It's very unusual to be on the same side of a wall as a Discalced Carmelite nun, as the order is cloistered. Sister Elias, Mother Marie Therese, Sister Rose and Sister Genevieve are the last four nuns from the Carmelite Foundation made in Mobile in 1943. Since there have been no vocations in quite a few years, the nuns have become elderly with no one to care for them.
It became clear that, having become too feeble to take care of each other, they could not continue to live alone at the monastery, so the Archbishop of Mobile moved them to a convent of Mercy Sisters in the same city, which is equipped to care for elderly nuns.
The archbishop, wanting to continue a Carmelite presence in Mobile, began searching for Carmelites to take over the monastery, with no favorable response in the United States. Finally, a group of Discalced Carmelite nuns was located who had become too many for their monastery in Vietnam. Seven of these nuns will be moving into the Mobile Carmel by the end of February, with others to follow in the future.
Volunteers in the Mobile community have taken on the challenge of refurbishing the monastery and getting it ready for the new sisters. The Vietnamese community in Mobile is especially excited and has worked to make the nuns feel as much at home as possible.
This photo was taken during an open house at the renovated monastery following Mass at the chapel. Surely it must have been disconcerting for the Carmelites to return to their home of so many years to see it so changed and filled with lay people!
- Panasonic DMC-ZS5