"Spiritual growth, which includes a healthy community life and a deep interior life, is the ideal of our life as Carmelites."
Life for me began in Brooklyn in 1931. My brother Raymond followed three years later. When I was six years old the family moved to Floral Park, Long Island. It was from there that I entered the Bronx Carmel in 1951. Early on, neither of my parents thought I would be a nun, yet the love I received, their good example and the 14 years of Catholic education they provided certainly left the way open.
When I entered the Bronx Carmel at age 20, there were eight of us in the novitiate—considered a full novitiate at the time! I had been in Carmel about a year when I became aware of arrangements for something special. It turned out to be preparations for the foundation of the Saranac Lake Carmel.
I lost some of the sisters who had become dear to me when they left to go on the foundation.
I was clothed with the Carmelite habit in February of 1952. My first and final profession followed. My mother no doubt felt the separation of my being a cloistered sister, but she
came to visit me and to all my celebrations. My dear father only gradually reached that point and then wholeheartedly.
The years after my solemn profession were blest. I was now a full member of the community, and as a chapter sister had a voice in the decisions of our Carmel. I often acted as “portress” with another sister. The two of us, wearing long black veils that covered our faces, would lead one or more workmen to the place where their expertise was needed. All
the while we were gently ringing a small hand bell to alert the sisters to avoid the area where workmen were. Surprisingly, the men got used to our ways and shared openly with us about their lives and concerns.
We followed the Second Vatican Council closely as the Church, under good Pope John XXIII (now Saint John XXIII), changed in ways that affected our lives. By 1970 the grates,
long veils and bells accompanying the workmen were left aside. It became possible for me in 1971 to complete the last two years of my college degree and later to earn a Masters at
Fordham. In 1982, after much community dialogue and discernment, as well as extensive searching for property, we moved from the Bronx to Beacon, on the site of the former
novitiate of the Ursuline Sisters. From city girls we quickly became country girls. I have a vivid memory of trying to climb Mt. Beacon a month after the move. With no experience of
mountain climbing or knowledge of official trails, two of us just headed straight up the mountain through the woods behind our property! We live on very beautiful and picturesque property. Our grounds have become dear to me, and I currently have responsibility for their care.
Spiritual growth, which includes a healthy community life and a deep interior life, is the ideal of our life as Carmelites. May God grant that both are in good balance—or at least are growing—in this person that I am.