The archdiocese of Philadelphia voiced joy and gratitude for 10 young Discalced Carmelite nuns and a new chaplain who have recently transferred to the local Carmelite monastery.
“The support provided by the Carmelites to the mission of the local Church is inestimably valuable,” said Ken Gavin, director of communication for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In comments to CNA, Gavin noted the youth and vitality brought by the new sisters, who are all in their 20s and 30s. “As women who have dedicated their entire lives to contemplation and prayer for the good of others, they constantly seek intercession on behalf of all members of the Church, for the conversion of hearts to Christ, and for the ministries and good works of the Church to bear fruit,” he said.
The monastery increased their community from three to 13, in a recent transfer of six nuns from Valparaiso, Nebraska, and four more nuns from Elysburg, Pennsylvania. As a member of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, Father William Allen will also be welcomed as the monastery's new chaplain.
A Mass was celebrated on July 26, the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, to welcome the new sisters and introduce them to the community. The liturgy fell on the anniversary of the first Mass for the Carmel community in Philadelphia, marking 115 years since their arrival from Boston to Philadelphia.
A nun from the community who requested anonymity said the transferring sisters weren't aware of the anniversary, and that it served as a beautiful confirmation for them. “It was a joyous surprise for everyone. God does those little things, just to say 'Here I am,'” she told CNA/EWTN in an Aug. 3 interview.
She noted that the addition of the sisters is not only a wonderful event that will increase both the membership and youthful zeal within the community, but something central to Philadelphia's Catholic identity that will aid the diocese and the world by means of prayer and penance. “Through prayer and sacrifice. We came to Carmel because we love the Church, and we love the world, we love people. And we come to sacrifice or to consecrate our lives to Jesus, who gave His life for the salvation of souls.” “Generally, we come here for the work of redemption, which is the work of the Church of course. And that's our major work.”
The nuns offer their work and prayer for Christians throughout all of the world: the intentions of the Holy Father, the cardinals, and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, but especially for the conversion of sinners. This is an important aspect of the message of Saint Teresa of Avila and Our Lady of Fatima, she said, noting the Christian obligation to aid sinners who cannot help themselves.
“Those souls in mortal sin cannot help themselves. It's as though their hands are tied behind their backs. They cannot feed themselves, it is up to us, and through our prayer, to nourish them with God's mercy, to beg God's mercy upon them.”
Additionally, the community will praise God for the goodness he pours out into the world and for all those who receive his blessings. They will also specifically pray and sacrifice for the sanctification of all their local priests – a practice of Saint Teresa, who wanted “her sisters to be warrior champions of the church to fight the spiritual battle.”
Having been involved in the French Carmelite tradition, the nun said the transition has brought about a beautiful correspondence between the French and Hispanic tradition of the Discalced Carmelite order. The Philadelphia community stemmed from the French tradition of the Carmelites, which came to the United States from Belgium in 1790. The community of Elysburg and Valparaiso stem from the Mexican tradition of the Carmelites, which fled to San Francisco, California in fear of Mexico's religious persecution during the Cristero War in the 1920s. Little differences in the way the sisters wear their habits or attend Mass in Latin, she said have been a delight to experience.