New Horizons
'Tota pulchra es Maria'— you are totally beautiful. 'Vestimentum tuum candidum quasi nix'—your raiment is as white as snow. 'Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu laetitia Israel'—you are the glory of Jerusalem and the joy of Israel. Though we know this day is ‘not really about Jenny’ at all, let us take just a moment to thank her for making visible the reality of Mary’s presence in our midst, Mary the one most fully clothed in Christ. May we rejoice in this ineffable mystery, that Mary’s Immaculate Conception heralds the restoration of Man’s innocence through the power of God and in the coming of her Son, clearing a way for fallen Mankind to return through her faithfulness and humility to the garden we thought was lost.
Let us pray to the Lord.

May Our Lady, chosen before the beginning of time to conceive and bear the Christ Child in her body, take Jenny under her loving protection this day as she takes another momentous step in her own unique call to bear Christ into the world, and may the Benedictine habit and white veil of the Novitiate that she receives today truly be her armor in that ongoing irreconcilable enmity between the woman and serpent, for which we all must be ever vigilant and ready to fight.
Let us pray to the Lord.

In gratitude for the gift of Jenny’s perseverance in faith through loss and physical suffering and for her irrepressible joy that draws others to travel with her on the journey, especially for her family, friends, her colleagues and spiritual guides.
Let us pray to the Lord.

Mother Abbess' Prayers of the Faithful for Clothing Mass
Sister Christopher
Tota pulchra es Maria— you are totally beautiful. Vestimentum tuum candidum quasi nix—your raiment is as white as snow.
Antiphon from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Sister ChristopherOn December 8, 2016, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Abbey celebrated the Monastic Investiture of postulant Jenny McLarin who was clothed in the monastic habit and received the name Sister Christopher. Monsignor Andrew R. Baker, Rector of Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD was the main celebrant and homilist at the Mass. Father Iain Highet, Pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church in Norfolk and St. Joseph’s Church in Canaan and Father John Cooney were concelebrants. As is our custom at the Abbey, at Mass and throughout the day Jenny wore an outfit of her choosing celebrating the beauty she brings to this step in her life. Jenny's close friends and colleagues from Muhlenberg College and the Diocese of Allentown Pennsylvania participated in the liturgy and celebration.

Jenny McLarin was born to Ed and Margaret McLarin in Dallas, Texas and has two siblings, her sister Melissa and late brother Malcolm Best. She considers Princeton, New Jersey her home where her family moved when she was seven years old. Her father's position in the McGraw-Hill Book Publishing Company broadened her horizons at an early age—she traveled to England, France, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Singapore, Tokyo, Fiji, Malaysia, Australia—all between ages of 11 and 17. She had a passion for English-style riding and owned two horses before entering college. Her love of music was fostered during her childhood, taking lessons in piano and other musical instruments. For 17 years each summer she attended the Canadian Amateur Musicians Camp, a bilingual total immersion music camp for all ages. Her late father Ed was a jazz musician and Jenny grew up listening to and learning about jazz.

After graduating from Princeton High School Jenny attended Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, graduating in 1986 with a B.A. in English. Jenny spent sophomore year abroad in Montreal studying French and music at McGill University. From 1986-1988 Jenny was the editor of Builder News Magazine published by the Home Builders Association of Greater St. Louis. Her responsibilities included writing stories, selling ads, taking photos and lay out for the monthly magazine. From 1988- 2002 Jenny work at four different companies in Chicago, where she was responsible for public relations/marketing, writing, and editing. She enjoyed speech writing for company executives and board of trustee members as well as conducting video interviews with successful sales representatives for a large insurance company. Jenny was a freelance book reviewer for Booklist Magazine from 1993-2008 in a genre she loved: mysteries!

Jenny with her spiritual guides and colleagues at Muhlenberg College: Bishop John Barres, Bishop Emeritus Edward Cullen, Muhlenberg President Randy Helm (2003-2015), Msgr. Andrew Baker

In 2002 Jenny returned to her Alma Mater, Muhlenberg College where she would bring her gifts for writing, public relations and administration to her positions, first as Associate Director of Admissions and later as Director of Alumni Relations until 2012. In April 2006 Jenny was Baptized, Confirmed, and received First Holy Communion at the hands of the Most Rev. Edward Cullen, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Allentown, PA. Jenny brought her zeal as a convert and love for the Catholic Church to her roles as Eucharistic Minister, Parish Retreat Team Leader, Parish Stewardship Committee, Catholic Charities Advisory Board and as President of Allentown (Junipero) Serra Club. Jenny's life-long training in music came to the fore at the Cathedral of Saint Catharine of Siena in Allentown as Cantor and Member of the Cathedral Choir, Diocesan Choir and the Angelorum Women's Schola.

Jenny visited Regina Laudis for the first time in June 2011 and entered the Abbey as postulant on August 18, 2013. She loves singing the Divine Office and sings on the newly-formed schola of our novices called Arsis. During her postulancy Jenny has discovered a gift for cooking which is appreciated by all. She also works in the garden and guest department. As a postulant Jenny's passion for bird-watching has continued and it is not unusual to see wild birds eating out of her hand. Jenny's humor and love of life have seen her through difficult times in her life and continue to bring life to the monastic community. Her capacity for life-long friendships is striking. Jenny's family, mentors, and friends from Muhlenberg College and the Diocese of Allentown have supported her in her quest for religious life and will continue to be part of this journey as Sister Christopher's contemplative vocation unfolds.

What is it about our Blessed Mother that is at enmity with the devil, the serpent? It’s her humility! Humility is not thinking less of your self, it’s thinking of yourself less! Mary thought of herself less.
From the Homily of Monsignor Andrew Baker at the Clothing Mass

Sister Christopher
"May those who wear these garments
also merit to put on Thee, the Lord."
During his homily Monsignor Baker shared profound insights into the Feast of the Immaculate Conception: from the first moment of her existence Our Lady is preserved from Original Sin in preparation for her Son.
From the first moment of her conception nothing of her was of the serpent and nothing of the serpent was of her.
Monsignor presented Our Lady in sharp contrast to the world in which we live where dignity, high honor, power, status and pleasure are the goals after which to strive.
She was the handmaid of the Lord. There was nothing left of herself.
She was completely filled with Divine life. She was completely clothed in Christ, filled with Divine life. On her Clothing day Monsignor Baker invited Jenny to be, like Mary, completely clothed in Christ, an invitation he extended to all Christians and those in consecrated life. Monsignor surprised us when he exclaimed:
Jen, today is not about you! It’s not about the Blessed Mother either! It is about the power of God, what He has done for us in the Savior.
Monsignor Baker reminded Jenny that another quality of Mary in opposition to the serpent is her faithfulness. He encouraged Jenny and all of us in our call to holiness to look to Mary as she persevered and lived faithfully her vocation, a vocation made explicit to her through the words of an angel—to become the Mother of the Eternal Son.
'Let it be done to me' was not just said once—it was her very breath. She did not just say 'Fiat' once—it was her life-giving blood. Her life was lived faithfully each and every day to the end, to the cross.

Gallery of Monastic Investiture of Sister Christopher