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Farewell Sr Ann – Last cloistered contemplative nun laid to rest

By Klysha Best

The  family and friends of the Dominican Order and the community of the Rosary Monastery bid farewell to custodian and last of the cloistered contemplative nuns at Rosary Monastery—Sr Mary Ann Bradshaw OP.

Sr Ann, as she was more fondly known, died at the age of 82 on Wednesday, June 5. She was laid to rest on Friday, June 14 following a Funeral Mass at the monastery’s chapel.

Sr Ann entered the Monastery on May 5, 1962, and received the Habit and began her Novitiate on November 5 of that year. She professed Simple Vows as a Dominican and was accepted to profess her Solemn Vows on November 9, 1963.

Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon, during his homily, described the day as a monumental one, as those gathered were there not only to say goodbye to Sr Ann, but also sadly to bid adieu to the Rosary Monastery, which has been a staple of the Archdiocese.

He said the monastery was a haven for many seminarians, where they came and had fruitful dialogue, relationships and wise counsel accompanying them as young seminarians and priests. Sr Ann was integral in the life of the monastery and all the Sisters.

He called on all in attendance to reflect on the graces that the monastery, and Sr Ann by extension brought to the Archdiocese—the grace of accompaniment of many people, the grace of prayer and prayer support of many families and many people in distress. It was also a space for Charismatic Renewal.

The Archbishop added that Sr Ann, with her infectious smile and big heart, really endeared so many people to her and to the monastery.

He said: “Sr Ann was a custodian of contemplative life in our Archdiocese… one of the oldest forms of  Dominican life.”

“St Dominic in 1207 started the contemplative Order, before even the friars were well up and running. This is a very old tradition with incredible depth and gift, but really it holds a gift for the whole Church to engage in. It is a dimension of discipleship that really is for all of us to accept and receive.”


Monastery to close

He added, “The contemplative life is an essential dimension of every disciple in our Archdiocese, every disciple of Jesus Christ. While we say farewell to Sr Ann, a new springtime has happened for contemplative life.”

Archbishop Gordon said while he mourns bitterly that the Rosary Monastery may be closing, he said clearly God has another plan.

“We are in grief because we have lost our Sister and this monastery as we have known it, but the Christian must also see the hope that the Resurrection brings.”

“There is work we must do in honour of Sr Ann and in honour of the monastery. We may close the doors of the monastery, but contemplative life must flourish, not as a vocation as it was lived before, unless God sends a new shoot into this place and brings new life by repopulation, but as a dimension of every one of our lives, as a deep part of who we are. That we take and glean the rich treasure of this contemplative monastery and invite every disciple of Jesus Christ to new depth.”

Archbishop Gordon said while the day was one of grief, it is also a day of great hope and expectation that the graces of the monastery and the life of every nun that dedicated herself to it will not go in vain and the life of Sr Ann will live on.

Sr Renee Hall OP of Holy Name Convent, said Sr Ann would be greatly missed by her and the girls of Holy Name. She said Sr Ann and the Rosary Monastery symbolised a place of stability and refuge, prayer, and consolation.

“Sr Ann allowed the girls of Holy Name to hold retreat at the monastery and was a pillar of support to myself and so many others. Her loss is a significant loss.”

With respect to the probability of the Rosary Monastery being closed with the passing of Sr Ann, Sr Renee said she has faith, like Sr Ann before her passing, that God is still at work where the monastery is concerned.