“Alaska is Mission Land”
Many people do not know and are surprised when they learn of its existence, but the only monastery of contemplative life in Alaska is in Anchorage. Eight nuns and one aspirant from the Congregation of Perpetual Adoration, founded in Italy by Blessed Mary Magdalene of the Incarnation (1770-1824), live, pray and work there. Today there are one thousand sisters and ninety monasteries spread throughout the world on three continents.
One of these ninety monasteries is in Guadalajara, Mexico. From there, the first seven sisters departed for “The Last Frontier,” with a stop at the San Francisco Monastery in California, in the United States. It was the late Archbishop Francis Hurley who asked that these seven Mexican nuns be sent to settle in the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska. This took place May 15, 1985.
“The Catholic community wanted a convent so they could always have the Blessed Sacrament visible for worshiping. There are not many Catholics in Alaska, but many people come to visit us,” Sister Maria de la Milagrosa, 81, tells Sol de Medianoche. She was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and has never returned to her country. “I haven’t left Alaska for thirty-eight years,” she says. Practically half of her long life.
Sister María de la Milagrosa is the only one of the seven courageous pioneers still alive. The other six “are now enjoying the presence of God.” She is joined by the mother superior of the congregation, Sister Miriam de Jesus, who has been in Anchorage for five and a half years.
Sister Miriam de Jesus is from Nuevo Laredo in Tamaulipas, northern Mexico. She returned to her home country to take some religious formation courses and to take advantage of the opportunity to see her family. Sister María de la Milagrosa tells us, “I also saw my family. My sister came to Anchorage once. That was in 2008, 15 years ago, and I haven’t seen her in person since. But we talk on the phone and video call through WhatsApp.”
Prayer and worship dominate the lives of these nuns. Their day begins every morning at 5:30 a.m., and from then on, they develop their contemplative life, in which prayer predominates. “We also take turns every hour during the day for adoration and to intercede for humanity and the good of the world. Once a week we have night adoration, and Sundays are days of rest and recreation which are lived in fraternity,” says Sister Miriam de Jesus.
The mission of these sisters is to be a support through prayer, dedication, sacrifice, generosity, and joy, not only for the Church, but for all of Alaska. Their “mission land.”