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Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm Celebrate Diamond Jubilee of Foundation

Submitted by Sister Mary Gabriel, O.Carm., and written by Joan M. Fredericks

Mother Mary Suzanne, O.Carm., superior of the congregation, accepts a bouquet from Father Michael Kissane, O.Carm., Prior Provincial of the Saint Elias (NY) Province

On September 3, 1929, we’re sure that the seven Sisters who had just moved into Saint Elizabeth’s vacant rectory, never dreamed that in 2004, their names would be immortalized in the many Sisters who had followed them on the road to Carmel celebrating the “Diamond” Jubilee of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm! Many of us who are still around to tell the tale, can hardly believe that the years have passed so quickly.

In 1936 the Community was still not too well known. What attracted young vocations was the fact that it was “Carmelite.” Here were Carmelites you could see face to face. Some families would not hear of the cloister. But here were “Carmelite” Sisters who were in an active apostolate— the care of the elderly and Infirm.

From the beginning, Mother Angeline Teresa and her six companions were most grateful to Very Reverend Lawrence Dionysius Flanagan, O.Carm., first Commissary Provincial and then Prior Provincial of the Saint Elias Province. When Mother Angeline told him what Cardinal Hayes had said to her, “You might have to start a new community,” Father Lawrence said, “Why don’t you become Carmelites?”

He also told her he would bring the Prior General, Most Reverend Elias Magennis, O.Carm., to visit her when he came to the United States. When he came, he was so impressed with the group and worked on the affiliation as soon as he returned to Rome. It was granted on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, 1932.

Through this affiliation, many graces have come to the Congregation of Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm for the past 75 years. When the 75th Anniversary was approaching, Mother Mary Suzanne, O.Carm., the Superior General, convened a committee who were assigned the task of organizing and implementing a year-long celebration during the year 2003- 04. Celebrations were encouraged in each of the communities and residences of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm.

Several mini and three major celebrations occurred. The first was the Opening Celebration for the year. The second major celebration took place at Saint Teresa’s Motherhouse in Germantown, New York, on Sunday, September 12, 2004, the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. God blessed us with ideal weather and the chapel was filled to capacity with visiting sisters from almost every community, Carmelite friars including pre-novices, novices and students, members of Mother Angeline McCrory’s family, and other friends.

Father Michael Kissane, O.Carm., Prior Provincial of the Saint Elias Province was the principle celebrant and homilist. He was joined by concelebrants, Father Romaeus Cooney, O.Carm., Father Timothy Ennis, O.Carm. and Father Joseph Mahon, C. P. Among the visiting sisters were the Sparkill (NY) Dominicans.

When Mother Angeline Teresa and her companions started the Congregation, it was the Sparkill Dominican Sisters who gave them hospitality and aided them in making their first habits in the new community. Mother Angeline never forgot their kindness.

At the Jubilee dinner in Carmel Hall, Father Romaeus Cooney, O.Carm., gave the following toast in honor of the 75th Anniversary,

“In nineteen hundred twenty nine, A new ray of light began to shine; As Mother Angeline and a small band Started a new ministry in our land. ‘Well, who knows,’ did the Cardinal say, ‘Perhaps you may lead the way.’ As many others may follow someday To share your vision for the sick and gray. And so the little group, with a vision grand, From the Bronx and Manhattan began to expand. Nursing homes and centers with manors they manned, In the States and in Holy Ireland! Throughout the years they have been blest, For the aged and infirm — they are the best. As they took to heart the Foundress’ request To treat each person as a guest. To Mother Suzanne and Sisters all Who have answered Carmel’s call, Happy Seventy-fifth Jubilee! We look forward to celebrating your centenary! “

The Closing Celebration began at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Saturday, the 23rd of October, 2004. Most Reverend Robert A. Brucato, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York, officiated at the filled-to-capacity Mass. Sisters joined the procession by carrying three banners representing the 75 years of the Community’s existence.

In the background of all three banners were the names of all the foundations as well as other sentinel events of the Congregation. The first banner represented the first 25 years showing Mother Angeline and her six companions above their first foundation, Saint Patrick’s Home in the Bronx, New York. The second banner portrayed “Avila”, the beloved home to all of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm and the statue found in Saint Teresa’s Chapel of our patroness, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The third banner depicted a sculpture of “old people” and the rendering of the newest facility named in honor of Mother Angeline—“Mother Angeline McCrory Manor.”

Father Mario Esposito, O.Carm., Postulator for the Cause of the Servant of God, Mother M. Angeline Teresa McCrory, O.Carm., was the homilist. The Holy Eucharist was celebrated in style with a choir of angels and golden trumpets. The celebration was just what Mother Angeline would have wanted as she so loved the Holy Eucharist and all it embodied.

After the conclusion of the Mass, more than 900 people stepped out onto the glorious, sunny sidewalks of Manhattan and made way to the Hotel Pierre where a grand and gracious luncheon reception was waiting. Following the delicious fare, Mother Mary Suzanne, O.Carm. spoke to the group about the past 75 years and the hopes and dreams for the next 25.

A highlight of the afternoon was a presentation made by Father Michael Kissane, O.Carm., who symbolized the first meeting of Mother Angeline McCrory and Father Lawrence Flanagan during the triduum of the Little Flower, Saint Therese of Lisieux on October 3, 1929, when he gave Mother Angeline a bouquet of red roses which she took as a sign for the future.

Father Michael presented Mother Suzanne with a bouquet of red roses with the wish that the close relationship enjoyed between he Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm and the Carmelite Friars of the Saint Elias Province would continue for another 75 years.

A special Apostolic Blessing was unveiled and presented to Mother Suzanne and the Sisters commemorating their 75 Years of Foundation. The Papal Blessing was specially handdone with the Carmelite Shield painted on one side.

A special thanks was given to Father Edmund Caruana, O.Carm., from San Alberto (CISA) in Rome, and for his assistance in securing the Blessing and having it personally signed by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II.

The Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm have lovingly carried on the work of Mother Angeline. They are well known for their excellent daily care of nearly 5,200 elderly men and women who reside in their 24 long-term care facilities that provide skilled nursing, assisted living, and independent living services in nine states and Ireland. To learn more about the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, you can visit their website: www.carmelitesisters.com