The following comes from recent stories in the Oakland diocese paper, the Catholic Voice.
The power of the ministry of the Carmelite Sisters can be told in little slips of paper. A woman borrowed a page from a reporter’s notebook to request prayers for a child in her parish, afflicted with a brain tumor.
A woman recovering from a brain hemorrhage also sought their prayers.
The bishop of Oakland told them of the prayer slips that he had put in the bowl at the Carmelite monastery in San Francisco over the course of his life.
The Carmelites are the only contemplative order in the Diocese of Oakland. Theirs is a ministry of prayer, silence and seclusion — and great joy.
With the nuns praying and singing behind a grille lined with a dark curtain, and about 50 guests in an enclosed porch that serves as chapel seating, the Most Rev. Michael C. Barber, SJ, celebrated Mass at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Canyon, on Oct. 1, the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux…..
The sisters arrived from Nebraska to start a new foundation in California in July 2012. Their little sign off Canyon Road with the simple word Carmel, the bishop said, says to all: “There are women, 500 years after St. Teresa of Avila, who are still giving their all to God.”
Their prayer is appreciated, he said.
“I want to thank you publicly, on behalf of the whole Diocese of Oakland, on behalf of our priests, all of our seminarians, all of our dedicated lay people, for your life of dedication to almighty God, through love, reverence and prayer. ”
He thanked them, “in a special way for the intercession you give myself and my brother priests.”
“Your prayers are like shields surrounding us,” he said.
Bishop Barber told them that when he was a little boy, after attending Mass at the Jesuit church, his grandmother and aunts would take him to pray at the Cristo Rey Monastery in San Francisco….
The hilly property is a far cry from the 20 flat acres the sisters left in Valparaiso, Nebraska, when they came westward to found this carmel in California.
“They come with what they have in their little satchels,” and depend on generosity of benefactors, said Monsignor Timothy Thorburn, chaplain to the Carmelites in Nebraska since their arrival in 1998, as well as vicar general for the Diocese of Lincoln. He was in Canyon for the Oct. 1 Mass, at which he, Father Wayne Campbell, pastor of nearby St. Monica Church in Moraga, and Father Robert Herbst, judicial vicar and vicar for clergy, concelebrated.
Once the number of sisters reaches 21, the Carmelites make plans for a new foundation. The Nebraska carmel has set up two: one in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, and the Canyon carmel.
“The sisters like the agrarian existence,” Monsignor Thorburn said. “They like to raise their own vegetables.”
In Nebraska, he said, the sisters have a couple of cows, a pair of sheep, 40 chickens and a dog. There’s also a little vineyard on the property.
The cows provide milk, and the sisters make cheese. The chickens provide eggs.
“The simple life is attractive to them,” he said.
The sisters in Canyon, too, are vegetarians and are accustomed to a simple life. They look forward to growing their own vegetables, and would like to have some farm animals.
The sisters are praying for a permanent home for their new carmel, and benefactors who would be willing to provide them with a building that would include a chapel, kitchen, chapter room and sewing room, in addition to individual cells for the sisters.
For now, they live in a cabin, and cross an enclosed area to a larger house for chapel, kitchen and other community needs. They are looking for room to grow.
The carmel at Canyon already has welcomed its first postulant. The young woman, in her 20s, is from the Bay Area and had been attending Mass at the carmel.
A second postulant, also from Northern California, is expected in the new year.
After his divorce, Mike Skapura raised his daughter by himself in Columbus, Ohio, where he worked as a contractor for the Postal Service, driving truckloads of mail between postal facilities.
“When she was 19, almost 20, she hit me with, ‘Dad, I want to become a nun,'” Skapura said.
….In 2009, Sister Elizabeth was among the sisters who left Nebraska to start a new foundation in Pennsylvania.
Mike Skapura has become a pioneer, too.
“My life has changed drastically since my daughter entered religious life,” he said. Mother Teresa asked him if he would become the guardian and caretaker for the nuns she was sending from Nebraska to Canyon, California, last year.
He moved their belongings 1,700 miles in three days, and has adapted an old family home off the beaten path into a temporary carmel. Those grilles he had to get used to? He’s built some of those, too.
He lives in an apartment over the garage with his 17-month-old golden retriever, Jackson.
“I have a calling, I guess you could say.”
St. Monica Parish in Moraga is good neighbor
Fifteen months ago, when the parish learned that the Carmelite sisters would be moving into a house in nearby Canyon, it offered hospitality.
Father Wayne Campbell, pastor of St. Monica, found “Every time there has been a need — freezer, stools, benches, tables,” parishioners have handed him checks.
One Sunday, he recalled, he had three pages of needs. All were filled by the third Mass. Then people added to the list….
To read the entire stories, click here.
A wonderful story, great to see the good sisters in their full habits, what a breath of fresh air as opposed to seeing post Vatican II nuns dressed in skirts, earrings, makeup, and marching for Leftist ideals. Does anyone know if they celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass???
This Carmel is the granddaughter of Cristo Rey in San Francisco and they are traditional in life and habit.
I would say that every diocese needs contemplative sisters. Without their prayers and many sacrifices, not much can be done. Our Blessed Lord said that ‘Mary has chosen the better part, meaning that even though the active life is fine, the best way is to lead a life of constant prayer. Congratulations to the Diocese of Oakland for permitting the Carmelite Sisters to live there. With the lives of these saintly souls, God will surely bless the Oakland Diocese.
Do you have an address where I could send a contibution?
God bless you Father Karl. You are a good soul!
Father Karl, thank you for your support for these sister.
With other nearby contemplatives why push these sisters into the Kensington monastery at 68 Rincon when the property for sale website discusses the land and building problems. Also, do prayers have boundaries? Do not the prayers of all the contemplatives aid us all regardless of where we or they are?
Let the re-conversions begin
Janek, check http://www.tlmsf.org for information on Masses at Carmel in Canyon.
This is a breath of fresh air. The prayers of these Carmelite nuns rise quickly to heaven. How extraordinary and powerful it is to have an abundance of supernatural grace on your side!
I agree Catherine. Catherine we also have the sisters of Charity, here in San Diego. They are a blessing too. : )
Well, the Carmelites survived the French Revolution so they could survive anything with God’s grace and help. St. Elijah (Elias) the Prophet pray for them and us. I pray that the saying of the prophet Elijah eventually applies to all the Catholic households in California and the world: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” and may they bring in many souls.
Can someone please help me find out what is happening to the Carmel in Kensington? My mom and I used to go to mass there early in the am and I know at least one sister is buried there.
I know the three older sisters who were left moved to the Cristo Rey in San Francisco…
Today I was walking in the neighborhood and came up to the locked and chained monastery gate. A man approached me. I think he was afraid I would jump the fence to look around. He said his name is Michael Korman. I looked him up. He is a big real estate guy in the area.
He said he is an atheist, that his mom wanted him to be a priest when he was 13 and that he had spent 4 years in a seminary.
I asked him what was going to become of the monastery and when I told him that Mass had been said there he seemed surprised and said “oh, then it is a church.” He said he could not tell me what was going to become of the monastery. The Blair house, which is owned by the UC is next door.
Is this sacred ground, the Carmelite monastery, going to be sold to developers? He said he had spoken the remaining sisters in SF. Does anyone know, or can anyone find out what is going on here? Can we not save this beautiful house of God? Why could not some other group of cloistered nuns take it over?
What are they going to do with the sister or sisters that are buried in hollowed ground there? If anyone knows anything and can help me find out please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org…
I cried at the gate and begged to give the Faithful of His Holy Church this house…
The last four sisters of the Kensington Carmel moved to the infirmary of Christo Rey about a year ago. Apparently an attempt was made to have the Canyon Carmelites take over the Kensington house, but the superior of the Kensington sisters could not come to an agreement. A attempt to sell the property seems to be hung up over a question of title. But this is all second hand, expect that the four Kensington nuns now live in SF.
I understood the last 4 Kensington Carmelite Nuns went to the traditional and growing Carmel of Cristo Rey in San Francisco but not all went to Infirmary. I looked at the 68 Rincon website showing the property for sale and could see why the Superior of the Kensington sisters would not recommend the monastery for a group of sisters. I heard the same rumor about the title having a problem but there is not – the property was given to the Kensington Nuns. Why would anyone want to put sisters on this land with such problems and waste money on remodeling it? Couldn’t the money be used for the Diocese of Oakland in a better way like paying down the big debt on the Cathedral or some evangelization? Also, I learned the Tridentine nuns like to have cows, chickens, etc. and so will this be ok for them Kensington?
Praise God! The Kensington, CA Carmelite Monastery will once again be a Carmelite monastery! The Carmelites who have been living in Canyon, CA have bought the property from the former sisters who had lived at this property. So, it will again be a monastery. The property is small but gorgeous. Berkeley and its surrounding areas certainly need prayers, so I am very happy they will be here.
Property was donated to Diocese of Oakland for specific use. Nuns do not own it. The property is on a fault and landslide and the buildings are in disrepair. Just like Elysburg, poor move.