Carmelites building new monastery near Wichita

This is an artist’s rendering of the proposed new Carmelite monastery north of Wichita. Changes will likely be made before it is completed, however. (Art courtesy Randall Steiner.)

By Christopher M. Riggs
Construction of a Carmelite monastery has begun north of Wichita.
Mary DeGraffenreid, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Wichita, said a basement has been poured for the monastery for the 10 Carmelites who will live on 40 acres near Woodlawn and 77th Street North.
DeGraffenreid, who has been assisting the cloistered nuns since their arrival in the Diocese of Wichita in 2001, said Bishop Michael O. Jackels asked the nuns to relocate from their temporary Clearwater monastery, The Monastery of Divine Mercy and Our Lady of Guadalupe, to a location near the Catholic Life Center so that priests living in the Priest Retirement Center would be able to celebrate daily Mass for the nuns. The Clearwater monastery has also been flooded through the years, is in ill-repair, and will likely be demolished.
The contemplative nuns moved to the diocese from Gallup, N.M., at the request of Bishop Emeritus Eugene J. Gerber. His successor, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, was head of the diocese when the nuns moved to Kansas.
Robl Commercial Construction will build the monastery. Sam Gerena, a Robl employee, said no time frame for completion has been set. He said construction is in its first phase which will allow the nuns to move into a temporary, manufactured double-wide home. Randall Steiner of Wichita is the architect.
DeGraffenreid said the nuns are planning a golf tournament to raise money for the new monastery.
Msgr. Robert Hemberger, vicar general for the diocese, said in a news release that the diocese wishes to help raise awareness and money for the monastery because “the nuns are not tied to the diocese financially or by assignment. The nuns live a cloistered life, a life they choose in order to offer themselves as a form of prayer for others and to be united as much as possible with God.”
The nuns are dedicated to a life of prayer and loving self-sacrifice through obedience and labor. Their superior, Mother Mary of the Angels, said, “We live with an indescribable happiness, make daily sacrifices, and are here for the love of God and for the love of souls. Our mission is to pray for the Holy Church, the priests, and the world, and to be the heart of our Church because without the heart, the body cannot live.”
To help support themselves, the nuns have raised vegetables and fruit in a large greenhouse and fish in tanks. They are best known for their granola which they bake and sell for $15 for a three pound bag. They also sell salsa, relish, and almonds, and religious cards, tea towels, and other items. Their work provides a modest income for the growing monastery, which now includes a sister from St. Anthony Parish, Wichita, and a mother and daughter from Oklahoma.
Bishop Emeritus Eugene J. Gerber said in a statement that the nuns hardly ask for anything for themselves. “They just depend on Divine Providence. Their presence is a strong witness, it’s a countercultural witness, it’s a religious witness, and beyond that, they’re praying and sacrificing for the church, especially for the diocese they are in.”

Golf tournament to raise money for monastery
A golf tournament is planned for noon Monday, Oct. 26, at the Willowbend Country Club, to help finance a new monastery for the Carmelite nuns of Wichita.
The fee is $100 per person. To register or sponsor the tournament, contact Mike Flores at 3202 W. 13th St. Suite 4, Wichita,KS 67203, (316) 393.5614, or at
Donations may be mailed to: Discalced Carmelite Monastery, P.O. Box 278, Valley Center, KS 67147.