Follow up from yesterday’s post. Here is the key part of the statement from the Carmelites, explaining why they had to leave the Philly Carmel:
“…the Nuns had been invited by the community and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia with the clear understanding that they were part of a young, thriving, dedicated Order who loved the Extraordinary Form of the Holy Mass and the time-honored traditions of the Discalced Carmelites. As attempts were being made to not only interfere with but to obstruct their way of life, the Nuns tried one way after another to gracefully bow out of this pre-existing commitment. When it became painfully clear that the freedom to maintain their identity as originally promised by the Archdiocese was not being honored, the only option left to the Nuns was to return to the monastery in Valparaiso, Nebraska.”
Contrast that with what the communications director for the Archdiocese told me back in April, when I specifically asked if there had been any interference or coercion with regard to the Latin Mass or the spiritual autonomy of the Carmel:
I emailed Ken to ask for a response to the latest news, but I got an out of office reply.
From yesterday’s combox:
- James Andrew Dunn says: Why is this Carmelite Association/Federation, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and now Archbishop Carballo in Rome (Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life) so adamant about closing the Philadelphia Carmel? It’s only been a couple of months since the Traditional Carmelites sisters were chased out of the Archdiocese by the Association/Federation. Why can’t they go all out to bring more sisters to that monastery to keep it open? Do they not understand that having a Carmel within the boundaries of a Diocese is literally a gift from God and may very well be what is holding back the hand of chastisement? Seriously, the prayers of devout Carmelites carry 1000x the weight of the prayers of laypeople.The LCWR orders may be dying out but the same is not true for the Carmelites. There’s a growing order of Carmelites in Brooklyn right now who are scared to death in their current environment. Shootings, prostitution and even satanic acts of aggression are happening in a park that abuts their monastery. The good news is that they have been deeded land in northeastern Pennsylvania for a new monastery but the bad news is that their Brooklyn monastery is not theirs and once they leave, it reverts to the Brooklyn Diocese which leaves the Carmelites unable to sell and use the proceeds to build anew. This is public news within the Catholic world and certainly within the greater U.S. Carmelite world. Why can’t the Brooklyn sisters be invited into Philadelphia to at least temporarily reside in that fine monastery until they are able to raise the necessary funds to build their monastery in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania? If the Federation/Association really cared about Mother Pia, they’d be working overtime to find new sisters to join Mother here in Philly rather than bully her into leaving and clo$ing the mona$tery for whatever rea$ons. There are ~10 Brooklyn sisters which the Philadelphia Carmel could easily accommodate. By the way, the Philadelphia Carmel contains FIRST CLASS RELICS of St. Therese of Liseux and her parents. What a grace it would be for a growing order of sisters to live in the presence of those, among many other graces tied to the monastery.I have seen some postings since this story broke that the neighborhood where the Philadelphia Carmel is is dangerous and that’s what drove away the traditional sisters. Well, I live here and can tell you that the neighborhood is not hellish whatsoever. It’s a city neighborhood so things happen but it’s not the heart of North Philly either. Those pushing this lie and saying that the traditional sisters “abandoned Mother” are trying to spin this story from the true villains (the Association/Federation) to the traditional sisters now in Nebraska.Please join me in praying for the intentions of Mother Pia in Philadelphia and for the thwarting of the intentions of the Federation/Association and the Archdiocesan officials who are harassing her and trying hard to clo$e the Carmel for whatever rea$ons.REPLY
- C. P. Benischek says: James, For the money. It’s a very valuable property. It’s a land grab.Plus Antipope Francis/Perez (Homosexual Network Strangling the Church) can destroy a traditional Mass outpost simultaneously.Bergoglio’s minions delight in killing. As here, especially two birds w one stone.REPLY
- susan says: Yes….they understand that. They COMPLETELY understand that. They are satanic. They are NOT on the side of the Lord and His Church….they are NOT shepherds; they are ravenous wolves.
If you’ve not yet read this, do yourself a favor, take a few minutes, and drink in the wisdom as you swallow the red pill. E.V.E.R.Y. word is true…..https://www.barnhardt.biz/2015/09/17/repost-by-request/REPLY
- Patricia says: Dear James, thank you for posting! Totally agree on all counts. I attend the Bklyn Carmel for Latin Mass every Sunday. The only thing you left out is the insane music from the park, and sometimes even the passing cars, and the frequent smell of weed! The park is in full use for parties every weekend. People up to no good know this is a holy place and want to “use” ‘the power’ of the monastery. Please pray for our holy nuns!
I was at Mass in the Philly Carmel this past Fall, for an anniversary of a good priest. I had also left my then 19 year old daughter at Philly Carmel a few years ago while she was discerning. It’s not a similar situation by any means! The Philly Carmel is more similar to a setting in the west side of Manhattan, or the better areas of The Bronx. I believe the Philly Carmel should definitely be utilized! But, wouldn’t the Bklyn OCD face the same risk of oppression that the nuns left behind?REPLY
- James Andrew Dunn says: I think they would face the same oppression which is disappointing. In a sane world, a bishop would go out of his way to not lose a growing order of Carmelites. But, we’re nowhere even close to being a sane world. The Archdiocese here didn’t lift a finger to try and bring back the sisters who left for Nebraska. Nor are they doing anything to attract replacement sisters. They want to clo$e the mona$tery and I pray they fail.REPLY
- Michael @ The Pilgrim Center, San Sebastian de Garabandal says: Mark Docherty´s Vindication !
23 thoughts on “Philly Carmel: “The freedom to maintain their identity as originally promised by the Archdiocese was not being honored””
With how they were thriving the association and archdiocese should’ve let them stay. I will say however that I think it was a poor assumption on the sisters’ part when they arrived that leaving the association the Philly Carmel was a part of would be a small matter.
Perhaps it wasn’t an assumption, given the welcome given by the previous Archbishop.
The sisters arrived in 2017 when Charles Chaput was the Archbishop (Chaput was replaced in 2020 with Nelson Perez). From 2017 up through 2020, as far as I know, there were no issues and the sisters grew with some vocations and other young ladies were in formation. Their departure to Nebraska happened in April of this year so something had to have changed in 2020 or early 2021. Whatever that something was, it enabled this Association/Federation to sharpen their fangs.
Don’t quite understand your comment, “…when they arrived that leaving the association the Philly Carmel was a part of would be a small matter?” Can you interpret?
That’s not my comment, that’s what the sisters wrote.
Now I think I understand what happened to our Carmelite nuns in the Jefferson City diocese under Gaydos. They have all but disappeared. Were made to give up their monastery, and move in with “sisters” who wear pantsuits in another Missouri town. Then the “bishop” remodeled their former monastery, which they had been trying for years to get mold abatement taken care of in. Basicaly, stole their monastery from them, for his use. They finally got an attorney, and they moved back to Jefferson City to a home owned by the diocese, while the retired Gaydos moved himself and his “buddies” into the old Carmelite monastery. The nuns got Gaydos to pay them the million dollars their former monastery was worth. We never hear from them anymore. They need to join with other Carmelites who have been denied the traditional Mass, and been forced to try to abandon their charism. That is exactly what happened in our diocese, and it was several years ago. There’s a special place hell in store for Gaydos.
Pardon me, Mr. Docherty and our Trad friends, for barging into the conversation about the Philly Carmelites, but all the reporting and comments leave more questions than clarity. In your first post in early April after the nuns fled, you mentioned that 15 nuns left. The letter from the Prioress of the Fairfield Carmelites says there were 12 nuns. Did something happen to 3 other nuns? Who was obstructing and interfering with the nuns’ way of life? Was there some threat to abolish the Latin Mass? The Philly Carmel’s website has always had, and still has, the Latin Mass (EF) scheduled. There was a grand Solemn celebration for the Sacred Heart at the Chapel. So, where is the threat to take away the nuns’ identity? Is it from the Federation (or whatever its called)? Regarding the second letter posted recently, who is this Sr. Mary Elizabeth and what is so bad about her letter? She sounds like someone who was sent in to help the remaining old nun. It is just plain good sense that one nun can’t live by herself in a Monastery! Yet, in some of the comments she is put down as some kind of villain. Where did you get this letter, Mr. Docherty, and are you sure it was sent to every Carmel in the country? The last I checked in the Catholic Directory there are at least 60 Monasteries of Carmelites in the USA. Also, is it certain that the Philly Archdiocese and this Federation is after the money and property of the Philly Carmel as put forth in the comments?
Mr. Docherty, I am glad you offered the link to the article from the Vatican, Cor Orans–I looked it up. The money of a closed Monastery goes to the remaining nuns (see number 72 of the article Cor Orans). So, the old nun will get the money and any funds from the property, not the Archdiocese or this Federation. Some of the comments made a really harsh judgement about this! Care needs to be taken. There are more questions than answers. It does not seem that the full truth is out! Let’s not be too quick, dear friends, to portray as criminal villains, those who may in reality be good angels!
God bless and protect us all!
Hi Terry. Welcome to this important discussion. I am in the Philadelphia area and have been following this story very closely. Here are some points to the ones you raised:
I re-checked Mark’s original post and the text regarding the quantity of sisters was “believed to be 15 young Carmelites who arrived in 2017.” Carmelites, as I’m sure you’re aware, are very much detached from the world. They don’t have to tell us lay folk who they are or what they’re doing. The Mother Prioress from Fairfield did indeed in her letter say 12 so I guess 12 was the right quantity. The bottom line though is that these sisters are no longer in Philadelphia and that is an absolute tragedy. What’s done is done and thankfully they have found a place in Nebraska. The challenge now is to keep the Philadelphia Carmel open. This should be looked on as a period of opportunity to bring in new sisters to a beautiful, beloved and historic monastery that has brought so many good graces by its mere presence to Philadelphia and the nation at large.
As the letter from Fairfield said, the sisters in Philadelphia WERE being pressured into changing their practice from an exclusive Traditional Catholic Mass and Sacraments to the novus ordo. Specifically, the letter from Fairfield states: “For many years, the Philadelphia Carmel had been part of an association. When our Nuns arrived, it was assumed that withdrawing from this association would be a small matter. After all, the Nuns had been invited by the community and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia with the clear understanding that they were part of a young, thriving, dedicated Order who loved the Extraordinary Form of the Holy Mass and the time-honored traditions of the Discalced Carmelites. As attempts were being made to not only interfere with but to obstruct their way of life, the Nuns tried one way after another to gracefully bow out of this pre-existing commitment. When it became painfully clear that the freedom to maintain their identity as originally promised by the Archdiocese was not being honored, the only option left to the Nuns was to return to the monastery in Valparaiso, Nebraska. They did this in the most correct way possible, fulfilling all canonical requirements.”
I think it’s pretty clear from this letter that the association who had jurisdiction over the Philadelphia Carmel prior to 2017 was refusing to budge. Whether the Archdiocese had anything to do with that is not clear. I certainly hope they did not but its extremely disappointing that the Archdiocese did nothing to keep the sisters here, nor did they lift a finger to bring them back or even acknowledge that anything had happened at all until they were (rightfully) pressed by the lay faithful and media.
Yes, praise God, the Traditional Latin Mass is still being said at the Philadelphia Carmel! May God in His mercy allow that to continue until the end of time. As I think everyone following this knows, there is one sister left at the present time who chose not to go to Nebraska because Philadelphia is her home. She obviously loves the Traditional Mass if it’s still being read there. May God Bless her and her intentions. Same for the priest(s) reading the Mass there for her and for the faithful.
The Sister Mary Elizabeth is from the association that had (and I guess still has) jurisdiction over the Philadelphia Carmel. Her letter speaks for itself. She claims that the traditional sisters “abandoned” the original sister in Philadelphia which is a direct contradiction to what the letter from Fairfield said. She also stated that she, the Archdiocese and antipope Bergoglio’s point-man in Rome for orders (Archbishop Carballo) are all in agreement that the Philadelphia Carmel needs to be closed and the original nun there needs to be moved to another house in the Archdiocese. Why? Why the rush to close this monastery rather than find a new group of sisters to join? The Carmelites are growing all over the country and per the rules of the Carmelites, when a monastery reaches a cap (I think 34 is the number but don’t quote me), a new monastery has to be established. Philadelphia is a monastery in fine condition, in a decent neighborhood, and houses first class relics of St. Terese of Liseux and her parents. What a perfect place for a new monastery or at least a temporary monastery for those poor Carmelites in Brooklyn that are living in fear in that horrible, dangerous neighborhood.
In regards to what antipope Bergoglio’s Cor Orans document says about the assets from suppressed monasteries. I am copying here reference point 72 that you noted:
“72. The assets of the suppressed monastery, respecting the will of the founders and donors, follow the surviving nuns and go, in proportion, to the monasteries that receive them, unless otherwise provided by the Holy See which may dispose, in individual cases, of a portion of the assets to be given to charity, to the particular church within whose boundaries the monastery is located, to the Federation, and to the “Fund for the nuns”.
So, according to Cor Orans, if the Philadelphia Carmel is forced to close and be sold, the assets will go to the monastery that receives the remaining sister – the assets will not go directly to the sister. In fact, a portion of the assets can also be given to a “charity” within the Archdiocese, directly to the “Federation” or a general fund for “the nuns.” So, the sister in Philadelphia has no say about what will happen to the assets.
It is more than clear now that when the traditional sisters were brought into Philadelphia by Archbishop Chaput, there was an agreement to move away from the St. Joseph Association/Federation so that the sisters could not be in conflict and practice their traditional faith. For whatever reason, the St. Joseph Association did not comply and the pressure to change the sisters drove them away. Now, just a couple months later, there is a mass effort to suppress the Philadelphia Carmel by the association in conjunction with the Archdiocese and Rome. There is no need to close this important asset to Catholicism in America. The Philadelphia Carmel has the space that is needed by several groups of Carmelites. I have every reason to believe the letter from Fairfield is true. The letter from the St. Joseph Association on the other hand, raises a lot of red flags.
The Brooklyn Carmel sent out a newsletter telling about their property in Pleasant Mount, PA, so it doesn’t look like they have any plans to go to Philadelphia I have heard that the number of Carmelites in this country is growing fast. If that is true, then it is tremendous news! It seems that the Valparaiso and Elysburg Carmels are growing, but would any of their Nuns want to come back to Philadelphia? I believe that there is a large community of Carmelites in Colorado Springs who love the Traditional Liturgy. Are these available to come to Philadelphia? What other communities have Nuns to send?
Thanks, Mr. Dunn for your gracious reply which clarifies some matters that I questioned. However, there is still no info about what this Federation/Association did to drive our Trad nuns from the Philly Carmel, it must have been pretty awful! I don’t believe Carmelite nuns are such “push overs”! I would like to suggest to Mr. Docherty to request an interview with the Mother Prioress of Fairfield, so we can get to the true bottom of this matter.
I have read through the entire document/article from the Vatican, Cor Orans. Mr. Dunn, I don’t see anything in there that says a Federation or Association has jurisdiction over another Monastery. It says that each Monastery is “autonomous”, that is, self-governing, but there’s certain requirements to keep the autonomy, including sufficient number of nuns. That sounds reasonable.
I am also perplexed as to why the name of the Philly Carmel was changed? When our Trad nuns arrived in 2017 it seems that the name of the Carmel was changed to Jesus, Mary, Joseph and Anne. Now it is back to St. Joseph and St. Anne. Did the remaining nun, Mother Pia, do that? Perhaps the reversion to the original name indicates that there was some kind of a “falling-out” between her and our Trad nuns??? Is this Mother Pia the Mother Prioress? I noticed on the Philly Carmel’s website that donations are to be sent to “Mother Prioress”. Let us remain united in prayer.
May Our Lady of Mt. Carmel help her Carmel!
Terry, why do you say, “there is still no info about what this Federation/Association did to drive our Trad nuns from the Philly Carmel” … when this is explained with absolute clarity in the Fairfield letter?
Mr. Docherty, the Fairfield letter refers to this Association as “a looming cloud” that threatened the nuns, as well as the oblique statement that “attempts were being made to not only interfere with but to obstruct their way of life…” It is not clear at all just how the Association interfered or obstructed the nuns’ life. It is a matter of justice, not to “blacken” this Association without the details. For example, did this Association demand that the Latin Mass not be used in the Carmel, were the nuns told to remove their holy Habit or to get rid of their cloister grills? What exactly did the Association do?
Terry, whatever the association did, it was enough to drive away the traditional sisters, as their way of life was being threatened. It is very clear in the Fairfield letter, and I’m grateful to have the truth come out. Read as a response to the letter from the Association, which I also published in full, things become even more clear. They want Mother out, they want it shut down, and they are working with Rome and the Archdiocese in their mission. Finally, Terry, you’ve now been caught in a lie, twice, in this thread. Any further will not be printed.
RE: I have read through the entire document/article from the Vatican, Cor Orans. Mr. Dunn, I don’t see anything in there that says a Federation or Association has jurisdiction over another Monastery. It says that each Monastery is “autonomous”, that is, self-governing, but there’s certain requirements to keep the autonomy, including sufficient number of nuns. That sounds reasonable.
I will now again copy and paste from Cor Orans to answer this question:
93. Pursuant to the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei quaerere, all monasteries must initially enter a Federation. A monastery, for special reasons that are objective and motivated, with the vote of the conventual Chapter can ask the Holy See to be exempted from this obligation. The granting of such dispensation is reserved to the Holy See. A monastery, for objective and motivated reasons, with the vote of the conventual Chapter can ask the Holy See to no longer belong to a Federation. The Holy See must make an appropriate discernment before granting the exit from a Federation.
So as Cor Orans specifically states, all monasteries must enter a Federation. If the monastery would like to be exempted or no longer be a part of a Federation, they are at the mercy of the Holy See to make that decision for them.
I don’t get it Mr. Docherty, would you kindly point out my two lies? I am simply seeking the truth about what really happened in the Philadelphia Carmel. I am not doubting the veracity of the letter from the Mother Prioress in Fairfield; but I think it is only fair to give credibility to the other letter from Sr. Mary Elizabeth. There are two sides to this story, as in every story.
On top of all this, as far as I know, Carmelite nuns make Solemn Vows, one of which is a Vow of obedience. The nuns are bound to obey the Holy Father, Pope Francis as their highest superior. If the Holy See decides that the Philly Carmel must close (or any other Monastery, Carmelite, or Poor Clare or Dominican or whatever, for that matter), then the nuns have to obey. They can continue to live their vocation in another Monastery of their own Order.
Mr. Docherty, if you decide to “shut me down”, someone who has asked questions in all good will in search of the truth, then you and your blog have lost all credibility.
I will keep you in my prayers with a good heart towards you. I wish you well.
God bless you!
Ms. Johnsson, I appreciated your comments. I read the article about the Brooklyn Carmel wanting to move to PA to get out of a rotten neighborhood, and build a Monastery. Imagine, trying to raise 15 million bucks for a new Monastery!!! Is there someone out there who knows the Brooklyn nuns to ask them if they would move into the Philly Carmel–it will save lots of $$$!
Well, Terry, at least you have a practical suggestion! Everyone seems to be talking but no one seems to be doing anything! I’m a shut-in, so I can’t do much, but I would expect that people like James would have some practical ideas about getting nuns back to the Philadelphia Carmel. I just left a comment on the Patrons of the Fairfield Carmelites Facebook asking if they plan to to send nuns back to Philadelphia to stay with that elderly Sister.
ISN’T ANYONE DOING ANYTHING? Yes, prayer is necessary, but St. Teresa didn’t just pray! She did things: She wrote letters, she visited Bishops, she wrote to the King! What are you doing here on Non Veni Pacem???
Isn’t there anywhere you can get some Nuns????
Hi! I’ve been following these startling events for three months now. All this is very concerning, especially since I hope I have a Carmelite vocation myself. The Philadelphia monastery looked like it had a lot of hope with the new Nuns who came in, so it’s sad to see they had to leave. It is a beautiful monastery! But, now there’s only one Nun so I can’t go there.
One thing I love about St. Teresa of Avila is that she always proclaimed herself a “Daughter of the Church” and even proclaimed that on her deathbed. But, more and more in this conversation I hear about the “anti-pope Bergoglio.” I don’t know a whole lot about this, but who is leading the Church now? Do the Sisters who went back to Valparaiso believe Francis isn’t really the Pope? I just don’t want to be fooled and want to be a faithful, traditional Catholic and be in a loyal, traditional monastery.
Not too many places are reporting on this news, so I’m glad to see I could find some information here. I’ll be praying for all of you as I continue my search.
Hi Marie. God is in charge of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. We are in a period of darkness right now but the Church will NEVER be destroyed, no matter how bad things seem to be on the ground.
May God bless you in your quest for discernment. If like as a Carmel is where you think you’re being called, I would suggest approaching the Carmelites in Fairfield, PA (assuming you’re in this area). Rest assured of my prayers.
Thank you for your advice, James. I did take a look at the Carmelites in Fairfield. But, I just have a hard time believing God would allow His Church to be without a Pope at this time in history. I’d rather live in a Carmel that follows all the new rules written in the Papal document that has been mentioned and yet still keeps the good traditions of St. Teresa. I’m know there are some around and I am looking at them. There is so much hope and light in these monasteries to brighten the darkness you mentioned. More than anything, I want to live so as to die a “Daughter of the Church” just like they tell me St. Teresa did.
I am so grateful for your prayers and promise I will be praying for you!
Marie, the Church is not without a pope. Benedict is still pope.
This is the last post I’m going to make on this combox thread. I really have nothing more to say after this.
The Philadelphia Carmel was founded in 1902 – just five years after the death of St. Therese of Liseux. It is an important part of Catholic history in the entire United States and as stated earlier, contains first class relics of St. Therese and her parents. Every Carmel is a special place but this one, is really special.
After the Second Vatican Council, the Carmel went novus ordo. And over time, vocations went down to the point where it was facing closure in 2017. GOD ANSWERED THE PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL BY SENDING NEW, YOUNG SISTERS TO THE CARMEL IN PHILADELPHIA. Had Archbishop Chaput not invited those sisters into the Archdiocese and they accepted, the Carmel would have been shuttered by now.
You’d think that the entire lay Catholic community of Philadelphia would be grateful that God in His Mercy allowed a new ray of light to save their beloved Carmel. Alas, that was not the case. Some of the lay community in Philadelphia resented the presence of the new traditional sisters – they didn’t like that they were strictly cloistered and they didn’t like the Mass at the Carmel changing from the novus ordo to the Traditional Latin Mass. Their personal dislike of Traditional Catholicism over-ruled a desire to see the Carmel remain open with new sisters who adhered to Sacred Tradition. These very people today, have taken to the comboxes of Catholic media, spreading lies that the trad sisters “abandoned the sister who chose to remain behind” and that the trad sisters “didn’t like the neighborhood where the Carmel is located.” Both of these claims are 200 percent false. These are wicked and cowardly attempts to slander the traditional sisters as villains to justify their personal jihad against Traditional Catholicism.
As clearly stated in the letter from Fairfield: “Contrary to rumors, April 9th unfolded very quietly at the Carmel in Philadelphia. The Nuns, with smiles and a few tears, took their leave of the original Nun (who wished to remain) and peacefully departed. This Sister’s well-being was, of course, an important concern of the departing Nuns, despite her good health and energetic nature. Therefore, the Mothers in Valparaiso requested that a few of us from Fairfield come to stay in the monastery with her to help in any way necessary. We cooked and cleaned for her, helped her with the sacristy and turn, and arranged for the little ducks and bees to be taken care of. All this we joyfully and willingly did. We only left at her repeated assurance that she would be well taken care of by the surrounding lay community (which has indeed been the case: may God reward these good people!).”
I hope and pray that the Carmel here will remain open. If that means a new group of devout, traditional-friendly, novus ordo Carmelites come in, I will be pleased. Yes, I prefer Traditional Catholicism but it’s not “my Carmel.” It’s not any lay person’s or lay group’s Carmel. Lay people have no business telling cloistered sisters how to practice their Faith. Lay people who are fortunate enough to have a Carmel within their diocesan boundaries need to be grateful simply for the presence of such a holy place.
If the Carmel is closed then the biggest losers will be all of us, trad and non-trad in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. And when He taketh away, we better brace ourselves for a rough ride.
I have been following this with great interest. Yesterday, I checked the website of the Philadelphia Carmel to see if there is a special Mass on July 16th. I checked the News and Events page, and I saw that the letter from the Fairfield Carmel was gone! Does that mean that there is new information about the Nuns’ departure? Was there something wrong with the letter that it was removed? Is Non Veni Pacem going to remove its copy of the Fairfield letter also?