The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, are a young and thriving community. Founded 18 years ago with four sisters, the community has grown to more than 110 sisters today, with an average of age of just 30 years old.
The sisters own and administer two Spiritus Sanctus Academy schools in Ann Arbor and Plymouth, Michigan, and have teaching missions at 18 schools in California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. Many people know of them because their appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s television show and on The American Bible Challenge, hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy. The sisters are also known for their 2013 Billboard chart-topping recording “Mater Eucharistiae,” which was praised by CWR as “a work of great power and beauty.”
Due to the popularity of their first album, the sisters decided to produce another collection of music. “The Rosary”, released through De Montfort Music, includes spoken prayers as well as original meditations set to music. Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP, one of the order’s foundresses and its vocations director, recently spoke with Catholic World Report about her order’s love for the Rosary, the comfort and peace that comes to those who pray it, and about their new CD.
CWR: Can you tell us how “The Rosary” CD came about?
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP: Since our first CD did so well and was very popular, we received many requests for a second. Knowing we would want this one to be a sharing not only in our community’s favorite hymns but also in our community’s devotional life, we decided upon a very popular Dominican tradition—Our Lady’s Rosary. Not only is this tradition linked with our order (tradition states that the Blessed Mother entrusted [the Rosary] to St. Dominic to spread throughout the world), but it is our great desire to help spread this devotion to everyone who is open to going to Jesus through his mother, Mary. We also wanted to add as many new hymns as the CD would hold…thus, three hymns were added apart from the other music, which quietly “floats” the “Hail Marys,” “Our Fathers,” and meditations of the various mysteries of the 20-decade Rosary.
CWR: Why is the Rosary an important prayer for our day?
Sr. Joseph Andrew: We would quickly answer that the Rosary is a timeless devotion! It is one of the most highly indulgenced by the Church and has been a favorite prayer for 800 years of countless popes, priests, religious sisters, and lay men and women. Even holding onto the beads of a blessed Rosary gives one a surge of spiritual peace and, as we were created with a sensate nature, the feel of these holy beads both calms and refreshes. It would be an interesting study to see how many saints have died with the Rosary in their hands—and how many people today go to sleep at night with a Rosary in their hands or hung on their beds! Throughout mankind’s history, we have needed the assurance of the Father’s love and the Mother’s love. The Rosary is a tangible expression of this love as well as an invitation to live our lives most closely in union with theirs.
CWR: Do you think combining the Rosary with music benefits the listener in some particular way?
Sr. Joseph Andrew: Devotional music holds a very strong contemplative dimension. It gently opens the human mind and heart to embrace spiritual mysteries. It lifts us out of our present anxieties, struggles, and confusions, and allows us a space to commune with God. It has often been said that the Rosary is a type of “spiritual music” in that the repetition allows for a prayerful spirit. Our music put behind the words of the Rosary quickly seems to allow a person to spiritually “float” and, thereby, to reach more quickly a deeper spiritual union with Christ as we, in the words of Pope St. John Paul II, “sit with Jesus in the school of Mother Mary.”
CWR: How can the average busy person carve time out to pray the Rosary?
Sr. Joseph Andrew: How can the average busy person NOT carve out 10-15 minutes for prayers and remain sane and peaceful? That would be the question I would have to immediately ask. If we refuse to place daily prayer as a high priority in our lives, we will know a deep emptiness and sadness. It seems Jesus and Mary understand our extreme busyness and, therefore, gave us a very simple yet profound—and, in the scheme of life, relatively short—prayer by which we could allow God to take the reins of our lives, and by which we could rest in a contemplative gaze on the biblical prayer called the Rosary.
CWR: What are your personal hopes for this CD?
Sr. Joseph Andrew: We hope and pray that God will bless our efforts by the people who will find this CD, listen to it, calm down, and enter a deeper place of prayerful union with the Divine. This is, indeed, the purpose of this CD.
CWR: Is there anything that occurred during the production of the CD that stands out in your mind?
Sr. Joseph Andrew: As goes the Rosary, so went its production. This CD came together with a stark beauty and gentleness. The music flowed smoothly; the prayers we pray many times every day; it is a type of glimpse into the sisters’ prayer life and, hence, into our religious consecration. All flowed with a portion of the peace that is always the Rosary’s gift to those who pray this.
Perhaps we would add that on every Sunday, our doors are open to people who wish to come and pray with us both Vespers, or “Evening Prayer,” and the Rosary. Being aware that countless people scattered throughout the world would love such a few minutes of holy encounter led by the sisters, we created this CD so that these peoples too could have the same prayerful experience. Whether they are healthy, bed-ridden, older, or younger, all can play a CD and suddenly be transported into a quiet chapel in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and pray with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist who live therein.
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