Celebrating 25 Years

by Mother Mark Louis Anne, O.Carm.

How quickly time passes as we go about our daily routines. It has been five years already since Pope Benedict declared Mother Angeline Venerable. The date was June 28, 2012, and I remember receiving the news as we were about to begin a meeting of the New York Catholic Providers group held at the Terence Cardinal Cooke nursing facility in Manhattan. There is more than a little irony in the fact that we were not far from where Mother Angeline began the Congregation and were in a facility named for a Cardinal from New York City who himself is a candidate for sainthood. That day was the culmination of a long and involved process beginning with the creation of the Mother Angeline Society (originally the Teresian Society) in 1987, the petitioning of Bishop Hubbard in 1989 to begin a Cause for Mother for sainthood, and finally the actual opening of the Cause on the Diocesan level on August 15, 1992 – twenty-five years ago.

Very Reverend Mario Esposito O.Carm. became the Postulator of the Cause after the death of Rev. Jude Mead, C.P. who laid the groundwork for all that needed to be done. Bishop Hubbard then appointed a Diocesan Tribunal to hear the testimonies of many who knew Mother. These testimonies, her writings and other pertinent material were then assembled by Sr. M. Teresa Stephen, O.Carm. and her dedicated group of volunteers. They followed the strict procedure of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and sent over 12,000 pages to Rome in a crate so large a Sister could sit inside! We are delighted to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Opening of the Cause on the Diocesan Level and look back in awe on all that has been accomplished. We continue to make Mother’s story better known through print and social media and teach her mission and philosophy to all involved in our ministry with the elderly. Now if we could just have a miracle attributed to Mother, our process would move to the next step. We pray this will happen soon.

From the Pen of Br. Bob Chiulli, O.Carm.

Brother Robert Chiulli, O.Carm.
Change. It comes whether we want it to or not, whether we welcome its effect in our lives or choose to ignore it as best we can. Certainly we have recently seen a great deal of change in our country with the election of a new president, and this change has generated a range of emotions from excitement to anxiety and fear. But regardless of how it arrives, change means stepping into an uncertain future, trusting that what has gone before will be a suitable foundation for what is to come. Mother Angeline, by her own admission, was not a bold personality, not one who sought out change for novelty’s sake. She was often described by those who knew her as being somewhat reserved, and perhaps even a bit shy, never seeking to be the center of attention. However, God chose this woman to be brave, to journey out into the unknown and to trust that He would always be there to guide her. Mother Angeline began her religious life as a Little Sister of the Poor, a French Congregation dedicated to caring for the indigent elderly population. And it was in the Little Sisters of the Poor that Mother’s vocation for caring for the elderly matured and deepened. For some fifteen years, Mother served as a dedicated vowed religious, looking after the old people in her care in the manner that the Little Sisters of the Poor prescribed for all their houses.
However, after some time, Mother Angeline began to believe that the method of care the Little Sisters of the Poor required for the aged in their homes did not fit the American mentality, and that a new approach was needed.  At first Mother tried to gradually implement small changes that broke from the uniformity that the Little Sisters mandated, but this was met with disapproval from her superiors. At this point, the internal conflict within her began to swell. She deeply loved her Congregation, and believed wholeheartedly in the vow of obedience. However, she also felt that her vow of hospitality, a fourth vow the Little Sisters profess, was not being lived to the fullest under the constraints she was put under. Changing the style of care for the elderly without her superior’s consent would be disobedient and dishonest; continuing to deny the old people the type of care she believed they were entitled to would empty her vocation of its meaning to serve the elderly as they would serve Christ himself.
The easiest thing for Mother to have done would be simply to do nothing, to accept the situation as it was and hope, in some sort of vague way, that maybe things would change for the better. Why agitate her superiors, why complicate things by insisting things could be done differently? It would have been simpler for all involved just to maintain the status quo. However, being a woman of profound integrity, Mother could not accept such a weak and uninspired solution. To be true to her vocation, the vocation God instilled in her, she had to move beyond what was comfortable and stretch out into something new, something unknown and without any guarantees of success. After consulting with people she trusted and after much deep prayer, she knew the right course, the honorable course, would be for her to leave the Little Sisters of the Poor and to find a new way to live out this vocation of caring for the elderly. The result of this decision lead to the foundation of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm.
The path was not always smooth, and there were failures, along with successes, but in time, God was  able to use Mother Angeline to accomplish His will because she trusted in His Providence more than she feared any change. When asked what inspired her to start a new order, Mother responded, “I never intended to start a new order. It was part of God’s plan. It grew from a desire to bring about some changes in the kind of care provided at that time for older persons.”
Mother’s response to a divine invitation is a reminder that God sometimes calls us to venture beyond what we know, beyond what is safe and predictable, so that He can put us on the front line of building up the Kingdom of God.

A Visit to Armagh and Clonoe Ireland

On their visit to Dublin, Ireland for the Board of Directors’ meeting, Mother Mark, Sr. Maria Therese and Sister Cyril went to see Father Benny . Father is a close friend of the congregation and an avid proponent of Venerable Mary Angeline’s Cause for Canonization.  They went to see the magnificent cathedral on the hill in Armagh. The sacristan was kind enough to give them an impromptu tour of the cathedral.  They also proceeded to Clonoe in time to attend noon Mass at St Brigid’s in Brocagh with parishioners.  Some of these parishioners are members of the Irish branch of the Mother Angeline Society.  During this visit, Mother Mark was given a certificate of membership and pin. After Mass, the Sisters visited St Brigid’s School, where Venerable Mary Angeline attended,  and gave those present Mother Angeline’s photo.  The children rendered a song and two played the violin.  Father Benny took the Sisters for a drive to Lough Neah which was near the house where Mother Angeline spent her early years. Overall, it was a very full day!

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Commission Members Meeting

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Note:  There were members unable to attend and are not pictured above.

The Commission for the Cause and Charism (CCC) of Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa had their meeting at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown, New York last September 17, 2016 to continue the work of advancing the Cause in Rome.  The Commission is chaired by Very Reverend Mario Esposito, O.Carm. who also acts as the Vice-Postulator for the Cause.  The CCC is made up of sub-committees with members responsible for planning events to promote Mother’s life and charism, to review and plan for the publications of The Mother Angeline Society, and to promote public awareness of Venerable Mary Angeline through education.  The CCC, primarily through the Office of the Vice-Postulator, receives and reviews favors answered through prayers addressed to Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa.

To advance the Cause of Venerable Mary Angeline, we ask the faithful  that favors believed to be received through her intercession, be reported to the Office of Vice-Postulator at 600 Woods Road, Germantown, NY 12526 or contact us.