Our Opinion: Farewell and thank you to the Carmelite sisters

News Tribune editorial

Count us among the Central Missourians who will miss the quiet but powerful presence of the Carmelite sisters in our community.

After 53 years, the three remaining sisters at the local Carmelite Monastery will be leaving. The monastery is at 2201 West Main St., beside St. Joseph Cathedral.

The sisters have been invited to share the accommodations and resources of the Benedictine Monastery in the community of Clyde.

The local Carmelites are a cloistered order, which means they devote themselves to prayer, reflection and duties within the church. Externs serve as the Carmelites’ link to the outside world.

I have been blessed to experience a link to the Carmelites on two occasions — one worldly and another spiritual.

Some years ago, my wife and I were among invitees to the home of local artist Sabra Eagan for the unveiling of her portrait of a prominent member of the Carmelite order.

Bishop John Gaydos, other Catholic diocese official and the area couple who had commissioned the portrait all were present. In addition — and to my surprise — a number of Carmelite sisters attended.

I assumed some of them were externs from the local order, but recent inquiries to refresh my memory indicate otherwise. I have been advised that the sisters primarily were from the Active Carmelites of the Divine Heart of Jesus. Based at a Motherhouse in Kirkwood, they previously operated St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged in Jefferson City.

Being in the presence of the sisters was inspiring; they were thoughtful, articulate and gracious.

My other encounter with the Carmelites — this time, the local sisters — was entirely spiritual.

After suffering a stroke that caused paralysis to the left side of my body, my friend and co-worker — long-time News Tribune employee Rosalie Heislen — asked the Carmelites to pray for my recovery.

My hospital stay was brief, my recovery rapid and, in time, my range of motion has been restored.

Admittedly, I benefited from excellent care provided by dedicated local physicians and nurses.

But, was my recovery entirely and exclusively a result of medical care or were other factors involved?

The question cannot be answered or proved — not in this world.

Today, I am grateful for my restored health, and I remain ever grateful to the local Carmelites who offered prayers on my behalf.

Thank you for your spiritual strength and years of tranquil devotion not only to the church, but to our community.

Addendum, posted Nov. 15, 2013

On Nov. 13 in this forum, I wrote an opinion/reflection about plans by the local Carmelite sisters to leave Jefferson City. I referenced a portrait unveiling years ago at the home of local artist Sabra Eagan attended by Carmelites from the St. Louis area. The following information from Sr. Mary Joseph, provincial superior, Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus-Central Province, fills in some missing information.

She wrote: “The picture by Sabra Eagan was of our Mother Foundress, Bl Maria Teresa of St. Joseph, who was canonized on May 13, 2006. She was the foundress of the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus who used to own and operate St. Joseph’s Home on Main Street (now St. Joseph’s Bluffs). The last sister left the home on February 28, 2005. We are a separate congregation from the Discalced Carmelites who are now also leaving Jefferson City."

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