As the nuns leave, locals hope to keep iconic Hollywood monastery open
Hidden under the Hollywood sign overlooking a city famous for its materialism, a community of cloistered Dominican nuns have prayed for nearly a century for the people of Los Angeles, for all those in the world who are suffering and for the neighbors who come to them. their problems.
Now the Monastery of Angels is reduced to its last members, the majority of whom have asked the Dominican order to close their community. Neighbors, curators and longtime monastery volunteers have expressed concern about the sisters and the property. As of Friday afternoon, more than 2,300 people had signed a petition asking that the monastery remain open.
A statement from the Dominican order said “no decision has been made to sell.” Lay workers will continue to make and market the monastery’s popular candy and pumpkin bread, he said.
“The decision is not final,” local prioress Sister Maria Christine, OP, told Angelus. âWe are exploring all possible and open alternatives to a solution that would preserve the chapel of worship, the gift shop and the religious environment of the property. I agree that something has to happen, but I’m not sure exactly what it could be.
As deaths overtook vocations, the nuns had spent years discerning what to do if they could no longer maintain the monastery, she said. When they were down to around 10 members, âthe COVID-19 virus hit our community hard last Christmas and left us with devastating results,â said Sister Maria Christine.
Of four sisters who contracted it, three died within two weeks. Two others died of other causes.
âMaybe this is all in the divine providence of God, but it was a huge shock for the community to lose our figures of wisdom, those who had a store of memories from the early days, those who rejoiced in the growing community and those who have prayed tirelessly for the people of Los Angeles, âshe said.
Many in Los Angeles appreciated these prayers.
Richard Schave and Kim Cooper are not Catholic but include the Monastery of Angels on their “esotouricâHistoric Hollywood tours. They brought visitors to mass to witness to cloistered spirituality.
While the 1924 architecture of Wallace Neff, a designer of iconic movie star mansions, is significant, Schave and Cooper express a deeper concern for the monastery’s spiritual contributions.
âA building is so important to its community because of the emotional ownership the community feels, the feeling that it belongs to them as a place of worship,â Schave said.
They worry about what would happen if the Dominicans sold ultra-premium real estate.
If the nuns leave, they hope the Church will offer the property to “another similar contemplative community that would live and pray the same,” Cooper said.
A statement from the Dominican Order said the monastery no longer meets canonical or Dominican requirements for a viable community, but thanked those who expressed concern.
âOur prayers are always with our community of friends and neighbors, and [we] let us hope that our monastery will continue to be a house of prayer and of service for the years to come â, he declared.
The community was founded in 1924 by a nun from New Jersey, Mother Mary of the Eucharist, whose devotion to angels drew her to the City of Angels. The property was purchased in 1934. The sisters prayed around the clock for the movie moguls, the homeless, the disaster victims and the salvation of souls. They supported each other as bakers and confectioners, becoming famous for their pumpkin bread.
The monastery once had dozens of sisters, founding branches in Pakistan and the Philippines. Of the five sisters currently in residence, âtwo are infirm or disabled and are preparing to move to a facility where they can receive care appropriate to their level of need,â said Sister Christine.
Each sister can choose where to move.
According to Church law, a monastic community must have enough sisters capable of forming a governing council, providing spiritual leadership, and continuing the community’s God-given mission, Sister Christine said.
âThe Monastery of Angels is sorely lacking in all of the above,â she said. “This includes our ability to elect a prioress and a council, to hold a chapter, to have a common life, the choral celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, private prayer, worship and the study of sacred truth.”
Therefore, “the majority vote of the nuns was in favor of the closure,” she said. Their recommendation is discussed at the higher levels of the order in Rome before being submitted to the Holy See for final decision. Under Church law, Archbishop JosÃ© H. Gomez of Los Angeles is consulted but does not have the power to intervene.
A statement from the Archdiocese expressed gratitude for the presence of the nuns âand entrusts their future to their religious superiors, who are committed to their care and well-being.
“The archdiocese is in contact with the Dominican Order in the hope that religious services can continue at the monastery, keeping the chapel open and available to the community,” the statement said.
The Dominicans said that âthe order will continue to explore possibilities for the future. It is our hope to maintain the chapel for worship and prayer. The gift shop, pumpkin bread bakery and famous chocolate candy making will continue to operate with the expertise of our current lay staff.
The candies are for sale online at www.monasterygoodies.com and in the gift shop of Notre-Dame-des-Anges cathedral.