Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Bishop Clark writes of local Carmelites

October 18th, 2011, Promulgated by benanderson

Bishop Clark’s recent column entitled “Visit with Carmelite sisters was a grace” is worth reading. Many people don’t know we have a Carmelite Monastery right here in the Rochester area (Discalced Carmelites of Rochester, NY). I believe their prayers do more good than we can even imagine. Be sure to send some prayers their way (they’d be reciprocal prayers as they already pray for you) and possibly even some money.

Carmelite Monastery
1931 West Jefferson Rd.
Pittsford, N.Y.  14534

UPDATE: I removed my initial question regarding the financial situation as commenters informed there is no cause for concern.  Also, be sure to read Diane’s comment below.


9 Responses to “Bishop Clark writes of local Carmelites”

  1. Gen says:

    I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. The constitution of the order requires this visit. The finances of the monastery are solid, or at least more so than most DoR parishes.

  2. annonymouse says:

    Actually, the bishop’s periodic visit is a requirement of Canon Law, Canon 628. Canon 615, which requires the “special vigilance” of the local bishop in oversight of the monastery, may come into play here as well.

    In any event, I agree with Gen – this is neither unusual nor a cause for concern.

  3. Diane Harris says:

    Thank you, Ben, for raising these concerns. The story of the Carmelites on Jefferson Rd. is quite amazing, and holds a special lesson for all of us who are suffering from closed churches. I continue to find it quite inspirational, in spite of the locked doors and damaged properties with which we are confronted in our beloved DoR parishes. Here is the story which I wrote up a few years ago; seems like a good time to share:

    Carmelite Monastery Miracle

    The Carmelite Monastery, on Jefferson Road in Rochester, is a stone building that fronts to Jefferson Road, across the street from Locust Hill Country Club, a very valuable piece of property. In 2003, the five elderly Carmelite nuns who resided there, who had lived a cloistered existence for 50 years, became unable to care for themselves. They received special permission from the Vatican to move in with the Sisters of St. Joseph at their new French Road facility, which has a skilled nursing facility, but which sadly caused them to be “uncloistered.” This was as much a hardship on the sisters as leaving their beloved building, selling off all its effects from kneelers to beds, and putting their private 50-plus acres up for sale. They had prayed for a solution, a way to stay there, but the lack of younger sisters to care for them and to fill up the facility doomed their efforts.

    One buyer they hoped for was the Schenectady Carmel, with younger Carmelite sisters, but they already had a facility, and said no. Then Benderson Development Co., a very savvy business developer, made its offer. Some report it as near the $3.5 million asking price. How could the sisters say no? They moved out, but still kept praying. They never lost faith.

    Although a few details are sketchy, some have said, as best we know, that Benderson found that the wetlands to which the Carmel backed up undevelopable. Maybe. But Benderson is clever, and apparently tried to negotiate the price lower, which invalidated the purchase offer. Meanwhile, the Schenectady Carmel, with its 11 younger members, sold their own Carmel, reported to have been in a not very nice area. They could move to Rochester, if they had the funds to move and to fix the Jefferson Road Carmel (e.g. an expensive boiler repair). They didn’t even have the repair funds and it seemed impossible.

    Surprise! A miracle! The Carmelites from Schenectady received a bequest that would cover the moving and repairs cost! They left Schenectady (and turned over their old facilities for an alcohol and substance abuse rehabilitation center), moved to Rochester, and all but one of the elderly sisters (who needed more medical attention) were also able to return, with the younger sisters providing care! Oh! The joy of return! The stress was not easy on any of the sisters, especially the older ones. As one prioress said “We’re cloistered nuns; we don’t move around. You go in and you close the door.”

    In October 2005, both groups of nuns (behind the grate, apart from the congregation) and over 200 present attended a Mass with Bishop Clark as celebrant. “Who could have imagined, two years ago,” he asked, “that we would be back today under such different circumstances?” The metal grate symbolizes their physical separation from the world, in a community where they rise at 4AM to pray for all of us, and for our parish situation in particular. It is their vocation, freely given and freely lived. They who pray so much for the world, persisted in their own prayers, and the Hand of God prevailed. The lesson for all of us threatened with destruction of churches and the Catholic Community we know is to NEVER give up prayer, to never give up hope, to never give up.

  4. Ben Anderson says:

    Thanks for informing my ignorance Gen and anonymouse. And thanks for that story Diane. That is truly amazing.

  5. Dan Riley says:

    God love my bishop, Matthew H. Clark, but I have to tell you that this is another “fluff” article.

    Bishop Clark seems to think that we forgot that he threw the nuns out of the convent at Sacred Heart Cathedral. If the monastery on Jefferson Road belonged to the Diocese of Rochester, it would have been sold many years ago and those wonderful nuns would have been told to “find another place to live”.

    This is a bishop who is closing and selling St. Andrews parish in a ruthless manner right before your eyes. The truth shall always prevail.

  6. christian says:

    I am so happy the situation worked out for the Cloistered Carmelite Nuns on Jefferson Rd. I agree with Dan Riley’s comments. Fortunately for the Cloistered Carmelites that their property on Jefferson Road wasn’t owned by the Diocese of Rochester.

    Years ago, in the 1980’s, the Sisters of Notre Dame were evacuated from St. Boniface Convent to make way for Beckett Hall. The community of nuns had lived there a long time. I remember that it did not go over well with parishioners from that church and the surrounding churches, even other parts of the Diocese, to throw nuns out to make a place for young men to reside free and discern if they had a call to the priesthood.
    It might have been tolerable if the young men who came were sincerely discerning a vocation to the priesthood, but a high percentage of young to middle aged men used Beckett Hall as a flop house – a place to go when they didn’t have a place to go when they were between apartments and jobs, and were down on their luck.

    I have personally have such knowledge of young men who resided there who had no intention of contemplating priesthood but just needed a pad to crash. One young man I knew personally. He told me that he needed to find new accommodations. A little while later he told me that he found a new apartment and gave me his new phone number. He wanted me to call him back regarding a reservation and also wanted me to find any young women who were both good and hot, who were available and might be interested in meeting him and going out with him. When I contacted him at his new apartment, you can imagine my shock when a male voice answered the phone “Beckett Hall.”
    When this young man, a friend from church, came to the phone, I relayed how shocked I was to have someone answer the phone “Beckett Hall.” I told him that he had told me that he had gotten a new apartment. He laughed as he replied, “This is my new apartment.” He still persisted in trying to get me to fix him up with available hot chicks. I believe he was eventually asked to move out.

    My sister and other friends from a prayer group became acquainted with some young men residing in Beckett Hall awhile later. My sister, and friends who were present, were absolutely shocked at some of the comments from some of the young men from Beckett Hall, especially a few. It was obvious that that they were not discerning priesthood. The young men who were eventually found out to not be contemplating priesthood were asked to leave.

    I know there have been men who have gone through Beckett Hall sincerely contemplating God’s call in their life, and I know of at least one man who found his vocation of priesthood there – thank God – but it became common knowledge that Beckett Hall was a magnet for men who just needed a place to stay.

  7. Dr. K says:

    “He still persisted in trying to get me to fix him up with available hot chicks.”

    Around that time the DoR instituted a policy allowing our discerners to date. It might still be in place for all I know. Really goofy considering that the priesthood requires one to live celibate.

  8. christian says:

    Dr. K and others: As a disclaimer – I took no action trying to fix him up on dates. I did not want to get involved with actually fixing him up to begin with, but especially as he was at a place reserved for discerning priesthood, I thought it was totally inappropriate.

    I do not think it is appropriate for a man to be dating while he is at Beckett Hall, not only because the priesthood requires celibacy, but because he should be focusing all his attention to discerning his call without entanglements and distractions. Also, discernment to priesthood should be made while experiencing the same restrictions as the Roman Catholic priesthood which requires celibacy (of unmarried clergy).

    There is nothing wrong for a man wanting to be fixed up with an available woman or for a man to be dating, but a man should be free of romantic entanglements when entering a discernment period, and certainly not be entering into romantic entanglements while in the discernment period.

    I do not know the DoR ‘s stand on dating for men at Beckett Hall currently either, but I think they are missing a key component if they allow men in discernment to date. The DoR is not thinking about any of the women they date. Some of the women may not even know their dates or boyfriends are in discernment for the Roman Catholic priesthood, or that they are supposed to be in discernment for the Roman Catholic priesthood. It is totally unfair and disrespectful to those women to be involved with men who are not totally free to make a commitment to them. There are some instances of this involvement happening while men are in the seminary. I personally know of some situations. There’s no accountability for the women’s feelings and welfare. You would think the DoR would want men that are mature and take responsibility for their actions rather than men who are selfish, immature, and irresponsible.

  9. christian says:

    As or the Discalced Carmelite Nuns on Jefferson Road, they were fortunate to get that Monastery back and running with younger nuns from Schenectady. My sister-in-law is a cloistered Discalced Carmelite nun in Oklahoma. I still remember her final vows in the mid 80’s. I thought it was the last we would ever see of her. I think she picked up on that when I congratulated her from the other side of the grill after her special mass of profession. She told me that I was coming back into the cloister to have dinner with her and all the nuns (as well as the rest of the family and guest priests). I have seen her on various occasions throughout the years. Her prioress of years ago was quoted that they were not there to serve the grill, the grill was there to serve them. The nuns have been known to leave their cloister to help someone in dire need, and they adopted a Vietnamese family in need years ago and have retained close ties with that family.
    The nuns are allowed to leave with permission for a very special family event, but usually for family emergencies and periodically to visit aging parents. When my sister-in-law comes to visit, people have no difficulty figuring out that she is a nun.
    The nuns’monastery was originally an old army barracks that was remodeled into a monastery in an area which was not that populated, but the city grew up around them and there were flashing neon lights and city lights in close proximity. By the end of the 80’s they built a huge state of the art monastery in an out of the way location where they could see the stars in the sky at night. They even had a deck to be able to sleep under the stars if they chose. They had special rooms and places built and had a large area outside for gardening.
    Eventually, many of the nuns became older and infirmed and/or died. As a result, there has been much more work for a larger monastery, to be divided amongst fewer able-bodied nuns. Among the multiple duties of the able-bodied nuns of the monastery are taking care of the nuns in the infirmary who are either the compromised elderly or those recovering from surgery, sickness, or injury.
    I could not believe the normal work day of my sister-in-law especially when there were more nuns in the infirmary requiring special care. Her day began in early morning hours and lasted into the late hours of the day with non-stop, varying, multiple duties, along with the nursing care of one of elderly nuns, only to be broken by meals and prayers, and a short walk outside for personal health.
    They are always happy to get new postulants, and especially newly professed nuns. They have received newly professed nuns in the last decade and a half, but it does not compare to the number of nuns who have died or have become aged with medical problems.

Leave a Reply

Log in | Register

You must be logged in to post a comment.

-Return to main page-