Fairfield Carmelites show how it’s done: Vocations booming, donations streaming in, Roman usurpers not allowed… they need allies


The Discalced Carmelite Sisters of Fairfield, Pennsylvania of the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph were established in 2018, an outgrowth of a Carmel convent in Valparaiso, Nebraska.  Following the beliefs of the great Carmelite reformer Teresa of Avila (1515-82), Carmelite religious houses are to be kept small, and when a sufficient number of sisters join a single house, a contingent of the sisters is sent elsewhere to form a new, and eventually autonomous community, such as that of Fairfield.

The Fairfield Carmelites wear a traditional habit and live a life of sacrifice.  They spend eight or more hours a day in prayer, sleep 5½ hours a night, and engage in such penances as abstinence from meat and frequent fasting.  They eschew modern conveniences such as indoor heating or air conditioning, electricity, and indoor plumbing.  They make use of the traditional Latin Mass and breviary, and have prayer as their charism, or work, for the Church and her priests.

While such a hard life is unthinkable to many, the Sisters have flourished as a community, drawing 100 inquiries per year about joining the community.  There are currently 25 sisters at Fairfield, with another two scheduled to enter; the maximum number the sisters can take at present is 30.  The leadership of the community includes Mother Stella-Marie of Jesus, prioress, and Mother Therese of Merciful Love, subprioress.  They are in the process of building a new monastery, with the buildings being made of stone.

While the sisters have been doing well with attracting vocations and fundraising for their new monastery, a 2018 document released by the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, titled Cor Orans (“praying heart”), has the sisters concerned about their future.  According to a Vatican news release, “The document provides precise guidelines regarding all the practical, administrative, legal and spiritual aspects pertaining to the founding and running of Monasteries for contemplative nuns.”

The Fairfield Carmelites have many objections to the contents of the documents and have written Vatican officials repeatedly to request an exemption, but so far unsuccessfully.  Chief among their concerns is the loss of autonomy of their community, (a hallmark of Carmelite houses for 500 years), loss of control of their finances, and formation of new members.

While the Fairfield Carmelites have yet to speak to the media about their concerns, Catherine Bauer, younger sister to Mother Therese and daughter to the community’s caretaker, Tom Bauer, spoke to CWR about the community’s concerns.  Catherine serves as the community’s director of marketing and development, leading the effort to raise funds for the community’s new monastery, and is the designated spokesman for the community.

CWR: How did your sister, Mother Therese, come to join the Carmelites?

Catherine Bauer: She was the oldest of seven children; we grew up in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  When she was age 14, and I was 11, she began telling the family she wanted to join a religious order.  She looked at the Poor Clares and the Buffalo Carmelites before deciding on Valparaiso.  Valparaiso is a well-established community that can trace its lineage back 400 years to Mexico.  They are an incredible order and have drawn large numbers of vocations.  Young women are attracted because of their stability and faithfulness to their charism.  It was nuns from this community who came to establish a house in Pennsylvania, first in Elysburg and then Fairfield, in the Diocese of Harrisburg.  They first came in 2009, and the three bishops who have led Harrisburg since then have all been very supportive.

How is the process of building their monastery going?

Catherine Bauer: It is coming along well.  We have the funding for the foundations of the chapel, and we’re working on permitting several other buildings.  We are starting work on the interior of the refectory and kitchen, and will hopefully finish in 2022.  We’ve finished the recreation and work rooms building.  All will be made of stone and timber.

CWR: Why stone?

Catherine Bauer: It fits in with the charism of the Carmelites.  Stone is solid, permanent and lasts.  If built right, a stone monastery will last a thousand years.  The idea is that this community of nuns, too, is here to stay.

For the Carmelites, everything is a prayer that brings them to God, and has symbolic importance.  They have to hand pump rainwater.  They have to light candles and oil lanterns.  They bring in wood to cook in a wood stove.  All is done with great mindfulness.

They have no phone (they can, however, use the caretaker’s phone in an emergency), electricity, or computers.  Everything is a littler harder to do.  They are trying to live as their foremothers did.  St. Teresa of Avila believed her nuns should live as austerely and laboriously as possible.  She did not believe the life of a nun should be cushioned, but a hard, continually wearing away of your faults, along with a mindfulness of your surroundings and continued prayer.

CWR: The community had a four-day apostolic visitation at the end of September.  Why was that?

Catherine Bauer: They were visited by two Carmelite nuns and one Carmelite father at the behest of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.  The official reason given was an investigation related to the transfer of a group of Carmelite nuns out of a Philadelphia convent in 2021.

The Valparaiso Carmelites had been asked to re-found a Carmelite community in Philadelphia.  There were three elderly nuns there, one of whom has since died and a second has entered a nursing home.  Valparaiso agreed, and sent six nuns, with another three coming from Elysburg (now part of Fairfield).  In 2021, the nuns wanted to return to Valparaiso, as they believed the implementation of Cor Orans was interfering with their way of life.  The nine nuns did return to Valparaiso, along with two aspirants who had joined the community.

Due to the proximity of the Fairfield Carmelites, they received the apostolic visitation to determine what had happened in the Philadelphia convent.  But we believe an issue of greater importance to those visiting was to assess Fairfield’s observance of Cor Orans.

CWR: The Fairfield Carmelites have concerns about this document.

Catherine Bauer: Yes.  For the past 500 years, Carmelite communities have been small and family-like, and operate autonomously, the ideal environment to pass down the community’s traditions.  If implemented, Cor Orans will give control of the monastery over to a religious federation outside of the community and will give Vatican officials greater oversight into the day-to-day lives of the Carmelites.

It is a mandate for female contemplative orders, with 298 rules the nuns are required to follow.  It centralizes power in the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, requiring all women’s contemplative religious orders to follow the same rules.

These rules relate to the formation of new nuns, financial oversight and the sharing of assets between monasteries, constant visitors and requirements that our Mother Superior and Novice Mistress attend regular meetings and formation classes.  Our community tried to follow these rules, but quickly realized it is impossible to do.  They wrote many letters requesting exemptions, as have many other cloistered women’s communities, and talked to their bishop, telling him we are being interfered with.  They cannot follow the rule of St. Teresa of Avila and Cor Orans.

This was the reason that the 11 nuns in Philadelphia opted to return to Valparaiso, which was the justification for the apostolic visit to Fairfield.

CWR: You are raising millions of dollars to build the Fairfield Carmelites a monastery. How might Cor Orans affect the finances of cloistered women’s monasteries?

Catherine Bauer: It gives officials in the Holy See access to the financial assets of the nuns and their properties.  It gives them the ability to take control of the monastery, evict the nuns and then have financial control over the property.  We believe there are those in leadership in Rome who believe that contemplative orders don’t have a place in the Church any longer.  They believe the nuns’ assets would be better used for charitable ventures; the assets can be sold and the money given to the poor.

CWR: You also have concerns about the formation of your novices.

Catherine Bauer: Yes.  Cor Orans allows religious federations to remove novices from communities, form them, and then return them later.  Imagine if someone took children away from their parents, educated them, and then returned them to their home years later.  Would anyone want this?

CWR: What will the sisters do if they get an unfavorable verdict from the apostolic visitation?

Catherine Bauer: When the three visitors left, they assured the Fairfield Carmelites that they were living a good life, and all was in order.  We are concerned, however, that it does not matter what the three say, the directive from the Congregation will be that the Carmelites must implement Cor Orans.

The nuns will not do this, and we fear it will cause a firestorm, and could lead to their suppression.  We believe that if the broader Catholic community is aware of what is happening, it will make it harder for them to shut the community down.  The Catholic media and laity can be our salvation, as right now we have no recourse to canon law or the Vatican.

CWR: Will other communities support you?

Catherine Bauer: Every monastery has its own idea about how to respond to Cor Orans.  We know of 60 monasteries who are very much against it, but the Fairfield Carmelites are the only ones willing to take a stand.  I think the others believe that if they lay low, things will blow over.  Since the Fairfield nuns received the apostolic visitation, however, it is their head on the chopping block.  Our nuns have chosen to stand up and fight, even if they will be doing so alone.

Read the rest: https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2021/11/20/the-discalced-carmelite-sisters-of-fairfield-and-vatican-document-cor-orans/

54 thoughts on “Fairfield Carmelites show how it’s done: Vocations booming, donations streaming in, Roman usurpers not allowed… they need allies”

  1. Regarding a number of comments on the the CWR site where the article is published: Just what, in the name of Teresa and John, is the cloistered Carmelite, Sr. Gabriela of the Incarnation, doing on an internet forum?

      1. “Sister”…..your response speaks tomes. You seem to be very busy indeed with all the things that the Fairfield nuns are not. I’ll be offering my Mass for both of your communities today, but with very different intentions.
        And when I come home I’ll be sending a nice, fat check to the Fairfield nuns for their Opus Dei. May God bless, prosper, and protect them, and bring their enemies to naught….for they are His enemies also.
        “And whoever shall cause to stumble one of these of the little ones believing in Me, it is better for him that a heavy millstone should be hung around his neck, and he be sunk in the depth of the sea.”
        That’s a quote from Jesus.

  2. Permit me, friends, to offer some clarity here. What is written in this interview with Miss Bauer, as well as in so many other articles about “Cor Orans” are very distorted. It is sad that the nuns in Fairfield are so much opposed to the norms of the Church concerning the contemplative life. I wonder if they have even tried to implement these norms. The Holy See is very specific that these norms are to be implemented according to the charism of each contemplative institute. With much sisterly love I wish to write to you with a few facts. I am a Discalced Carmelite nun, my name is Hermana (Sister) Avila de los Santos and I want to share with you some information that most people are completely ignorant about. I have no idea where Catherine Bauer got her information—if it is from the nuns in Fairfield, then they themselves are not reading the document correctly! Many distortions about “Cor Orans” have been publicized in recent weeks, and though the authors are well-meaning, they are causing great harm to the Church and to us who live the contemplative life. It is particularly distressing to listen to interviews and read articles, some of which are done by priests, that profoundly distort the work of the Holy See on behalf of contemplative nuns. It is no benefit to us contemplative nuns (who are your Sisters) to have articles written that demonize the Holy See and make us the “victims” of their so-called destructive designs. Reading such articles breaks our hearts! The members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) are our higher superiors in the Church whom we love, revere and desire with all our hearts to obey. The members of CICLSAL represent the Holy Father for us who live the Religious life in the Church.
    I want to share some background about “Cor Orans” which I hope will help those who read this to understand the real concern that the Holy See has for the contemplative life.
    In 2014 (CICLSAL) sent out a questionnaire to all federated and associated contemplative monasteries dealing with three principal questions: the autonomy of the monasteries, formation, and the enclosure (the cloister). They received over 2600 responses. Such a survey had never been done before. You may ask: why not to all the monasteries? Because, believe it or not, the Holy See doesn’t have contact information for every monastery in the world! Still, this is a very generous response!
    The Apostolic Constitution, “Vultum Dei quaerere” (VDq) was published in 2016 by our Holy Father Pope Francis, and the Instruction, “Cor Orans” (CO) was published in 2018 by the members of CICLSAL with the approval of the Holy Father, to implement the new Apostolic Constitution. Both documents are the result of answers to the 2014 questionnaire. The Holy See has listened to us nuns, and these documents were formulated from the concerns of the monasteries themselves. So these documents did not come from odious men with an agenda to destroy contemplative life in the Catholic Church!
    Actually, VDq replaced the Apostolic Constitution of Pius XII, “Sponsa Christi” (1950) in which he (Pius XII) “invented” Federations and Associations. These were established to assist contemplative monasteries who were experiencing severe difficulties after the Second World War. Federations and Associations were set up with the approval of the Holy See so that the individual monasteries would not be left alone to deal with so many problems; other monasteries of the same Order would be there to help with personnel, financial assistance and formation materials. As a matter of fact, the section in CO dealing with Federations/Associations comes almost entirely from this previous Constitution of Pope Pius XII. Federations/Associations were NOT invented by Pope Francis, Archbishop Carballo or CICLSAL! “Sponsa Christi” was the legislation governing contemplative monasteries and CICLSAL was bound to it, but in reality much was of it obsolete and in need of up-dating. Far from destroying contemplative life, VDq and CO responds to the needs of contemplative monasteries, particularly those experiencing difficulty because the nuns are very few and elderly. It is a present reality. However, it also addresses those monasteries that are doing well or flourishing. Still, there are challenges. Novices come from this world and even in the best circumstances, are affected by it. Good, solid, theological formation over a longer period of time is needed more than ever before.
    The following are some points from VDq and CO that have been grossly misunderstood in recent articles:
    The claim has been falsely made that “Cor Orans” robs the monasteries of their autonomy. Rather, CO UPHOLDS the autonomy of monasteries, See CO #15-19. This is the very FIRST chapter of the Instruction.
    Another claim has been falsely made that the Federation or Association President takes over the authority of the superior within individual monasteries. Rather Federations and Associations (and their Presidents) DO NOT HAVE ANY authority in the internal governance of a monastery. See CO # 110.
    Yet another false claim is that the nun are forced out of their monasteries to take formation courses. Rather, CO upholds that formation should take place in the enclosure of a monastery, #258 VDq #14. Formation courses may take place outside the monastery and in another monastery and sometimes this is needed by a community that doesn’t have anyone as a novice mistress.
    VDq and CO is a document OF THE CHURCH and applies to all monastic communities, not just Carmelites. St. Teresa did NOT forbid a longer formation and in fact, said that if a novice has a true vocation, she wouldn’t mind being a novice for 10 years! You can find this in St. Teresa’s work The Way of Perfection. While many monasteries find the longer formation a bit of a challenge it is not against our way of life and given the high number of nuns asking for dispensation from their vows not long after their final profession it is a wise decision.
    If a monastery is reduced to 5 nuns, they lose the power to elect their own prioress. After a period of discernment between the community, the Federation and the Bishop or Provincial, the monastery that is in difficulty can be affiliated to another monastery that offers assistance. A nun is appointed as a vicaress. The Federal President DOES NOT TAKE OVER. This provides the monastery a time to take a serious look at their current state and future. Usually, the community is very elderly. Sometimes it is going over a period of regrowth. Two very different circumstances. The Federation isn’t a wrecking ball just waiting to come in and destroy the community. Maybe nuns from other monasteries can come in and help for a few years.
    There is also the ridiculous claim that the Federation or Association is intent on closing monasteries so that they can be “looted” and “plundered” to enrich the funds of the Federation. I have also read the same absurd claim about the Bishops in whose dioceses there are contemplative monasteries. It must be said that this claim IS AN OUT RIGHT LIE! Provision is made in CO that the funds from a closed monastery goes to the remaining nuns who are usually transferred to other monasteries. See CO # 72.
    VDq and CO actually give to monasteries the decision making “power” that was formerly reserved to the bishop or the Holy See. It is now the prioress who gives permissions regarding leaving the enclosure. CO in NO WAY relaxes enclosure and specifically says that a monastery may choose an even stricter form of enclosure, see CO #189. This squarely places the responsibility for enclosure in the hands of the nuns who need to be well formed in the charismatic intentions of their founder regarding the enclosure.
    Instead of writing a “hit piece” it would be helpful to everyone if you would READ these documents and ACCURATELY quote from them. Untruths and distortions do not serve the contemplative life of the Church.
    God bless you for reading these comments, and be assured of my prayers.
    In Jesus and Mary,
    Hna. Avila de los Santos, Discalced Carmelite

    1. There are so many falsehoods here, perhaps someone else has time to address them, so many claims are directly refuted by Fairfield or by Fr. Max as to how it is playing out on the ground. One wonders how certain cloistered sisters have so much free time to play on the internet.

      1. Are you saying that truth has no place on the internet? And Fr. Dean’s interview is not as accurate as some would think. There seem to be a number of comments on the LifeSiteNews article which contradict his assertions.

      2. I don’t think anyone could pinpoint the lies with precision with which you could, Mr. Docherty, for the sake of those who need to know what is true and what is not.

      3. Mark, my brother, we cloistered nuns have much better things to do than “play on the internet”. But what we are engaged in right now is no game! When the legitimate (and much needed) directives of the Holy See are grossly misconstrued, when our superiors are vilified as criminal usurpers, and most of all, when the Catholic faithful are being misled and having their minds poisoned by distortions and lies, we will use the means at our disposal to come out with the truth: we pray first, then we write.
        However, you and all the readers of this site and others as well, must understand something very clearly. There is nothing in Cor Orans that prevents our Carmelite Sisters in Fairfield, or in any other contemplative monastery for that matter, from preserving their monastic observances and traditional lifestyle. Those monasteries who reject CO are misreading this document, its as simple as that! To create a media firestorm over this so as to gain “supporters” for their “cause” against CO (and ultimately against the Holy See) is a grave injustice towards our Catholic faithful. If any of our nuns have difficulty implementing CO, then they should respectfully approach their superiors in the Order and in the Holy See.

      4. Hermana… Cor Orans is a sledgehammer against the contemplative religious life. Since Bergoglio usurped the papacy, he has left a visible trail of destruction in regards to religious communities. You people can (try and) spin it all you like but the vast, vast majority of us aren’t buying it. We WILL continue to support and defend our persecuted religious.

    2. I can hardly get through this “explanation” except to say that the vaunted questionnaires are a tool that has been used by the hierarchy to implement all kinds of evil on the local parish level.
      I have personally witnessed the suppression of the TLM at a local parish because “questionnaires” that the parishioners supposedly returned. Naturally, they were never produced.
      It’s a well known tactic of corrupt lay and clerical officials. Have the questionnaires been made public?
      I will force myself to continue reading…

  3. I thought I heard the Sisters of Valparaiso (a foundation of Fairfield, I think) also received an Apostolic Visitation. Why doesn’t anybody give some space here to their plight now – obviously they too must still be on the “chopping block.” Aren’t they also in danger of being trampled upon? There are more nuns there! Or will they too be forced to go underground? How can we keep helping them if they go underground? And I also read that it was two of their Sisters and one of the Carmelite Brothers who visited them in Fairfield – are they the Roman Usurpers? Do you know them, Mark? What have you heard about them? I’m really confused, but I am very grateful for the work you are doing! Praying for you! Bless you.

      1. I have been following all this very quietly and with prayer. Mr. Docherty, I wonder what is the “different course” of our traditional nuns in Valparaiso? Do you know, I am concerned about them? Are they abandoning TLM? I pray for them.

  4. Grandma and I are forever grateful to the Carmelites of Fairfield. We wish to thank them for their prayers to our salvation. The monthly stipend is meaningless to us for the grateful kindness they show to us daily. We wish the Body of Christ, and we get the benefits they acquire from God everyday. God how we miss the Body of Christ! Twenty month’s, please come Jesus. We cry to thee God for our deliverance.
    G&G in Ontario Canada

  5. The Carmel at Fairfield is an inspiration. As the antichurch continues to emerge, what a blessing it is to see these holy Carmelites carrying on. This is the future of the Church. Please support these brides of Christ with your prayers and donations.

  6. Donation made. In these perilous times when every day brings us some fresh hell as in the plowing down of Wisconsin parade-goers with resulting carnage, or, in “The City of Brotherly Love” an eight-months old fetus and his mom being blasted to smithereens with 11 bullets, OUR WORLD NEEDS THE PRAYERS OF THESE CONTEMPLATIVES.

    1. Rather than comment on Sr. Gabriella’s latest screed, I’m going to send another donation to the Fairfield Carmelite Monastery.

      1. I think your writing is very effective. It inspired me to make a nice donation to Fairfield yesterday: double what I had originally planned. And, I don’t see or hear of any evidence that vocations to Traditional Carmelite monasteries are on the decline so you may actually be helping those monasteries. Cheers.

  7. Well, the above link leads to an article exposing some pretty serious situations in these supposedly traditional monasteries. I’m surprised any site like this would condone a possible cover-up of abuse. It should be investigated, not supported.

  8. I just sent this email to Mother Stella-Marie at the Fairfield Carmel: Dear Mother Stella Marie, I read Sr.Gabriela’s latest article which includes a description of the formation of the young nuns who were in the Philadelphia Carmel in 2018. It appears to be a credible allegation of psychological abuse apparently confirmed by a witness. You need to prove that this allegation is false, but it has to be a matter of proof. There have been too many cover-ups in the Church for people to believe it when someone says “It’s not true,” or to take refuge in silence. If you do not disprove it, people will always wonder if Fairfield and Valparaiso Carmels “brainwash” their novices. Is there anything I can do to help disprove it?
    This is a serious business. It is all very good to give donations to the Carmel, but what we need to do is to disprove the allegations. Otherwise, as I wrote, people will always be wondering if they are true.

    1. It seems to me that the two elderly nuns under mother Pia at Philadelphia didn’t appreciate the new infusion of Tradition that the new sisters brought with them, perhaps more austere. I think of how the Little Flower was treated as “immature “ by her superiors. This entire affair stinks like surfer, but I am glad the young sisters were able to get to safety.

        1. This sounds like a smear campaign against these holy young sisters. They fled to Fairfield to protect their vocations, and the vocations their are booming. They don’t have the internet nor any means or desire to defend themselves from these attacks. They just want to the live the rule of their founders.

      1. Mark, you don’t realize how serious this is. It isn’t a matter of whether the Philadelphia nuns were immature or not. It’s a matter of the Fairfield and Valparaiso Carmels reputations. If they don’t prove that the allegations are false, people will lump them in their minds with Theodore McCarrick as abusers. If it is a smear campaign it should be simple matter to prove their innocence, even if they have to get an independent agency to investigate. Otherwise there is no future for the Carmels. No one will want to enter a carmel if they might get brainwashed.

      2. (I tried posting this earlier but maybe it’s too much for you, but I will give it another try and this time I’ll name names so you know it’s the truth)
        Regarding “the two elderly nuns under Mother Pia” – one (Mother Barbara) passed away 8 months after the arrival of the nuns from Valparaiso, lovingly cared for by them and appreciating them. The other elderly nun (Sister Rose) was a transfer from another monastery who returned to that monastery after the nuns arrived. My sister knows her. She was not unappreciative of the efforts of the nuns to help the Philadelphia Carmel. Congratulations. You have succeeded in slandering these two elderly nuns simply on how something “seems” to you. Shall you throw away their lives spent in the service of the Lord as worthless? Perhaps we had all best be more cautious in pontificating about how everything “seems,” since some things are not always in reality the way they “seem” to us.

    2. Here’s what Sr. Gabriela wrote in her article which can be found on the Where Peter Is website:
      “The young, home-schooled nuns are indeed very sweet and innocent, but they are inexperienced. Their formation is not quite as authentic as they are led to believe. For instance, each is made to kneel and ask ‘permission to breathe’, four times a day (for Novices) and once a month (fully professed). And it is no joking matter. The young nuns dare not move without an express permission, even if contrary to charity. [Name redacted] and I experienced this for ourselves many times. We were left unaided or maybe not provided with necessary books, etc. (or even when in an urgent situation) and no one would even budge to help. The nuns are taught that they ought never to make even a slight suggestion or give an opinion. A slip in conversation would immediately send a sister prostrate begging forgiveness, ‘I made a suggestion.’ For 5 ½ – 6 years, each nun in formation is forbidden to speak to anyone other than the Mistress of Novices – (recreation excepted, only with repeated permissions). Any note or hand sign must be reported. I asked M. Agnes if the intention was to teach silence. She answered, ‘Not really. It’s to teach them not to complain.’ Mail, both incoming and outgoing is opened, and read in detail (and censored too) by the Prioress. M. Agnes told me it was so that the Superior comes to know anything that the nun is not telling her.[viii]
      First of all… Yes, the Mother Superior/Priories DOES read the nuns’ incoming and outgoing mail and censors where appropriate. This is not just a Trad Carmelite thing: this has been the norm in many, if not most religious monasteries for centuries. Any novice pursuing a vocation with a cloistered order is fully informed about this and other rules well before they take their final vows. If this is “abuse” then St. Thérèse of Lisieux was “abused” and St. Teresa of Avila was “an abuser.” Life in a monastery is strict – very strict. It is not a place for feminists but that does not make it an abusive environment. Quite the contrary.
      Asking permission to breathe four times a day? Wow, those novices sure know how to hold their breath for over 20 hours a day. What’s their secret? Asking permission to breathe once a month? Double wow!! Those fully professed sisters are living scientific miracles!

      1. James Andrew Dunn, Indubitably. And as far as kissing the ground every time they make a suggestion or give an opinion, it seems to me that in their place you and I would spend most of our life on the floor.

  9. With regards to Sr. Gabriela’s piece, my sister was at the Elysburg Carmel for several years. I can personally confirm the detail about opening and censoring the nuns mail. I can’t speak to the “permission to breathe” thing which is more alarming. In any case, I definitely agree that Mother Stella needs to respond to these claims in public.

    1. Mother Stella does not need to do anything. Cloistered Carmelites are just that, cloistered. They do not hang out on the internet’s comboxes and they don’t have to answer to worldly combox trolls. I do not believe these abuse allegations and no, Carmelites having their mail read by their Mother Superior is not abuse. The young women who choose these noble vocations know what kind of lives they’ll lead in the Carmel before they take their final vows. The lives they choose may be “old fashioned” and they definitely aren’t feminist but they are brides of Christ. If things are so bad, they wouldn’t have the growth they have. Enough said.

      1. James Andrew Dunn, Unfortunately, the time has passed when it was enough for a statement like yours to establish the truth. Nowadays there have been too many cover-ups for people to trust in someone’s word without proof. Spiritual abuse of traditional religious is being uncovered, and that makes people question the good faith of even people like you. https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2021/11/22/abuse-women-religious-veil-silence-book-241894

        1. “not going to waste my time reading a link from that filthy socialist, CINO rag, Amerika.” Don’t hold back James. Tell us how you really feel;-) BTW, you echo my sentiments well.

      2. james Andrew Dunn, that link is about a book telling the experiences of women who have experienced psychological and spiritual abuse in traditional convents. You may not want to know about it, but that doesn’t mean that others won’t take it seriously and won’t notice the similarities between these experiences and the allegations against the Valparaiso/Elysburg nuns.

  10. y’know….in praying for proper discernment on this issue, I’ve looked again at the snark and world-centered comments by the 2 ‘nuns’ on this thread (and multiple other places (!)…busy little bees they are; I’ve gotta think the Lord is being short-changed on their time); I’ve seen ‘Ama’ breathlessly try to sow inuendo and suspicion while at the same time pushing a DEEPLY heretical and odious E-rag-mag for her backup, along with ‘Anne Marie’ doing the same with a different odious heretical E-rag-mag (ROFL at them both). Calumny and unjust detraction are veeery serious sins ‘ladies’…..might wanna start Advent off with a clean slate.
    The discernment became very easy the more they posted. Sending the check to the lovely and God-centered Fairfield nuns tomorrow morning, and once again, with a settled heart I pray, May God bless, prosper, and protect them, and bring their enemies to naught….for they are His enemies also.
    Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving everybody……interesting times ahead.

    1. Susan, here is a real nun replying to your comment. The letter which contains the allegations is on file with the Philadelphia Archdiocese. Your comments are addressed to the wrong persons. You should address them to Archbishop Chaput to whom the letter was written. A blessed Thanksgiving to you and everyone on Non Veni Pacem.

      1. Sister, it was you who decided to make the letter of public record, or at least positing it’s existence on an internet blog. It’s not a normal mode of communication for a cloistered nun.

    2. Susan, I would also like to add that you can write all that you want about me and any other commenters on this or any other website. Nothing that you say will change 1 letter on that 8.5 x 11 piece of paper with the date stamped on it in red which is in the Philadelphia Archdiocese file cabinet and which is quoted in my article. Your battle is not against me or Ama or Anne Marie or anyone else here. It is against what is written there. And you can’t make it go away.

      1. Mark, as far as what constitutes the “normal mode of communication for a cloistered nun,” I will say here what I said to James on https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2021/11/20/the-discalced-carmelite-sisters-of-fairfield-and-vatican-document-cor-orans/: “As far as my actions go, I am a religious under obedience, and I am acting with full permission of my Prioress. God will judge me on how I live my religious vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. If you have any complaints to make of me in those areas, i would be very grateful to hear them. As for the rest, I am in no way obliged to do what you want, since you are not my religious superior. You are perfectly free to write to my Prioress about anything in which you believe I have failed in “the reality of religious life and ecclesiastical terrain.” You will find her address on our website, http://www.flemingtoncarmel.org.
        God bless you.”

  11. Like I said….the more they post, the clearer the proper discernment appears.
    (I think they think they’re in a high school cafeteria and a group of much prettier, smarter, and wholesome girls just walked by their table….it’s like watching “Mean Girls” all over again. Sad.)

    1. It is a physical impossibility for me to sit around the table with Sr. Gabriela and/or anyone else posting comments here.

  12. The comments suggesting that exposing abusive behavior is tantamount to persecution of holy nuns, reminds me of the story about Franciscan Sr. Magdalena of the Cross –
    “Not even the great Saint Teresa of Avila would ever have as much prestige across Spain in her lifetime as Sr. Magdalena of the Cross! Her (apparent) outstanding piety and the miracles that she performed were known throughout Spain, and even much of Europe…
    And so it is that during Confession the sisters, by hypocrisy or fear of too difficult penances, now usually only accuse themselves of small faults. Hearing of this, Mother Magdalena enters into holy wrath which soon causes unspeakable fear into her sisters. She orders them to admit to more severe sins, and the poor nuns become frightened by the severity of the abbess. Some burst into tears, and there are a couple of others who astonishingly go into a sort of semi-possession, rolling on the floor and arching their bodies, before slowly returning back to normal.
    To reprimand the more guilty ones for their alleged spiritual weaknesses, the Abbess orders some to crawl on their knees in the refectory and make the sign of the cross with their tongues on the shoes of all the assembled nuns.”

  13. Mary Cuff recently published an article on Crisis Magazine about Pope Francis’s “attack” on contemplative communities. I am posting here my recent email to her concerning her article:
    Dear Mary Cuff,
    Praised be Jesus Christ!
    I am writing to you about your article in Crisis Magazine about contemplative life: https://www.crisismagazine.com/2021/why-is-the-vatican-assailing-contemplative-life. Your article appeared online at about the same time as a similar article by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski. https://onepeterfive.com/when-nuns-are-persecuted-lessons-from-the-russian-underground/. Dr. Kwasniewski is a friend of our Carmel in Flemington,, New Jersey, and I emailed him to clarify some misconceptions which he seemed to have about the present situation of contemplative orders in the Church. We had a gracious and enlightening exchange, and he kindly gave me your email address so that I could share what I wrote to him also with you.
    “I am well aware of the various articles that have appeared in recent weeks about an “attack” by the Vatican on communities of cloistered contemplative nuns. They are not anything new and they usually repeat the same accusations:
    • The Vatican is closing down small cloistered communities, even though they are financially viable.
    • The Vatican is depriving cloistered communities of their autonomy by subjecting them to the authority of a president of an association
    • The Vatican is forcibly modernizing communities of nuns who are dedicated to solitude and silence.
    • The Vatican is invading the privacy of cloistered nuns by the institution of co-visitators.
    There are other similar accusations but these seem to be the main thrusts of the articles I have read. One thing that has struck me is that very few articles are written by cloistered nuns themselves. That is a pity. Life within the cloister looks very different from the descriptions made by people living outside. To take the first accusation: the Vatican is closing down small communities. It is true that when a community dwindles below a certain number, the viability of that community needs to be evaluated and dealt with. There have recently been two communities in our association which faced this situation. One is being closed because the community was reduced to 4 nuns, with no sign of any applicants. The other was in a similar condition but is now slowly growing and there is good hope for new members. Therefore there is no question of shutting it down.
    By the way, you probably have no idea how much work there is in keeping a monastery even decently clean, while at the same time cooking the meals and doing the laundry. The only way a small community of, say 5 nuns, can manage this is to have outside people come into the cloister to do the work so that the nuns can have some time for praying. I have seen this in action. But people don’t seem to think of this.
    Concerning the question of depriving cloistered communities of their autonomy by subjecting them to the authority of the president of an association or federations, I have yet to read one article where the author points out the difference between a congregation and an association/federation. In fact, no one seems to be aware that Congregations are mentioned in Cor orans. All the discussions are about associations and federations., and the president of an association or federation has no authority over the members of the association. The president of a Congregation, being a Major Superior, does have authority over the members, but only according to the Statutes of the Congregation. The president of an association/federation is not a major superior, and has no authority to intervene in any way in the internal life of any community.
    That the Vatican is “modernizing” cloistered communities is a very odd accusation. We have had telephones for decades, and there have always been rules about who can use them, and when. We have the internet, and the same prudent decisions apply. The community decides who uses it and when and how. I need it to deposit checks; the post office can’t be trusted, and the only alternative is to go down to the bank every other week. Please tell me if you consider that preferable for a cloistered nun.
    Finally, as far as the accusation that the Vatican is invading the privacy of the nuns by the institution of co-visitators, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Your article is a bit late, for we have already posted our experiences in this matter online, and you can read them here: https://flemingtoncarmel.org/posts/glimpses-into-the-present and https://flemingtoncarmel.org/posts/a-wonderful-teresian-time.”
    Dear Mary, as I wrote to Dr. Kwasiewski, As a follower of the Truth Incarnate, I believe that you seek that Truth, and I have tried to share with you some glimpses of the truth which I and others with me have lived.
    I assure you of my prayers and of those of my Community. May Our Lord lead you into all Truth where we are one with Him and His Father in the Holy Spirit, and may you enjoy a blessed and peaceful Adven.
    Sr. Gabriela of the Incarnation, O.C.D.
    Carmel of Mary Immaculate and St.Mary Magdalen
    Flemington, New Jersey

  14. I just sent off this email to Mother Stella Marie at Fairfield:
    Dear Mother Stella-Marie, a comment on the CWR article gave me an idea which you may find helpful in the present situation. If I am not mistaken, at the time of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross all Carmelites followed the Rite of the Holy Sepulchre and it was only later that they changed over to the Roman Rite. Since you are trying to return to the Carmelite life as it was lived at Teresa’s time, it seems to me that it would be most fitting for you to follow the Rite of the Holy Sepulchre as she did. That would also solve any difficulty caused by Traditionis Custodes since that only concerns the Roman Rite. Blessed Advent!

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