June 20, 2008

A prayerful presence: June 21 Mass and open house to celebrate Carmelites’ ministry before move

The Carmelite nuns of the Monastery of the Resurrection helped pour sidewalks and do other work on the gated property. The Carmel was founded in 1922 in New Albany and moved to Indianapolis in 1932. (Photo by Mary Ann Wyand)

The Carmelite nuns of the Monastery of the Resurrection helped pour sidewalks and do other work on the gated property. The Carmel was founded in 1922 in New Albany and moved to Indianapolis in 1932. (Photo by Mary Ann Wyand)

By Mary Ann Wyand

Life becomes a prayer.

That is the essence of Carmelite spirituality, which is helping nine nuns of the Monastery of the Resurrection in Indianapolis as they prepare to move to their new home on the motherhouse grounds of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Oldenburg on June 30. (Related story: Carmelite spirituality will help nuns begin their life in Oldenburg)

The Indianapolis Carmel invites the public to help them enter “this new phase of God’s plan for us” by joining them in prayer on June 21 during a 10 a.m. Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by Father Frank Bryan, chaplain of Marian College, at their chapel. An open house follows the liturgy until the 5 p.m. vespers at the historic monastery at 2500 Cold Spring Road.

Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel, vicar general, said the sisters are pleased that the archdiocese has purchased the 17-acre monastery property for use as the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary.

“The sisters are thrilled that [the monastery] will continue to be a place of prayer and Christian formation,” Msgr. Schaedel said. “We in the archdiocese are so grateful for the prayerful presence of the sisters in the city of Indianapolis all these years, and we’re also very grateful that they are not leaving the archdiocese.”

In 2007, the Indianapolis Carmel marked 85 years as a Carmelite foundation and 75 years of contemplative prayer at the fortress-style stone monastery with six towers. (Click here to see a photo gallery)

“Our official name, Carmel of the Resurrection, has defined our years in Indianapolis,” explained Discalced Carmelite Sister Jean Alice McGoff, the prioress. “We have seen extraordinary new life, and have met hundreds of friends as we shared our lives of prayer through our liturgies and publications.”

For seven years, Sister Jean Alice said, the Carmel’s popular Web site at www.praythenews.com has enabled the cloistered sisters to reach out to the world via the Internet to spread the life-giving power of contemplative prayer. Their Web site ministry will “retire” this month.

“Our prayer enables us to see God both as mysteriously transcendent,” she said, “and yet visible and moving through the events of history. … We have seen the fruitful spread of contemplative prayer in the last decade or so, but our hope for new members has not been fulfilled and we have gradually faced the need to move to a new place better suited to our age and our small numbers.”

Sister Jean Alice said the preservation of the monastery as sacred space for the archdiocesan seminarians fulfills the nuns’ dream that the property be maintained for a religious purpose.

“There is much loss and sadness for us in this decision as well as for those of you who have invested so much in our being here in the heart of Indianapolis,” she said. “Our loss is being tempered by our loving welcome to Oldenburg, our long history of friendship with the Franciscan sisters, and the good health and energy that will allow us to continue to live our community life and maintain our identity as Carmelites.”

Franciscan Sister Barbara Piller, congregational minister of the Sisters of St. Francis in Oldenburg, said the Franciscan sisters are very happy to have the Carmelite nuns and their black Labrador Retriever, Lucy, live on the first and second floors of Theresa Hall on the motherhouse grounds.

Theresa Hall is named for Mother Theresa Hackelmeier, the foundress of the Oldenburg Franciscans.

“We feel that it’s going to make this space even more holy than it is,” Sister Barbara said, “and just a wonderful place for people to come and be in the presence of God through the prayers of their sisters and the prayers of our sisters. We hope that we can be good neighbors to them.”

The Franciscan sisters responded with “a spontaneous standing ovation” during their March 1 vote on whether to share their campus with the Carmelite nuns, Sister Barbara said, and they are looking forward to worshiping together at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.

“Part of our [Franciscan] charism is prayer and presence,” she said, “and we feel that their monastic life will fit right in with the life that our sisters try to live here once they become residents of our motherhouse again. We hope that we will be able to offer them health care facilities when they need it.”

Like the name of their Indianapolis Carmel, Sister Jean Alice said, the nuns are looking forward to a new beginning, a geographical “resurrection,” in historic Oldenburg, the “Village of Spires,” in scenic southeastern Indiana. †


Local site Links: