Nuns live in solitude most of
ALLENDALE — The 12 nuns, living in the
Carmelite Monastery, opened their doors for the public for the first time in 10
years Sunday and introduced many to their way of life.
The “open house”
allowed people a glimpse of the lives of nuns, women who have chosen to live
under solemn vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
The monastery began
to take shape in 1947 with its foundation at its current location atop a hill in
Allendale, just east of U.S Highway 41.
The chapel’s ceilings were
vaulted to indicate praying hands. The nuns built nearly everything inside,
including the pews, and most of the sculptures and statues were donated from
artists around the globe.
Chaplain Larry Moran told visitors that in the
third century, Christians marked themselves with the sign of the cross and did
such covertly, so anyone who saw them do it, would be converted to
Nuns have three types of work: manual labor, mental labor
and prayer. They must pray for one-third of the day, praying for the
Sister Ann has been at the monastery for 48
“Everything is done here in the monastery. … As hermits, we’re
called to live in solitude,” she said. “It’s a life of intimacy with the Lord. …
The same is true of our lives. We believe that prayers touch you.”
from the Internet, mail, and family visits about once a year, the nuns live in
Conversations that the nuns have with visitors must be about
God instead of worldly things.
They often receive prayer requests form
around the world via http://www.heartsawake.org.
Many of the requests they
receive are then taken to “choir.”
Sister Mary Joseph said, “We’re
responsible to pray for those who ask us to pray for them.”
order personalized greeting cards for any occasion such as birthdays, sympathy
or to offer peace to an ill person, she said.
Sister Teresa of Avila once
said, “I beg you that your conversation will always be directed toward bringing
some good to the one with whom you are speaking for your prayer must be for the
benefit of others.”
Part of the monastery used to be a house and the
rest, including the enclosure walls, was erected by the Terre Haute church
community and the nuns.
In 1970, the monastery was completed, where the
nuns live, work, vacation and pray.
The nuns must stay in their own cells
or nearby while “pondering the Lord’s law day and night and keeping watch at his
prayers unless attending to some other duty.”
The monastery has a sun
room for the sick and elderly. Its equipped with 14 windows, some of which serve
as the ceiling and resemble sky lights.
Currently the monastery houses 12
nuns, 10 are full sisters while the remaining two are novices, or admitted to
the probationary membership. The monastery has the capacity to house 20
Sister Mary Grace, who has been at the monastery for 25 years, said
all of the nuns must “flourish” inside the enclosure. They seldom leave the
monastery except for an occasional shopping trip or visit to a
“We are within four walls 24/7 with the same 12 people …,” she
said. “We work, pray and live with each other. We wash the dishes with these
people. Fortunately we are practicing virtue.”
Most of them do not eat
meat, with the exception of fish. They eat a lot of soy and dairy
Their day starts at 5:30 a.m. with prayer at 6 a.m. Their day
concludes at 9 p.m. daily.
If a woman wants to become a nun and live at
the monastery, she must contact the sisters and inform them of her interest to
become a nun. A correspondence begins and ultimately ends up with a woman living
at the monastery for a few weeks. The journey is underway from
They must be a novice for two years and make their first vows for
“Basically you have five years to figure it out,” Sister
Then she told the group, “It’s nice that you all came. Now,
how many of you are going to join?”
Her comments were met with laugher by
the touring guests.
“Everyday we do something different. That’s the way
life goes,” she said.
Margaret Haas, a visitor, said: “It was a holy
experience because we talked about things that matter, serious things. It was
such a holy experience that it made you feel your life was important to
There are 850 monasteries in the world.
Terre Haute resident
Ginny Schroeder said she gathered “more appreciation to