Detroit Stories Episode 76: 'Life in the Cloister' (PODCAST)

In a world filled with hustle and bustle, two cloistered nuns pull back the curtain on their life of prayer, silence and peace

(0:01) Mother Mary Therese of the Holy Spirit, prioress of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Monastery of St. Therese in Clinton Township, recalls her first memories of cloistered life as a 7-year-old visiting a family friend who was a Carmelite nun, and how an early whimsical experience shaped what would become a lifelong vocation.

(4:34) Mother Mary Therese talks about her certainty, as a young girl, that she wanted to be a “Carmelite” — not necessarily a nun — and how her understanding of the vocation grew as she did. After high school, she joined the cloistered order and found her “forever home”: a 12-acre, picturesque monastery she now calls “heaven on earth.”

(8:06) Mother Mary Therese describes the rhythm of life and patterns of prayer, work, rest and recreation inside the cloistered monastery. She talks about the challenges the nuns face in supporting themselves, and how they seek to keep their primary task — intercessory prayer — at the forefront of their minds.

(13:05) We meet another cloistered nun, Sr. Dominic Maria of St. Michael, the 37-year-old vocations director for the Cloistered Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament in Farmington Hills, the largest cloistered community in the Archdiocese of Detroit. As a rare younger vocation, Sr. Dominic discusses her path to cloistered life and how some people “are astonished” at the sight of a young cloistered nun.

(15:04) Sr. Dominic and Mother Mary Therese each discuss the misconceptions surrounding modern cloistered life — namely, that it is a drab, isolated life devoid of vibrancy and fun. Both nuns insist nothing could be further from the truth.

(18:46) While silence is essential to the nuns’ prayer — and something the modern, technology-soaked world sorely lacks — Mother Mary Therese says cloistered life is also an active one filled with work, laughter, joy, reading, hobbies, games and celebration.

(24:21) Mother Mary Therese and Sr. Dominic talk about why prayer is so central to the nuns’ vocation, and how cloistered life is a special response to God’s invitation to be close to Him in all things, as radical as it is countercultural. And both say they couldn’t imagine life any other way.

Reporting by Gabriella Patti; script and narration by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn

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