Open house Oct. 21 welcomes the Apostolic Sisters of St. John
PRINCEVILLE -- The Community of St. John is growing.
In September, the Apostolic Sisters of St. John established their first U.S. novitiate house in rural Princeville. The move was made in an effort to meet the needs of the growing number of American women who are seeking entrance to the congregation.
Now all three branches of the Community of St. John are represented in central Illinois. In addition to the Apostolic Sisters, the Brothers of St. John and the Contemplative Sisters of St. John have priories in Princeville, about 18 miles northwest of Peoria.
An open house to welcome Sister Anne of Jesus, the local superior, and Sisters Marie and Karine is planned for Sunday, Oct. 21, from 3 to 5 p.m. It will include a blessing of their temporary convent at 10809 W. Legion Hall Road. Light refreshments will be served.
Father Marie Dominique Philippe, OP, founded the Brothers of St. John in 1975, the Contemplative Sisters of St. John in 1982 and the Apostolic Sisters of St. John in 1984. While all three branches are deeply rooted in contemplative prayer and the search for the truth, the Brothers and the Apostolic Sisters accept missions outside the community.
“Here it’s a little bit different because we are not called first of all to have a mission in the Diocese of Peoria, but to open the novitiate and give formation” to the postulants and novices, said Sister Marie.
“During their formation, the Sisters don’t have an apostolate,” Sister Anne of Jesus explained. “Whereas the professed Sisters do have apostolates, the novices don’t.”
She said they spend a lot of time in prayer and have classes every day --- many of them shared with the Brothers of St. John at their conference center.
“That’s why we came here, to benefit from the classes, the formation, the Masses, the sacraments with the Brothers because we share the same spirit,” said Sister Marie.
“It builds up the unity of the community, of the whole family of St. John --- that sharing of the same search for truth,” Sister Anne of Jesus told The Catholic Post, adding that the classes are also open to the lay associates of the community, known as Oblates, and any friend of the community.
All three of the Sisters ministering at the new novitiate house are French. Before coming to Illinois, Sister Anne of Jesus worked for five years in East Orange, N.J., where the community’s first American foundation was established. Sister Karine arrived from Mexico City on Sept. 1 and Sister Marie came from France on Sept. 5.
Before coming to the Diocese of Peoria, the Sisters met with Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, who gave them his blessing to establish the novitiate here. They already have two women from America and one from New Zealand in formation.
For the time being, the little community is living in an A-frame house that belongs to the Brothers of St. John and previously was used by participants in the Eagle Eye Institute. The Sisters also expressed gratitude to the Contemplative Sisters of St. John, who provided hospitality when they arrived.
They are building a chapel and know that a “proper convent” will be needed soon.
In the meantime, the Sisters are thankful for their new friends in central Illinois who have provided furniture and other necessities of life, as well as the people who worked throughout the summer to remodel the house to make it suitable for its new use.
“We rely a lot on St. Joseph,” said Sister Anne of Jesus. “He’s very attentive. He sends what we need when we need it.”
“It’s a first step,” said Sister Marie, “but we have to make a lot of steps more.”
For more information about the Apostolic Sisters of St. John, call (309) 243-1488 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.