Carmelite nuns of Erie, PA

The Carmelite nuns of Erie, PA website:
IRL page:
Photo album of Nuns and of my visit with them:

I have been calling and speaking with the Carmelite nuns of Erie, PA since early this year and finally was able to visit them 12/1 to 12/6 this month. I was praying and feeling this Carmel was for me and when I visited and was overwhelmingly accepted it was! I hope to enter soon. I so love them and them me that if I could they would have taken me in then! They are incredible! The turn and phone sister is so delightful, funny, full of joy and life! God is so good to pick such a wonderful home for me!

This Carmel LOVES “mature vocations”! They are a 1990 Carmel, strict, austere but the nuns are full of love and joy and life. I am in my early 50’s and one of the nuns, who is now the sub-prioress, entered in her early 50’s, was a widow and has 5-7 kids (forget which!) and grandkids so they don’t believe the nonsense about older vocations not right for orders like Carmel or don’t persevere. This nun, as well as many others, are proof of that! If you have the vocation, God gives the graces to live the life for life!

Their IRL page says: “God calls precisely when He calls—Vocations blossom according to God’s perfect timing. Some sisters have been called in the midst of successful professional careers, as were the first Apostles.”

They DO mean this. I have visited other monasteries (Carmels and others) who SAY they consider older and often they don’t or seem to not be serious. Of course, a no or many no’s are God’s guidance to a person of where He DOESN’T want them too! But they are a beautiful community

They asked me to spread the word of them. Their website is only new since earlier this year.

They accept women practically up to any age as long as there is good health. If anyone is interested for more info - won’t fit in this post as it 's so long, please message me and I can email them it.

They can’t (as many orders can’t) take women with health problems like COPD, bipolar and others that are progressive or hard to manage problems. They have had women with these inquire but they are not opposed to such a problem like myself, who has a semi-bum knee where I can’t kneel on it so they go around it with prayer stools, standing, choir stall or when even your cell for mental prayer as some sisters have various knee problems. This is a minor physical concern but all inquirers are seriously considered and with good health (doesn’t have to be excellent health) - along with a Carmelite vocation of course! - is what is needed.

Please message me for more info on their life, etc.

Thanks for sharing and thank YOU for answering God’s call.

God bless you,

You say that they’re ‘strict’. Do they wear the habit? Do they have grilles in their chapel and their speak room (parlor)? Do they still keep the enclosure?

Just curious…I ask these questions because Erie seems to be a rather liberal diocese. The Bishop is still Trautmann, who tried to stall the new translation of the Mass (’“It’s too ‘haard’”, to quote Father Z ), and the notorious radical feminist Benedictine ‘sister’ Joan Chittister also lives in Erie.

I hope that the Carmel of Erie is not ‘infected’ by liberalism of the ‘catholic’ sort…

Saw your photos, Teresa Benedicta-very nice!

How many Sisters are there in the Erie Carmel?

I noticed that there was a Solemn Profession for one of the nuns-very nice, too!

I also liked the little room which you stayed in.

Below is some of what I wrote in an email to two close friends:

When I was there, their chapel was more beautiful than the pictures on their website and other places that I’ve seen it. It’s beautiful and very simple. They have the Stations of the Cross on the side walls but no statues. So I thought they were saving to buy some or something until Mother Emmanuel told me that when they were founded in the 1950s, the current bishop, Bishop Gannon, made the Mother Prioress/Foundress promise that they would not put statues in the chapel as he wanted it to be a “sanctuary” and all the focus on God/Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. The only Christmas decoration they had in the chapel was the Advent Wreath. Mother Emmanuel talked how the Spanish Carmels usually do a lot of decorating - as in the ones we know - which is nice but not for the French Carmels - at least for most of them. I didn’t ask if they have a Christmas tree in their rec room or something.

There is absolutely NO sighting of the sisters by the public at all - not at the turn or choir - only in the parlor for visits. Or when I was there, they had to let a plumber into the enclosure but then you heard a bell ring to warn the other sisters of outsiders and they were to hide. In the choir, I was in the seat on the far right (the choir on the left side of the chapel) in the front row and I could only see a bit of the front part of the choir by the grille and some of the right side of the chapel - a plant and the statue of St. Teresa of Avila. You saw a bit of the sisters for communion and the wine and then their backs as they walked away from the priest and only for a short time. At the front door is a turn and a small “window”, maybe 1 foot long, half a foot wide?, with a curtain and then some kind of barrier behind that so you can’t see in but only hear the turn sister.
On Friday, 12/4, I was shocked speechless when Fr. John Trigilio from EWTN** and Catholic Answers talked in to assist at this mass! He has a web page/blog at - this blog talks about his mom who was mentioned as being ill at this mass too. He is so nice!

They were in their Black Fast that is from the Triumph of the Cross, Sept 14? to after Easter. So they agreed to let me eat when and what they did - for good experience!

As they only have 4 sisters in Erie. For help, they had 2 sisters from the ******* Carmel to help out! I was wondering who they were at the first mass as 2 nuns had the Spanish veils. I was told later they had help from this Carmel for a while. They are there temporarily and will leave soon. But what is very surprising is when they first came or before they came, Erie was told by them that they are “austere/strict” (I think this Carmel are 1991s). Well, an Erie nun told me that when they arrived, these 2 sisters asked if they had certain movies to watch - movies that Erie would never watch for anything! In fact, the Erie Carmel rarely watches movies at rec and they’ve only seen a few that include St. Teresa of the Andes and St. Teresa of Avila. These were real secular movies these other nuns watch in *****! So much for being “austere”! How strange! Sr. *** was like “sorry, none of that here!” ha! I was really surprised at this.

Erie Carmelites LOVES “mature vocations” as they call them and will take women of almost any age as long as they have the health. So they don’t agree with the orders that dismiss so many potential older women - yay! They asked me to spread the word as they do not have email and don’t want to get into the web and blogs and all that as they cherish their hidden life and keep such secular things to a minimum. They have a computer but it’s for bill paying and computer projects for work, their Christmas cards, etc.


What is the reason that most orders turn down older vocations? Is it because of potential health problems in the near future?

ls it to attract younger vocations? I could see a lot of retirement-age folkss joining orders after they have raised their children.

We live in a society that is increasingly healthy where people work out.

I’m not so sure the age limits should not be re-evaluated.

Here is some more info:

The parlor grill has a grille with a folding wooden louver doors that closes when the parlor is empty. In the choir there is the grille, a heavy curtain and a wooden type louvers/doors.

The sisters have it made! In the house beside their property is a home for retired priests and behind them is a seminary so they have lots of priests to pick from! But they have 2 priests assigned as chaplains/confessors. I met one, Fr. Nick Grau, who did some masses and he is SO holy, reverent and gives the best homilies I’ve heard in a long time!

Erie is to get a new bishop soon. They are to petition the new bishop with the request for a tabernacle in their choir. The present bishop wouldn’t allow it but they had a good canon lawyer look into it and it is totally legal and acceptable. They want the doors and curtain closed over the choir grille for mental prayer times, Divine Office and other times but when these ARE closed, they can’t see the tabernacle! As the chapel is open from 6:30 am to 5 pm, they get people in and out during the day so they can’t leave the curtain and doors open over the grille.

Their chapel seats 60 people and they have at least that every day for the weekday mass and up to 60 or more on Saturdays as there is no local church that has a daily mass on Saturday, just that 5 pm vigil mass for Sunday and then about that many for Sunday. I have never seen such a full monastic chapel when visiting nuns!

Everyday they have: the 2 hours of mental prayer, chant the 7 Divine Office hours, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, community rosary, the Divine Mercy chaplet, prayers to St. Joseph, St. T of Avila, Novena to the Infant of Prague and other prayers or at choice for the nuns to prayer at 3 pm - “self-penance prayers”. There were more prayers but they were hard to hear at times. They also say 3 Glory Be’s at times. They also say daily the Stations of the Cross. They do the discipline - didn’t get to hear Sr. M tell me the when, where, etc as just then someone came into the front by the turn where we were speaking behind that little covered window.

The monastery is on 11 acres and directly across the street is another 40 acres they own to help preserve their hidden, quiet life. They bought the property a while back so no one can build stores, malls, houses, businesses, etc that would create noise, more traffic, etc.

They have a small gift store to the right of the front door: rosaries, books, cards, medals, statues, etc. In this room is a parlor grille and turn that they do not use. They have a bigger parlor beyond the gift shop - as this shop was originally a smaller parlor you have to get to this bigger parlor by walking thru the smaller one that’s now their gift shop. This big parlor also has a turn to the left of the grille to give the sisters items

I can make a list of all the books I have and they will pick what to bring - when I enter, please God! They have a ton of benefactors that bring them donations of food and services all day! They have a dentist that gives them FREE dental care! I guess that is easy for 4 nuns but hard if they went up to 21!

While I was there, I offered my help so Sr. M. let me help her in the Christmas cards to all the Carmels and benefactors and friends. Pasting in inserts like Hallmark cards have (the paper inside with the writing on it instead of the card if you know what I mean), putting on the return labels and the labels with the Carmels and other people’s names on it and then the stamps and then stuff the envelopes and lick them shut! I was glad to help as Sr. M did not know when she’d ever get to them! So much work for only 4 nuns - 2 more with those **** but they are leaving soon.

Where I stayed, I had my own room with bed dresser, desk, chair, mirror, big stuffed arm chair and hassock (ottoman, whatever you 2 want to call it!), 2 high windows, a night stand, alarm clock and several lights - a lamp on the night stand, the desk, ceiling light and a lamp stand with a circular table attached. Then I had my own living room: small table with 3 chairs, arm chair, desk, mirror, another table/small desk with a picture of Our Lady of Fatima on it and a TV and VHR - not hooked up at the time - if so, for the visitor to see a few movies or EWTN. Then I had a small kitchen: sink, microwave oven, coffee maker, cabinets with food, fridge with food, etc. Then I had a bathroom with a shower, toilet, sink, etc. I also had a room with a washer and dryer for my use! Never had that anywhere and in other places had to do with trying to not get my clothes dirty or washing undies and such in the sink!

On Monday, 12/5, I was called to the parlor and told that I was unanimously accepted! I was overjoyed and not to surprised as by what the 3 council sisters told me at the grille the past several days, it sounded like they were all for me even then! They truly would have had me enter right then if I didn’t have this bloody house!

Their Daily Horarium - not complete but it was fine for what I needed:

5:25 am Rise
5:45 Angelus, Matins
6:00 Lauds
6:20-7:20 Mental Prayer
7:20 Terce
7:30–8:00 Work, make beds, clean cell, etc.
8:00 Mass, Thanksgiving
9:00 Breakfast
9:30-11:45 Sext, Exam of Conscious, recreation
12:00 pm Angelus
12:15 Dinner, dishes
2:00 None, Litany of BVM, saint prayers
2:20 Spiritual reading, rest
3:00 Self-penance prayers - at sisters choice (Divine Mercy, etc)
3:10-4:30 Work
4:40 Vespers
5:00-6:00 Mental prayer
6:00 Angelus
6:10 Collation/supper, dishes
7:15 Recreation
8:30 Compline, rosary, night blessing

In my experience these orders say older vocations don’t persevere due to being stuck in their ways or if they have kids they can’t handle being away from them etc. Or can’t live the life and other reasons when these aren’t always the reason. MANY women have these situations and persevere and stay.

There is a 70 yr Carmelite nun in Dallas, a 1990 Carmel, who was Solemn Professed a while ago. Many persevere in Carmels, PCCs and other orders with no problem. They told me that they know that though Valparaiso gets a lot of young ones, a lot leave. They see the potential and worth of older women who have had good life experience.

Especially previously married women (divorced or widows) who had kids - who else know how to sacrifice themselves for their husbands and children?! Plus life experience teaches you to live authority at work, etc and deal with things you don’t want to, go to a job for endless years on end when you’d rather not!

Of course they want young vocations too, but most orders mustn’t realize that just as many young ones leave as older ones! I once had a Carmel tell me they don’t take older vocations anymore because in the past 20 YEARS they had 5 LEAVE! Only 5 in 20 YRS?! They must be nutty! That isn’t bad at all! I wonder how many young ones left in that same time span!?

What it really is that God DOES call men and women of all ages and if the vocation is real, these people will have the strength, courage, grace and perseverance to stay and endure.

Imagine if St. Francis de Sales turned St. Jane de Chantal away from founding the Vistation with him because she was older, a widow and had kids? Or if the Carmels turned St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) away because she was 42 when she entered? There a countless more who aren’t saints or blesseds. God calls when HE wants and how most orders and decide THEY know better than Him I have NO idea!

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