A Day in the Life of a Nun

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The Augustinian Recollect nuns are always working. They are members of a religious order, followers of St. Augustine, who live in the Immaculate Conception monastery located in Irvington, New Jersey. They practice a very austere lifestyle, living without a monthly income. The monastery is on 200 acres, which keeps the sisters busy with maintenance and home repair. Above a sister shows the well former residents used for water. — Story and photos by Maria Carolina Santos


Sisters assemble in the chapel for morning prayers. The nuns form part of the Mexican federation and many of them hail from that country. Spanish is the language spoken among them.

The  sisters have breakfast, lunch and dinner together at specific times. They say they enjoy their time together, since they live without their families most of the year.  The Augustinian order is very simple, the sisters eschew material goods. They sew their own habits and eat what people donate to them.  What they lack in money, they make up in other skills:  cooking, painting and repairing religious statuary.

The sisters provide food and lodging for those seeking a spiritual retreat. The retreats are usually three days and most often offered in Spanish. They also open up their home for others who may want to rent the space for religious purposes.  Often Catholics come to them for spiritual advice or to buy their delicious cookies. Here visitors from the Bronx offer lunch-time prayers.

Seated is the eldest nun in the convent. Most of the nuns are in their 40s.

At around two o’clock, the sisters take a break outside. They enjoy walking the tree-filled monastery grounds in contemplation.

Sister Beatris spends time with a convent visitor, there for spiritual guidance and support.

The Augustinian sisters pray throughout the day. Here they begin three o’clcock meditation and prayers.

They begin their prayers in front of the Virgin Mary and proceed through the convent to the chapel.

The rosary is the instrument of the Augustinian sisters and you can see one in their hands throughout the day.

The day begins and ends in the convent chapel. The sisters also celebrate Sunday mass here, which is open to the public.

The sisters deny themselves worldly pleasures, devoting themselves to the service of God and others.