The Most Reverend Bernard Hebda, Coadjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, will serve as the event's special guest and speaker.
For nearly a century, the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary, positioned on a hill overlooking one of the most prominent crossroads in Summit, has been a “beacon of light” in the community. Dominican nuns from all over the country and the world live a simple existence of contemplation, prayer, work, and study in what is the only cloistered monastery in the Archdiocese of Newark, and the only Dominican monastery in the State of New Jersey.
The Chapel is open to all those in the community, of any denomination, as a quiet place of retreat and prayer. “People instinctually recognize our lives of intercession. Whether we encounter them in our parlor, in the prayer request book in our vestibule, on the phone, or via email, we are acutely aware of their needs,” says Sister Judith Miryam, O.P., Director of Advancement. “Sometimes people just want a listening ear; often they want us to say a prayer for their intentions. We are cloistered, but not isolated. We meet up with the world every day of our lives, extending the Lord’s mercy and compassion to all.”
In 1919, fifteen sisters, led by Mother Mary Imelda Gauthier, O.P., left the first American Perpetual Rosary monastery at the Blue Chapel in Union City to found the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit. The sisters settled into a Victorian mansion which quickly became too small.
They envisioned building a European-style basilica with 15 side chapels, and a monastery on the side of this basilica. In 1925, they dug the foundation and began construction, but due to economic hardship, the work was halted a year later. When the bishop was asked for, and gave his permission to continue in 1937, it was with the stipulation that everything had to be built on the existing foundation.
The architectural plans were significantly downsized. Plans for guest rooms, work rooms, and other spaces were set aside in favor of the more immediate need to house the sisters. In a real sense, the monastery was left unfinished. And this “unfinished” monastery left no room for expansion.
The Dominican Nuns are witnessing an increase in young women attracted to a life committed to prayer, study, and work. There is a need for more space to foster this growing community, to accommodate those coming to discern their vocation, and for visiting family and friends of the sisters. More importantly, there is a need to bring some existing conditions up to building code and provide safe, handicapped access to the Chapel and Monastery.
The goal of the Centennial Campaign is to raise $4 million, with the effort nearly halfway there, to fund the construction of a 5,500 square foot new wing that will fulfill these needs.
“The life of the nuns, cloistered nuns, has to be considered in the design of spaces,” said Justin Mihalik, Architect-of-Record. “It’s about understanding what that life entails, the commitment they made to their mission and the life they lead.” According to Mihalik, in addition to new guest rooms, visitor areas and handicapped access, the project will include new larger workspaces and a physical therapy/exercise room for the sisters.
Also, the sisters will have a proper gift shop from which to sell religious articles and books, and their handcrafted Seignadou Soaps, candles, and wood pens that provide a source of income for the monastery.
“The success of the Centennial Campaign will ensure a safe and secure future, not only for the sisters, but for visitors of all denominations who come to this sacred space seeking comfort and solace through prayer,” says Maryann Cocoziello, the Centennial Campaign’s Director of Development. “We are hopeful -- no, optimistic -- that the Gala will give us an enormous boost towards achieving that goal.”
The Grand Summit Hotel is located at 570 Springfield Avenue.