Drone video by the Rev. Cynthia L. Black, D.D.
The heart of our ministries is our life of prayer, and the heart of our prayer life is the Psalms. Every day we Sisters observe the ancient monastic tradition of praying the Psalms, first begun by the Desert Fathers nearly 2,000 years ago. As we pray the Psalms daily in Community, they gradually become a mystical companion to us as we strive to grow closer to God. The Psalms express every nuance of human experience and emotion and throughout the exultations, lamentations, and struggles there are constant reminders from the Psalmist to give thanks. We are also reminded, every time we receive the Eucharist, that “It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”
Gratitude is a powerful spiritual practice that can change our perspective and shift the energy around into us a positive and hopeful realm. Some studies have even shown that a regular practice of gratitude can alter and “heal” the brain. The annual day of Thanksgiving allows us to focus on being grateful, but our faith and our scriptures remind us that every day is a day of thanksgiving.
We cannot even begin to list all the things that we Sisters are grateful for this year but here are just a few: We are grateful for our health and our safety. We are grateful for the honor and privilege of serving our Lord Jesus Christ. We are also grateful beyond measure for the support and encouragement of our Oblates, Associates, and friends who have helped us through this extremely difficult year. Without you, we would not have been able to continue our ministries and provide assistance and spiritual nurturing to so many in need. We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for your prayers, your time, your generous gifts, and your talents. You are God’s heart and hands.
This year we're especially grateful that we participated in the Interchurch Committee of the Mendhams’ food drives on Nov. 8, 15, and 22 at Hilltop Church (The First Presbyterian Church of Mendham.) Alison Paden, Associate Pastor at Hilltop, says “Greetings all! I'm happy to report that we had an excellent response to the food drive! We collected 91 turkeys and 1,900 pounds of non-perishable food. Thank you all for your efforts and the joy of joining to help our neighbors.” CSJB co-sponsored and supported this event with Brookside Community Church, Grace Lutheran Church, Hilltop Presbyterian Church, Mendham United Methodist Church, and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. We Sisters donated our annual free turkey from Shoprite, along with some other non-perishable foods, to this worthy cause. We hope to see you all there next year!
At the Good Shepherd Home in Cameroon, Sister Jane is appealing for sponsors to provide $25 for a child’s shoes, food, and clothing for Christmas. If you’d like to contribute, please email email@example.com or call 973-543-4641 ext. 0.
Sister Jane says, “Our dear friends, Greetings from the children in our Orphanage here in Cameroon. We are very grateful to God and to you all. You have been a blessing to our Good Shepherd Home and you will continue to be. More children keep adding to the Home because of the war in Cameroon. We wish you all the best as you celebrate Thanksgiving and as we await the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas. You and your families are in our prayers. Remain Blessed.” Sister Jane reports that the Home is no longer able to keep chickens as a source of food and income due to conditions from the ongoing civil war. People from the neighboring villages have been coming to the Home for rice and for help as the economic situation worsens. Donations from friends in the U.S. have lessened due to the ongoing pandemic, so any new sources of donations are welcomed and appreciated. All funds go directly to the education, clothing, and nourishment of the children.
Through the miracle of technology (and lots of fervent prayers) we managed to figure out how to livestream our “Music on a Sunday Afternoon” concert from the Main Chapel on Nov. 22. Many thanks to all who joined our livestream and supported our Capital Campaign to restore and maintain our sacred space. Thanks also to Sylvia Rubin and her fellow musicians from the Adelphi Chamber Orchestra for giving us the gift of such beautiful and sublime string quartet music from Mozart and Dvorak. We also could not have possibly done this without the help of Susan LeVan, a parishioner at All Saints’ Church in Millington who donated many hours of her time to set it up. To view a recording of the entire concert, CLICK HERE. You may view the event program HERE. Thank you so much to Susan, Sylvia, Laura, Francesca, Lanny, and to Sister Pamela for organizing the concert.
FROM SISTER ELEANOR FRANCIS: INTERFAITH WORK
“On Friday, October 23, I was invited to speak to a Jewish congregation on the subject ‘Animal Blessings in the Christian Tradition.’ I spoke of our reverence for St. Francis and his amazing relationship with animals. The tradition of bringing animals into churches to be blessed actually did not begin until 1985. An “Earth Mass” was held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. From there, the custom of bringing pets to church on October 4 (St. Francis Day) or the Sunday following began. Every year, our cats, dogs, and some more unusual pets get a blessing. This year, Jennie, Clara, and Kookie all received a blessing. Jews have borrowed the custom of animal blessing when they read the “Noah Torah Portion.”
Sister Eleanor Francis and Rabbi Debra Smith also presented “Conversations with God: Jewish and Christian Perspectives on Prayer.” on Saturday, November 7. The event was sponsored and organized by Interweave. Aleph will be hosting Sister Eleanor Francis, Rabbi Debra Smith, and Dr. Shabiha Sheikh’s Yad b' Yad Abrahamic Faiths Dialogue Series on Feb. 17, March 3, and March 17 online. CLICK HERE to register for this event. For more details, go to www.aleph.org/virtualprograms and scroll down to read about the series.
Sister Victoria has recently started preaching at the Church of the Messiah. She preached at two socially-distanced Sunday morning in-person worship services early in November and will be preaching there on a regular basis. She is also helping to cook and serve meals regularly at Homeless Solutions. Her other parish work includes serving as an acolyte and also helping with preparations for the Church of the Messiah's Festival of Trees. The event runs from Dec. 5-Dec. 12 in Chester, NJ, and all proceeds benefit the Senior Resource Center of New Jersey. This will be a socially-distanced event, so please register online HERE. Sister Victoria also preached at CSJB at the Thanksgiving Day Eucharist. CLICK HERE to read her Thanksgiving Day sermon.
CSJB ASSOCIATE/OBLATE NEWS:
FROM CSJB Associate, Deacon Lane Purdue, MDiv.: I have been elected to the Lehigh Valley (PA) NAMI board of directors (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and am teaching NAMI’s Family to Family course. Mental Illness and Criminal Justice concerns have been my Deaconal ministry focus for several years.
Associate Janet Maulbeck, Executive Director of Interweave, has assembled a “tech team” that includes herself, Associate Father Kevin Coffey, Associate and Oblate the Rev. Susan Negrotto, and Associate and Oblate Pat McKenzie to lead Zoom programs on behalf of Interweave. At the start of COVID earlier this year, Janet saw the need to develop a team as part of moving Interweave's classes online. CSJB has been in partnership with Interweave for many years and has been a campus for in-person classes and retreats in the past. Now, CSJB is benefiting from this partnership and this technical online team's expertise for our bi-weekly online prayers via Zoom, as well as hosting Associate and Oblate meetings on behalf of the CSJB community.
In addition to this tech team, we also recognize Associate Brad Kalos, St. Margarite’s Retreat House Manager, Associate Jan Paxton, Editor of the Associates' Connection, Associate and Oblate Doug McKenzie, and last but not least, Sister Monica Clare, Superior, who round out the CSJB online prayer team. A heartfelt thanks to all.
Oblate and St. John Baptist School Alum Kit Rockwell was featured in the Fall 2020 St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center Annual Fund Profile: “Kit Rockwell moved into St. Mary’s three weeks before COVID-19 changed life in the facility – and the world. For many people, the resulting lockdown, though necessary for health and safety, would have cast a shadow, but not for Kit. This 97-year-old optimist chose to make lemonade from her lemons. ‘One day it’ll be nice to meet the residents,’ she says matter-of-factly. ‘In the meantime, the staff is marvelous and compassionate. I’ve made good friends with them, and the food is delicious.’
After living in Old Bridge for 34 years, this former actor, director, and volunteer manager decided it was time to leave the condo she shared with her daughter because 'I was getting to be a burden on my family. My daughter was doing and doing and doing.'
Kit’s son researched assisted-living options near his home in Monmouth, Junction, and Kit immediately knew St. Mary’s was right for her. ‘It has Mass every day,’ Kit explains, and though that is currently via TV, ‘Father comes with the host a few days a week.’
Despite the restrictions, Kit is anything but lonely. In addition to speaking with her family daily, she enjoys spending time with the staff, many of whom have read Love Letters to Jesus, a book based on meditations she wrote for her church. She is also busy with a telephone ministry for people in need of prayer. There’s no telling how active and social Kit will be when life at St. Mary’s gets back to normal, but until then, she says, ‘The Lord is with me and he’s good company.’”
Every Thursday from 7:15 PM to 8:15 PM On Zoom
Our Centering Prayer group has been meeting for many years and it is one of our most popular ministries. Guests can gather on Zoom. Please email Sister Monica at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining. A description of this silent contemplative practice can be found HERE.
FOR THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER
The Mendham Interchurch Committee Recommends:
Throughout November, learn more about Native American history. One option is the award-winning documentary "Dawnland." :https://www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/dawnland/
Dawnland is the untold story of Indigenous child removal in the US through the nation's first-ever government-endorsed truth and reconciliation commission, which investigated the devastating impact of Maine’s child welfare practices on the Wabanaki people.
ADVENT RETREAT for ST. ELIZABETH’S CHURCH, RIDGEWOOD
December 4 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM via Zoom
Sister Monica Clare will be leading an Advent retreat entitled “Creating a Contemplative Space in Your Life During Advent.” Register by Monday, November 30. For more info., please contact The Rev. Cathy Quinn at email@example.com.
JOIN US FOR PRAYER ON ZOOM – ALL ARE WELCOME
10:30 AM - 11:00 AM Eastern time.
Let’s join together to pray for ourselves, our neighbors, our church, and the world.
The Community of St. John Baptist invites you via Zoom to meet for a half-hour prayer service for comfort and strength during these difficult times. We welcome all who would like to pray with us on the third Friday of each month.
Please email Oblate Pat McKenzie for the Zoom info. at:
SERVICE OF THE LONGEST NIGHT
DECEMBER 21 at 7:00 PM
On the longest night of the year, join the Mendham faith communities in a service that recognizes the holidays are not 'holly and jolly' for everyone. This warm and cozy service connects our experiences today with biblical stories of 'long nights of the soul.' Together, we will acknowledge the complexities of the season while illuminating hope.
Register in advance for this worship service by clicking here:
OUR ANNUAL EPIPHANY PARTY!
JANUARY 3, 2021, Hymn Sing from 5:00 - 6:00 with socializing afterward.
Our annual Epiphany Party is one of the times of the year when we say "thanks" to all the CSJB Oblates, Associates, and friends who support us with donations, volunteer time, and prayers. We can't do our usual dinner and hymn sing in person this year, but we're going to gather with you all on Zoom to ring in a new year of faith and hope.
Please email Sister Monica Clare at firstname.lastname@example.org to register for the party, and please email her any hymn requests you have so we can all sing together!
Also, if you'd like to wear a Christmas sweater and show us your favorite holiday recipes, please do so! (Pet sweaters welcomed and encouraged as well.)
THE WINTER SEARCH PROGRAM
THIS YEAR'S SEARCH PROGRAM WILL BE ON ZOOM DUE TO COVID RESTRICTIONS.
Our SEARCH program is not only for those feeling called to be Sisters but for anyone who is hoping to determine God's call in their lives, whatever that call may be.
The Winter SEARCH program takes place over President's Day weekend every year. The dates for 2021 are Friday, Feb. 12-Monday, Feb. 15.
Our program includes classes in prayer and discernment, time for discussions with individual Sisters, and opportunities for questions from our Searchers.
Please call Sister Pamela at 973-543-4641 ext. 9 or email email@example.com for more information.
CLICK HERE for our page about the Search Program.
Knowing who you are in Christ
CSJB Valentine Retreat – February 13, 2021 – Saturday afternoon - 1-3 p.m.
You may have never been introduced to Jesus Christ. You may have been frustrated in your Christian experience because you know God has a more abundant life for you than you have experienced. Or you may be desiring God’s direction for your life and ministry.
Whatever your present circumstances may be, my earnest prayer is that somehow in this time together you can discover how amazing your life in Christ is meant to be! May you experience God doing in you and through you what only God can do.
Retreat led by Sr. Victoria Michelle
All participants are asked please to bring a Bible and pen and paper to the retreat.
Retreat cost - $20.00 – send fee to: CSJB, P.O. Box 240 Mendham, NJ 07945. Payment may be made by check or through PayPal.
To register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please place the words “CSJB Valentine Retreat” in the email subject line.
Yad b' Yad Abrahamic Faiths Dialogue Series
Dates: Wednesdays: February 17, March 3, and March 17
Time: 7:30 - 8:45 pm EST (4 - 5:45 pm PST)
Led by: Rabbi Deb Smith, Sister Eleanor Francis, and Dr. Shabiha Sheikh
Description: Join ALEPH for our brand new Yad b' Yad Abrahamic Faiths Dialogue Series, an opportunity for immersive, interfaith learning at the intersection of the Abrahamic traditions. This program is perfect for curious seekers hoping to expand their knowledge of Judaism's sister faiths and build relationships with Christians and Muslims.
REGISTER ONLINE HERE FOR THE ABRAHAMIC FAITHS DIALOGUE SERIES!
Due to the Corona Virus pandemic, our 2020 Celtic Journeys has been canceled, but Please see our trips for 2021!
For more information, contact Sister Margo Elizabeth:
Phone: 973 543 4641 ext 4
PLEASE JOIN US IN
Jeanette, Margaret, Pat and Napoleon, the Kalos family, Linda, and Paul, Julian, Sheila, Chase, Honor, Joanna, Lee, Lana, Helen, Heather, Maria, Matthew, India, Margaret, Jon, James, Carolyn and Bruce, John and Family, Alexis, our Searchers, Jarad and Monica, Rebecca and her family, Nadine, Norman, Erin, Jess, Linda Lee, John, Myram, Juli and Gil, Michael, Doug, Janet, Jessica and Brendan, Tommy, Janet, Patty, Patrick, Chris' wife Sam and their two children, John, Sister Barbara Jean, Greg and Pat, Phoebe, Jay, Dean, Geri and family, Claire, Margaret, and family, Chris, Larry, Annette, Michelle, Judith, Suzanne, Anthony, Warren, James, Ingrid, Chris, Sully, Daniel, Nicole, Jennifer, Joyce, the Clewer Initiative, our Sisters in England, Virginia, Maureen and Donald, Bill and Carol, Michelle, Tiffany, Myles, Jim.
Also: For a new ministry for the former Daytop Buildings and grounds, and the safe reopening of our guest ministry.
We pray especially for the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed,
We would be honored to pray for you. Please email email@example.com with any prayer requests.
Fall leaves behind the Main Chapel
Colorful tree by the lich gate at the CSJB cemetery.
Sister Laura Katharine turned 85 on Oct. 23.
All who have responded so generously to our Reaching Out appeal letter.
Susan Fuller and family
Father Joe Hennen
Kay & Frank Failla
Jane and Peter Mercer
Jack and Penny Rohrbach
Chris Chrystal and Myram Borders
The Very Rev. H. Scott Kirby and family
Our many helpers, volunteers, and those who encourage us
Hans Dekker and the Hyde and Watson Foundation
Patrice and Doug McKenzie
Janet Maulbeck and Interweave
Linda Lee Mundy
Chris Chrystal and Myram Borders
The Rev. Kevin Coffey
The Rev. Victoria McGrath and the people of All Saints Millington
The Rev. Lorna Erixson and the people of St. Mark’s Mendham
The Rev. Cynthia L. Black, DD and the people of the Church of the Redeemer
The Rev. Margaret Otterburn and the Church of the Messiah
The Rev. John A. Rollins
All our CSJB Oblates, Associates, Alumnae, and friends
And all those who have generously donated to the Good Shepherd Home, our Capital Campaign, and our general fund despite all the economic uncertainty.
We Sisters of CSJB look forward to the day when we can reopen our ministry of hospitality and welcome hundreds of people per year to our Retreat House and the Convent as we have always done in the past. Until then, like many nonprofits, we are having a very difficult time covering our monthly operating costs after nearly seven months with no income. If you'd like to help us continue our ministries, please consider making a gift to our general fund through our new online Paypal portal:
If you’d like information on how to arrange a legacy gift, please email Sister Monica Clare at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 973-543-4641 ext. 2.
The majority of our buildings, chapel furnishings, Convent and Retreat House furnishings, and ongoing ministry funds were made possible through legacies. It is mainly through the kindness of legacy givers who believed in our mission that we have carried forward the plans of the Holy Spirit for our Community from 1852 to the present time.
Your planned giving would help to ensure that the dreams of our Mother Foundress, to continually address "the needs of the day," will live on into the future. We welcome gifts for specific purposes and ministries, for our Capital Campaign to restore and repair our sacred space, or for the general operating fund of the Convent and Retreat House where we welcome an average of 2,000 visitors per year.
Our Diocese, along with the Episcopal Church Foundation, provides expert legal and financial guidance to guide you through the process of the many ways of making a planned gift. Please contact Sister Monica at email@example.com or call 973-543-4641 ext. 2 if you’d like to find out more.
COVID-19 Resources from the Diocese of Newark
COVID-19 Information from the Centers for Disease Control
Dialogue from the Diocese of Newark
THE CLEWER INITIATIVE
PROGRAM founded by our Sisters in England and the Rt. Rev. Alastair Redfern
THANK YOU TO OUR DONORS!
Next, we hope to replace the Convent stucco and restore our cemetery.
Thank you for supporting our Capital Campaign to help us continue God's work in our sacred space.
It's easy to help!
To donate by check, make your check out to:
St. John the Baptist Foundation
"Capital Campaign" on the ledger line of your check.
Mail to: PO Box 240
Mendham, NJ .7945
To donate by PAYPAL, go to
and in the "purpose" section of your online donation type "Capital Campaign."
Thank you for supporting our ministries of retreat and spiritual direction which are needed more than ever in today's world.
The State of New Jersey recently stopped giving grants for repairs to religious structures, so this has taken away half our funding for repairs and restorations. The COVID crisis has also negatively impacted our funding for these projects.
If you're interested in contributing to our Capital Campaign to help with these goals, or you'd like to learn about donating in other ways to the ministries of CSJB, CLICK HERE