To the Men of Carmel:
In the 20 plus years the Carmel Clean-Up has been held, the days have not been as mild and beautiful as this past Saturday. We were truly blessed. We operated like a well-oiled machine — power washing, uber raking, and leave disposal. The workmanship and hard work expended by all was noticed. While you may not have been aware, the sisters were periodically at the windows monitoring our progress. You restored their garden, an element of their life which they cherish as they walk and use it almost every day weather permitting. The sisters wanted me to pass along their deepest gratitude for all the hard work.
As you may have noticed, Carmel is a very special and holy place. How many people at other parishes heard a homily like Father Heffern’s — land mines and the power of the Rosary against the backdrop of WWII. If being saved in a French field wasn’t enough, Our Lady renewed her protection plan by extending it to the grandson of the original recipient; preserving him from an IED while he was in the Middle East. The Promises of the Rosary are like that; she always keeps her promise.
Then there is the garden itself. You all saw the mausoleum and the six graves outside its door. Mother
Pia (now retired but still active) has told me more than once how she looks forward to her death. As a
person living in the world, I must admit Mother stopped me with that comment. Seeing my surprise,
she reminded me we should all be looking forward to being re-united with our Savior. I had no words.
She was so right.
At the end of the Clean Up on Saturday, Mother Pia in a wonderful gesture of love made herself
available to my wife and I in one of the “speak rooms” (rooms where family members can see and visit
their beloved sister). I had not expected this nor was I aware that last week Mother had undergone a
hip replacement. She is so tough.
Nonetheless, there she was tall and stellar with a big smile. In 20 plus years, I have hugged her twice
and Mother Barbara once. This time the bars were between us so I view these past spontaneous
experiences as graces from Our Lady and here is why.
Mother Pia was brought into the Church by Padre Pio after visiting him as a young, curious, non-
Catholic, socialite, studying art in Florence. Mother’s real name is Alexandra Brown and her family owned Brown Publishing. She was studying art at Briarcliff, a prestigious college outside of New York
City patronized by the children of the wealthy and powerful.
Her own personal story of conversion can be found in the book entitled A Padre Pio Profile published by
St. Bede Publications (Chapter 28). While Mother Pia’s conversion story does not include kneeling to
pick up a Rosary during battle, it is nonetheless illustrative of how God works and how the Carmel fits in
for so many of us.
Mother once said, “Michael no one comes to Carmel by accident; they are called to Carmel”. Mother
left a wealthy and privileged life to become anonymous in the world. As a Discalced Bride of Christ, you
can see in her eyes even now that she chose the Pearl of Great Price.
How blest are we who continue to hear the call of Carmel. If Saturday was your first visit, you reading
this is no accident, but it is the way Carmel works.
The Sisters want you to continue your prayer requests for you and your family members. You may leave
your prayer requests on their answering machine or take advantage of their Perpetual Enrollment.
Until next year, may the grace of Carmel sustain you!