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Hot Springs nuns react to Vatican decision

Published: October 13, 2007   

The sisters living at the Monastery of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge in Hot Springs said "a heavy cross has fallen upon us" following the announcement of their excommunication by the Catholic Church for heresy.

In a press release received Oct. 4, the monastery said, "In the coming year, we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the foundation of our convent in Hot Springs. At the dawning of this anniversary, a heavy cross has fallen upon us. To remain faithful to a Work (the Army of Mary), which is obviously guided by God, our community has been excommunicated."

Most of the press release sent by the Hot Springs nuns was identical to a press release from the Army of Mary, based in Quebec, Canada, dated Sept. 12.

"It was with a sense of peace that we received this decision on the part of the Roman Catholic Church, a decision that heaven had announced to our foundress a long time ago ... We remain confident that the Lord, in his Divine Providence, will not abandon us. Solutions are already being offered to us."

The sisters said the Army of Mary founder, Marie-Paul Giguere, is concerned with serving God and intends to remain faithful to him.

"The Army of Mary believes in and adheres to all the doctrine of the Catholic Church," the press release stated. "Its members ... believe, besides, in the authenticity of Marie-Paul's mission."

Catholics who "knowingly and deliberately" continued to be members of the Army of Mary were automatically excommunicated, according to the Vatican. The Army of Mary supports false teachings on Mary and the Trinity.

In a phone interview with Arkansas Catholic, the superior, Sister Theresa Marie Lalancette, confirmed the monastery now has an excommunicated priest who is a member of the Army of Mary celebrating Mass for them every day. When asked if the sisters would ever attend Mass at a Catholic church in Hot Springs, she said, "Surely not." She said the sisters have not resumed offering perpetual adoration as was done for the past seven years.

Sister Theresa Marie said there have been a few changes at the monastery's day care since the announcement Sept. 26. Two lay teachers who are Catholic will be leaving once they find other jobs and parents of "two or three" children have left the day care.

"We have a few Catholics who were told to stop (supporting us)," she said.

The day care serves 95 children, including infants to 4 years old.

Director Sister Thomas O'Keefe "has a waiting list anyway," she said.

Sister Theresa Marie said "nothing has changed" for the six excommunicated nuns and they will continue their membership in the Army of Mary.

"Many of them (reports from Church leadership) are lies. Everything will be cleared up in time," the superior said, adding she did not want to elaborate on the beliefs of the Army of Mary.

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