On June 5, 2021, Saint Teresa’s Motherhouse at Avila-on-Hudson celebrated with our Carmelite Sisters who commemorated their respective 75, 70, 60 and 50 years of religious jubilees.
The principal celebrant was Monsignor Drake Shafer from the Diocese of Davenport. Very Reverend Mario Esposito, O.Carm. was the Master of Ceremonies, assisted by the Carmelite Brothers of the Saint Elias Province in Middletown, New York.
The Jubilarians are Sr. M. Xavier Frances Marchiony, O.Carm. (75 years), Sr. M. Robert of the Infant Jesus Romano O.Carm. (70 years), Sr. M. Lois Joseph Baniewicz, O.Carm., Sr. M. Titus Joseph Ramsbottom, O.Carm., Sr. M. Jacqueline Joseph Wagner, O.Carm. Sr. Barbara Francis Higgins, O.Carm. (60 years), Sr. Marie Richard Carmel Brusca, O.Carm. and Sr. Diane Marie Mack, O.Carm. (50 years).
On this day, our Jubilarians renewed their religious vows first made many years ago, in the presence of their families, invited guests and fellow Sisters. It was a beautiful and inspiring testament of mutual love and fidelity – God’s and his chosen soul.
We offer our gratitude to all the Jubilarians who have given so many years and so much of themselves to the service of God, the Church and our Community. May God bless each of them abundantly and may Our Lady of Mount Carmel enfold each in her mantle and draw them ever closer to her Son.
Below: Jubilarians; 75th Jubilarian: Sr. M. Xavier Marchiony; 70th Jubilarian: Sr. M. Robert of the Infant Jesus Romano; 60th Jubilarians (L-R): Sr. M. Lois Joseph, Sr. M. Titus Joseph, Sr. M. Jacqueline Joseph; 50th Jubilarians (L-R): Sr. Diane Marie Mack. O.Carm., Sr. Marie Richard Carmel Brusca, O.Carm. Monsignor Drake Shafer, principal celebrant
The Carmelite Sisters were invited to participate in a project to be aired on EWTN as part of a series called “They Might Be Saints”. From January 18-21, Saint Teresa’s Motherhouse was bustling with activity as interviews were conducted and scenes from Mother Angeline’s early life were filmed. Despite a major snowstorm that meant moving schedules around, with God’s help everything was accomplished. The Producer, Michael O’Neill, was open to Mother’s family portraying her in the scenes, so Karen, Angeline, Katie and Michael McCrory depicted Mother and her family during Mother’s teenage years in Scotland. Some of the filming was done in St. Sylvia’s Church and Rectory in Tivoli, NY. The McCrory family welcomed two Little Sisters into the house (Sr. Veronica and Sr. Mary of Jesus), and Angeline portrayed Mother arranging flowers in the local parish and taking a book from Dean Cronin’s library the evening before her entrance into the convent. Later, Brigid McCrory Amundson played Mother as a Little Sister of the Poor receiving blessed roses from Fr. Flanagan (Fr. Jim Hess) and meeting with Cardinal Hayes (an actor) accompanied as far as the door by Sr. Julie. There is no dialogue in the scenes, but a voice-over narration will be used.
The episode will be aired later in the year on EWTN. Stay tuned for details.
In a world that moves as quickly as ours does, it is comforting to know there will always be a certain stability to the Catholic Church. It is no great secret that the Catholic Church changes slowly, very slowly. She does so because she wants to be confident that, after much prayer and reflection, any developments will bring about a more authentic and Gospel oriented Church, and not one that is merely giving into contemporary ideas and values. The Church recognizes it has a great responsibility for the spiritual lives of its members and for their eternal destinies. Therefore, any modications in Church teaching, practice, or worship must be done carefully and judiciously. is, of course, frustrates those
who think “Why can’t the Church get with the times and change their teaching on x, y,
and z ?!” , but the Church has never felt the need to be “trendy”. In recent times, at least from the perspective of the long history of the Church, one place that has experienced a great deal of change is religious life. For centuries, priests, nuns and brothers maintained a lifestyle that was fairly regimented and uniform. And while these consecrated men and women served the church and the world selflessly, Vatican II encouraged religious congregations to look back to the reason why their communities were founded in the first place, and recapture the initial enthusiasm and spirit their founders had. The world in which many religious congregations began was a much different one than of today. Some communities were founded with a very specific mission, e.g. to teach poor girls how to do domestic work, or to ransom Christians taken by non-Christians, or to minister to a particular immigrant group.
When the need for these apostolates disappeared, the congregations founded for these particular works were then left asking, “what is our role in the world to be ?” So, they examined the situation around them, discovered what the current needs are, and adapted their charism so that they would continue to live out their religious vocation in a modern context. This was not an easy process as it meant modifying traditions and customs that may have existed for centuries; it meant years of careful discernment and
study, and it meant experiments that sometimes worked, and sometimes didn’t. Always attentive to the Church’s directives, Mother Angeline embraced the Vatican Council’s call for revitalizing religious life. She sent Pope Paul VI’s Exhortation on the Renewal of Religious Life (1971) to all of her Sisters, and had the Sisters read and reflect on this important document. She believed wholeheartedly that religious life was not some static, never changing reality, but a way of living that is open to adaptation: “since we were established in 1929 we have not allowed ourselves to stand still”. And while Mother certainly believed the homes her community administered should be up to date with the
latest advances in geriatric care, she told her Sisters, “we must never allow ourselves to forget our original purpose, and our growth spiritually must never suffer as a result of professional training.”
Mother Angeline was not afraid of change. In fact, she was courageous enough to leave her former religious community when she discerned that the Holy Spirit was leading
her in a different direction. But Mother, by temperament, was not in any way reckless
or impulsive. When she did decide to leave her community, she only did so after a long
period of prayer and in consultation with people whose judgement she could trust.
In the same way with the new community she founded, she made sure that she and her
Sisters understood what was being asked of them in terms of religious renewal. Any changes would have to be carefully studied; the consequences would have to be prayerfully considered. She wrote, “We have endeavored to keep our Congregation in step with the times, holding on, however, to the basic principles of religious life, and remaining faithful to Rome.” Ultimately, Mother Angeline reminds us that, regardless of our state in life, our lives must be oriented towards the Divine. How we do this may change over the years, but the goal always remains the same: faithful service to God and to our brothers and sisters.
Several of our Sisters were privileged to see Pope Francis when he visited the United States. One of these visits took place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and resulted in a beautiful friendship between the Carmelite Sisters and the Braga family. Marcia and Pietra Braga were in the Cathedral hoping to “catch a glance” of the Holy Father. Our Sisters were instrumental in getting them close enough to make that happen. Not only did they see him but he stopped to give Pietra a special blessing. Pietra is 9 years old and was being treated for Cancer at Sloan Kettering Hospital. The family had moved into the Ronald McDonald house from Brazil so they could be together during Pietra’s treatments. That evening we gave them a blessed badge of Mother Angeline and told them we would be praying for healing through Mother’s intercession.
Marcia, Marcos, Pietra and her twin brother Tales, made two trips to visit us at Avila, where they had a tour of the Heritage Center and prayed at Mother’s grave. Since that time, Pietra’s condition has improved and the family will be moving back home to Brazil in August. Please join us as we continue to ask Mother Angeline to intercede on Pietra’s behalf.
On August 29th a prayer service was held during an afternoon of thanksgiving for donors to the Mother Angeline Heritage Center. Mother Mark Louis Randall, O. Carm. welcomed all the guests in a spirit of thanksgiving for the completion of the Center, dedicated to the memory of Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa, her six companions, and the Sister who followed after them. Mother Mark acknowledged the project team for their creativity, care and hard work in building everything to perfection. Mother Mark thanked the donors who contributed to the funding of the project: through their love and sacrifice. The donor panel, listing donors in an expression of gratitude, was premiered in the lobby of the Center.
Mother Mark led the guests with hymns, and members of the Council read the words of Sacred Scriptures reflecting the true gift of generosity. Intercessions asking for blessings on all who contributed to and those who would come to visit the Heritage Center were offered. The celebration concluded with food, drink, and fellowship.