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Sister Ellen Mary

“Faith played a significant part in our family life for which I am grateful.”


I was born of pious parents in Ogdensburg, New York, on the St. Lawrence River.  I have three brothers and two younger sisters who are twins.  We were all educated by the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart at Bishop Conroy Memorial School and St. Mary’s Academy high school.  Faith played a significant part in our family life for which I am grateful.


I entered St. Joseph’s Carmelite Monastery in Saranac Lake in 1959 where I lived for forty-one years. The monastery was situated near Lake Flower which is part of the Saranac River. After much conversation and prayer, our community left the Ogdensburg diocese in 1998 to join with two other Carmelite monasteries.  Our community was saddened to leave the North Country where we had been for so many years, but we believed God was calling us to do so. 


In 2000 our new Carmelite community joyously celebrated its Foundation Day.  Soon after that we moved into our Monastery of the Incarnation in Beacon, New York.  My room now looks out at a moving pond that one of the sisters named Flower Lake.


Throughout my Carmelite life I have used my creative gifts in doing needlework, calligraphy, and creating cards.  The computer has proved to be a big help with much of the creative design work.  I continue to use my skills to assist with community newsletters and mailings. 


I enjoy poetry.  Sisters are often encouraged to write Cinquains, which are a form of poetry.  Here are two of mine:


Our Cell *

restful      cluttered

praying, distracting, transforming

God and everything else

Familiar territory

*(a cell is a monastic’s dwelling place)




surprises       innumerable

suffering, needing, accepting

gifts full of variety



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