Our Lady of Grace Monastery has entered a new chapter in its evolution as a sacred space of prayer, worship and contemplation.
The Augustinian Contemplative Nuns, a small congregation of cloistered nuns had lived at monastery since 2008. In August 2022, with the congregation declining in numbers and some members in ill health, the group was recalled by their Superior to their headquarters in Rome. The last of the nuns left Monastery this past November.
The recall left a spiritual and administrative gap at the monastery which is now being filled.
In January 2023, a new Our Lady of Grace Monastery Foundation was set up to govern monastery operations and oversee the ongoing Stewardship Campaign, launched in 2018 to purchase the property from the Augustinian Fathers (Ontario) Inc. and complete essential upgrades to the facilities. To date nearly 60% of the $800,000 target has been reached, in large part with individual donations.
The Foundation is chaired by Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick of the Diocese of Antigonish, with a volunteer board of directors offering a united passion and range of skill sets to the monastery.
There are also now two chaplains serving at Monastery. Fr. Frank Pellerin offers daily weekday mass 9:30 am Monday through Friday and 10 am Saturday and weekend mass on Sunday at 10 am followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 2 pm and Holy Hour at 3 pm.
Fr. Albert MacPherson, serving as assistant chaplain, offers a healing mass at 7 pm on the last Friday of each month.
The monastery has been in existence since 1825 and today remains one of the only sacred retreat spaces available in the province, hosting retreats, conferences, and other gatherings, as well as offering respite and retreat for individuals. The outdoor shrine features wooded walking trails, spaces for prayer and contemplation, and a freshwater spring providing refreshment and, according to some, miracles of healing as well.
With operations settled and the stewardship campaign again under way, directors are now turning attention to future plans for maintenance, upgrades and ways to support the monastery’s self-sufficiency and means of service to the wider world. In its early days, the monastery was a working farm, and potential exists for growth in areas of community development, food production, and environmental stewardship.
The monastery is open daily for visitors to the chapel and shrine. Specific times and events are listed on the Our Lady of Grace Monastery website which also includes details on donating to the stewardship campaign. Donations are tax-deductible and donors are remembered in daily prayers at the Monastery.
Contact Jennifer Hatt, Director, Our Lady of Grace Monastery Foundation and Communications Officer, Diocese of Antigonish: