On Saturday, May 31, Sister Agnes Marie of the Eternal High Priest took her final vows as a Carmelite nun at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery of Buffalo, New York. She is an "extern sister," which means that she deals with the public. I asked Sister Agnes how she knew that God had called her to the religious life, and she said that she felt a "certitude" about her calling.
Most of the sisters who live in the monastery are cloistered. They spend much of their time in prayer. During morning mass, they can be heard singing a variety of chants. When they are not praying, they are busy working at such tasks as cooking, cleaning, and tending the garden. They are vegetarians who eat what they grow in their garden.
Buffalo's Carmelite monastery was founded by Mother Mary Elias of the Blessed Sacrament in 1920. It was the fulfillment of a promise to St. Therese of Lisieux, a French Carmelite who died at the age of 24, that Mother Mary Elias made after she and another nun had been sentenced to death and placed before a Mexican firing squad. The firing squad discharged their weapons but missed. Either they were bad shots or there was divine intervention.
So Mother Mary Elias went far away from Mexico and ended up in Buffalo, New York, where she fulfilled her promise by founding the monastery. Before she passed away, she wrote a book about her life and her dedication to "the little way." She had been quoted as saying, "I am a very little soul, who can offer only very little things to the Lord... I will spend my Heaven doing good on earth... After my death I will let fall a shower of roses."
Buffalo's Carmelite monastery was officially dedicated on the same day that St. Therese was canonized, May 1, 1925.
The Carmelite monastery is one of two cloistered orders in Buffalo.