Life in a Habit | History of Monastery

Today January 29th 2018 was the foundation of the Visitation in Mobile order in 1610; the community in Mobile was founded on the feast of St. Francis De Sales in 1833, 185 years ago.

The visitation order was founded in Fance by St. Fancis De Sales and St. Jane De Chantal.  It is a cloistered order committed to prayer and is characterized by a spirit of humility and gentleness. These daughters of the Gospel, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, live a life “hidden with Christ in God”.

The first Visitation community in this country was founded in 1799 in Georgetown, Washington D.C. On December 31, 1832, at the request of the first bishop of Mobile, Rev. Michael Portier, sisters from the monastery in Georgetown arrived in Mobile, and established the Visitation Convent and Academy for Girls less than a month later. The institution served as a school until 1952 and now functions as a retreat house used by men, women, and young people retreats, workshops, meetings, and days of recollection. Private retreats within the enclosure are available for women desiring a great degree of solitude, usually not found in a group retreat. The Monastery has been recognized by the Historic Preservation Society with an historical marker and has received several awards for architectural excellence.

Currently there are twenty sisters (including my grandmother) at the monastery from all over the country. The sisters pray the Divine Office, observe papal enclosure, wear the traditional habit, and live the common life that consists of praying, working, recreating and eating together. In addition to operating a retreat house, the sisters supply altar breads to the parishes in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi, and run a candy kitchen, which is well known for it’s chocolate covered marshmallow treats, “Heavenly Hash”.

The cloistered, contemplative life may seem quite ordinary in the eyes of men, yet St. Francis De Sales dreamed of establishing an order which would give God daughters of prayer who would “withdraw from the world chiefly to be drawn, joined, and untied more closely and more powerfully to their Savior and Creator”. And as Andree Emery states, “Monasteries and cloisters are oases in the desert, refreshing springs of prayer and peace, that attract men to conversion and confirm them in it. They are radiant reminders of the all importance of the necessity of prayer and periodic withdrawal to stand before the Face of Almighty and renew their spirit”.

Beyond the gates lies certain sacredness because of the women who have quietly given their lives to glorify God. By living out God’s will, the Visitation Sisters and the Monastery have become a vital, spiritual resource in the heart of Mobile.

The sisters sign the vow book every year after renewing their vows at Mass on the fest of the Presentation of Mary. My grandmother will be signing her vows for the first time this year and I can’t wait to share this journey with you all on a new series I would like to call “Life in a Habit”.

This will be a series of everything you need to know about nuns, sharing my personal experience, retreats, sharing my grandmothers story/life, and information that you may not have known. Such as,

• Did you know that there are different rankings in becoming a Nun

• the process of becoming a Nun

• whats happening at the monastery

• other Catholic sources

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