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May 4, 2022
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May 4, 2022

The Little House on the Corner

By Matthew Woolford

Within recent months, I have fallen in love with Rosary Monastery, St Ann’s. This ‘Little House on the Corner’ was, to my eyes at least, hidden in plain sight for years.

Even my father, Michael, whom I always believed knew every place in Trinidad, did not know of its existence before I invited him to Mass there a few weeks ago. For the first time in my life, I went into its quadrangle for the Palm Sunday procession and realised it was larger than I even imagined. Vaster far is the heart and strength of the two women who support this entire community: Prioress Sister Ann Bradshaw OP and Sister Mary Thomas OP. Even more incredible, Sr Mary is wheel-chair bound but is still going strong in faith and prayer.

Seeing these two women in action has invited me to reflect on two things: Women, and their role in community.


Mary, the Mother of God

When Mary said ‘yes’ to God, she changed the course of salvation history forever. At once, and to use the phraseology of Professor Courtney Bartholomew in his book The Ark of the Covenant, she became the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son andthe Spouse of God the Holy Spirit, essentially completing the Trinity of God, a burden that we are all called to carry.

In thanksgiving, she took this newly conceived Word to her cousin Elizabeth. St John the Baptist leapt in the womb in recognition of the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God.

As an Order of Preachers, The Dominican mission is ‘to Pray, to Preach, to Bless’. St Francis of Assisi, contemporary of St Dominic, had as Rule 1221 of the Franciscan Order, Chapter XII: No brother should preach contrary to the form and regulations of the holy Church nor unless he has been permitted by his minister … All the Friars … should preach by their deeds.

St Catherine of Siena, a Dominican Doctor of the Church, once wrote: “Of a truth Dominic and Francis were two columns of the holy Church: Francis with the poverty which was specially his own and Dominic with his learning.”

And these two nuns are preaching with their lives!


A synopsis of the end of Luke 10: 38–42, Martha and Mary

Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed Him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at His feet listening to Him. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”

The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”


A synopsis of the first part of John 11:5–16, The Raising of Lazarus

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was ill, He remained for two days in the place where He was, when He said to His disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?”

So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.”

Thomas, called Didymus (The Twin), said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.”


Let us also go to die with him

Have more beautiful words ever been spoken? Was St Thomas the Shakespeare of his day? Many have accused Thomas of initially ‘doubting’ the Resurrection of our Lord. I prefer to see him as the personification of a royal priesthood and Champion of all religious and consecrated life!

Thomas was probably the most mature of the Apostles. Why else was he called Didymus (The Twin) if not for his life being in perfect imitation of our Lord’s? Was not Thomas the first to place his finger into our Lord’s hand and his hand into our Lord’s side (Jn 20:27)?

Fr Dwight Black OP recently confessed during one of his homilies that it was because of Srs Ann and Mary that he makes the journey from Arima to St Ann’s each morning from Sunday to Friday to celebrate Mass at Rosary Monastery. He, too, finds their faith to be irresistible.

Dying to ourselves is hard and I know it is for Srs Ann and Mary too, but as our Lord commented, they have chosen the better part and it will not be taken from them.