly. Our Spiritual Promoter is Father Nicanor Austriaco, O.P.,<a title="" href="#_edn6" name="_ednref6"><sup>6</sup></a> who tries to visit us once a month. He celebrates Mass with us and keeps us updated on what’s happening in our OP world. The life of a Lay Dominican in prison, at times, is similar to life in a monastery; hence they are familiarly referred to as “cloistered brothers.” They live in a closed community. They pray the Office and Rosary. They are isolated from the public. But as our spiritual hero, Blessed Père Marie-Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P., has taught us, the only difference between a cloistered nun in a monastery and inmates in a prison, is attitude. Prisoners live in misery and despair. Our nuns, although shut inside a monastery, are happy and hopeful. Thus, the prisoners in Our Lady of Mercy Chapter surely are our “cloistered brothers,” full of hope and God’s love. “Whatever may have been your past, do not any longer consider yourselves inmates, but people consecrated to God.” —Père Marie-Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P. <div> <div id="edn1"> <hr /> <a title="" href="#_ednref1" name="_edn1"><sup>1</sup></a> Père Marie-Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P. Retreat in Cadillac I, 18 September 1864</div> <div id="edn2"> <a title="" href="#_ednref2" name="_edn2"><sup>2</sup></a> Père Marie-Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P., (5 September 1832 – 10 March 1869) was a French Roman Catholic priest who was a member of the Dominican order. He established the Dominican Sisters of Bethany in 1867 in order to work with women who were abused or from prisons. </div> <div id="edn3"> <a title="" href="#_ednref3" name="_edn3"><sup>3</sup></a> <a href="http://bethanyhouseministry.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/awordofhope_final.18064237.pdf">http://bethanyhouseministry.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/awordofhope_final.18064237.pdf</a> </div> <div id="edn4"> <a title="" href="#_ednref4" name="_edn4"><sup> 4</sup></a> <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amoris_laetitia">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amoris_laetitia</a> </div> <div id="edn5"> <a title="" href="#_ednref5" name="_edn5"><sup>5</sup></a> The Blessing of Houses is a litany Our Lady of Mercy Chapter prays asking for blessings on their benefactors. It is a tradition for the Dominican Sisters of Bethany to pray this litany for each other, and Our Lady of Mercy Chapter is included in their prayers, as they are in theirs. </div> <div id="edn6"> <a title="" href="#_ednref6" name="_edn6"><sup>6</sup></a> <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicanor_Austriaco">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicanor_Austriaco</a>   </div> </div>

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