With monastery closed, Dominican group moves to Merchantville


With the closing of their Camden Monastery last month, the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary relocated to Elmira, N.Y.
Also relocating, but closer to home, are the Council Members of the Lay Fraternity of St. Dominic.
Since 1939 the Holy Rosary Chapter of Camden, made up of men and women, has met at the Dominican Monastery on Haddon Avenue.
When news of the closure came out, the lay fraternity’s members hoped to continue their work in the Camden Diocese and met with Father Anthony Manuppella, pastor of St. Peter Church in Merchantville.
Thus, starting on Sunday, Jan. 19, the Lay Fraternity of St. Dominic will meet on the third Sunday of every month, January-June, in the parish’s Senior Center.
Formerly known as the Third Order of St. Dominic, the Holy Rosary Chapter of Camden is made up of men and women, singles and couples, who, since the organization’s creation in 1939, have gathered in prayer and fellowship, joining lay Dominicans throughout the world in remaining steadfast in the order’s pillars of prayer, study, community and apostolate.
According to the chapter’s historian, Marita Grzechowiak, the Holy Rosary Chapter was founded by Dominican Father John S. Moran and officially came into existence on April 11, 1939. As one of the few chapters in the area, the early years saw members come from Philadelphia and Lancaster in Pennsylvania, and Trenton.
In the beginning, meetings were scheduled every first and third Sunday of the month. First Sundays were Blessed Sacrament Sundays, with exposition, rosary and benediction in the chapel.
The Third Sundays came to be known as Holy Rosary Sundays, where members prayed 15 decades of the rosary, with women wearing veils and carrying candles.
The members also took pilgrimages to the Marian Procession in Atlantic City and participated in day retreats.
In the recent past, the fraternity, currently with 20 members (at its height, it had nearly 40), has met every third Sunday of the month, starting with Mass at noon, followed by the Liturgy of the Hours and Litany of St. Dominic.
Dominican Father Anthony Cataudo, chaplain at the monastery and spiritual advisor to the lay order, then would present a reflection to the group, followed by formation lessons for new members.
To end the day, members prayed the rosary.
Father Cataudo will continue as spiritual advisor, for the order.
Grzechowiak, a member for the past 28 years, and a former first grade religious education teacher at St. Maria Goretti in Runnemede, joined the lay fraternity because she felt she “needed to do something for my soul.”
Virginia Whacker, of West Collingswood Heights, entered the order in 1993, after hearing a sermon on St. Rose of Lima delivered by Father Robert Pasley at St. John Church in Collingswood. Father Pasley is currenntly rector of Mater Ecclesiae, Berlin.
“I was looking for a deeper spiritual life,” she said, and felt a “calling to be a Dominican.”
She met her husband, Donald, shortly after entering, and in 1998, after five years of formation, she professed her final vows.
The Lay Fraternity of St. Dominic, Holy Rosary Chapter of Camden, will meet on the third Sunday of every month, January-June, starting on Jan. 19, at St. Peter’s Parish Senior Center in Merchantville. Formation sessions for postulants and novices begins at 11:30 a.m., and the General Meeting starts at 1 p.m. Inquiries and new members are warmly welcomed.