BREAKING: OCD Carmelites of Philadelphia abandon their cloister; flee to Nebraska for unknown reasons

As far as I know, this story is being broken right here. Following is a guest post from a reliable source, with personal knowledge of the situation, who wishes to remain anonymous:

For reasons not totally known at this point, the Carmelite Sisters of Philadelphia have abruptly abandoned their monastery.

According to sources close to the monastery, the sudden move took place over this past weekend. On Friday, after the daily Mass, a van was noticed by the entrance to the monastery used by the cloistered sisters. Later that day, word began to spread that the sisters had suddenly departed. The sisters were reportedly driven to another Carmelite monastery in Valparaiso, Nebraska. One elderly sister is said to have remained behind in Philadelphia but all of the others, believed to be 15 young Carmelites who arrived in 2017, have all departed.

The Philadelphia Carmel of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and Anne was established in 1902, less than five years after the death of St. Therese of Liseux. It has been a treasure for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and for the nation. By the early 21st century, faced with a shortage of sisters, the fate of the monastery was in question. Then in 2017, former Archbishop Charles Chaput welcomed a branch of traditionalist Carmelites to Philadelphia and they accepted. These new arrivals were mostly younger women coming from Nebraska as well as another monastery in Pennsylvania.

With the departure of these 15 Carmelites over the weekend, and the recent deaths of most of the original sisters in Philadelphia, the beloved monastery is left with just one elderly sister and an uncertain future. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has not yet addressed what happened. Catholics in the Philadelphia Archdiocese learning about the departure are devastated. The presence of a Carmelite Monastery is considered to be an honor and a blessing to have within a diocese. Historically, the Carmelites have been major drivers of the Faith and have had, amongst their sisters: St. Therese of Liseux and St. Theresa of Avila – both revered saints and Doctors of the Church. In fact, first class relics of St. Therese of Liseux and her family are in residence at the Philadelphia monastery. During the French Revolution, it was the martyrdom of the Carmelites that ended the Reign of Terror. The Brown Scapular is a noted devotion within the order and with lay Catholics. 

Unlike many orders of Religious Sisters, the Traditional Carmelites have been flourishing with vocations in recent years making their departure from Philadelphia especially tragic. Locally, four young women are known to have joined the Traditional Carmelites in Philadelphia since 2017 with others that were in formation.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Impact of Cor Orans?*While we don’t know the reason for the developments in Philadelphia, it is hard not to recall a recent document issued by the Vatican – Cor Orans – targeting communities of contemplative nuns which is what the Carmelites are. Cor Orans instructs monasteries to belong to a “federation of monasteries”, tied together with a similar charism or shared geographical location. This basically erodes the autonomy of individual monasteries operated by individual orders such as the Carmelites. In addition, the length of formation for new nuns, previously six years for Carmelites became nine to twelve years under Cor Orans, which is an impediment to new vocations. Another requirement of Cor Orans is a “religious assistant,” a priest monitoring the monastery in addition to a chaplain, assigned by the federation. This further erodes the monasteries’ autonomy by giving unprecedented powers to the “religious assistant.”

*Source material:

This is Mark again. I contacted the communications office of the archdiocese for a statement, but neither my call nor email were immediately returned. I’m withholding judgment on the matter until we find out more information. I was physically present at the cloister the day the FSSP arrived there in 2017. Trust me, it’s a special place. The FSSP were consequently given a mission just outside the city, at a beautiful large church in Conshohocken. I do hope they’re not next. The only other access to the traditional sacraments in the entire five-county metro is the SSPX outpost in Eddystone, which isn’t even a full time parish. The priest drives down from Connecticut for the weekends, and their chapel holds fewer than a hundred faithful.

If you don’t understand why the antichurch needs to destroy the contemplative orders, start here:

“The Cor Orans document is the death-knell of Carmel. It signals the end of the contemplative monastic life. Not only does it destroy the autonomy of the Monasteries, something Our Holy Mother St. Teresa was extremely insistent about, but it also removes the Superior, dissolves her authority and power, removes the financial independence of each Monastery, and destroys the specificity of each charism… This is a disaster. Especially for Carmel.”

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us

Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, pray for us

27 thoughts on “BREAKING: OCD Carmelites of Philadelphia abandon their cloister; flee to Nebraska for unknown reasons”

  1. Our Lady of Good Success in the 17th century warned of the dire condition the world would find itself in without convents, monasteries and religious to pray and make sacrifices. We see now where we are headed. has a wealth of information on her prophecies for our times. God have mercy on us.

  2. Thanks Mark. Keep us posted. Here in Detroit we’re starting “Family of Parishes” this spring/summer. Don’t know what that looks like yet as our “FoP” doesn’t start till July. Fortunately our ICK Shrine is uniting with only 2 others (some parishes are uniting with up to 8). The two we are uniting with seem pretty good. One is Assumption Grotto which offers all NO Masses ad orientem, one Sunday TLM (and maybe one daily, not sure) and the other parish is an Italian Church which offers one TLM on Sunday and noon TLM on Mon, Wed and Fri. I’m going with a friend this Fri to scope out the Italian one. Will keep you posted as to how this FoP plays out.

  3. Hopefully they will find refuge with the SSPX. If they continue to cling to a conciliar diocese, they are doomed.

  4. There is another TLM on the area. Our Lady of My Carmel in Plymouth Meeting, a mission chapel of Holy Saviour in Norristown, has a TLM each Sunday @ 12:30. It’s a Low Mass celebrated by a visiting NO priest who also, if I’m not mistaken, visits an NO church in Tacony to celebrate a Low TLM there, too. Not the best option but it is an option.

    1. Hello TJ Walsh,

      The TLM offered at Our Lady of Carmel in Plymouth Meeting is celebrated at 11:30 A.M. not 12:30 P.M. Wouldn’t want folks to arrive at 12:30 P.M and discover the Mass is over…however refreshments are served in the Church basement and some interesting conversations are fueled by the java and comradery…

      A number of archdiocesan priests (and an occasional visiting priest) celebrate the TLM at Our Lady of Mount Carmel…on an informal rotational basis.

      A 1:30 P.M. TLM celebrated at Our Lady of Consolation located on Tulip Street in North East Philly is offered every Sunday by a visiting Franciscan priest who grew up in that parish….Father Francis Sariego (mea culpa if my spelling is incorrect.)

      Every Sunday a 9:30 A.M. TLM is celebrated at Our Lady of Lourdes located just “down the road” from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. Our Lady of Lourdes Parish is staffed by the Mercedarians.

      I believe there is an “independent chapel” in Coatesville, PA where a Sunday Mass is offered by Father (now bishop) Tethrow. Don’t know the details.

      Pax Christi,


      1. Thanks for the correction. I needed to move to Florida a few years ago (attending St Thomas More SSPX now) and so was going by memory. While in Philly we attended and enjoyed each of those fine churches, including St. jude in Eddystone, plus one other I forgot to mention. Mater Ecclesia in Berlin, NJ which was our favorite.

        So while it’s very sad about the Carmelites it doesn’t leave the Philly area high and dry.

  5. The enemy of souls hates holy contemplatives and his minions in the Church are doing what they can to destroy more of them. The whole Church has suffered from their loss.

  6. Given the current climate in the Church can anyone say they are surprised? I’m waiting for the hammer to fall on a broad group of religious communities committed to authentic Roman Catholic practice. Nevertheless, when it does happen it breaks the heart. There is more heartbreak ahead.

  7. AntiPope Bergoglio scatters fumie far and wide for distracted faithful to trample. Either priests and religious (not to mention bishops) wake up and quit the lemming like docility to fake authority or they and we will be denied the sacraments and the time of the Holy Rosary and Crucifix alone will be upon us.

  8. There is a F.S.S.P parish with 2 full time priests and all traditional sacraments available.Also the priest who was thse Chaplin to the nuns was an F.S.S.P

  9. Saddened to say the least. Was enrolled in the confraternity of the brown scapular at the Carmelite monastery in Philadelphia. Have done my first Saturdays devotion there. Thank you Father Scott Allen.

  10. The article seemed to make accusations, while admitting they don’t really know what happened. This doesn’t sound very responsible, or transparent. Get the real story before writing such an article.

  11. As per your You Tube report on the Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia; I am very close to the event and your reporting falls short of what really happened and the reasons why. I would expect better research. Any lack of real data should be followed with respectful silence and/ or thoughtful and well delineated speculation. You have not done anyone any service.

    Br. Richard Withers OCDS

    1. Brother Richard, my sources are first hand, and impeccable. There are additional details which support what I have written 100%, but which I cannot share in order to protect these sources. If you are indeed close to the situation, you know this is the truth. The YouTube video is not mine.

    2. Dear Br. Richard Withers,

      Who down at the 222’s asked you to throw darts at Mark Docherty’s spot on reporting?
      Are you simply being a good company man on damage control for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia?
      Considering your vocation, the nature and the purpose of a hermit…Why this contact with the outside world in order to throw such darts?

      In charity and in accordance with the Code of Canon Law might I suggest refocusing your attention as a hermit on the following and pray most especially for the ordinary of the Archdiocese.
      Can. 603 §1. In addition to institutes of consecrated life, the Church recognizes the eremitic or anchoritic life by which the Christian faithful devote their life to the praise of God and the salvation of the world through a stricter withdrawal from the world, the silence of solitude, and assiduous prayer and penance.

      §2. A hermit is recognized by law as one dedicated to God in consecrated life if he or she publicly professes in the hands of the diocesan bishop the three evangelical counsels, confirmed by vow or other sacred bond, and observes a proper program of living under his direction.

      May God bless you and Our Lady protect you always,
      Sincerely yours in the Passion of the Church,

      Michael S. Hottinger, B.A., M.Div.

      1. How to recall an errant hermit to the purgations of the Sinai desert. One hopes the demons are ready for their fate in round two!

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