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Daughters of Carmel offer healing, spiritual guidance

01 8.17.17_daughters.of.carmel PAGEThe Daughters of Carmel are pictured in front of their convent at St. Patrick’s Seminary & University. From left, Sister Maria Aurelia, P.Karm; Sister Salverina Regina, P.Karm; Sister Mary Jacinta, P.Karm; Sister Maria Theofila, P.Karm. (Photo by Valerie Schmalz/Catholic San Francisco)

August 17, 2017
Valerie Schmalz

Beneath the leafy trees on the grounds of St. Patrick Seminary & University, members of a new order of religious women dedicated to healing and spiritual direction live in a small convent that Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone blessed this spring.

The Daughters of Carmel are an open contemplative order, members of the Carmelite family, who spend most of their days in silence. The Daughters of Carmel are also charismatic, with a deep reliance on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They offer healing retreats, and personal spiritual direction that is designed to heal, said Sister Maria Theofila, prioress.

“Our task is to help people encounter the presence of the living God,” Sister Theofila said of the order’s apostolate.

“There are so many who want to find God,” said Sister Mary Jacinta, and they ask “how they can have this personal relationship with God.” People experience pain that needs to be healed, sometimes deeply inside themselves, she said. “Sometimes your attitude is caused by your past life,” Sister Jacinta said. “We try to heal from all the past life, the things that hurt us.”

In his homily at the Mass March 19, the feast of St. Joseph and the anniversary of the order’s founding in Indonesia, Archbishop Cordileone told the sisters their healing work and their prayers are needed here.

“We have so many Samaritans in the world, so many who are yearning, who are lost and cannot find their way,” Archbishop Cordileone said, telling those at the Mass in the Daughters of Carmel convent’s little chapel that it is “a blessing for us to have them here in our archdiocese. We need them here.”

“The Holy Spirit is the foundation and the source of everything,” the Daughters of Carmel website states. Worldwide there are 152 Daughters of Carmel. There are four religious sisters at the convent in Menlo Park. “To personally experience and live the loving and saving presence of God and to bring others to the same experience can only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit which is channeled and expressed throughout His various gifts, sacraments and charisms,” the website states.

People can come to the sisters for spiritual guidance, both men and women, but the Daughters of Carmel are only able to offer women private retreats at the convent. In addition, the sisters lead several retreats for both men and women every year.

The sisters are holding two Come and See Days in August and September as they seek new vocations.

The Daughters of Carmel begin each day at 5 a.m. with an hour of prayer, followed by the Divine Office, daily Mass, 30 minutes of exercise, then breakfast at 8 a.m. From 9 a.m. to noon they work. They can socialize at lunch, then more work and prayer, with evening prayer from 5:30-7:30 p.m. There is total silence during breakfast and dinner and the “grand silence” lasts from dinner at 7:30 p.m. until after breakfast the next day. Each sister has her own room or cell so she can pray privately, Sister Theofila said.

The Daughters of Carmel began in 1982 in Indonesia, as part of a family of orders founded by a Carmelite priest, Father Yohanes Indrakusuma, who first lived in a hermitage and taught at a seminary but attracted followers. In 1985, the Carmelites of St. Elijah, an order of men, both priests and brothers, was formed. In addition, there is a lay order that follows the same spirituality, and there are cloistered Daughters of Carmel, the sisters said.

The Daughters of Carmel were first invited to the Bay Area by the Indonesian Catholic Community of Northern California in May 1998 to give a retreat. The Daughters of Carmel came to San Francisco in 2009, to minister to American Indonesians who had experienced their healing retreats and wanted to continue in that spiritual path. In 2012, they began giving retreats in English. They offer retreats in the Bay Area, elsewhere in the U.S. and in Canada.

Until a few months ago, the Daughters of Carmel resided at the convent at St. Cecilia Parish in San Francisco, but they needed their own place, a place of quiet that was also separate. This year, the archbishop was able to find them the house on the grounds of St. Patrick’s Seminary. In addition to Archbishop Cordileone, the sisters’ chaplain and spiritual director Father Vito Perrone and Indonesian Jesuit Father Effendi Sunur, who was studying at UC Berkeley, were at the Mass.

Archbishop Cordileone told the sisters in his homily that it was providential they have the convent at the seminary, and asked them to pray specially for the seminarians and the seminary itself as it transitions this year to direct archdiocesan administration after more than 100 years of administration by the Sulpicians, who left at the end of the past academic year. Jesuit Father George Schultze is the new rector and president at the seminary, and Father Perrone is St. Patrick’s newly named director of spiritual life.


The Daughters of Carmel

The Daughters offer spiritual guidance to both men and women.

They are only able to offer women private retreats at their convent at St. Patrick’s Seminary.

The sisters lead several retreats for both men and women every year.

For more information, visit daughtersofcarmel.org.

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