Carmelites rejoice in anniversary celebration
Catholic Globe report
All agreed that while it was wonderful meeting each guest, it was even more special praying with them during the rosary, Evening Prayer, and most of all at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
They said they will always treasure those grace-filled moments and the beautiful memories.
The nuns also pray for those who will come after them, that there will be 50 more years of Carmel in Sioux City -- and many more years after that, too.
“And we thank all our wonderful friends and benefactors for their loving support. May God bless them all abundantly,” they added.
Sister Kateri Marie of the Eucharist said, “We of course wanted everything to go well and so we worked hard in preparing. Our Carmel Guild Board ladies, as usual, (and a few of their husbands), gave their all in assisting us with the myriad of preparations. After all the busy-ness, when Sunday came and we began to greet the guests, it was such a pleasant and relaxing experience.”
It was an opportunity to realize once again how many wonderful friends they have who expressed gratitude for the Carmelites’ prayers and presence here.
“There seemed to be a steady stream of guests and it was such a joy to greet each and every one, and to be able to put faces to the names of those who call or write us,” she said.
Mother Joseph of Jesus added that it was such a blessing and a beautiful experience greeting each visitor.
“And not only that, I realized we were celebrating Jesus' presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Yes, that's really what we were celebrating,” she said. “On Dec. 18, 1961, when Mother Agnes and the small group of Carmelites attended the first Mass at the monastery, and the host was consecrated, Jesus was enthroned in our tabernacle. It was the beginning of 50 years with Jesus' presence here at 2901 S. Cecelia! And really, any woman who comes to Carmel is coming for Jesus. He is the center of our lives and the center of our community.”
Sister Mary of Jesus, the sacristan at the monastery, expressed her gratitude for the presence of Bishop Nickless, the Carmelite Provincial and visiting Carmelite Friars, and diocesan priests. She said it was edifying to see the bishop and priests there who took time out of their very busy schedules to come and celebrate these special days with us, as well as the Carmelite Friars who came from such a long distance.
Sister Jeanne Marie of Christ the Savior commented on the number of people that came who had never been to the monastery before. Some were people who write or call the Carmelites, but many were completely new to the monastery including people from out of town and even people of other faiths. She also noted that many, many people wrote or called to let them know that even though they could not be there in person, they would be with the nuns in spirit, praying that the celebration would be a blessed experience. It was consoling to be so well remembered for the occasion.
Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity said, “It was beautiful to celebrate our anniversary. I am especially grateful to God for the Thanksgiving Mass with our clergy and friends. Because of our hidden life, their visiting us after the Mass made it very special. It reminds us that we are one in the church and helps us live our vocation more fully. Another way of celebrating our anniversary was in remembering all of our sisters who have gone before us.”
What struck Sister Marie Therese of the Precious Blood most about the 50th anniversary was the opportunity they had to take a look at their history. They had a chance to do so while preparing the commemorative booklet for their celebration.
“Looking at the past 50 years all at once, in a single glance so to speak, I could comprehend and appreciate that we - and the future of our monastery - are really in God's hands. We have every reason to place our trust in him, just as our early sisters did. At one point they were down to just four nuns, ‘two walking and two riding,’ as Mother Agnes put it. The two riding were elderly nuns in wheelchairs,” she said. “When our father general learned of this, he advised Mother Agnes to close the monastery and amalgamate (join another Carmelite community), but she confidently answered that the two in wheelchairs were saints and that our community would prosper because of their prayers. It seems, since we're still here today, that she was right. We certainly are also indebted to the prayers and support of our many friends and benefactors. Please God we may prosper another 50 years, for his honor and glory and the good of our diocese.”
Sister Mary John of the Heart of Jesus said her heart was filled with gratitude, experiencing the support and outpouring of love from all of their good friends. It was a joy to meet everyone face to face, and to meet new friends as well.
“Not every Carmel has such support and I thank God for the strong belief in the life of prayer,” she said. “People know that this is God's house and his work. We are the poor instruments of his great love, grace and faithfulness. He desires that we, his children, help and assist each other in this life as we journey together, ultimately to the father's house. Each of us has a part in his plan.”
She recalled what her mother always used to say, "He is so sweet and good!"
“The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on the feast of the Annunciation was the culmination of the celebration. What an honor to worship with our Bishop Nickless, retired Bishop Soens, so many of our priests, our Carmelite friars, religious and the faithful. I was reminded of the beauty of the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ,” Sister Mary John of the Heart of Jesus said. “With one voice, all hearts were lifted up to our loving God in praise, adoration and thanksgiving. My mom was right.”
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