Carmelite nuns elect new leaders

By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor

The nuns of the Carmelite Monastery on Newburg Road selected new leaders on Nov. 20 during an election attended by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz. Mother John Baptist of the Lamb of God was elected prioress and Sister Mary Teresa of Jesus, a graduate of Assumption High School and Bellarmine University, was elected subprioress. They will serve three-year terms.

The election marks a significant transition in the life of the small monastery, according to Mother John Baptist. During an interview at the monastery, which is cloistered, she explained that the nuns’ previous leaders were long-time sisters who had mentored the younger nuns for more than three decades.

The previous prioress, Mother Katherine of the Holy Trinity, served in that role for a decade and celebrated her 65th jubilee a week before the late-November election. She was preceded as prioress by the late Mother Francis of the Mother of God who led the community as prioress for 25 years and by the late Sister Claire of the Holy Face, who was novice mistress for 25 years and prioress for six years.

In contrast, Mother John Baptist is the youngest member of the monastery at age 49 and made her profession of vows 22 years ago. Sister Mary Teresa, who is also the novice mistress, is 50 and entered the monastery shortly after the new prioress.

Mother John Baptist said the nuns — there are currently 10 — foster a family or domestic atmosphere at the monastery. Being the prioress, she said, means she should be the first to sweep the floors. It’s a role of service, she said.

While the nuns live a contemplative life of prayer behind a papal enclosure — which means they have no physical contact with those outside — they do welcome worshippers to join them for daily Mass in their chapel (Monday through Saturday) at 8 a.m. and for vespers and Benediction on Sundays at 4:45 p.m.

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