As Saint Dominic in the 13thcentury founded his nuns in the Monastery of Prouille, Southern France, so also through all the intervening centuries, monasteries of Dominican nuns were founded throughout the world. The first foundation in the United States was the Monastery of Saint Dominic in Newark, N.J., from which our Monastery of the Angels, Los Angeles, was founded in 1924. So continuing Dominic’s charism, The Monastery of the Angels, Los Angeles, founded two monasteries: one in Karachi, Pakistan in 1959, and a second in Bocaue, Philippines in 1977.
In 1959 a group of ten sisters inspired by Bishop Cialeo, who always called the nuns his “missionary sisters” and at the invitation of Archbishop Cordeiro, who recently was made Cardinal by Pope Paul VI, journeyed to the Far East to establish a monastery of cloistered Dominicans nuns in Karachi, Pakistan. They arrived in Karachi and were welcomed with garlands, a traditional welcome gesture of Pakistan. Mother Mary Gabriel Collins, the prioress, in her ingenuity did a good job of transforming the bungalow prepared for them into a temporary monastery.
By the middle of 1960 the community was getting crowded in the monastery and so Mother Mary Gabriel Collins started making plans for the new and permanent monastery. She hoped to expand and built on the same property but permission was denied. A new parcel of land was found in the suburbs of the city of Karachi, 14 miles away from their present house. It was necessary for Mother Mary Gabriel Collins to make several trips a week to supervise personally the construction. By July 1968, the Retreat House and Bakery building were finished and so they started moving into their new home. In another four months everything was finally completed and the Enclosure day was fixed for August 10. The Archbishop celebrated the Holy Mass and in his homily reminded all that the Cloistered Sisters were to be witnesses and a sign to all, of the life that everyone should lead, united to God in prayer.
The Monastery of the Angels was the first monastery established for cloistered Dominicans in a predominantly non-Christian country. Soon young girls, attracted to the cloistered contemplative life, sought admittance to the community.
In 1977 the Orient became the scene for a second Los Angeles Foundation. Through the request of Father Vincent Couesnongle, the Dominican Master General, the Queen of Angels Monastery was opened in Bocaue, Philippines.
Father Vincent de Couesnongle, Master of the Order, came to the Philippines on January 18, 1976 and visited the sisters who were presently residing in a residential house in Bocaue, talking very intimately with them and showing deep interest in everything they told him. He said he would wire Mother Mary Thomas Franich to come over immediately to evaluate the situation. It was his aim to have this foundation succeed and especially that theMonastery of the Angels in Los Angeles should accept it as a new foundation.
The sisters were in the Monastery of the Angels for one year. On returning home construction of the building began. On 11thFebruary 1981, the Master General came to the Bocaue Monastery and handed on to the nuns the document of the Canonical Erection of the Monastery. Mother Mary of Jesus Gutierrez was voted as first prioress of the monastery. On the final blessing of the Monastery she wrote a letter to the Master General asking permission for Mother Mary Thomas Franich to attend the blessing. The Master General replied with the following kind letter:
Dear Mother Mary of Jesus,
Thank you so much for your kind letter of October 19. I am happy to know, in spite of the initial difficulties, the work is going well and the construction of the monastery is almost finished. God tries us in so many ways, but, at the end, his providence and his grace are always with us to overcome all sort of difficulties. Congratulations for the good work done. I hope and pray you will have more vocations in the near future and that the enclosed life in the best Dominican tradition will always prosper at the Queen of Angels Monastery.
I do know how much Mother Mary Thomas has done for the foundation and how much it will mean to her that the work is brought to completion. You do have my permission to invite her to go to the Philippines for the official inauguration.
I will not be able to be present myself or to visit you in the near future. I just came back from Spain, where I will return soon, and after this my two months in South America. And there are so many other places to be visited for the first time. But my prayers will always be with you.
With personal best wishes for you and all the members of the community and the blessing of our Father Dominic, I am.
Yours sincerely in the Lord,
Fr. Vincent de Couesnongle, OP
Master of the Order
The Monastery was blessed July 17, 1981. Today, it is flourishing with vocations.