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When Mother Angeline was asked how she first became interested in the care of the aged, she replied:  “A desire to help older people, the desire was so strong that I left my family:  parents, brothers and sister in Scotland to enter a Novitiate in France to study this work and dedicate my life to it.  Love for this work is stronger than my love for country or family.  Of course my motive is supernatural.  The aged are just as precious in the eyes of God as any other age group and in them I saw a group of people who needed service” (from the book Woman of Faith).

The Little Sisters of the Poor only took in the destitute; there were many needy middle class Americans who had no one to take care of them in their old age.  In August 1929, Sr. Angeline Teresa (Mother Angeline) and six other Little Sisters of the Poor left their order under the protection of Cardinal Hayes of NY to establish a new religious order. (From the book Images of America- The Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm.)


Photo Courtesy: Sr. Fidelis Therese, O.Carm.

Part of the charism that Mother Angeline bequeathed to her daughters and to the Church was her profound universal and sincere love and respect for the Church’s priests. Every Saturday the prayers of the Sisters are offered for the sanctification of priests and candidates for the priesthood.

From Mother’s personal writings:

“Honor the priest who received your soul as it entered on its spiritual life at baptism. The priest who nourished it and gave it strength on its pilgrimage.  The priest always the priest.  Who shall prepare it to go before God, the priest!  And, if my soul should die by sin, who will call it back to life and give it rest and peace?  Again, the priest.  Can you remember a single gift from God without seeing by its side a priest?  Of what use would be a house of gold, if you had no one to open the door for you?  The priest has the key to the treasures of God.  If you went to Confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an Angel, they could not absolve you.  They could not give you the Body and Blood of Jesus.  The Blessed Virgin could not call Her Divine Son down into the Host, and were a thousand Angels to exert their power; they could not absolve you from one venial sin.  But a priest, no matter how humble he be, can do all these.  He can say, ’Go in peace, your sins are forgiven you’.  Therefore, honor the priest; pray for the priest.”


Photo: Sr. Helena of Mary, O.Carm.

At the Mother Angeline Heritage Center, the Grotto is an outdoor space with a sculpture of Mother Angeline before the Blessed Sacrament, illustrating how she derived strength for her religious life and ministry.  “I think the best of all prayer is just to kneel or sit quietly and let Jesus pour Himself into our souls. It is such a delight to listen to him, to be silent and give his grace and love full liberty to act within us.” ~Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa.


Photo: Sr. Dolores Carmel, O.Carm.

Excerpts from the album The Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm gives insight to the Carmelite Sisters’ habit.  “For centuries, the brown scapular… has been associated with devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary…The Church has blessed the scapular as a sacramental.
According to tradition, in an apparition to St. Simon Stock, a 13th century Carmelite friar, Our Lady promised salvation to whoever wore her “habit” devoutly. With the passage of time, people began to regard the scapular as a sign of commitment to follow Christ in the spirit of Mary.  Carmelites have adopted the brown scapular as a sign of their way of life and an expression of their dedication to Mary.  The Sisters also wear a white, cape-like mantle for sacred functions.  It symbolizes Mary’s purity and their spiritual association with St. Elias, Father of Carmel, who passed his mantle on to his successor, St. Eliseus (2 Kings 2:3)”


Photo: Sr. Dolores Carmel, O.Carm.

“Devotion to the miraculous Infant Jesus of Prague goes back 300 years to when Carmelite Fathers in Prague, Czechoslovakia [the Czech Republic] were on the verge of losing their friary.  A princess gave them the statue, which she believed possessed miraculous powers.  Soon the friar’s’ material needs were supplied.  The Carmelite Friars received many spiritual blessings as well.  Through their efforts, the devotion has  grown in popularity throughout the  world.” (From The Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm Album).

“After Mother Angeline Teresa’s death, her statue of the little king, the Infant of Prague, towards whom she cherished a special Carmelite Devotion, contained a poignant disclosure…. On the arm was a small purse…. A similar device is sometimes used by the credulous for coins.  In Mother’s case there was a small folded note I her own handwriting. ‘Dear little Infant pf Prague, please preside at our General Chapter in March. Grant that the Bishop may be nice to us all and see our views for the good of the Community.’  (From the book The Servant of God Mother M. Angeline Teresa, O.Carm. Daughter of Carmel-Mother to the Aged)

“Mother invoked the Infant of Prague to bless the Sisters, using this prayer, ‘May the Infant King find a throne in your heart where he may reign in peace.’ She also encouraged devotion to the miraculous Infant for more candidates to carry on the work of the Congregation.”

(From the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm Album)


Photo; Sr. Dolores Carmel, O.Carm.

“Many people can care for the aged and infirm. But not everyone can bring Christ to them in lives of dedication and inspiration.” ~ `Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa

“The key to Mother’s Angeline’s leadership was her authentic, passionate, and sensitive love and respect for the elderly…Her vision of personal, tender, individualized, and family-like care for the elderly…was elementally Christian. Mother Angeline saw Christ in older people…while requiring professionalism of her Sisters, she wanted for them what she prayed for herself, ‘May I see Thee, O God, today and every day, in the person of the elderly and sick, and while caring for them, minister unto Thee.’” (From The Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm album)


Photo: Sr. Dolores Carmel, O.Carm.

This statue was one of Mother Angeline’s favorite statues.  Consider “the tremendous courage and the faith and trust in God and our Lady that Mother Angeline and each of her companions must have had, and the depth of their spirituality, which enabled them to take the step of leaving the Little Sisters of the Poor: believing without a shadow of doubt that the Good God who inspired them to embark on this new venture and initiate, what was then a new type of care and service for His aging, would take care of the future in ways now unknown to them. Mother would say the works of the Saint she chose as her patroness – Saint Teresa of Avila – “Teresa alone can do nothing; but Teresa and Jesus can do all things.” Mother’s favorite bookmark of Saint Teresa of Avila bore the words of courage they needed at that time:

Let nothing disturb thee
Let nothing affright thee
All things are passing
God never changeth
Patient endurance
Attaineth all things
Who God possesseth in nothing is wanting
Alone – God sufficeth!”
(From the book Woman of Faith)


Photo: Sr. Dolores Carmel, O.Carm.

A paraphrased excerpt from the book, The Light from Her Heart includes an account of a pilgrimage Mother Angeline made to France:  in 1932 after attending a Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, Mother Angeline visited her mother in Scotland. While in Scotland, she was invited to participate in a pilgrimage to Lisieux to visit the convent of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower to whom she was greatly devoted.

The Carmelite Sister’s archivist, Dr. Regine Lambrech, provides detail about a particular object in the Mother Angeline Heritage Center. St. Therese of Lisieux handcrafted a diorama of her cell.  During the pilgrimage Mother Agnes of Jesus, St Therese’s sister (Pauline), gave it to Mother Angeline.

Later during a retreat that preceded taking her final vows, Mother’s devotion to St. Therese was very evident in the list of petitions that she wrote to St. Therese.


Photo: Sr. Dolores Carmel, O.Carm.

St. Therese of Lisieux once owned this marble statue.  When the saint dies in 1897, the statue was given to a local priest, and then passed to many others.  In 1970, the statue was given to the Carmelite Sisters at St. Margaret Hall Home in Cincinnati. The Sisters gave it to Mother Angeline.  The scroll next to the statue lists all of the owners of the statue from St. Therese to Mother Angeline.


Photo: Sr. Dolores Carmel, O.Carm.

Excerpts from the album The Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm gives insight to the meaning of the Carmelite Shield.  “On the Carmelite shield is depicted a mountain, three stars, a fiery sword over the crown and a motto. The motto is “With zeal I have been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts.”

The spirit and history of Carmel are symbolically expressed through these symbols.  The mountain denotes Mount Carmel, the birthplace of the Order.  It also denotes the spirit of contemplation particular to Carmel.  The three stars represent Mary, Mother of Carmel, Elias, founder of Carmel, and Eliseus, his great disciple.  The fiery sword of Elias over Mary’s diadem, Carmel’s crowning glory, signifies the spirit of zeal for God and for Our Lady.  Prayer and zeal constitute the double spirit of Elias and Carmel.

Zeal is the fuse that ignites a Carmelite Sister’s heart and life.  Zeal has many synonyms. Ardor, enthusiasm, zest, fire, and fervor are but a few of a long list.  Bearing the title, “Consuming Zeal,” the Carmelite Constitutions capture the paradox of the Sisters’ lives.  On one hand, they burn with a zeal that consumes them in their actions of love.  On the other, like a burning bush, their zeal does not easily burn out.  In some mysterious way, it grows steadier and surer with practice.”


Photo: Sr. Dolores Carmel, O.Carm.

Mother Angeline’s “vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience -included a fourth vow of hospitality.  Hospitality resonated with Mother’s own wide-open embrace of all elderly people. Her brand of hospitality ran deeper than the mere offering of a cup of tea to visitors, although she never omitted that caring gesture.  It showed itself in her ability to identify with the often unspoken longings of the elderly.  It was as if she knew how to step into their shoes – into their entire situation – and take on their condition.

[Mother] understood the anguish that residents felt in relinquishing family, independence, and treasured belongings to live a common life.  Taking her vow of hospitality seriously, she began to introduce small changes in the living conditions in the homes. [In addition to arranging] special treats on holidays and holy days, brighter paint colors…she added other simple adornments to make the surroundings homelike and comforting”. (From the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm album)


Photo: Sr. Dolores Carmel, O.Carm.

Mother’s charism led to Archbishops and “Bishops from around the country to reach out to ask her to either build a facility in their diocese or to take over a building and convert it into a nursing home.  By the time she died in 1984, Sisters were serving in 59 different facilities or seminaries.”  (From the book Images of America- The Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm.)

Right from the start, Mother rejoiced each time she had an opportunity to found a new home.  It meant that more people that were elderly would have a satisfactory substitute for their own home and have a home where the care they needed would be provided.  It meant “Another Tabernacle of our Lord “. “There, in the presence of God, older people could visit their Friend in the Tabernacle, and pray for the needs of the world.”  Mother’s love for the aging was so great that her primary desire was to have homes everywhere, which would adequately meet the needs of the aged and infirm. (Paraphrased from the book Woman of Faith)

To commemorate the 1959 expansion of St. Patrick’s Home in the Bronx, NY, this silver trowel was given to Mother Angeline.

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