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Tucson Monastery

History

In 1935, Mother Dolorosa Mergen received an invitation from Bishop Daniel Gercke of Tucson, Arizona to found a convent in his diocese. The bishop hoped that a community with a dedication to adoration of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament would be a means of reparation for the persecution rampant in neighboring Mexico.  In fact the completed chapel of the new foundation was to be dedicated to ‘Christ the King’ in memory of the last cry of the martyred Fr. Pro.It was also thought that the dry climate of the southwest might help a number of sisters who suffered from tuberculosis. 

The sisters first occupied the Steinfeld home at 300 North Main Street. Construction of the permanent monastery began in 1939 and the sisters were able to move in by December 1940. The building was designed by Roy Place, the architect of many prominent buildings in Tucson.  The fledgling monastery was in the heart of the city which made it more accessible to people. Business men, professional people, Mexican and English, they came to the chapel, “where one may find peace,” as one visitor expressed it.  Over the years local groups of men and women helped keep adoration with the sisters: Knights of the Blessed Sacrament, Sentinels of the Blessed Sacrament and the Eucharistic Guard. 

To earn income, sisters began baking altar breads and began doing some sewing: a little embroidery, mending altar cloths, monogramming and communion veils. We no longer bake altar breads here but we have kept alive the tradition of vestment-making and today we continue to provide chasubles, stoles, albs, dalmatics, as well as altar linens and purificators in our Liturgical Vestment Department. We also publish our bimonthly magazine, Spirit & Life, out of our Tucson monastery.

Many fruit trees were planted on the property and over the years have produced thousands of avocados, dates and oranges. Sisters still make many gallons of juice from the oranges each February.

Over the years loyal friends have offered their support in various ways. Whether joining us for Lauds, Vespers, Eucharist, or simply coming to pray in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, faith-filled people have enhanced our service of prayer. And with their generosity over the years we have fed the poor, offered assistance to refugees, made altar breads, provided spiritual counsel, and been a monastic presence in the diocese.