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The Discalced Carmelites of the Oakland diocese have a new home! After coming to the diocese in 2012, the Carmelites of the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph have been living in temporary quarters at St. Monica’s Parish in Canyon, CA. Now, thanks to a generous benefactor, the twelve Carmelites will have a permanent home (see complete story).
This is not just any home! It is a Spanish-style, 60-room mansion that was built in 1925. From the west side of the home, there are panoramic views of San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. In the late 1940’s, it became the home of the Carmelite community of Berkeley who sadly had to disband because of low numbers. Of the four remaining nuns, two went into a nursing facility and two others moved in with another Carmelite community. The house was for sale and was sought after for a variety of uses. Happily, it will remain a place of prayer.
As I have mentioned before, this monastery is a foundation from the Carmel in Valpraiso, Nebraska. The Nebraska Carmel was founded in 2001 and this will be their 2nd foundation, the other being Elysburg, Pennsylvania (2009). The Tridentine masses are typically celebrated at the Carmel and the Liturgy of the Hours is also in Latin. I also read that they use the Rite of the Holy Sepulchre or “Carmelite” Rite, the first Discalced Carmel to do so since 1588.
St. Teresa of Avila, foundress of the Discalced Carmelites, pray for them.
A year ago, I wrote about a new cloistered Carmelite community that was being established in the Diocese of Oakland. A daughter house of the Carmel in Valparaiso, Nebraska, the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is the only contemplative community in the Oakland diocese.
On October 1, the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, Bishop Michael Barber, S.J., of Oakland celebrated Mass with the nuns. He told them that their vocation is similar to the Beloved Disciple, Saint John, saying, “You are the ones who recline next to Christ at His breast at the table at the Last Supper, you are the ones who have that intimate place with Him, by giving your life to Him and coming into the walls of this monastery. You are the ones that people, priests and bishops come to.”
The bishop spoke from the heart for his association with the Carmelites goes way back.
When he was a little boy, his grandmother and aunts would take him to the Carmel of Cristo Rey (an IRL Affiliate community in San Francisco). There he noticed a bowl next to a statue of St. Teresa of Avila in which petitions were placed. Later, as a young man hoping to be accepted into the Jesuits, he wrote out his own petition. Twelve years later another prayer request went in, asking that his ordination to the priesthood be approved. Finally, as a chaplain going to Iraq, he asked the sisters to pray that he and his 3000 marines would be safe during the deployment. Not one of his men was killed.
In a beautiful article in The Catholic Voice, it states that the sisters normally have six lit candles on the altar during Mass. The seventh is lit when the bishop comes. What a beautiful tradition. According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 79: “On or near the altar there are to be candlesticks with lighted candles, at least two but even four, six, or, if the bishop of the diocese celebrates, seven.”
The Carmelites, said the bishop, are looking for “land on which to build a new monastery or an existing building that could be converted.” They try to be self-sufficient and simple, growing their own vegetables and raising farm animals for milk and eggs. The sisters are vegetarians.
Mother Sylvia Gemma has welcomed their first postulant with another expected within the next few months. Said the bishop: “There are women, 500 years after St. Teresa of Avila, who are still giving their all to God.”
A new Carmelite Community has been established in the Diocese of Oakland, CA, with the arrival of 5 nuns from the Carmel in Valparaiso, NE. It is fortunate timing because another Carmelite Monastery recently closed after more than 60 years of prayer in the diocese.
Generous benefactors donated the land for the new convent. Temporary lodging will house the nuns and the additional ones who will join them later. A building able to house 21 nuns, the maximum stipulated for a Carmel by St. Teresa of Avila, is planned.
The Valparaiso Carmel also founded a Carmel in Elysburg, PA in 2009. They are obviously bursting with vocations. According to one site on the internet, they actually had 38 nuns in residence in Valparaiso in July! They are a traditional order of Carmelite Nuns with Mass offered in the Tridentine Rite.
For a list of societies and religious orders for men and women using the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, click here.