Cloistered Traditional Dominicans in Cajun Country

My recent trip to New Orleans and its environs was superlative. The talk I gave was graciously received. It was a real joy to see some old friends and meet new ones besides, like the traditional priests and religious in whose company I was privileged to spend a few days. Father Wilfredo Comellas is an old school friend, and now offers the Traditional Mass for three groups, including the Mysterium Fidei Latin Mass Society, for whom I gave the talk. He works with Father Van Constant, a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux diocese. The two of them divide the liturgical and pastoral work associated with four traditional Latin Mass locations in New Orleans, the North Shore, and Cajun Country.

I was happy to serve Father Comellas’ Holy Mass at one of these, the Monastery of the Heart of Jesus. This is an enclosed convent of Dominican Nuns in Lockport Louisiana. Right on Bayou Lafourche, this monastic foundation is in Cajun Country. The nuns assist at Mass in their monastic choir, where they view the altar through the traditional grille. The faithful are seated in another location, and cannot see into the sisters’ choir. In fact, due to the ingenious design of their veils, even the celebrant can only partially see the nuns’ faces when he gives them Holy Communion. To visit them, one has to go to the parlor, where there is another grille separating the nuns from their guests.

As part of their enclosure, the nuns do not have much of an online presence, but there is a Xanga page with contact information. Wikipedia has an article on the monastery, too, whence I excerpt the following:

Dominicans of the Monastery of the Heart of Jesus – Lockport, Louisiana

In 1880, Dominican monastic life took root in the United States. Approximately 50 years later, only days after her sixteenth birthday, the then Anna Rita McKanna (later receiving the name in religion, Sister Mary Henry of Jesus, O.P.) entered the Dominican Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament in Detroit, Michigan (since relocated to Farmington Hills, Michigan). Shortly after her solemn profession of vows there, this exemplary young religious was chosen to be one of the foundresses of the Dominican Monastery of the Infant Jesus in Lufkin, Texas (1945). Thirty-six years later, the Reverend Mother Mary Henry of Jesus, O.P., set out to found the Dominican Monastery of the Heart of Jesus in Lockport, Louisiana. While awaiting pontifical recognition, the Lockport foundation adheres to the ideals and practices of the Nuns of the Order of Preachers (“Second Order”) and, for the time being, is of diocesan right as an autonomous juridic person, with canonical status in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.

The Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of the Heart of Jesus in Lockport, Louisiana are in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, accepting all Magisterial teachings and directives.

Vocational inquiries and prayer requests may be sent to the address listed below:

Monastery of the Heart of Jesus
155 Church Street
Lockport, Louisiana 70374-2552