Who We Are
The Dominican Monastery of Elmira, New York is a daughter house of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary of Buffalo, New York, which in turn was founded from the Monastery of Union City, New Jersey, the first American foundation of the established branch of the Perpetual Rosary Sisters in Bonsecoeur, Belgium, in 1880. In January, 1944, Rev. Gerald Lambert of the clergy of the diocese of Rochester, New York, at the request of the Buffalo monastery consulted Bishop James E. Kearney on the possibility of establishing a foundation in his diocese. His Excellency gave a favorable reply, but proposed the foundation for the city of Elmira in the southern tier of the diocese since there was no cloister in that vicinity at that date. After consultation with the pastors of Elmira and the Buffalo monastery, Fr. Lambert returned to the Bishop with a favorable report. Bishop Kearney gave his written permission to establish the foundation on the Feast of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, 1944.
On June 15, 1944, the house and property for the new monastery were purchased. The property consisted of four acres in a good residential section just outside the city limits of Elmira. The house had been unihabited for three years and was the former country club of Elmira. It was purchased from Mrs. Bottle for the sum of $9,000.00. Extensive repairs were needed on the building and the property but the basic floor plan of the house was favorable for monastic life. At this time a note of encouragement was also sent from the Provincial of St. Joseph's Provinc, very Rev. T. S. McDermott. After necessary repairs were completed the date of departure from Buffalo was set for August 16, 1944. Rev. Mother Mary Cecelia of Jesus, Prioress of the Buffalo Monastery had asked for volunteers for the foundation. From these volunteers she chose as Prioress of the Elmira foundation Rev. Mother Mary Theresa of the Infant Jesus who had two years previously completed her second term as Prioress of the Buffalo Monastery. Also chosen were Mother Mary of the Blessed Sacrament as Sub Prioress, who originally came from Union City Monastery to help in the Buffalo foundation. Four more choir nuns were added: Sr. Mary of the Assumption, Sister Mary of the Immaculate Heart, Sr. Mary Clare of the Crown of Thorns and Sr. Mary Alberta of Jesus Crucified; and two Lay nuns: Sister Mary Joseph of the Infant Jesus and Sister Maria Consolata of the Sorrowful Mother.
Rev. J. Edmund O''Brien of the diocesan clergy was appointed our first chaplain by the Bishop. Since there could be, for the present, no provision for chaplain's quarters on the Monastery grounds, and since Fr. O'Brien was not well, he took up residence at St. Joseph's hospital, about three miles distant. The first months of the foundation were very difficult ones for the nuns but the generosous assistance of Rev. Gerald Lambert and the Ladies of Charity of the city was a great encouragement. However, the first Mass was able to be celebrated on the day after arrival, August 17, by Fr. Lambert and a second followered, celebrated by Fr. O'Brien. The enclosure fence was erected within the next few weeks and the community life was taken up immediately as far as was possible under the circumstances. In September of the same year our chaplain was received as a Dominican Tertiary by the veru Rev. Albert Drexelius O.P. chaplain of Buffalo Monastery. Fr. Drexelius proved himself a good friend of the community, coming almost every month for the first four or five years to see to our needs and give us conferences. After this his duties as Religious Assistant to the Congregation of Religious and those pertaining directly to the Buffalo community and a very flourishing Third Order made his visits here much less frequent.
Our Bishop, himself a Dominican Tertiary, paid us his first in October. He was very interested and encouraging, promising to give us a new altar for the chapel and advising that the grille opening on to the sanctuary be enlarged so that the nuns might have a better view of the altar and the Blessed Sacrament. In February, 1945 the Rosary Confraternity was established in our chapel by Fr. Drexelius. In the spring of 1945 our Bishop paid the monastery another visit. Mother told him that the repaies and adjustments to the building were practically completed and asked if the enclosure might be permanently erected for the Feast of the Sacred Heart. The Bishop consented and on June 8, 1945 the cloister was established. In October the first public Rosary Novena was held here; and at the end of the same month our Bishop granted us the privilege of daily Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament a privilege which has been continued ever since without interruption. It extended from the end of the community Mass in the morning until benediction at five o'clock in the afternoon. Our first com munity retreat was held in November, given by Fr. Drexelius, O.P. Each year since then we have had the annual retreat conducted always by one of our Domanican Fathers. In 1947 two postulants were received Sr. Mary Margaret and Sr. Mary Terence. Two more were received in 1948: Sr. Mary Agnes Daly and Sr. Mary Catherine Wolfe.
In the course of the years after the foundation of our monastery ''Mary the Queen'' was made, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement established a foundation about fifteen miles distant and a community of Benedictine Monks founded a Monastery, ''Mount Saviour'' about six miles away. In both cases, they have proved themselves friends of our community of nuns in many and generous ways. Throughout the years, the genorosity of the Sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph and the doctors and staff of St. Joseph''s hospital in Elmira is too great to mention.
Pictures of our earlier history
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pictures of our later history
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pictures of our early Chaplains and founding father
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