“The Bread of angels has become the Bread of mankind.”
These words of St. Thomas Aquinas, a beloved Dominican in the Church, remind us of the wonder and devotion we are invited to cultivate as we adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The Order of Preachers, more often known as the Dominican Order, was founded by St. Dominic in the twelfth century.
This religious family includes friars, religious sisters and third order lay members. The charism of the Dominicans is the preach the truth of God as contemplated in one’s heart in prayer.
As the Dominican charism spread throughout the world and found its way into Vietnam, religious communities of friars were established. Much later, in the mid to late 1990s, communities of religious sisters were erected in multiple dioceses throughout Vietnam. In 1975, a group of Dominican sisters fled Vietnam for the United States and established the Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate Province in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston (Houston Dominicans).
In 2010, Bishop Kevin Vann, who was bishop of Fort Worth, invited the Houston Dominicans to establish a convent in his diocese. Three years after Bishop Vann became bishop of Orange, he invited the sisters to establish a community in the Diocese of Orange to work primarily in Catholic schools. Since 2017, the Houston Dominicans, who reside in Garden Grove, have faithfully served in multiple Catholic schools in our diocese, including St. Barbara, St. Columban and Christ Cathedral Academy.
In a providential turn of events, the Houston Dominicans have recently expanded their ministry in a new field of service.
In 2021, they were contacted by the cloistered Dominican nuns of the Monastery of the Angels in Hollywood, CA. Due to their declining number of religious sisters, the monastery was closing, and its remaining members were relocating to other locations.
For over 90 years, the cloistered nuns supported themselves by selling baked goods and distributing order of altar bread to local parishes in Los Angeles. The altar bread is manufactured in Poland to help support the people with work to raise their families.
The cloistered Dominicans asked the Houston Dominicans if they could assume their “Bread of Angels” altar bread distribution in order to maintain their customers’ orders. The Houston Dominicans graciously agreed to continue the tradition.
On Aug. 28, 2022, the entire inventory of equipment and database of customers was transferred to their convent in Garden Grove. Two of the cloistered Dominican nuns stayed with the Houston Dominicans for two weeks in order to pass on the tips of the trade to best operate the ministry.
Sr. Maria Theresa, the Prioress Provincial of the Houston Dominicans in Houston, TX, reflected how fitting this new ministry is for their congregation.
“Dominicans are called to contemplate sacred truth, that is the Word made Flesh. The sisters find the work very satisfying, and it serves as a reminder to contemplate the hiddenness of Jesus in the Eucharist.”
As the sisters pack boxes of orders, they pray for the intentions of their customers and for the conversion of hearts of those who has not accepted the extraordinary gift of Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist.
The unconsecrated altar bread, often referred to as hosts, are ordered by 144 parishes in Los Angeles and Orange. These hosts are used in the celebration of the Eucharist, in daily and Sunday Masses. Through the words of consecration, the ordinary altar bread becomes Jesus, fully present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, yet hidden in the common and simple altar bread.
Bishop Vann is pleased to support this new ministry of the Houston Dominicans.
“In this particular time in the Church during the Eucharistic Revival’s parish year, this work is an important witness of faith and devotion for Our Lord in the Eucharist. I am delighted that the Dominican sisters can continue this ministry begun decades ago by the cloistered Dominican nuns in Hollywood.”
Parishes who wish to order altar bread from the Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate Province may contact the sisters through their website: houstondominicans.org/altarbread They can also be reached through: [email protected] or (832) 631-5666.