“May our music be an ambassador of the joy we possess when we truly live for God.”
– Mother Cecilia, Prioress of Benedictines of Mary
The community of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, was founded in 1995 to pray and sacrifice for priests. The work of their hands is devoted primarily to the making of priestly vestments. They also take care of gardens, an orchard and a small farm. Leaving behind their families and all of their possessions, these women live together in community following closely the Benedictine Rule of life known as “ora et labora” (work and pray).
Twenty young women have embraced this contemplative way of life, having an average age below thirty. They do not set foot beyond their Northwest Missouri rolling farmland, focusing solely on living an austere, yet joyful life set apart from the world. They sing together eight times a day as part of their daily monastic schedule, lifting their hearts to God through music and the ancient Latin chants the Church entrusts to them in the Divine Office.
The Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus is named for an ancient city in Asia Minor (now Turkey). It is well known for St. Paul’s presence and his epistle to the Ephesians. According to tradition, St. John the Apostle travelled there following the martyrdom of St. James the Apostle. Tradition further acknowledges that, on the Cross, Jesus entrusted His mother to the care of St. John, while at the same time entrusting the whole world to her in the person of St. John. He brought her to Ephesus where he built her a small home. Her presence there is confirmed by the fact that at the time of the Council of Ephesus, churches were named after saints who had lived or died in the locale. Today, the ruins of basilicas dedicated to Holy Mary and St. John still stand in Ephesus.
The Prioress of the order, Mother Cecilia, is a graduate of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. She vacated her seat in the horn section with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in Ohio, where she performed for three years before surprising peers in the classical music industry by entering religious life. Mother Cecilia conducts the other Sisters, arranges the songs on their recordings, as has co-written the original compositions that appear on the albums.
In a providential turn of events, executive music industry veterans Monica (DreamWorks/SKG) and Kevin (Columbia/SONY Music) Fitzgibbons discovered the extraordinary music of the Benedictines through a sampling of their music that was recorded and given to the Benedictines’ benefactors. The two, instantly drawn to their beauty, set out to have the Sisters professionally recorded with Grammy Award winning producers after having landed a global distribution deal with top prestigious classical Decca/Universal Music Classics label. Their official release was the seasonal recording, ADVENT AT EPHESUS.