“Before the pandemic, we had about 200 customers,” said Sister Anna Tran, O.C.D., who oversees altar bread production at the Carmel of St. Teresa in Alhambra, a community of cloistered discalced Carmelite nuns. “We shipped approximately 250,000 hosts to parishes, hospitals, schools, and religious communities per week. Once the pandemic hit, by April 2020, all of the orders from our customers were cancelled. The customers who did order were very minimal (about 10%), so probably about 90% of our customers either cut down or cancelled their order completely.”
Mother Brenda Marie Schroeder, O.C.D., prioress of the Carmel of St. Teresa, said that after a year “we had to throw away all our supply of small altar breads. It was starting to get buggy.” She said that large hosts were still in demand because priests were still celebrating Mass, albeit privately. But not the small ones.
The Carmel wrote recently to customers, who are throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, as well as parts of Nevada and Arizona, expressing the hope that they would resume their orders when public Masses resume.
In the meantime, a local supporter of the nuns, Jennifer Nolan, offered to help, because she realized what an impact the loss of business would have on the Carmel.
“I thought I could set up a monthly donation base,” said Nolan, founder of Catholic Polytechnic University. “Hillsdale College has thousands of people who give $10 a month. That’s what these nuns need — an army of people.”
So Nolan set up a monthly donation option on the nuns’ website. The change soon made a difference. “Just in one week we got 27 donors for them,” Nolan said. “It’s so hard not to know: ‘Are we going to have enough money for food next month?’ If they have 100 donors giving $20 a month, they’ll have an amount they know they can depend on….”
The above comes from a May 12 story in Aleteia.