The novitiate makes the most of their recreation days -
We were surprised and jubilant to receive a new statue of St. Joseph for our cemetery. Found in an internet search by the diligent workers at the Gift Shop, it was put in place by Sammy Wilder and a crew of construction men who promptly and graciously volunteered their time, equipment, and strength.
During the Forty Days for Life and the synod on the family in October, people assembled in front of the monastery to pray the rosary in support of the Church's teaching on marriage and family life.
The rosary in the photo came from the Basilica of St. Anne in Quebec and was donated by a friend of Ann Thumblin, the case was made by Louis Seiter on left, Ann, Mother Rose Marie and Lee Eilers.
The Saga of the Ring

Once upon a time in the days of the academy, one of the pupils received a ruby ring from her grandmother on Christmas Eve. Sadly, her beloved grandmother died the next day, which made her treasured gift even more precious. After the Christmas holidays the little girl returned to school and was showing her ring to her classmates while they were gathered on the outside pavement surrounding the courtyard. Suddenly the ring flew out of her hand over the parapet and into the grass in the courtyard. Horrified, her first though was, "I'm in BIG trouble", for the students were forbidden to sit or stand on the parapet and were never allowed to walk on the grass of the courtyard. What to do? If she asked a sister for help retrieving her ring, she would have to admit that she had been sitting on the parapet, and if she went into the courtyard to pick up the ring herself, she would be committing another, more deliberate, act of disobedience - and she just might caught. Agonizing over her choices, she decided to say nothing and prayed someone would find the ring and turn it in to the principal, who would inquire if anyone had lost a ring. She could then claim it without having to explain how she lost it. Alas, no one mentioned finding a ring, and the longer she remained silent the more difficult it was for her to make inquiries.

More than seventy years later, the former student came to the monastery with her son who was carrying some metal detection equipment. They asked to be permitted to search in the area where the ring had fallen to the ground, despite the long lapse of time. After nearly an hour of meticulous but unsuccessful searching, they asked if they could return another time to resume their efforts with a professional searcher who had more sensitive equipment. This proposal met with the approval of the superior, but no date was set.

Several weeks later the superior was in her office, preparing to make a phone call. Finding the phone in use, she was waiting patiently for the line to be free when a thought came to her to look for the ring in the secretary in her office. At first she dismissed this as being too improbable to pursue. But the thought kept recurring, so finally she opened the cover of the antique escritoire and her eye fell on several small drawers inside. She opened one and found some little boxes inside. Obviously they had been here a long time. The first one she opened surprisingly contained a miniature ring, gold with red stones; not a single ruby, but nonetheless red.

Not daring to conclude that this was the long-sought ring, she called the former student and told her of her discovery. Beside herself with excitement the good lady told her that the reason she was so diligent in seeking the ring was that she had hoped to give it to her granddaughter - and that very day was the girl's birthday! Within an hour she was at the monastery examining the ring. Although it was not quite the same as she remembered from her childhood, it WAS a child's ring, had red stones, had been turned in to the superior at some time in past years, and had been waiting a long time to be claimed. Considering the chain of events that led to its discovery and the several points of similarity between the rings, she was willing to accept this as her long lost keepsake and to pass it on to her granddaughter, whether or not it was indeed a family heirloom.

Outdoor Stations
During Lent Fr. Pat Madden, who was our chaplain at the time, came inside the enclosure to bless our beautiful new outdoor stations. The gift of a generous and thoughtful benefactor, they had been affixed to the wall of our cloister walk, which provides shelter from inclement weather in a peaceful outdoor setting.
Golden Jubilee

Just a week after Divine Mercy Sunday, Sr. Margaret Mary celebrated her Golden Jubilee of religious profession. The glorious Mass with Archbishop Rodi and several priests and deacons was attended by her numerous family and friends who traveled from all parts of the country to be part of this event.

Rev. Stephen Martin delivered a magnificent homily which perfectly conveyed the significance of our religious vocation, and Jeehae Helen Lee played the organ for hymns chosen for the occasion.

Afterward, there was a joyous reception and dinner prepared and served by members of the Mobile Cursillo. This gathering of family and friends also allowed opportunity for visiting with those who had come from a distance, thus prolonging the festive spirit for several days.





Golden Jubilee


Sister Mary Gabrielle Thomas observed fifty years of religious consecration on May 14, 2017.  The Jubilee Mass was offered the day before the feast of Our Lady of Fatima by Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi, at the Visitation Monastery.  The sisters, their families and friends joined in the celebration, including a reception and festive dinner prepared by benefactors.

Sr. Mary Gabrielle entered the community on July 16, 1964, received the habit on May 2, 1965, and made her first vows on May 14, 1967.

Born Betty Louise Thomas on January 14, 1944, to a Catholic mother and a non-Catholic father, she and her sister and brothers were military brats who traveled the world.  At 17, Sister began educating herself in the Catholic faith by reading her cousins’ Catholic school text books.  At 19, she sought out a priest to receive her First Communion.  She attributes her faith to her grandmother, a staunch Catholic, and her mother, who always prayed the Rosary.

At 20, Sr. Gabrielle made the decision to become a religious, choosing the Mobile Visitation because of the “warmth of the response” to her request for information.  “I entered because I believed this was the life God wanted me to follow.  It was like a fire deep within me.  This desire brought me peace of heart.  I wanted to pray for souls, especially those of my own family”.  Her prayers bore fruit in the conversion of her father at the age of 92.

When Sister joined the community of 40 sisters, she became one of 6 extern sisters, occupied with the exterior duties in the monastery.  Now she spends most of her time within the cloister and describes her 50 years with one word: contentment.  “When I entered, I had the best of both worlds, interacting with outside people and retreating to the quiet and peace of the monastery.  I know I have done God’s will for 50 golden years.  I love my Visitation vocation and all the sisters who share it with me.  We all try to live a life of fidelity.  Each of us is her own person – all seeking our dear Lord.  If you feel the call to a contemplative vocation, I encourage you to come and find out for sure.  You may very well have a vocation: Jesus is full of surprises!”  


Aaron Francis Martin Zanca


The sisters had a visit with Fr. Perez and his friend Aaron Francis Martin Zanca who will be leaving for Spain. He will be studying in the seminary as a candidate for ordination for the Diocese of Seville.


Our Lady of Fatima


Our Lady of Fatima - One Hundred Years Later. On October 13th we joined in celebrating the centenary of the apparitions of Our Blessed Mother of Fatima, Portugal, as our archbishop requested of the entire archdiocese. We had been devoting our attention to this celebration during the year by setting up a statue of Our Lady of Fatima in our community room, with a photograph of the three children and information about the indulgence offered during the year. For those unable to make a pilgrimage to Fatima or to participate in public commemoration of this event, it is acceptable to pray before a statue of Our Lady of Fatima on the 13th of each month instead. On October 13th we began the day with a special Office for the day and with a Mass in honor of Our Lady of Fatima attended by members of our parish. This was followed by solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, which continued until 3:00 pm, when there was a solemn Benediction and Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament. At noon we were able to participate via television in the centenary Mass at Fatima, and that evening we watched part of the candlelight procession, devotions, sermon, and consecration of the United States to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Cardinal Weurl of Washington, D.C. Our pastor, Msgr. James Kee, presided at the liturgical celebrations in our chapel and assisted with the planning of this joyful remembrance of the day that the sun danced and Mary asked the world to pray the rosary for peace.
Divine Mercy


The Sunday after Easter was a glorious spring day, perfect for the festive observance of Divine Mercy. More than four hundred people gathered in our retreat yard to take advantage of the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to participate in the Eucharistic procession and Divine Mercy chaplet, and to venerate the first-class relics of St. John Paul II and Saint Faustina displayed by Fr. Marcin Dudziak, who was the presider for this year's celebration.

Fr. Dudziak is pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and is a native of Poland, homeland of the saints most closely associated with the Divine Mercy devotion. Nine local priests were available to hear confessions prior to the Mass. Trey Krause, campus minister at McGill-Tollen High School, provided musical support for the program, and Rob Herbst, the editor of the Catholic Week, took a variety of photos, which can be viewed at face Catholic Week.

Sr. Mary Joseph - First Vows
Our newly professed sister prepares the altar for Mass, one of her duties in the sacristy.
Sr. Mary Joseph signs the vow book of our community which dates to 1833. Sr. Mary Joseph with a statue of her patron saint.

On Sunday, July 15, 2018, Sr. Linaliz Ramirez pronounced her first vows as a religious of the Visitation of Holy Mary during a beautiful Mass attended by her three sons, Leo, Emil, and Paolo with their families. The profession took place during our community Mass offered by our pastor, Msgr. James S. Kee, assisted by Deacon Ernest Johnson. The congregation included members of the parish and some of the ladies attending the retreat being held that weekend.

During the ceremony which followed the homily, the superior, Mother Rose Marie Kinsella, received Sister's vows to live in poverty, chastity, and obedience for three years, and then Sister received the cross of profession, a copy of the Constitutions of the Order, and her new religious name, Mary Joseph. Her family visited with Sister in the parlor after breakfast, and enjoyed a special festive dinner prepared by members of the Filipino community in Mobile, before returning to their homes in Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas. It made for a joyous reunion for Sister Mary Joseph to have her family share in this memorable occasion.

Sister Mary Louis Ross, V.H.M.
Educator, Wife, Mother, and Religious
Sr. Mary Louis goes about her daily chores with quiet and unassuming devotion.

On Sunday, August 12, 2018, the feast of our Holy Mother, St. Jane de Chantal, Sr. Mary Louis Ross pronounced her solemn, perpetual vows as a Visitandine during a midday Mass celebrated by Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi. Assisting in the sanctuary were our pastor, Rev. Msgr. James S. Kee, Deacon Ernest Johnson and Deacon Wiley Christian. Archbishop Rodi was the homilist.

Sr. Mary Louis was born and grew up in Mankato, Minnesota. She has one brother, Roy Zehnder, who was present for the ceremony with his wife Mary and son John.

After high school, she attended the university in Mankato and became a teacher on sophomore English. After retiring from this position, she taught basic skills at the Navy recruiting center in Illinois.

Inspired in her teenage years by the life of Thomas Merton and the example of Catholic neighbors, she studied the Catholic faith for several years, and then entered the Church during her sophomore year in college.

She married Nicholas Ross who introduced her to the Benedictine Abbey near their home. They attended Mass there regularly, and eventually she became a Benedictine Oblate. Following the death of her daughter and her husband, her association with the Benedictines led her to consider a vocation to religious life, and after investigating possibilities, she applied to this community.

She entered at the close of 2012 as a postulant, became a novice in July of 2013, and pronounced her temporary vows in August of 2015. She quietly and generously serves the community a wardrobier, cook, gardener, and general care giver in many areas.


Sr. Mary Magdalene - First Vows

On Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018, the feast of the Queenship of Mary, Sr. Gail Gaboardi knelt before Mother Rose Marie Kinsella and pronounced her first vows as a religious of the Visitation of Holy Mary. This was the essential element of a simple, yet moving ceremony which took place during our community Mass offered by our pastor, Msgr. James S. Kee, assisted by Deacon Ernest Johnson.

During the ceremony which followed the homily, Sister received the cross of profession, a copy of the Constitutions of the Order and her new religious name, Mary Magdalene. The early-morning intimacy suffused her commitment with a quiet joy.

Sister was born and grew up in New Jersey. After attending the community college, she worked in computer science, television and video production for a number of years before moving to northern Georgia with her family. There she taught school and worked in pastoral ministry at the Cathedral, always seeking God's will in dedicating her life to Him Finally she felt the attraction to religious life and took steps to discern whether this might be an authentic call. The culmination of her prayerful searching was the grace of h profession of the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in our monastery. The rest of the day was spent in joyful celebration by the community.

Msgr. Kee and Deacon Johnson after presenting Sr. Gail with the constitutions of the Order, and just before announcing her new name.
Sr. Mary Magdalene stands with our Lady and Queen.
Mother Rose Marie and Sr. Margaret Mary escort our newly processed sister to the community, her cross glowing like her heart.
Sr. Mary of the Sacred Heart - First Vows

On Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018, the feast of the Guardian Angels, Sr. Mary Portella, a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and graduate of McGill - Toolen Catholic High School, pronounced her first vows as a religious of the Visitation of Holy Mary. Her cousin, Rev. Travis Burnett presided at the Mass attended by her father, Michael Portella, her sister and her family, and a large number of extended family members and friends.

During the ceremony which followed the homily, our pastor Msgr. James S. Kee and Deacon Ernest Johnson assisted at the presentation of the cross of profession and a copy of the Constitutions of the Order. Then Fr. Burnett announced her new religious name, Mary of the Sacred Heart. After the Mass guests greeted Sister in the parlor and enjoyed coffee and light refreshments prepared by another cousin, Charles Wilton of Wilton's Catering.

New Year's Day
On New Year's Day we enjoyed a visit with Msgr. Perez and Aaron, who was back in the United States for a few days during the Christmas holidays. Aaron is in his second year as a seminarian in Spain and is enthralled with the country and its history, especially its rich religious tradition. He has had the opportunity to visit a number of St. Teresa of Avila's foundations and many venerable and splendid churches. He has not yet traveled the Way of St. James (El Camino), but it is on his "to do" list.
House of St. Joseph the Workman

On July 12th members of the lay community of St. Joseph the Workman came bearing an abundance of gifts as they gathered for their annual retreat. Their long-time friend, Most Rev. Martin Holley, conducted the spiritual exercises and healing service during the weekend.

The retreatants were especially happy to have the new elevator at long last, as some of them have endured major inconvenience related to the former conveyance. So it was with relief and pleasure that they ascended and descended without anxiety, a major benefit for their recollection during retreat.

Unfortunately, just as Mass and small group meetings concluded, and the members of the group were on their way to visit the sisters, the fire alarm went off and everyone evacuated the building. It turned out to be a defective monitor, not a fire, but many of the retreatants took it as a signal for their departure. We missed visiting with them in the parlor, but as compensation we enjoyed the Sunday dinner that had been prepare for them.

Archbishop Rodi blessed new elevator for retreat house. Volunteer workers from Ohio repaired, painted shutters and door of Chapel.

Recent Activities – 2020

After several months of inactivity in the retreat house, two of our regular groups came in August for their annual retreats, observing guidelines to maintain social distancing.  The Daughters of St. Francis de Sales and the Men of St. Joseph managed to spend an entire weekend wearing masks, sanitizing and keeping the required distances in the chapel, conference room and dining room.  So far no one has reported any symptoms, except one of the ladies, who determined that she had been exposed in her workplace before the retreat.

Thanks to the lull in activity – and a generous gift from an anonymous donor – we were able to install a new heating and air conditioning system and undertake some deep cleaning and painting to freshen up the rooms.

During the night of September 15 – 16, Hurricane Sally arrived and lingered for a few hours, causing minor damage here, but much more serious problems to the east of Mobile.  This tree limb is not a casualty of Sally.  The huge branch split off on a clear, calm day more than two weeks before the storm – no wind, no lightning, no warning.  What a blessing that it fell in such a way as to cause no damage to persons, the wall or vehicles, not even blocking the driveway.  And it was safely on the ground when the strong winds came through.

Prayers for vocations continue to be answered with the entrance of Dawn who joined Sr. Lourdes and Sr. Consuelo to became a postulant on September 30th.

Please keep up the prayers!


Tree limb down
Tree crown
Our newest postulant Sr. Dawn
Sr. Dawn in choir contemplating the sanctuary
Our postulants, Sr. Lourdes, Sr. Dawn, Sr.Consuelo
Sr. Lourdes with Our Holy Father, Sr. Francis de Sales



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