In March 2017, Vivian Webster, an active member of Our Lady of Sorrows in Linwood and Stockton University’s Catholic Campus Ministry, entered the Saint Scholastica Priory, a contemplative ministry of women religious in Petersham, Massachusetts, who follow the rule of Saint Benedict.
Last October, Webster was clothed as a novice, taking the name of Sister Mary Gertrude.
The monastery is surrounded by thousands of acres of forested conservation land.
“The aim of our life is the search for God and union with him through prayer,” the community states on its website. “The celebration of Holy Mass and the seven hours of the Divine Office is primary in our lives: the nuns’ chief role in the church is prayer, not only for ourselves, but for the world.”
Candidates for admission to Saint Scholastica Priory must be single Catholic women between the ages of 20-40. After initial visits, a woman enters a period of postulancy for sixth months or a year, before entering the novitiate for up to two years. Both novices and postulants take classes in Christian doctrine, the Rule, Latin, Gregorian chant, monastic history and other subjects.
The next step is temporary vows for at least three years, followed by solemn vows, at which point the nun becomes a full member of the community.