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ArchMASrM webArchbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford stands with Mother Abbess Lucia Kuppens and Sister Mariette Moan, vicar for religious, after the election on Feb. 1.

BETHLEHEM – Mother Lucia Kuppens was elected Mother Abbess of the community of contemplative Benedictine women at the Abbey of Regina Laudis on Feb. 1. She succeeds Mother Abbess David Serna, who now holds the title Abbess Emerita.

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair celebrated a Mass with the community before presiding over the election in the Abbey Church Jesu Fili Mariae.

Also present were Father John Lavorgna, secretary to the archbishop; and Sister Mariette Moan, vicar for religious.

Twelve of the 28 nuns at the abbey who have professed their final vows were eligible as candidates in the election. The 12 have taken their solemn vows of stability, conversion and obedience to God in the context of the community, and are under the age of 75.

Before casting a paper ballot, each nun placed her hand on the Bible and took a vow to vote in good conscience for the candidate she felt was best suited to lead their community. A two-thirds majority of the votes was necessary for one of the nuns to be named the new abbess.

In three more months, Archbishop Blair will return to Regina Laudis to confer the abbatial blessing on the new abbess. The ritual for the blessing of the abbess will not confer any new authority upon her. Rather, it is an opportunity for the monastic community and its new abbess to gather with the diocesan bishop, who is the head of the local church, and the faithful of the wider community and pray for God's blessing.

Mother Abbess Lucia Kuppens entered the abbey in 1979, when she was known as Patricia Kuppens. She has a doctoral degree in English, with an emphasis in Shakespeare, from Yale University, according to the book Mother Benedict: Foundress of the Abbey of Regina Laudis, by Antoinette Bosco.

Mother Lucia is the third abbess of the community that was founded in 1947 and led until 2001 by Mother Benedict Duss, the first woman religious in America to receive the abbatial blessing.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.