Whenever I call the Carmelite Sisters’ Motherhouse I get their recording: “We are either at prayer or at Mass….please leave a message.” Father Francis and I laugh about their recording, but it pretty much says it all. Most times they are too busy to answer the phone because they really are either praying or taking care of the sick.
From time to time I am able to visit with the Carmelite Sisters. They are a terrific group of nuns who are dedicated to caring for the aged and infirm. They were founded by Venerable Mother Mary Angeline Teresa in 1929 as an offshoot of the Little Sisters of the Poor. The reason I like to visit them is because they love priests. They have a little retreat house just for priests—and they treat priests like royalty. I admit it; it is purely selfish on my part. They love to take care of priests. The sisters live a semi-monastic life which is centered on a regime of prayer which is put into service to the sick and dying. They are committed to the teachings of the Church. They pray a lot. They laugh a lot. They are happy. Did I mention they love priests?
The reason I write these words is simply to make you aware of them and their ministry in over 20 health-care homes throughout the United States. On November 4 to 6 the sisters will be opening their doors for a rare insight into their world. It is called a “Discernment Retreat Weekend.” Young women between the ages of 18-40 are invited to share the peace and natural beauty of their Motherhouse and Novitiate and to participate in lectures, liturgy, spiritual direction, reflection, prayer and relaxation. You would actually live and pray with the sisters. It is better than a reality show. But most seriously, it is a time to consider and discern where God might be leading you. There is a small offering to the sisters for the weekend, which I will gladly pay if you are not able.
I have witnessed the total commitment of these women religious through the years. At the end of my own mother’s life it was these nuns who told me “Father, give your mother to us, so you can continue being a priest. We will take care of her for you.” And that they did until the end.
When someone entrusted to their care is near death the sisters gather around the bedside of the dying and remain there praying until the person has gone to God. Is there any better way to go to God? As they state in their handbook: “Our life is about holding the hand of the dying and giving meaning to their lives.”
If you are interested or know of someone interested in participating in this unique experience, please contact Sister Mary O’Donovan directly at (518) 537-5000 or email her at email@example.com. Perhaps have a look at their life at www.carmelitesisters.com I’ll leave some literature at the back of church. I hope you might consider this holy time in a holy place with very holy women. I’ll pay for it. I’ll even drive you there. It is that important.
– Fr. Gerard Gordon