Silent preachers amid nature’s song
In 1999 several Dominican nuns took a chance on something new. They responded to a call from church leaders to leave their original communities and form a new Dominican monastery in Western Canada.
They started out in a house in the city of Surrey, British Columbia. Two years later they were able to acquire a location in the country. When they outgrew that space, they relocated north of Vancouver in the Upper Squamish Valley, where, with the support of many benefactors and friends, they began to build Queen of Peace Monastery, with a vision of creating an environment “that communicates the vastness and the beauty of God.” They realized their vision in August 2012 with the completion of a chapel, residence, and small guesthouse specifically designed to showcase their glorious mountain surroundings.
Although their daily life of prayer, labor, and periods of silence rarely takes them outside the monastery grounds, these nuns are networkers. They invited leaders from the First Nations (native peoples) to join them in blessing the land and built a walking path to welcome the public to enjoy their spectacular views of the Canadian Rockies. They have hosted open houses for local residents, and as a group, the sisters received an honorary doctorate from nearby St. Mark’s College for their “prophetic work” and “authentic and sustained life of charity, contemplation, and service to the world.”
Queen of Peace prioress Sister Claire Rolf, O.P. sees their quiet life of prayer as well as their outreach to the wider community as a form of silent preaching and a way of quenching the spirit. “We all thirst,” she said at a groundbreaking ceremony. “We are all thirsting for life, goodness, beauty, truth, love. We are thirsting for God, and God is thirsting for us. . . . May all who come to our monastery perceive the voice of Jesus, like the voice of [nearby] Pilchuck Creek, crying out or gently singing, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me. Let anyone who believes in me drink.’ ”
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