Carmelite Nun turns 100!

The Baltimore Carmel (the oldest monastery in the original US), offers this video in celebration of the 100th birthday of Sister Mary Eileen of the Blessed Trinity, who entered the community in 1941!


Congratulations to the dear sister on reaching her century!

I watched the video and am shocked and stunned. I really did not know the non-wearing of the habit had reached such a contemplative order as the Carmelite nuns.

There are many contemplative who don’t wear habits, and haven’t for decades. This is really incidental to their spirituality — which is extraordinary (I’ve visited this monastery many times). The monastery is 230 years in existence and approved both by the Order and the Vatican.

Once and for all, can we please let adult women (and men) decide what they can and should wear?


That’s fantastic. I hope she had a very happy birthday.

Even though the Holy See has called upon them to do wear habits and they are bound by a vow of obedience?

They are obedient to their order.

Not sure about this order, but they’re not Discalced Carmelite Nuns, OCD

Obedience is not just to one’s order it is also to ecclesiastical authority. Plus, it is interesting that the first order (friars) in the USA wear a habit and that the second order (nuns) in the UK wear a habit. Thus, I cannot see not wearing a habit is some form of obedience to the entire Order.

Pope never ordered them to wear full habits as far as I know

But yes, obedience is to their order and the provincial of the order reports to the Pope, if it’s a papaly approved order

The Pope doesn’t have the authority to order them to wear full habits

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St John Paul II regularly asked orders to return to their habits.

I do believe he does.

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Asking is not an order and no, the Pope can’t order a religious order to wear full habits.

This is up to the order to approve the habit they’ll wear and the rule of life they’ll follow.

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Internal governance of an order is normally left to the superiors of that order; however, just as popes have approved and abolished orders, and re-organised them, too, often against the wishes of the order, the pope, should he wish to do so, could require that religious orders wear a habit.

Depends on the order and it’s standing

Pope’s generally don’t remove papal approval order without good reason

Either way, this order of nuns was not ordered to wear habits and as I stated in an earlier post, I’m not sure who they are, their website doesn’t specify other than they follow the spirit of Carmel. They’re not Discalced Carmelites or O’Carm nuns.

Either way, it doesn’t make them illegitimate and the rule they follow is theirs, not that of anyone else.

Not that it should matter because as @nunsuch said, they are allowed their choice of dress according to their rule… they do have a habit and you see them wearing it in the video. It is a tunic with a hood.

I think they are Discalced Carmelites. In the video the president of their secular order speaks. Her title says they are Discalced Carmelites. Additionally, their history on their website references the reforms of St. Teresa at length. Considering they were established in 1790, I’d be very surprised if they were not either OCD or O. Carm.

The pope does not, of course, remove approval of any institute or society without good cause. I gave it simply as an example of the authority Holy Father has.

I, too, was unable to find on their website to which of the two Carmelite orders they belong. I did a little research on Wikipedia but it does not make it clear there, either, to which order they belong.

I have not said that religious communities that do not wear a habit are in anyway illegitimate. Religious communities are an important part of the Church. Therefore, I believe we all have a right to be concerned about the direction religious life may take. Sometimes those not wearing habits are not always in full concert with the doctrine of the Catholic Church. We do have a right to be concerned about this.

I pray for religious communities every single day as I know they, especially the contemplative ones, pray for us in the world.

If you watch the video and also visit their website you will find that often they don’t wear a habit. Having seen what you describe and noting its colour, white (the Carmelites have been known as the whitefriars), I suspect that item is a cowl, which they may wear in their church for Mass and the Divine Office. They may also wear it when in chapter.

Whatever you want to call it, Sr. Mary Eileen was sitting in her chair wearing it for the entirety of her interview. They are nuns. It is not at all uncommon for monastics to wear cowls or tunics with hoods. As to when they choose to wear it, that is entirely up to this community and their rule.

We are not the authors of their rule. We are not even members of their community. It is not up to us what they can and cannot wear and when they can or cannot wear it.

How about we focus on the fact that she is 100 years old and has been a nun for 78 years!


I feel that no matter I say in this thread I am going to be attacked because I believe our religious should wear habits. By believing this I do take anything away from what these religious may do.

This, therefore, is my last post in this thread, which I shall no longer be following.

God bless!

Only on CAF could a thread celebrating the birthday of a 100-year-old cloistered nun who has spent 78 years in her community turn into somebody bashing her and her fellow nuns for not wearing a habit. :roll_eyes:

If all the clergy and religious out there were going to be as faithful to their vocations as Sister Mary Eileen, I personally don’t care if they’re all wearing jeans and My Little Pony t-shirts.


The 100 year old nun says she is a Carmelite, not Discalced Carmelite

The sister speaking, isn’t a Secular Carmelite OCDS, but a Carmelite nun.

Discalced Carmelite Nuns will have OCD after their name, and Secular Carmelites like myself, will have OCDS.

I didn’t see that in the video

They do follow the spirit of Carmel and St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross


This is the part of the video I’m talking about.

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