Redemptoristines cherish community as ‘living memory of Jesus’
This is part of a series on communities of women religious in St. Louis and how they live out their charism here in St. Louis and in the world. We encourage you to join in the conversation on what St. Louis sisters mean to you by following the #STLSisters hashtag on Twitter.
Sister Janice Marie Klein remembers the time when she was shopping in a local store. A young boy, about 6 years old, approached the red-habited Redemptoristine and asked with a wide-eyed innocence: "Are you a nun?"
Sister Janice smiled and said yes. The little boy walked away, only to return with his mom and brother. The woman religious had a short conversation about faith with the family. At the end, the little boy extended his hand for a handshake.
"They weren't Catholic," she recalled. "But I asked if they believed and Jesus Christ, and when he said yes, I said, 'Well, then we're brothers and sisters.' He was a lovely little boy."
Those moments come as true blessings for Sister Janice and the 10 members of the Redemptoristine community, located in Liguori, just south of Arnold. When the members of the cloistered, contemplative order have the chance to leave their convent — whether for a trip to the doctor or a short shopping trip — it's a moment for them to shine as a witness to the community's charism: to serve as a living memory of Jesus.
"All of the gifts that He gives us are for the neighbor," explained Sister Eleanor Wilkinson, the community's prioress and one of the original sisters who came to Liguori in the 1960s. Referring to the community's bright red habits, she added: "We are supposed to be a symbol of the redeeming love of Jesus that he poured out His blood for us."
"The charity we show for one another and the world is through our prayer for the Church in the world, the local Church and the Redemptorists," the community of priests and brothers who also live on the property at Liguori, she added.
The Redemptoristines, in their daily work of prayer, serve as a complement to the Redemptorist priests in their apostolic work — meaning they are out in the world serving others. The sisters also accept prayer requests from the public — which come to them daily through phone calls, emails, faxes and in person.
As the sisters pray for others, the outside world "makes us grow. They help us, too," said Sister Eleanor.
The sisters also promote a special devotion to St. Gerard Majella, an 18th-century Redemptorist brother and patron of expectant mothers. A statue of St. Gerard sits in the hallway of the convent, adorned with photos of babies who were prayed for through the intercession of the saint. A basket of prayer requests sits at the foot of the statue.
"We think of it as our prayer being the batteries" needed for those doing the work out in the world, said Sister Eleanor.
The Redemptoristines also have a ministry of making capes for the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher. They produce capes — white for the men and black for the ladies, both featuring the five-fold cross as a symbol of the city of Jerusalem — for three lieutenancies.
It's evident that the sisters cherish their sense of community, as they help those using walkers make their way down the hallway, or even to make each other more comfortable as they gather in the chapel for prayer. On a recent afternoon, the sisters piled into two cars to visit one of the three sisters currently living in nursing homes.
Said Sister Eleanor, "we live together, we love together — and we even argue together, but with love. But we do it together."
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