Meet the Sisters
“It is not you who have chosen Me, but I who have chosen you” (Jn. 15). These words from the lips of Jesus Himself can be seen fulfilled in our own lives as we take a look back into our vocation story and how God led us to Carmel. We come from a variety of backgrounds, places and experiences, yet the thread that runs through each story is basically the same: God’s choice of us and His love that led us all along the way. It was He Himself who called us to our Community of Lafayette. May the Lord lead and guide you, as He has each of us, along the path He has chosen for your life.
Mother Mary John of the Cross
I was the fourth of nine girls, five of whom became religious. Daily Mass and the Family Rosary were normal for us. I played “nun” as a child and longed for the day when I could be a real nun. During my high school years I worked much with the students in one of Katherine Drexel’s Schools, helping to form a choir and playing the organ for their Masses. I was interested in joining her Congregation. God had other plans! In my senior year, I visited my cousin who was in the Carmelite Minor Seminary. From then on, I knew that I had a vocation to Carmel. In the depths of my heart Jesus told me that this was HIS choice for me. The decision was not difficult—I loved to teach and I loved children, but Jesus put the call in my heart! He wanted me for Himself alone, “to be another humanity” wherein He could renew His Mysteries. Thus I could be “all things for all men!” I entered Carmel shortly after high school graduation and have never regretted my choice, or rather, Jesus’ choice of me.
Mother Regina of Christ the King
At the beginning of my junior year of high school, on the feast of Christ the King, we were exhorted to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the Altar. Never would I have suspected what awaited me on that “happiest day of my life!” Jesus called me to be His Carmelite Bride. I was 16 and never dreamed how drastically my life would change from that moment on. The following year when I should have begun my senior year of high school, I entered the Carmel of Lafayette where I could learn to know, love and serve God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength! My wonderful, close-knit family life of 6 siblings was the perfect preparation for a life of prayer, love and sacrifice in an atmosphere of fraternal charity. After many years I can truthfully say: life gets better and better. From Kansas to Carmel and then to Heaven is the road Jesus mapped out for me.
Sister Camille of Jesus
I’m Sr. Camille Hoang. I was born in Vietnam and came from a big family of 3 boys and 6 girls. I am the youngest. I had 2 sisters who entered religious life. As a child I was afraid of the religious life. I often said NO to the thought of becoming a nun! Even though I did say “no,” God who knows better than I said “yes” within me at the age of 16. My friend had given me a book of St. Therese, the Story of a Soul, and I read it several times. After this I fell in love with Carmel and with the cloistered life! Right out of high school I entered the Carmel of Hue, Vietnam, in 1998. I was happy with my contemplative vocation, and in 2009 in a missionary spirit like that of St. Therese, I became a member of the Carmel of Lafayette. I found out that the life in the Lafayette Carmel was just the same as the Carmelite life in Vietnam. The language, culture, etc. are not obstacles in Carmel; LOVE unites us in one mind and heart even when we are totally different in appearance! I have no family in the US; Lafayette Carmel is my family!
Sister Mariette of Jesus
Alexandria, Louisiana was where I spent my childhood, the oldest of 6 siblings. My mother was not a Catholic during my childhood years at home but lived as though she was, even going to Mass alone when small children prevented going as a family. (She did enter the Church later on in life.) I was very active and involved: I enjoyed swimming, bicycling, camping, hiking and dancing. Around 6th or 7th grade I began to consider a religious vocation. For some reason though, I knew I did not want to be like the Sisters that taught me but had no idea of any other kind of religious life. In high school I began to search to see what other options there were, and it was then that I discovered the contemplative life. I was drawn more to Carmel than to the Poor Clares because it was the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom I was very devoted. After high school I applied, and was accepted by St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana. I had even been sent the name of my roommate, the room number and uniforms that were worn. That summer, though, I made up my mind to enter Carmel and not to attend college. After about 10 years in Carmel, I lost my sight with Retinitus Pigmentosa. I had learned to bake bread even before I completely lost my sight and am still baking today! My Carmelite vocation is an inestimable gift from God for which I will eternally be grateful.
Sister Teresa of Jesus
I grew up in Erath, Louisiana with the greatest gift of a loving and close family. The eldest of 5 siblings, I have 2 younger brothers followed by 2 identical twin sisters. We were a family rooted and grounded in faith and in love for one another. I was very active both at home and at school, involved in sports and in the school band. My junior year of high school, at the age of 16, was when I first “heard” the call to become a nun. It was unexpected in a certain sense (I had never thought of it before), yet it was something that was so certain—a call from within. God was pursuing me, and I soon spoke my “fiat” and total yes to Him! Shortly before my entrance into Carmel on October 15, 2010, my mother died of cancer, leaving me with her blessing and support to follow where the Lord was leading me. Accompanied by my 2 brothers, 7 year old twin sisters and my most supportive Father, I entered my new home of Mater Gratiae right out of high school. I am eternally grateful for my vocation, and for God’s choice of me.
Sister Aimee of Our Mother of Sorrows
Born in Houma, Louisiana, I was an only child. My father was an attorney and my mother was a school teacher. I attended public schools through high school graduation. The story of my vocation began after reading the autobiography of a well-known Carmelite saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, entitled the Story of a Soul. It was then that I began to feel the call to Carmel; God’s plan for me was being realized little by little. I decided to attend a Catholic college and then a secular university and received a degree in elementary education. After that, I entered Carmel. I am filled with deep gratitude forever for my religious vocation, and pray that many young people will be inspired to give themselves totally to Christ in loving service for the Church.
Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Holy Wounds
I was born and spent most of my younger years growing up in New York. Actually, I was a young convert since neither my Dad nor my birth mother were Catholic. Mom died when I was 5 and Dad later married a Catholic woman. Home life growing up was very rocky with a lot of ups and downs. Religion as such was not something I heard much about, although my parents made sure to fulfill the obligations of Mass, learning Catechism and going to confession regularly. I was blessed to be enrolled in a Catholic grammar and high school, and then to graduate from college with a B.S. in Elementary education. The age of about 13 was when I first expressed my desire to “be like Sister,” but this was firmly and quickly discouraged by my parents. After attending college the seed of my vocation fell away, and I also stopped going to Mass and the Sacraments. Soon I became restless and discontent with my situation in general—I felt like something was missing. All this changed when one day I was asked to attend an hour of Adoration preceding a Charismatic Mass. This day was my conversion back to God. Realizing that I was at a crossroad in my life, I knelt before Jesus to ask Him what I should do next. The simple word “nun” kept bouncing through my mind incessantly. I soon found my way to the Carmel of Lafayette through the guidance of a priest. All I knew was that this was where God was calling me to spend the rest of my life with Him. Here I have found the family that I never had before: Sisters who care for me, Mothers that counsel, direct and most of all love me. The lesson I have learned from my past is never be afraid to take the leap of faith. God is there to catch you.
Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity
Praised be Jesus Christ! My name was Anna Hiep Le and I have come from Vietnam in order to join the Carmel of Lafayette. This is my new family! How wonderful is our life and our vocation, given to us through the love and grace of God. We are blessed to be here in the home and Community of Mary, Mother of Grace. I first felt the call to the religious life after receiving my 1st Communion. And this desire that God put in my heart that day has never left me. My parents had a difficult time accepting this at first—becoming a Carmelite and living the cloistered life—but now have come to consider it a great blessing from God and an “honor for my daughter and my family.” During the last 2 years of high school, I lived as an aspirant in the Carmel of Hue, Vietnam. After graduation, I entered the Carmel of Lafayette on October 7, 2013. Then began my new life in Carmel! I am very blessed and give thanks to God for leading me here to live forever for His greater glory and the good of the Church.
Sister Jacinta of Our Lady of the Rosary
My religious vocation began when, while awaiting my library card, I came across The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort on a bookrack. I read it and started to pray the Rosary. My life began to change. All my ambitions to join the military fell away as I spent more time in prayer and reflection, frequent confession, reception of the Eucharist, visits to the Blessed Sacrament and seeking advice from our parish priest. When he suggested religious life, I realized I had been thinking of this. The next step was what kind of religious and where. I wrote to different Orders. One of the communities that answered sent a vocation booklet. What struck me very deeply was a picture of the reception of the ring on the day of Profession, with the words “I espouse you to Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High.” For me that was it! To belong completely to God as His spouse was what I was looking for. For this I was prepared to go to the other side of the world. But God did not ask this of me. He had his home for me very close to home—the Carmelite Monastery of Mary, Mother of Grace. About a month before my entrance into Carmel, my younger brother died in an accident. Everyone thought I would want to delay my entrance, but my own good mother encouraged me and said my entrance should not be delayed. I trusted in the Lord and responded to His grace as best I could. He Himself removed all obstacles to my search for union with Him . . . which continues to this day.
Sister Anne of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
In 4th grade, our teacher (a Sister of St. Joseph) announced that the Parish organist had entered the local Carmelite Monastery, “the most a woman can do for God,” she added. “That’s what I’m going to do,” I thought in my little mind (without knowing what it actually meant). The thought continued to deepen and take root. After graduation from high school I worked for a short time to assist the family and then applied at the Philadelphia Carmel, but they told me they “do not accept anyone without a college education.” This was impossible for Dad because I was the oldest of 7 children, and he had a very difficult time during the years of the depression. I wrote to a number of Carmels and Lafayette was the first to reply. “I’ll go there,” I told myself. The men for whom I worked were kind enough to arrange for the transportation and paid for my trip to the South (I lived in Philadelphia). The first 3 born into the family were girls. My two younger sisters also followed me into Carmel. One entered the Monastery in Barrington, Rhode Island and the other joined the Community in New Orleans, Louisiana. I continue to thank God for the precious gift He has given me in my vocation.
Sister Catherine of the Holy Family
My name is Sister Catherine of the Holy Family, baptized Teresa Ann Arceneaux. When choosing a vocation, I was drawn by Jesus to follow the way of my Patroness, St. Therese of Lisieux, which meant being a Discalced Carmelite Nun. I was the fourth of five children. My parents attended daily Mass, so after I made my 1st Communion, I attended with them. This was the root from which my vocation blossomed. We also prayed the Family Rosary. I enjoyed school activities as well as ballet but also worked after school hours throughout my high school years. My second brother is a Vincentian Priest. I’ve just celebrated with much joy my Golden Jubilee of Profession here in my marvelous Community of Mary, Mother of Grace.
Sister Elia of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Being the eldest of 5 children, I was born into a family where the Catholic faith was really lived. From childhood, my whole atmo-sphere was Catholic—my parents, all my relatives, my education. At first we lived in the country where I learned to help my Dad with raising pigs and chickens, and growing a large garden. I first felt the call to religious life in the 4th grade. Later, I looked into different active congregations. During high school and college the call was always there “underneath everything else.” I engaged in many activities and seriously considered a career as a professional mathematician and also marriage. In my senior year of college, the desire for religious life became very strong, and I discerned it as a call to cloistered contemplative life. At first my parents found it hard to accept my vocation, but eventually came to appreciate it.
Sister Alberta of Mary Our Queen
Growing up in a faith-filled family, attending a Catholic School from K-12 and taught by Religious Sisters was a great blessing for me. During my senior year of college, majoring in Home Economics, my younger sister entered Carmel. During our visits with her we ex-perienced the loving graciousness of the Nuns and especially of one Extern Sister. This inspired me to want to serve the People of God as she did. I entered Carmel as an Extern Sister in the fall after I graduated from College. During my year of novitiate, on the Profession Day of a companion novice, I felt the strong call to be a cloistered Carmelite and was granted permission to begin my novitiate as a Lay Sister. (I loved to cook and everyone told me I was a natural at the kitchen stove!) Before my Solemn Profession our Prioress asked me to become a Choir Nun. I felt God was speaking to me through my Superior and so I was trained in the duties of a choir sister . . . had to try every phase of our life!!! I have been supremely happy in my vocation as a Carmelite and am extremely grateful that I was called to such a total life of Consecration. I will always treasure each aspect of my vocation, having always a special place in my heart for the holy Extern Sister who was the channel of God’s grace for me.
Sister Michelle Marie of the Eucharist
My hometown was Dallas, Texas, and I grew up in a very loving family. I had 11 siblings. My father died when I was 12, leaving my mother with 8 children. Two years later she married a widower who had 4 children, bringing the total to 12 children plus Mom and Dad all under one roof! After getting a B.A. in sociology from the University of Texas, with a year of foreign language study in Angers, France, I worked for one and a half years at Catholic Charities in Dallas, resettling Ethiopian refugees. My Mom wasn’t sure I could persevere without my “beloved” hot dogs (How I missed them!), but Jesus has far surpassed this or anything of earth. Carmel is my heaven!’