Celebrating 50, 60, 70 and 75 Years of Religious Jubilees

On June 3, 2023, nineteen Carmelite Sisters celebrated their, 50th, 60th, 70th, and 75th religious jubilees. A Jubilee Eucharistic Celebration was held at Saint Teresa’s Motherhouse with The Most Reverend Gerardo J. Colacicco of the Archdiocese of New York who served as the principal celebrant and homilist. Very Reverend Mario Esposito, O.Carm. was the Master of Ceremonies and Reverend Michael Kissane, O.Carm., Reverend Mark Zittle, O.Carm., Rev. James Sullivan and Rev. Jim Hess, O.Carm. were con-celebrants.

The Jubilarians celebrated with loving remembrance and gratitude to the many special persons who helped them come to this time of joyous celebration. All their many years of service to God and His elderly, of those present and those who were unable to attend, you are deeply acknowledged and appreciated! Congratulations dear Sisters.

Highlighted excerpts from the Homily of The Most Reverend Gerardo J. Colacicco:

“… On the feast of Pentecost Jesus entered that upper room… and breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit… He gave them the power of this resurrected life which we know to be the Holy Spirit, the power to live our lives faithfully… joyfully… in truth and goodness and beauty… To those who have consecrated their lives for the glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, He grants a blessing in silence, in the quiet of the world, in this little corner of the world. He grants a tremendous blessing. And He says to us, “Look here. Pay attention here. Look at these my brides, look at the joy they give to my Sacred Heart. Look at the joy and hope that they give the world.  Pay attention here, for this is the most beautiful, this is the most truth, this is where I move and live and act in them, and through them, and with them to show my goodness to the world. For this, my dear Sisters, we give you thanks.”

Teaching Religious Sisters Around the World How to Age Well Together

by Shane Cooney, AIG Head of Education

Above: Sisters from around the world with AIG Director, Sr. M. Peter Lillian Di Maria, O.Carm., and AIG Faculty and Staff, Deacon Tony Silvestro, Phillip McCallion, and Shane Cooney.

Communities of religious women in many countries around the world are facing the challenge of how Sisters can provide the appropriate care and support for their aging members. Unfortunately, many Religious Congregations have neither the funds nor the support systems in place.

In 2022, the Avila Institute of Gerontology and the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm discussed options to answer these needs. The Avila Institute was blessed to receive a $720k grant to develop Sisters Aging Well Together (SAWT), a Congregational eldercare enablement program offered as a pilot program to 12 Sisters from different Communities representing Mexico, India, Ghana, Kenya, and Zambia. The goal of this program is to provide an opportunity for the Sisters to learn more about how to care for their aging Sisters. They will then be charged with sharing this information and teaching their own Communities and other Communities as the eldercare networks in these countries continue their development.

Beginning in March 2023, the 12 Sisters began receiving formative education on various concepts and practices in gerontology, person-centered care, and care of the aged in the Community setting, based on Mother Angeline’s philosophy of being “kinder than kindness itself” and treating each of our cherished aged and infirm as a unique human being. They attended classes with AIG faculty twice per week via video conference in the AIG Learning Center to complete 50 hours of education, assignments, and evaluations.

In July 2023, 10 of the 12 Sisters were able to come Avila for one month and had an opportunity to tour the Teresian House in Albany, New York. During this time, the Sisters were also able to attend in-person classes that allowed for additional opportunities for discussion, information sharing, and relationship building. A considerable amount of time was given to exploring care plans and being introduced to the AIG Care Transitions Tool, which is an instrument designed to help Sisters assess the readiness to care for the aged in their Communities.

At the end of their visit at Avila, the Sisters spent more time at St. Patrick’s Manor, where they were able to see how the Carmelite Sisters operate a long-term care Home. Once the Sisters return to their homes in August, AIG will continue to meet with them to assist with the implementation of the Care Transitions Tool and to provide ongoing support. In this way, AIG will continue to be with the Sisters each step of the way as they plan for their future—one in which they will age well together. 

Pope Paul: What Does Venerable Mother Angeline and Saint Pope Paul VI have in Common?

During a visit to our homes in Dublin, Ireland and in Dunoon, Scotland accompanied by Mother M. Brendan, O.Carm., Mother Angeline planned to include a visit to Rome and have the opportunity for an audience with Pope Paul VI (1963-1978)… Mother described the Solemn Papal Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica: ‘It was heavenly!’ Mother said, of course, that the biggest thrill while in Rome was her private audience with His Holiness, Pope Paul VI… ‘One can never explain how it feels to be ushered into the presence of the Vicar of Christ on earth.’  Mother was particularly pleased that while the audience started out with about thirty people, she could hardly believe it when it ended with only Mother M. Brendan and herself in the presence of the Holy Father.  Paraphrased: Rome Visit in 1964 from Woman of Faith.

What do Venerable Mother Angeline and St. Pope Paul VI have in common? Both were declared Venerable in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. (Pope Paul VI was beatified October 19, 2014; and canonized October 14, 2018.)

Additionally, St. Pope Paul VI and Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa shared a devotion to the Eucharist. During the Second Vatican Council, in his encyclical, Mysterium fidei, St. Pope Paul VI spoke firmly about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. One belief of the Catholic Church that is the teaching that Jesus is truly present under the appearance of bread and wine in the Eucharist. St. Pope Paul VI reinforced this and made it clear that the Eucharist is not merely a symbol of Jesus’ presence.

From Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa’s writings to the Sisters, we have the following: “What is important for us is that we understand the Liturgical action of the Holy Mass is Christ Who comes to us in His Word and in His Eucharistic presence to be the food and nourishment of our spiritual life. Indeed, the Mass should be the very center of our lives where we daily find Christ. Finding and receiving Christ in the Mass we are able to give Him to one another and to the people with whom we come in contact each day. In this way, we are able to share His Love and allow His love to be more and more effective in our lives.”  From The Close of Chapter 1966

June 11, 2023 – July 17, 2024, is the second phase of the National Eucharistic Revival meant to foster Eucharistic devotion at the parish level, strengthening our liturgical life through faithful celebration of the Mass and Eucharistic Adoration.

Greetings from Father Mario

Dear Members of the Mother Angeline Society,

We find ourselves in the middle of a warm summer, but certainly a busy one. During the month of July, the Carmelite Order celebrated the Feasts of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and that of Saint Elijah, the Prophet and Father of Carmel. In preparation for Mary’s feast day, all of you, as members of the Mother Angeline Society were remembered in a novena of Masses in honor of Our Lady, and your intentions and your spiritual and temporal welfare were brought to prayer at the altar. We are so grateful for your continued support of the Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory, O.Carm., and you are always remembered in prayer and at Mass as members of the Society.

As part of my work as Vice Postulator for Mother Angeline’s Cause, I must sometimes review old documents and publications of the Carmelite Sisters. I marvel at how well done the descriptions of the Sisters and their vocation were – including the beautiful photographs. In the “old days” there were Vocation Fairs; the various Sisters, Brothers and priests set up booths where young people could be met, and vocation promotion accomplished. The young people came. This all entered my mind recently, as I have noticed that in the summer of 2023, it is not the young people who are coming, but the Sisters and our own Carmelite Friars going out to meet them at the many events going on. The Church is not asleep, but very active with pilgrimages, camps, retreats and feasts to which young people flock, culminating this summer with World Youth Day in Fatima, at which the Carmelites will be present to show themselves, to witness, to tell their story and to invite today’s men and women to consider Carmel as a way of life or, at least, to know who we are, what we do, and how our vocation can lead them to a meaningful life as a Catholic or as a minister.

Like Mother Angeline, today’s Carmelites, particularly her daughters the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, are proud of their vocation and want to share it with the world, The need to care for the elderly and infirm today is as relevant and necessary as when Mother began in 1929. So…if the people are gathered at pilgrimages and other big events, there the Sisters and Brothers of Carmel must be also. Personal witness and encounter are so much more valuable than simply online presence, though the modern means of communication are vital as well.  Attending such Church events immediately shows the rich variety of peoples and cultures the make up the Church and fills one with hope to see the body of Christ alive and well today.

Thank you for your continuing financial and spiritual support of the Cause of Venerable Mother Angeline. We truly count on your generosity. Please share your Bulletin with a neighbor, and tell them about Mother, her virtues and her commitment to compassionate service for God’s elderly. Keep us in your prayers, as you always remain in ours. God bless you and may Our Lady of Mount Carmel watch over you and protect you each day.

In Christ,
Very Reverend Mario Esposito, O.Carm.
Vice Postulator

From the Pen of Brother Bob

If you’ve been keeping up with what’s going on in the Catholic Church these days, you’d be aware that there are currently two major initiatives being coordinated by our hierarchy. The first is a national Eucharistic Revival which started in 2022 and will end in 2025 with a Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis (the first one in 83 years!).  The other is the Synod on Synodality, which is a world-wide process of listening and dialogue that Pope Francis hopes will guide the Church into living more deeply its call to be a church of mission and communion.   Why are both going on at the same time?

For the Eucharistic Revival, the U.S. bishops discovered that many Catholics today are ill-informed about how Jesus is truly present – body and blood, soul, and divinity – in the Eucharist.  Unfortunately, when many Catholics receive Holy Communion, they see the wafer in their hand as only a symbol, and not as the Real Presence of Jesus in our midst. So, to address this crisis, the Bishops began this Eucharistic Revival as a way of stirring up a deeper faith in the Eucharist, and to remind us of how important and necessary the Eucharist is in our lives.

As for the Synod, Pope Francis is asking Catholics to discern how the Church can be more relevant, more meaningful, in a world that seems to have no place for God and faith.  He is challenging Catholics to live their baptismal call more fully, and to share in the mission of proclaiming Jesus to the world. So, to have both the Eucharistic Revival and the Synod going on at the same time seems to be the Church holding onto and reverencing her tradition, while simultaneously looking forward and deciding how the Church can be an agent of positive transformative change in the future. And this is what the Church has always done: cling closely to tradition as the foundation of her identity, while adapting herself to the present age to meet people where they are. This has always been a delicate tension, to not be too stuck in the past while at the same time to not be seduced by every modern idea or philosophy.

Mother Angeline, as the foundress of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, knew very well about this tension between tradition and innovation.  While she advocated for modern and up to date care for the elderly residents in the Sisters’ homes, Mother maintained that the sisters be grounded in the ideal that they should treat the residents like Christ in their midst, and that kindness be their guiding principle.  The Carmelite Sisters are known for their innovation in geriatrics and have helped advance how palliative and dementia care is administered in nursing homes. But no matter how sophisticated the care the residents receive is, the residents always know their human dignity, as beloved creatures of God, is of paramount importance.  In the same way, Mother Angeline insisted that as Carmelites, the Sisters should be rooted in a life of prayer. Without prayer, the work they would do would be impossible, and stripped of its supernatural meaning. She once wrote to her Sisters, “If we do not try hard each day to improve our prayer life and love of God, then we are failures and the successful administration of our houses or employments means nothing.”  Mother reminds us that we must be wary of seeing success only in worldly ways, and instead we must find our “success” and our joy in doing God’s will. Let us pray that the Eucharistic Revival and Synod will help us all more faithfully live out God’s Will in our lives.