Tag Archives: Port Tobacco

Leaving the World for the Sake of the World

Like unseen leaven in the world, cloistered contemplative Carmelites strive to foster a life of deep prayer and communion with God thus drawing all people closer to God.  As St. John of the Cross said: “The least action done out of pure love is worth more than all of the good works of the Church put together.” Fortunate is the country and diocese that has Carmelites praying for them!

The Founding Carmelites

It was 50 years ago today, May 27, 1963, that the Discalced Carmelites of St. Agatha, Ontario, moved into their new, permanent monastery, the Carmel of St. Joseph, from their smaller quarters in Kitchener, Ontario. Ten years earlier, they had arrived in Canada at the urgent invitation of the bishop to found the first English-speaking Carmel in Canada. As their numbers grew, the monastery was enlarged and as it continued to grow, a new foundation also under the guardianship of St. Joseph was established in British Columbia in 1991.

It seems amazing that there were no English-speaking Carmels in Canada until the 1950’s. The original sisters, three professed sisters and one novice, came from Cleveland Heights, OH, in 1952 from the Carmel of the Holy Family, a community who had recently sent 6 sisters to the Carmel in Kenya. The Carmel in Ohio traces its roots back to the first Carmel established in the United States in Port Tobacco, MD, in 1790.

One of the sisters in St. Agatha wrote that she was attracted to the Carmelite vocation after reading “The Story of a Soul” by St. Therese of Lisieux. She said, “During my 4 years at university, I have seen the tragedy of many who lived a lifestyle in the darkness of sin and refusal to love God, or even accept Him in their lives. I knew that those are the people who are in most need of prayer. I felt the urge to do something for them.” This woman is now following Christ’s example of prayer and sacrifice for the salvation of souls, for the Church and for all God’s people.

May those who “leave the world, leading a life of prayer and solitude, for the sake of the world” continue to intercede for the people of Canada.

With Zeal for the Lord of Hosts

In 1925, the Bishop of the Diocese of Monterey-Fresno happened to be in Rome for the canonization of St. Therese of Lisieux and was so moved that he asked Pope Pius XI for permission to found a Carmel in Carmel, California. Five months later on the Feast of the Archangel Raphael, 5 nuns established their home in the diocese. There are currently 9 members in the community.

The first Carmelite foundation in this country was established at Port Tobacco in Maryland in 1790, and the Carmelite Monastery in Carmel traces its origin back to this monastery. But what is interesting is that the name “Carmel” was given to the area much earlier, in 1602, by Carmelites who were chaplains aboard the Don Sebastian Vizcaino expedition. They were struck by the similarity between that area of the coastline of California to that of the coastline of Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. And so, as the Patroness of the journey was Our Lady of Mount Carmel it was only fitting, and all agreed, that the area should be called Carmel.

The Carmelite motto is: “With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts.” May the Carmelites around the world be renewed with zeal for the Lord of Hosts on this feast day of the Little Flower.