Bucking the trend, some millennials are seeking a nun’s life, and an Order in Duarte is attracting eager, college-educated women.
They wear the traditional habit they’ve worn since Mother Lucita first arrived in LA from Mexico in 1927. The gowns are brown — symbolizing the humility of the Earth; white — a symbol of purity; and black — a symbol of death to the world with life in Christ.
The Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles have been actively serving their flock for 90 years. In Duarte, the campus includes their convent, a day care with pre-K curricula, an assisted living home, Saint Teresita Hospital and a church. And walking the hallways and gardens are 135 women living out their lives as brides of their God.
“I come from a Catholic family that getting married and having children would be the norm and beautiful and that was also very appealing to me as well,” says Sister Marie Estelle, a nun for 15 years.
She didn’t always think that’s what her life would be. She had studied international relations and nursing in South Dakota before she got “the call” from God.
“The Lord comes and says, ‘will you be mine?'” she says with a smile. “There was this infinite love that was calling to me, and nothing else could fill it.”
“Giving my whole life to serve the Lord, to serve someone that I was getting to know and love,” Sister Celine says, adding that even the habit she saw other Sisters wear attracted her.
“I said, ‘Yes, this is, I want this. This is authentic, this is true joy,’ so I wanted to have that,” she says.
The Carmelites have Orders in 14 locations across the country. Their foundress, Mother Lucita, first arrived in Los Angeles during the 1920s persecution of Mexican Catholics, which would ultimately lead to what was known as the Cristeros War.
But life as a millennial sister, they’ll admit, isn’t easy.
“There’s fear involved,” Sister Celine says, pointing to temptations she says she conquers through faith.
For Sister Maria Goretti, her struggle lied in fighting the self-doubt of what her purpose in life would be. Before the convent, she was studying public relations in college in Louisiana.
“Doubts are going to come up,” she says. “But that’s just a part of being human, and that’s normal and natural. It’s a matter of how you respond to that when it comes.”
Sister Celine chimes in with another struggle: that of trust.
“Trust is hard,” she says. “Everything has to be concrete nowadays, and if you don’t know what will happen, then there’s no moving, and there’s no commitment.”
That’s where she says faith comes in.
“The strength will be there when you’re able to say, ‘I can’t do it on my own, and I need the Lord’s help,'” Sister Celine says.
Full story at NBC Los Angeles.