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These singing nuns are about to have their new chapel


Jim Graves - published on 05/08/18

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, have released another CD, this one honoring Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, in Gower, Missouri, have released The Hearts of Jesus, Mary & Joseph at Ephesus, a CD of sacred music featuring 22 songs honoring the three persons of the Holy Family (listen to excerpts at the sisters’ website, here). Seven of the songs were written by the sisters themselves; all are sung by the sisters and are reflective of their life of prayer and singing of sacred hymns within the community daily.

The sisters have released CDs of sacred music previously, and this one gives special honor to St. Joseph, as Sister Scholastica Radel, subprioress, noted, “there is not a lot of music honoring St. Joseph.”

In addition to existing music and the songs composed by the sisters, the final song, Hymn to the Three Hearts, was written by Long Island composer Lisa Nardi, a contributor to Ken Burns’ PBS Miniseries The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.  

Nardi heard the sisters’ previous work broadcast on a New York classical station and contacted the sisters asking if she could write something for them to sing. Sister Scholastica noted, “She said we inspired her and made her want to write sacred music.”

The new CD has “universal appeal for young and old,” Sister Scholastica continued, as “we have combined the some existing classics with enough new songs to make it interesting.”

Founded in 1995

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, were founded in 1995. In their full black habits, they pray for up to five hours daily; they fast and are silent for much of the day and work on a small farm to help sustain the community. Their enterprises include the sales of greeting cards and sewing vestments.

They also accept donations, both financial and gifts of food from the farmers who live nearby. And, as they were initially established under the auspices of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, they chant many of their prayers and celebrate Mass according to the Extraordinary Form which, Sister said, “is our expression of living the Rule of St. Benedict.”

The community has enjoyed strong growth since its founding. Today, it has 35 members, including five postulants, eight novices and three first professed.  The majority are American. At least nine more young women will join the community this fall to discern their vocations.  As the ideal size of the community is 30, the sisters’ leadership is looking into creating a foundation so that a “daughter house,” or offshoot community, can be established in the future.

New $6M church

Among the most pressing needs of the community is a new church, as the current chapel is not large enough to accommodate additional sisters. Construction is underway on a new $6 million church connected to the sisters’ priory building; the sisters currently have $4 million, and hope the sales of their CD and other enterprises will help raise the remainder.

The new church will seat 200. Highlights include a stone exterior and a marble altar; there will also be choir stalls in which the sisters will chant the Divine Office.  

William Heyer of Columbus, Ohio, the architect, has designed such traditional Catholic churches as the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago.

Much of the exterior work has been completed, and the construction focus is currently the interior of the building. All work should be complete by the end of 2018, with a dedication ceremony planned for December.

With a “huge crop” of incoming vocations, Sister Scholastica said, the new church will not only offer sorely needed space, but “provide an appropriate setting for what we do all day, singing to the Lord. It will be nice to combine the visual with the audible.”

And, as visitors are welcome to join the sisters in prayer, the beautiful new church can also be an effective evangelization tool.

Sister referenced a priest-friend who grew up without religion in the former Soviet Union. When the future priest began to encounter beautiful church art and architecture he ultimately converted, Sister Scholastica said, as “he realized that Catholics wouldn’t be creating all this art for nothing. The beauty that can be conveyed through art and architecture echoes the beauty of God himself.”


The sisters welcome donations to fund the church and their other needs. To purchase a CD, visit the sisters’ website, or designate the sisters as the beneficiary of an Amazon Smile account.

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