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September 17, 2008
Young woman professes final vows as Discalced Carmelite nun
As a steady rain fell the morning of Sept. 12, feast of the Holy Name of Mary, faithful gathered at Carmel of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Littleton to witness the final profession and veiling of a Discalced Carmelite nun.
Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., was the main celebrant of the Mass. Concelebrants included the nun’s former pastor, Father Matthew Higginbotham of the Diocese of Lafayette, La.
“We don’t find religious in the Scriptures,” Archbishop Chaput noted in his homily.
“Some became dissatisfied with the way most lived their Christian life,” the archbishop said, “and they decided to go off into the desert to live Christianity more seriously.”
The monastic tradition can be traced to those third century Desert Fathers.
The apostolate of Discalced Carmelites is prayer in service for the Church and the world. Their daily schedule includes Mass, the complete Divine Office recited in choir, two one-hour periods of mental prayer in common, an hour of recreation in common after dinner and after supper, spiritual reading and work.
“It’s wonderful,” Sister Mary Teresa told the Denver Catholic Register, speaking about the Carmelite life. “It’s what I expected. It’s what I came here for—to grow closer to God.
The third of nine children, the nun’s final profession came after six years spent as a novice. Prior to entering the monastery, she had attended Catholic school until fifth grade, then was homeschooled. She said she has wanted to be a religious ever since she was 6 or 7 and read about famed Carmelite St. Therese of Lisieux. The desire stayed with her and when she was 17 she entered the Littleton monastery.
During the Mass, Sister Mary Teresa knelt before the Communion window in the grill separating the nuns from the sanctuary. Archbishop Chaput approached the window and said, “What do you ask?”
“The mercy of God, the poverty of the order and the society of the sisters,” the young nun said.
“Are you resolved to persevere in the order until death?” the prelate asked.
The archbishop pronounced a blessing over a black veil and sprinkled it with holy water. Helped by the prioress, he placed the veil over Sister Mary Teresa’s head, covering her face. After more prayers were recited by the prelate, Sister Mary Teresa lifted the veil from her face and a wreath of flowers was placed on her head.
“Dearly beloved,” the archbishop said, “let us pray for this handmaid of the Lord, Sister Mary Teresa, whom the Lord has chosen as his bride, that she may always serve him with her whole heart and hidden with him in God, bring forth fruits in grace for the universal Church.”
At the end of Mass, Sister Mary Teresa prostrated herself on the floor and was covered with a pall. Nuns tossed rose petals over her as they sang the early Christian hymn of praise the “Te Deum.”
After the Mass, Sister Mary Teresa, radiant with joy, greeted a stream of visitors through a grill separating the cloister from the tiny visitor’s lobby.