Long lifetimes of faith and prayer

The other day I saw in the weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Madison that a religious sister was celebrating her 8oth anniversary of profession!  That’s impressive.

This also caught my eye today

‘Longest-serving’ cloistered nun dies in Spain
The Associated Press
A nun believed to hold the world record of 86 years cloistered in a monastery has died in Spain.

Sister Maria Romero, abbess of the Buenafuente del Sistal monastery northeast of Madrid said Wednesday that Sister Teresita Barajuen had died overnight. She was 105.

She entered the Cistercian monastery when she was 19, the abbess said.

Barajuen acknowledged in interviews that like many young women at the time, she never intended being a nun but entered the monastery because of family pressure.

In 2011, Barajuen left the monastery for the first time in 40 years to meet retired Benedict XVI during a papal visit to Madrid. She had entered the monastery on the same day he was born.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Andrew says:

    St. Jerome to a 100 year old monk: (my fast translation):

    Behold already a hundred years and you always keeping the Lord’s commandments, meditate the future beatitude through present examples. Your eyesight is sharp, your walk is firm, hearing clear, teeth are white, voice is resounding, the body is firm, hair is not white, and your strength cheats your age. There is no trace of weakened memory, as one might notice with older persons. A sharp mind hasn’t cooled off with age. The face is not full of wrinkles. The steady writing doesn’t show a shaking hand. The Lord shows us in you the power of future resurrection, so that we may know that it is on account of sins that others, still living, begin to die in flesh, and that it is on account of justice, that you exhibit the strength of adolescence in your old age.

    (Ecce jam centenus aetatis circulus volvitur, et tu semper Domini praecepta custodiens, futurae vitae beatitudinem per praesentia exempla meditaris. Oculi puro lumine vigent; pedes imprimunt certa vestigia; auditus penetrabilis; dentes candidi, vox canora; corpus solidum, et succi plenum; cani cum rubore discrepant; vires cum aetate dissentiunt. Non memoriae tenacitatem, ut in plerisque cernimus, antiquior senecta dissolvit. Non calidi acumen ingenii, frigidus sanguis obtundit. Non contractam rugis faciem, arata frons asperat. Non denique tremula manus per curvos cerae tramites errantem stylum ducit. Futurae nobis resurrectionis virorem in te nobis Dominus ostendit, ut peccati sciamus esse, quod caeteri adhuc viventes praemoriuntur in carne; justitiae, quod tu adolescentiam in aliena aetate mentiris.)

  2. mamajen says:

    I think men and women being pressured into religious life is a root cause of many of the problems we face now. However, I greatly admire that Spanish nun for keeping her vows all those years. What a tremendous sacrifice, and I’m sure her prayers were all the more effective because of it. God bless both of these selfless women.

  3. Anchorite says:


    Btw, everyone is always pressured into everything. It’s about how you act under pressure: using it as an excuse to do the right thing or to wrong someone. Listen to the Queen :)

  4. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:


    Nowadays, with much-shrunk family size, we have the opposite problem: both the parents and the religious orders discouraging religious vocations.

    (Yes, I know there are exceptions, but the fact that they are exceptions makes my point.)
    God bless,


  5. Sam Schmitt says:

    She lived through the Spanish Civil War as a nun – amazing.

  6. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “I think men and women being pressured into religious life is a root cause of many of the problems we face now.”

    Idon’t think so. At all. Forty, 30, maybe even 20 years ago, you could still trace some evil to this cause, but now? No way.

  7. Anchorite says:

    Dr. Peters,
    It’s clear that Mamajen meant the problems that has surfaced now, not the problems that are caused by what happened with recent vocations.

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. Back then, Spanish girls were also pressured to marry or not marry — and so were Spanish boys.

    2. The kind of pressure that later caused trouble with US vocations in the Sixties and Seventies was peer pressure and teacher pressure, not just family pressure. There was pressure to produce a certain number of vocations, just like a production line.

    3. It is amazing, the kind of Victorian objections to vocations that today’s kids hear.

  9. MarrakeshEspresso says:

    Oh man, that is so true, Suburban Banshee.

    I was in cloistered religious life for a while, and it’s amazing the number of good Catholic families I met who said, ‘Oh, it’s so nice to see REAL NUNS around’ … and then we would have the following conversation:

    Me: So, do you have any children?
    Them: Yes, two girls and a boy.
    Me: And are you encouraging any of them to think about religious life?
    Them: OH NOOOOOO! [shock horror]

    It is a well-known fact, after all, that priests and nuns and brothers come from Somewhere Else. Other People’s Families. Or perhaps from the Planet Nun. Or from Monks-R-Us.

  10. Jeannie_C says:

    I would like to think that nun remained in her vocation because after a time, recovering from the shock and awe of the newness of her life, she found she did have a vocation, after all. Who among us can say that, if married, marriage turned out to be exactly as we’d envisioned? It takes living the vocation, religious or married, to understand it and receive its graces. This year my husband and I will mark our 40th anniversary, so yes, I speak from experience. God is full of surprises.

  11. Steven Surrency says:

    Though God’s perfect will may not have had this Sister in that vocation, once she took vows, it was His will that she remain faithful to those vows. Many people should have used better discernment when selecting a spouse. Nonetheless, once they are validly married, it is done. That is their spouse. Their mistake, however, can be redemptive as they sacrificially learn to love the person, imperfect though the match is. In the sacrifices and struggles of being married to the wrong person, one finds the crosses of compromise, flexibility, and compassion. Thus one finds Christ in the mistake. A fortiori, the same can be said of the religious life, which, according to the Council of Trent, is objectively superior to the married life (don’t quote me on the wording of that). Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord….

  12. dominic1955 says:


  13. MarrakeshEspresso says:

    You wouldn’t be a secretly-relieved and comfortable bachelor by any chance, would you, Steven?


    No seriously, it’s a good reminder to pray for the struggling married couples among us – and oh boy, are they among us. Big time. Including the ‘good Catholics’ who read all the right books beforehand! Fidelity to any state of life is really hard work.

    One day at a time, sweet Jesus.

  14. FXR2 says:

    Before contraception was a viable option, the religious life was not as much as a sacrifice as it is now. Having between 20 and 5 children was much more demanding than the 1.2 children now born. My father is one of 13 children, I am one of 7 children, and I am the father of 6 children. As I am 47 years old, God willing that will be all. With contraception, marriage is reduced to have as much sex as you want without consequences. It is unnatural and no different than homosexual sex, except perhaps the degree of sin. The secular argument is flawless. Contraception is the top of the slide. Yes, the slide! It is not a slippery slope! It is a slide we will fall on! It accounts for the separation of children from sex. It accounts for the separation of children from marriage. It accounts for the loss of priestly and religious vocations. It is the ROOT CAUSE of the decline of the Roman Catholic Church’s vocations.

    Ignore this at your peril!

    Many say save the liturgy save the world. I am a subscriber. I say stop contraception and renew vocations, priestly, religious, and to marriage!

    Finding the ROOT CAUSE is one of the things I am good at.

    Please stop contraception,


  15. Andrew says:


    Agreed. By divine design humanity passes through the family. Contraception eliminates the family. At a Sunday morning Mass in my town it is rare to spot a pregnant woman or a child. We are a withered branch.

  16. Supertradmum says:

    How beautiful. Thank you for sharing this, Fr. Z. A saint, no doubt. May her example reach out across the Net to young girls considering this life, which is a short-cut to perfection.

  17. tjg says:

    Sister Mary Lenore Gardner recently celebrated 75 years here in Cedar Rapids. She is a part of the Sisters of Mercy, another withered branch who need prayers….

    CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Eight women in Cedar Rapids are getting ready for a monumental moment this Sunday at Mount Mercy University They will be recognized for teaching and serving others during the Sisters of Mercy Celebration.

    The eight women include one energetic Sister of Mercy who is celebrating 75 years of service, 94-year-old Sister Mary Lenore Gardner has served, taught, and left an impact on many.

    That includes teaching music all over Iowa for decades.

    “I think music means a lot and it sure meant a lot to these poor people,” Gardner said. “I would get instruments, I’d get them from a garage sale and I could fix a lot of them.”

    Sister Susan Dunnwald has also felt this impact. As a teacher and a longtime administrator, she has been a giver to others, but she’s also benefited from Sister Mary’s heart and patience. Sister Susan was the student at one time, learning from Sister Mary.

  18. Steven Surrency says:

    MarrakeshEspresso, Ha. I am very happily married. However, I do know others who are not as fortunate, but God blesses their marriages as well. Moreover, even though I think I chose my spouse well, even a great marriage has plenty of crosses!

  19. PA mom says:

    Faithfulness to the end is very inspiring, within marriage and in this day and age yes, but for a nun even more so.
    I think the idea that a vocation is something which keeps developing over time through faithfulness is a good one, and certainly demonstrated by my own experience as well.
    As far as where Sisters come from, our diocese is having a vocations day for 6-8 th graders at the seminary, boys and girls. Having met some of the seminarians, I would feel comfortable sending my son (too young though) but local Sisters? Which ones? Do I want my daughter exposed to them? The ones who visit our parish are wonderful, so I may just try to bring her along to one of their visits instead. That said, I have personally suggested to my children that they should be open to God’s preference for their lives as that will be where they will find their true happiness, and that I would be delighted for them if they had a religious calling.

  20. tjg says:

    Hmm. My first comment is stuck awaiting moderation, maybe it is because I copied and pasted from an online story? Trying again without the paste…

    Sister Mary Lenore Gardner recently celebrated 75 years here in Cedar Rapids. She is a part of the Sisters of Mercy, another withered branch who need prayers. Tim

  21. shoofoolatte says:

    But why are these women with long lives of prayer “withered” and why do they now need our prayers???

  22. tjg says:

    Sister Mary Lenore is great. But if you look at the Sisters of Mercy as a whole, they have no new vocations. In my opinion they are just one example of “LCWR progressive” results.

  23. idelsan says:

    I visited her two years ago. She laughed during the whole conversation! Really humble. One of those persons that seems to seem to give peace to those around.

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