Carmelite nuns moving to New York City

The nuns of the Discalced Carmelite Monastery of Divine Mercy and Our Lady of Guadalupe will be moving out of the Diocese of Wichita within the year.

The nuns, who live on a compound in Valley Center, north of Church of the Resurrection, sent a letter in January to Bishop Carl A. Kemme explaining that the move was necessitated by requirements the Vatican has made regarding women contemplatives. Rome is requiring that the Carmelites meet several criteria, including a minimum number of professions, proper facilities, and a specific number of vocations. The requirements are affecting small monasteries around the world.

“We hope that you, our dear friends and benefactors, will please understand that this decision was not reached lightly, considering the love which we bear for each one of you, for this diocese, and for all that we will have to leave behind,” the January letter said.

The most recent letter, dated May 1, states that the sisters have since heard from Rome and that the Wichita nuns are to close the Wichita monastery to merge with the Carmelite Monastery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Joseph in Brooklyn, New York.

“Since we came to the Diocese of Wichita 18 years ago, we really felt that this was where we would remain for generations to come, and so we tried to arrange things to that effect with the generous support of so many of you,” the nuns wrote. “We had slowly made progress in so many things – including erecting our enclosure wall (so very important for cloistered contemplative nuns) almost completely around the property.”

The sisters said now, more than ever, God is asking them to trust in his divine mercy. They added that, although they would prefer not to move, they were nonetheless happy that the sisters would be moving together, instead of being split among different monasteries.

“We realize our departure will be a great disappointment to our wonderful friends and supporters as we ourselves have wanted to bring you closer to God while we pursued our mission of praying for souls and for priestly vocations in this diocese,” they said. “Even so, we must trust that God has a plan in all of this, and even though we may not always understand this, we believe and cooperate with his will when he makes it manifest.”

Mary DeGraffenried, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Wichita, said after the initial announcement that Mother Rose Marie made it clear the nuns do not wish to leave.

“They have been in our diocese for 18 years praying and sacrificing for us. We’ve witnessed many of the sacrifices they made for the salvation of souls and recognize the great gift they have been,” she said.

The late Bishop Eugene J. Gerber invited the Carmelites because he knew how important their prayers and sacrifices would be for the diocese, Degraffenreid said. “I don’t believe we can truly fathom the graces that have poured down upon our diocese through their love and prayer, nor do I believe that can we ever truly understand the spiritual void that will be left if they leave us.”